The Landmarks Preservation Commission concluded its six-year consideration of the proposed East Village/Lower East Side Historic District today, voting nearly unanimously in favor of its approval. Commissioners called the district "the culturally richest area in New York City," and "synonymous with the American immigrant experience," and lauded the fact that a vast majority of the buildings had remained unchanged since the Great Depression halted development in the 1930s. The lone commissioner who voted in opposition, herself a former resident of the neighborhood, voiced concern that many of the buildings in the district are tenement houses, which are "a poor housing type." She also questioned the characterization of the historical significance of the neighborhood, saying "What brought it to prominence is that Jack Kerouac lived there as opposed to the immigrants." Regardless, approval was at this point pretty much a foregone conclusion, and the other commissioners seemed thrilled to grant protected status to over 300 century-old buildings.
The main champion of the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District (which could probably use a snappier name) has been the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who are, of course, thrilled. "Landmark designation will go a long way towards ensuring that historic buildings are preserved, while allowing necessary changes and reasonable in-character additions and new development," wrote GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman in a press release. Opponents of the historic district in attendance included a few area churches, such as the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection on East 2nd Street and Saint Stanislaus on East 7th, who believe that the new landmarks rules violate their freedom of expression by restricting seasonal changes to their facades.
· East Village Historic District coverage [Curbed]
· City Agrees to Expand East Village Landmarks Proposal! [GVSHP]