Numbers Belie City’s Argument on South Village Landmarking
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) response to pleas to consider the entire proposed South Village Historic District for landmark designation, as LPC Chair Robert Tierney promised to do in 2009, has frequently been to say that they have spent enough time in the Village and have to look at other parts of the city as well. The implication is that the Village has gotten more than its fair share of the LPC’s attention, and we need to allow the Commission the opportunity to consider the other boroughs and other parts of Manhattan for designation as well.
In light of this, we thought we’d take a look at just how much the LPC has done in the Village as compared to other parts of the city. The numbers, as they say, speak for themselves…
Under LPC Chair Robert Tierney and the Bloomberg Administration, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has landmarked about 415 buildings in Greenwich Village, from new historic districts in the the Meatpacking District, Far West, and South Village, to several individual buildings throughout the neighborhood.
In Addisleigh Park, Queens, a neighborhood of single family homes with a rich African-American history, during this same time period the LPC has designated 422 buildings.
In the planned community of Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, the LPC has designated over 600 buildings.
In Park Slope, Brooklyn, the LPC has also designated about 600 buildings.
In Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, the LPC has designated or calendared (the official step preceding designation, which puts some initial protections in place for buildings) 800 buildings.
In Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, the LPC has designated 850 buildings.
On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the LPC has designated or calendared approximately 904 buildings.
In Ridgewood, Queens, the LPC has designated 1,246 buildings.
And at the top of the list, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the LPC has designated or calendared more than 1,690 buildings, or more than four times as many as in Greenwich Village.
All of these districts are eminently worthy of designation, and all deserve the LPC’s attention. But as you can see from the statistics, the LPC has not exactly been spoiling the Village at the expense of other neighborhoods.
And while the LPC has argued that they have limited resources and therefore can only do so much at once, remember that the LPC has actually turned down additional funding which preservation groups were able to secure for them in the city budget, saying they had all the funding they needed to do the work required of them.
Additionally, much of the work required of the LPC in considering a proposed district for designation involves having to research and document the history of every building , and writing a designation report outlining the district’s history and significance. Unusually for a group advocating for landmark designation, GVSHP actually does much of this work for the LPC. GVSHP provides the LPC with documentation of the history of each one of the buildings in the proposed historic district, and has submitted a report about the history of the South Village we commissioned by Andrew Dolkart –one of the city’s foremost architectural historians, whom the Commission itself has commissioned to write some of their designation reports.
Let’s hope the Commission keeps going in landmarking worthy districts throughout the city. But let’s also hope they keep their promise and designate the remainder of the imminently-endangered proposed South Village Historic District — as the statistics show, it would not exactly be an outrageous case of favoritism.
The City Council’s hearing on the proposed Hudson Square rezoning — which lacking landmark protections for the South Village, will accelerate the destruction of this historic neighborhood — is now set for next Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 9:30 am at 250 Broadway, 16th floor. You can write Speaker Quinn and LPC Chair Tierney in support of landmarking the South Village HERE.