Preservationists busting their humps trying to get Amsterdam Avenue's West-Park Presbyterian Church landmarked have made some headway: the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted today to schedule a hearing on the historical sandstone structure. Last week, it was rumored that the church's demise was imminent, before a church rep stepped in to clarify the situation and assure all parties that demolition was not in the near future. Even so, the church's plan is still to add some sort of profit-generating residential development to the site. But preservationists shouldn't celebrate yet, because landmarking will not be a slam dunk, based on the tone of LPC Chairman Robert Tierney's statement on the complexity of protecting houses of worship:
Many of these buildings are the most architecturally distinctive in their neighborhoods, and are unofficial local landmarks. But by their very nature they are very expensive to maintain, and many of them lack the resources to make repairs to these large and grand buildings, with dwindling congregations to sustain them and no other sources of income. I think it's a natural outgrowth of our discussions [with the church, preservation advocates, elected officials] to bring the issue to this forum to see if we can thread our way through these complex issues in a way that honors preservation but enables the church to carry out its mission.Other commissioners also weighed-in on what could be a contentious issue. Said Commissioner Stephen Byrns: "This is one of the top five ... buildings in the city that gives great cause for concern and I am thrilled beyond measure that this is coming before us." Commissioner Frederick Bland was a little less rah-rah: "It will be a difficult but interesting game as we see it unfold." The LPC also voted to calendar hearings on the Fort Washington Presbyterian Church in Washington Heights, the Ridgewood Theatre in Ridgewood, Queens, and the former headquarters of the Brooklyn Union Gas Company in Brooklyn Heights.
· West-Park Presbyterian Church coverage [Curbed]