It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture and neighborhood universes of New York City! Yep, it's time for the Tenth Annual Curbed Awards! Up now: neighborhoods.
Lost Neighborhood Landmarks
7) Eagle Clothes Sign: U-Haul tore down the iconic, old-school sign atop its warehouse at the corner of Third Avenue and Sixth Street in Gowanus. The company says the sign could be restored, but we don't have high hopes. And at least the nearby Kentile Floors sign is safe... for now. [Photo via Flickr/Barry Yanowitz]
6) 155 East 79th Street: A quaint, petite building with a marble facade on East 79th Streetwhich once housed a branch of iconic sweet shop/eatery Schrafft's and later an antiques storewas razed. It'll be replaced by seven duplex condos.
5) 54 MacDougal Street: This little red house in the Village, which dates to the 1820s and was highlighted in Men in Black, got torn down to make way for a five-story, four-unit residential building. Of course.
4) P.S. 31: The city will tear down an "unsalvageable" 114-year-old Gothic-style castle in the Bronx, formerly Mott Haven's P.S. 31. And that's despite stern disapproval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission and community groups who want artists' housing and workspaces on the site.
3) Pan Am Worldport: Despite a dedicated coalition in its name and a supportive Facebook group, what's now called JFK's Terminal 3 started to get disassembled. It's not just endangered anymore. Farewell, flying saucer.
2) Mary Help of Christians: After an earnest battle to save it by citing its location atop a cemetery, this church, rectory and school on East 12th Street and Avenue A is no more. In its place will rise 140 luxury rental units developed by Douglas Steiner. If it's any consolation to East Villagers, St. Brigid's Church was saved, and re-opened this year after a $20 million restoration.
Threatened Neighborhood "Landmarks" that Are Somehow Still Standing
Here are 10 sites that, against
all odds, managed to evade the wrecking ball in 2013.
10) Marcus Garvey Park watchtower: The crumbling structure, built in 1856, is the last remaining cast iron watchtower in the country, and the only of of eight that used to function as Manhattan's emergency fire alert system. Once on the verge of collapse, It's going to get a $4 million makeover.
9) Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue: Lower East Side preservationists nabbed a big victory in March when the synagogue at 60 Norfolk Street withdrew its application to demolish itself.
8) Tin Pan Alley: The Chelsea buildings that make up Tin Pan Alley hit the market this year and are rumored to have a buyer, once again sparking worries that a buyer could demolish the structures for new development in the form of hotels or condos. Landmarking the buildings is one of the few potential routes left for saving them.
7) New York State Pavilion: The rotting New York State Pavilion, which was a hallmark of the 1964-1965 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, has folks who want to save it and realists who cite the downside to doing so: astronomical costs. But it's still there.
6) Weather Underground House: A pretty special townhouse on West 11th Street, which might not be long for this world if permits for a new building are approved, is famous for two things: one incendiary (a 1970 explosion at the hand of Weather Underground); the other adorable (its owner put a dressed-up bear in the window).
5) Clarkson Avenue Crazy House: Someone bought the 111-year-old, rundown mess of a mansion that is 111 Clarkson Avenue for $2.7 million, and the natural conclusion was that s/he would knock it down to build more profitable units. But that might not happen, so it's still around.
4) 1375 Dean Street: Crown Heights' oldest, possibly saddest, house is looking for a buyer to spend $1.1 million and save its sorry behind.
3) 75 Essex Street: All year, preservationists have been supporting a fledgling campaign to landmark the Eastern Dispensary Building. Built in 1890, it's been on and off the market for several years, and thanks to its location directly beside the SPURA megaproject, it's ripe for redevelopment. Thus, preservationists want to protect before it's torn down or drastically altered.
2) Coignet Building: This sad sack of a historic structure was supposed to be all fixed up by the Gowanus Whole Foods team, since the grocery store hugs the building. But since the Whole Foods actuall opened, many have cited damage, leaving us wondering when it'll get its badly needed restoration.
1) Everything Old In Midtown East:: Because Midtown East rezoning did not pass (more on that later), all the landmarks that preservationists worried about saving are... safe. For now.
Victory Party: Landmarks That Were Actually Saved or Resurrected In Some Way
3) Donald Judd House: Located in a cast-iron Soho building, Donald Judd's home-slash-studio underwent a completely meticulous $23 million restoration and opened for tours in June. It's pretty special.
2) Forest Hills Tennis Stadium: This iconic tennis stadium, built in 1923, reopened in August after a three-month, $1.5 million restoration and upgrade. Mumford & Sons inaugurated its new lease on life.
