clock menu more-arrow no yes

NYC's 10 biggest preservation battles of 2016

Take a look back at some of the biggest fights to save New York City's past in 2016

View as Map

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 13th Annual Curbed Awards! Up now: the biggest preservation battles of the year.

The war to save New York is one that will never end, but every year there are battles won—and battles lost. A garden is saved, but a view is surrendered; residents of historic districts fight to preserve their neighborhoods' charms, while developers argue that change will ultimately prove better in the long run. Here, take a look back at some of the biggest preservation battles of 2016, some of which have been resolved—the Landmarks Preservation Commission finally acted on its backlog, for instance—and some of which are only just beginning.

Read More

1. Intro. 775-A

Copy Link
260 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
(212) 788-9600
Visit Website

In 2015, bill Intro. 775 started making its way through the New York City Council. Sponsored by Council Members Peter Koo (of Queens) and David Greenfield (of Brooklyn), it would impose deadlines and unfunded mandates on the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The most controversial provision was that if a landmark failed to receive designation within the allotted time period, it could not be considered again for five years (during which time it could be destroyed). Thankfully, that provision didn’t make it into the final bill, Intro. 775-A, which was signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in June. But the LPC now has one year to consider individual landmarks and two years to consider historic districts. Consideration of an individual landmark can be extended by one year, but only with the property owner’s consent. Additionally, the commission was given 18 months to clear any items still on its calendar at the time of the bill’s enactment.

2. Landmarks backlog

Copy Link
1 Centre St
New York, NY 10007

In 2014, the LPC proposed simply de-calendaring the 95 items that had been on its calendar since before 2010—a proposal that went over like a lead balloon. So, the commission did a re-think and scheduled four sessions in 2015 for the public to speak out on the items. In 2016, it announced 30 of them had been prioritized for designation. Most of the rest were removed from the calendar without prejudice, meaning they can be considered again. Of those 30, 26 have since received individual designation (including Bergdorf Goodman, pictured); two were removed from the calendar; and one—the former IRT Powerhouse—remains on the calendar.

3. South Street Seaport

Copy Link

The Seaport remained contentious in 2016, after plenty of battles over Pier 17 in 2015, too. This year, the big fight was over the future of the Tin Building. In March, the Howard Hughes Corporation was given permission to rebuild the 1907 structure a little east of its current location. The rebuilt structure will host a food hall run by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Some original structural elements will be reused in the new Tin Building. However, little is actually left of the original building since it was gutted by a fire in 1995.

4. LICH redevelopment

Copy Link
339 Hicks St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

We now know what will become of the former Long Island College Hospital site in Cobble Hill: Developer Fortis Property Group has gone with its as-of-right option. That will mean a 17-story building at 350 Hicks Street and a 15-story building at 347 Hicks Street. There will be a total of 76 residential units, none of them affordable. They will be designed by FXFOWLE and Romines Architecture. The taller building will also have community facility space and both buildings will have parking. The community, as you'd expect, is not happy.

5. Gansevoort Market

Copy Link
46 Gansevoort St
New York, NY 10014

The battle over the Gansevoort Street Market basically picked up where it left off in 2015, with West Village and Meatpacking District preservationists no happier than they were at the end of last year. Developers William Gottlieb Real Estate and Aurora Capital (and a team from BKSK Architects) presented plans to the LPC in February, but the commissioners asked for changes. In June, the team came back with a scaled down proposal, which won over the commissioners. But that didn't stop the advocacy group Save Gansevoort from filing a lawsuit, alleging pro-developer leanings on the part of the LPC, in October.

6. Park Slope's Pavilion theater

Copy Link
188 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11215

At the end of 2015, developer Hidrock Realty and architect Morris Adjmi made plans to redevelop Park Slope's Pavilion theater, keeping a smaller movie theater but also adding a new six-story structure to house 24 condominium units. But that fell through, and now the proprietors of Williamsburg's popular Nitehawk Cinema will turn it into the 650-seat Nitehawk Prospect Park. Hidrock still owns the site where the new structure would have sat, though plans for that have not been announced. Those, and any alterations to the cinema, will still have to go before the LPC.

