The two buildings at 429 East 64th Street and 430 East 65th Street were stripped of their landmark status back in 1990, in one of the last and sketchiest activities of the now defunct Board of Estimate. The buildings, along with the rest of the City and Suburban First Avenue Estate tenement complex of which they are a part, were landmarked only four short months before that. Why the switch? A developer wanted to build luxury apartments in a similar complex further uptown, so the Board of Estimate decided to remove the landmark designation from two buildings in each complex. Then, to clear up the mess, the Landmarks Commission acted to redesignate 429 East 64th Street and 430 East 65th Street in 2006. But not so fast!
The owner of the buildings, Stahl Real Estate, had gotten used to the prospect of tearing them down and putting towers in their place?and had also changed their facades?so he took the Landmarks Commission to court. Among his arguments: the fact that the buildings were designed by a lesser known architect than the rest of the First Avenue Estate, and thus less deserving of landmarking. But now, the LPC tells us, an appeals court has upheld the landmark designation based on the buildings' cultural value as early light-court housing, which was meant to be an alternative to the existing dreary tenement stock. No big-name architect needed!
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