1) Bialystoker Building: The Lower East Side's Bialystoker Building finally got landmarked, and we'll see how that affects potential condo conversion plans.
Building That Went Out With The Biggest Bang
It's really no contest here. Building 877, the largest non-historic structure on Governors Island, was blown to smithereens this summer. The demolition porn is recorded for posterity on YouTube, of course, and a bucolic baseball field will take its place.
The Andrew Berman Award For Winning At Historic Districts
3) Bed-Stuy: After 20 years, the Bedford-Stuyvesant/Stuyvesant Heights Historic District was officially been expanded in April to include 825 new structures, from 19th century-era row houses to churches and a library.
2) Upper West Side: Preservationists rejoiced in June when the newly designated West End-Collegiate Historic District Extension more than doubled the size of the original 150-building historic district, designated in 1984adding 220 buildings on the east and west sides of West End Avenue between West 70th and 79th Streets.
1) The Village: It took a just a decade for this one, but Berman and his Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation won historic district status for another chunk of the South Village.
And, By Contrast, The Mike Bloomberg Award For Rezoning
4) Crown Heights: Parts of Bedford and Franklin avenues were rezoned, affecting some 50 blocks, limiting building heights and incentivizing affordable housing.
3) Governors Island: Now limited commercial development is allowed in 40 historic buildings on the popular isle, with plans for things like a day spa and an international school on tap.
2) Hudson Square (above): The rezoning that passed in March means that Trinity Real Estate and other property companies with holdings in the area will be able to proceed with plans to erect residential towers and hotels in a district that is currently a hub for office buildings.
1) Midtown East: Psych! After a rather epic battle, the Midtown East rezoning proposal died. Preservationists and many community members rejoiced; developers who wanted to build taller were sad. Sorry, Bloomie, this won't of your legacies, but you got the ball rolling, and it'll likely pass under de Blasio in some modified form.
Most Hyped-Up Launch For A Thing That Turned Out To Be Absolutely Fine
On Memorial Day, the city's long-awaited bike-share program debuted. Detractors and devotees sparred endlessly before, during, and after people started cyclingproblematically helmet-less, sometimesaround the city on those supposedly contentious Citi Bikes. As is the case with these things, a couple of lawsuits materialized, mostly from buildings that didn't want the racks monopolizing street/curb space. And one from a Soho group that wanted the rack space for art. Oh, and from the Plaza. Another problem: people ride them drunk. Other neighborhoods, of course, like parts of Eastern Brooklyn, Queens, and uptown Manhattan, eagerly await their dose of blue as the network expands.
The Little Garden That Got Everyone Totally Worked Up
The Lower East Side's Children's Magical Garden did not emerge victorious from its semi-epic battle with developer of the neighboring lot, Serge Hoyda, who laid claim to his right to develop the half of the community space he owned. Even celeb support from Cynthia Nixon could not stop Hoyda from fencing off his half and planning a six-story residential building.
Newest Contentious Sports Arena Proposal
After Major League Soccer gave up its attempt to build a stadium in Flushing after major community opposition, it turned its attention to another borough: the Bronx. Plans are nigh to erect a Rafael Vinoly-designed arena for the New York Football Club over 10 acres near Yankee stadium. But not so fastneighbors have needs, too. They want to be able to use the venue; they want not just accessible tickets to games but also the potential for jobs filled by locals, public space, something like an indoor fitness center, and other discounted offerings.
The Mark Messier "Ice Rinks Are Now A Neighborhood Staple" Award
Take Lakeside in Prospect Park, the new-this-year McCarren Pool-turned-rink in Williamsburg (formerly an "ice desert," for shame), and Brookfield Place's new one in Battery Park. One in Bed-Stuy might get resurrected. Then there's the mega ice center planned for the Bronx's Kingsbridge Armory, plus apparently way more developments on the way. Guess NYC won't give up till it gets an Olympian out of this, or something. Maybe by the one after Pyeongchang.
The Year's Biggest Eyesore That Won't Get Demolished
This truly hideous Homecrest house has towered above its low-rise surrounds for the last seven years. Neighbors really thought they had scored a victory over the blight after a judge ordered the city to reevaluate the permits granted to the site on East 12th Street. Poor dears. Because the Board of Standard and Appeals just decided that, even though the permits shouldn't have been granted in the first place, they would allow the eyesore to remain and chalk it up to an "administrative error." "This is one of the biggest injustices I've ever seen," the local community board chair told Brooklyn Daily. "I mean, have you seen this thing?"