7. Jane Street megamansion

Copy Link
89 Jane St
New York, NY 10014

In July, the LPC heard a proposal to turn the buildings at 85-89 Jane Street into a single-family home reportedly for billionaire Jon Stryker, one that would have stood 90 feet high—something that West Villagers weren't particularly happy about. In October, architect Steven Harris came back with a proposal that eliminated the tower and re-worked many other elements, winning approval.

8. Upper East Side megamansion

Copy Link
15 E 75th St
New York, NY 10021

Speaking of megamansions: Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought three townhouses at 11-15 East 75th Street in 2015, and he hired the architecture firms of Stephen Wang and Herzog & de Meuron to combine them into a single-family home. The proposal presented in April called for altering the townhouses to give them one unified look, but the LPC, and the public, weren’t fond of that idea. The team came back in June with a design that maintains no. 11’s neo-Federal style alongside the others’ Queen Anne style. The home will have five bedrooms, a pool, a sauna, a library, a “sitting niche,” and a roof garden.

9. Former First Church of Christ, Scientist in New York City

Copy Link
361 Central Park West
New York, NY 10025

Since at least 2014, a plan had been in the works to convert the former First Church of Christ, Scientist in New York City at 361 Central Park West into condominiums. After quite the back and forth at the LPC and before Manhattan Community Board 7, it received the approval of former in March of 2015, but was later was rejected by the latter. Of course, community board votes are only advisory—the Board of Standards and Appeals, which needed to grant several waivers for the site’s residential use, rejected the proposal over the summer. The future of the 1903 building, which was landmarked in 1974, remains unclear.

10. East Village tenements

Copy Link
112 E 11th St
New York, NY 10003

Unlike most of the properties above, this one is neither an individual landmark nor is it in a historic district. Nevertheless, developer Lightstone Group’s plan is to knock down five five-story tenement buildings at 112-120 East 11th Street (across the street from Webster Hall) and replace them with a 13-story, 311-room millennial-friendly Moxy Hotel (a Marriott subsidiary). It has not been well-received by preservationists. Sadly for them, the LPC has not moved to designate the structures and redevelopment is moving ahead.

Loading comments...

1. Intro. 775-A

260 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

In 2015, bill Intro. 775 started making its way through the New York City Council. Sponsored by Council Members Peter Koo (of Queens) and David Greenfield (of Brooklyn), it would impose deadlines and unfunded mandates on the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The most controversial provision was that if a landmark failed to receive designation within the allotted time period, it could not be considered again for five years (during which time it could be destroyed). Thankfully, that provision didn’t make it into the final bill, Intro. 775-A, which was signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in June. But the LPC now has one year to consider individual landmarks and two years to consider historic districts. Consideration of an individual landmark can be extended by one year, but only with the property owner’s consent. Additionally, the commission was given 18 months to clear any items still on its calendar at the time of the bill’s enactment.

260 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002

2. Landmarks backlog

1 Centre St, New York, NY 10007

In 2014, the LPC proposed simply de-calendaring the 95 items that had been on its calendar since before 2010—a proposal that went over like a lead balloon. So, the commission did a re-think and scheduled four sessions in 2015 for the public to speak out on the items. In 2016, it announced 30 of them had been prioritized for designation. Most of the rest were removed from the calendar without prejudice, meaning they can be considered again. Of those 30, 26 have since received individual designation (including Bergdorf Goodman, pictured); two were removed from the calendar; and one—the former IRT Powerhouse—remains on the calendar.

1 Centre St
New York, NY 10007

3. South Street Seaport

New York

The Seaport remained contentious in 2016, after plenty of battles over Pier 17 in 2015, too. This year, the big fight was over the future of the Tin Building. In March, the Howard Hughes Corporation was given permission to rebuild the 1907 structure a little east of its current location. The rebuilt structure will host a food hall run by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Some original structural elements will be reused in the new Tin Building. However, little is actually left of the original building since it was gutted by a fire in 1995.

