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Big Changes May Be Coming to NYC's Landmarks Law

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The City Council has released a report with several new proposals

The Council is proposing the creation of more cultural landmarks like the recently landmarked PepsiCola sign pictured here.
Photo by Will Femia for Curbed.

The City Council is looking to alter the way the Landmarks Preservation Commission works in a major way, the New York Times reports. Following a similar contentious proposal introduced last year, the Council is once again proposing a series of recommendations for the LPC including imposing time limits on designating items.

Part of a new Council report titled, "Landmarks for the Future," the proposals include the following:

  • Adding time limits on the public review process for potential landmark buildings and historic districts. Individual properties would have to be approved in one year, and historic districts in two.
  • An elimination of the five-year limit on properties to be reconsidered once they've been rejected for landmark status.
  • Ask the LPC to provide additional information on the status of a particular application.
  • When the LPC notifies a particular property owner that their property is under consideration, the owner can still go ahead and make changes to the building's exterior prior to the item being placed on the commission's calendar, which in many cases leads to a drastic alteration of the property. The Council wants the protections to go in place as soon as a property is identified.
  • Creating more cultural landmarks like the Stonewall Inn, regardless of the particular property's architectural merits.
  • Reducing the responsibility undertaken by owners of landmarked properties through grants, tax credits, or selling more air rights.

The Landmarks Commission didn't comment on the current proposals except to say that it would "review the proposals" according to LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan's comments to The Times.

These proposals are part of a bill that the Council will vote on this month, and the bill already has 30 co-sponsors in the Council, of a total 51 members. The bill also has the backing of the de Blasio administration. These new proposals were in large part prompted by the years of backlog the LPC has had to deal with in the recent past.