Whiniest Neighborhood Award
This year, the award goes to the Upper East Side, which complained about the following, in no particular order:
· The East 91st Street waste transfer station
· A proposed two-story rear extension of a Madison Avenue building that would block a few co-op owners' views
· The 1.1 million-square-foot expansion of Memorial Sloan-Kettering
· A church's catering company, because it caused noise and double-parking of limos
· 1110 Park Avenue
· The Buckley School's expansion
· 815 Fifth Avenue
Gentrifying Neighborhood That Is Freaking Out
We've got ourselves a tie between Gowanus and Greenpoint. Both are complaining about megaprojects in their midst, with the former concerned about Lightstone's plan for 700 canal-side rentals and the latter grappling with the approval of rather large waterfront towers at both Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street. Gowanus residents, though, did take one battle direct to video, with a coalition called We Are Gowanus forming over the summer to oppose the conversion of a warehouse at 280 Bond Street into a concert venue and bar and releasing a cautionary clip about what could happen if it opens. Well, will it be a nightclub, or won't it? The brand-new Whole Foods is not really a consolation prize.
Gentrified Neighborhood That Freaks Out All The Time
Of course, this one goes to Park Slope. Where vegans and moms share their opinions freely (above), and the newest menace is a mean cat. A cat about whom a nearby resident posted flyers. And there's been successful moves to stop a hospital expansion.
Best New Neighborhood Names That No One Will Ever Use
4) Hudson Square: Despite the fact that it got rezoned and is sort of a thing, many insist that it's merely "West Soho." Like this person.
3) BoCoCa: The area between Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens. It might be making a comeback, and we're not sure we like it.
2) ProCro: Some gray zone Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, though the border between the two is for sure Washington Avenue.
1) MiSo: Considered as a contender to rename the Garment District, in the end the Garment District decided to stick with Garment District. Good call.
Best New Neighborhood Name That, Despite Our Prediction, People Are Actually Using
NoMad. It's even doing well in the Curbed Cup. Case in point: how a hotel's name can define an ongoing development boomlet (above).
Best Weirdest Neighbor Beefs of 2013
6) 57th Street and Beyond: Tall buildings putting apartments in shadow
5) Upper East Side: A co-op sued one of its residents, claiming he let his guests smoke pot in his apartment and have sex on the roof.
4) Upper West Side: At the El Dorado, a "kooky, chain-smoking" "heiress" is getting forced out because she doesn't pay maintenance and fills the place with smoke.
3) Kips Bay: This public art was just "too pink." Also in this area, a guy stole a lady's delicates from the laundry room. And was caught on camera. Gross.
2) FiDI: Cipriani Wall Street did not like the newsstand outside its red-carpeted door.
1) Gramercy: A crazy cat lady refuses to give back cats to the neighbor she was cat-sitting for.
Typical Boring Neighbor Beefs of 2013
5) Inwood: Noise from bars and restaurants
4) Red Hook: A drug rehab center and a private school
3) Midtown West: Madison Square Garden's signage is too big and bright
2) Bayside: Planes from LaGuardia make noise when taking off or landing
1) 57th Street: Construction noise from the super-skyscraper boom
Celebrity You May Not Want to Be Your Co-op Board President?
Joan Rivers has been president of the board at 1 East 62nd Street for years now. But now one resident has sued, "alleging that Rivers and the rest of the board have discriminated against him because he lives in the building's 'shabbiest' unit." The resident said Rivers and others have called him names and slandered him. So.
Dumbest NIMBY Complaint
In Williamsburg, some babies could not sleep because of incessant construction... on things like a SoulCycle studio. Also, CrossFit classes are loud because people drop weights on the floor and emit "guttural cries." Park Slopers and Chelsea residents do not like that. No, not at all.
NIMBY Complaint That Probably Won't Get Heeded
South Bronx residents are worried that relocating FreshDirectand its gazillions of trucksto the area will worsen the air quality of an already iffy area around Bruckner Boulevard, a.k.a. Asthma Alley. South Bronx Unite has managed to score some crucial victories, but the move is still likely to happen.
Coolest History Lesson in NIMBYism
LaGuardia Community College digitized almost 1 million City Council-related documents dating back to 1965including correspondence between constituents and elected officials on matters of eviction, libraries, local crime, and so much more. What did one 1967 lady say about the preponderance of topless bars in her area? Now you can read the primary source!
The Other Thing Everyone Hates
Street vendors. Of all kinds. And also Mario Batali's Babbo. Wait, that's just one guy.
· Preservation Watch [Curbed]
· Neighborhood Beefs [Curbed]
· Neighbor Beefs [Curbed]
· All Curbed Awards 2013 coverage [Curbed]