4. LICH redevelopment

339 Hicks St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

We now know what will become of the former Long Island College Hospital site in Cobble Hill: Developer Fortis Property Group has gone with its as-of-right option. That will mean a 17-story building at 350 Hicks Street and a 15-story building at 347 Hicks Street. There will be a total of 76 residential units, none of them affordable. They will be designed by FXFOWLE and Romines Architecture. The taller building will also have community facility space and both buildings will have parking. The community, as you'd expect, is not happy.

339 Hicks St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

5. Gansevoort Market

46 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014

The battle over the Gansevoort Street Market basically picked up where it left off in 2015, with West Village and Meatpacking District preservationists no happier than they were at the end of last year. Developers William Gottlieb Real Estate and Aurora Capital (and a team from BKSK Architects) presented plans to the LPC in February, but the commissioners asked for changes. In June, the team came back with a scaled down proposal, which won over the commissioners. But that didn't stop the advocacy group Save Gansevoort from filing a lawsuit, alleging pro-developer leanings on the part of the LPC, in October.

46 Gansevoort St
New York, NY 10014

6. Park Slope's Pavilion theater

188 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215

At the end of 2015, developer Hidrock Realty and architect Morris Adjmi made plans to redevelop Park Slope's Pavilion theater, keeping a smaller movie theater but also adding a new six-story structure to house 24 condominium units. But that fell through, and now the proprietors of Williamsburg's popular Nitehawk Cinema will turn it into the 650-seat Nitehawk Prospect Park. Hidrock still owns the site where the new structure would have sat, though plans for that have not been announced. Those, and any alterations to the cinema, will still have to go before the LPC.

188 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11215

7. Jane Street megamansion

89 Jane St, New York, NY 10014

In July, the LPC heard a proposal to turn the buildings at 85-89 Jane Street into a single-family home reportedly for billionaire Jon Stryker, one that would have stood 90 feet high—something that West Villagers weren't particularly happy about. In October, architect Steven Harris came back with a proposal that eliminated the tower and re-worked many other elements, winning approval.

89 Jane St
New York, NY 10014

8. Upper East Side megamansion

15 E 75th St, New York, NY 10021

Speaking of megamansions: Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought three townhouses at 11-15 East 75th Street in 2015, and he hired the architecture firms of Stephen Wang and Herzog & de Meuron to combine them into a single-family home. The proposal presented in April called for altering the townhouses to give them one unified look, but the LPC, and the public, weren’t fond of that idea. The team came back in June with a design that maintains no. 11’s neo-Federal style alongside the others’ Queen Anne style. The home will have five bedrooms, a pool, a sauna, a library, a “sitting niche,” and a roof garden.

15 E 75th St
New York, NY 10021

9. Former First Church of Christ, Scientist in New York City

361 Central Park West, New York, NY 10025

Since at least 2014, a plan had been in the works to convert the former First Church of Christ, Scientist in New York City at 361 Central Park West into condominiums. After quite the back and forth at the LPC and before Manhattan Community Board 7, it received the approval of former in March of 2015, but was later was rejected by the latter. Of course, community board votes are only advisory—the Board of Standards and Appeals, which needed to grant several waivers for the site’s residential use, rejected the proposal over the summer. The future of the 1903 building, which was landmarked in 1974, remains unclear.

361 Central Park West
New York, NY 10025

10. East Village tenements

112 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003

Unlike most of the properties above, this one is neither an individual landmark nor is it in a historic district. Nevertheless, developer Lightstone Group’s plan is to knock down five five-story tenement buildings at 112-120 East 11th Street (across the street from Webster Hall) and replace them with a 13-story, 311-room millennial-friendly Moxy Hotel (a Marriott subsidiary). It has not been well-received by preservationists. Sadly for them, the LPC has not moved to designate the structures and redevelopment is moving ahead.

112 E 11th St
New York, NY 10003