letters

LESPI's letter to BSA re: 2-26 Stanton Street redevelopment

November 9, 2012

The Honorable Meenakshi Srinivasan, A.I.C.P., Chair
NYC Board of Standards and Appeals
40 Rector Street
New York, NY 10006-1705

RE: BSA No. 299-82-BZ: 2-26 Stanton Street, a/k/a 207-217 Chrystie Street

Dear Chair Srinivasan:

Lower East Side Preservation Initiative requests that the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals deny Cammeby International’s request to reinstate air/development rights that do not currently exist and to uphold the May 2, 2012 Department of Buildings denial of the application for a new building at the referenced address – a 200,000 square foot, 25-story, 300-foot tall hotel/condominium - due to the size and scale of the proposed building’s design. (This assessment is based on our review of an outline streetscape elevation and three-dimensional rendering titled “Impact Study Depicting Proposed Development, 2-26 Stanton Street a/k/a 207-17 Chrystie Street”).

Manhattan’s Lower East Side has tremendous local and national historic significance as a home to immigrants and a wellspring of American culture. For several years, the intensity and insensitivity of local real estate development have been threatening the area’s historic character, and as a result in 2008 the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the Lower East Side in its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The proposed building would only exacerbate this situation considerably. It is completely out of scale and context with its neighbors, would visually detract from the area’s remaining historic streetscapes, and would cast long shadows over nearby streets and parkland. It should be rejected due to its significantly negative impact on the community’s urban environment and heritage.

We ask the BSA to require the applicants to produce an environmental impact study for the proposed building, and to not approve any application that is out of scale / character with the surrounding neighborhood.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

Cc: Susan Stetzer, Manhattan Community Board 3

 

LESPI's Historic Preservation Section 106 Review of the Seward Park Redevelopment Project

July 19, 2012

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development
Robert R. Kulikowski, PhD.
Assisitant to the Mayor
253 Broadway, 14th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Re: Seward Park Mixed-Use Redevelopment Project: Section 106 Review

Dear Dr. Kulikowski:

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative – LESPI - has reviewed the Draft Environment Impact Statement for the Seward Park Mixed-Use Redevelopment Project.

As you know, there are several properties in and around the redevelopment site that have been identified as having architectural / historic significance that would be directly or indirectly impacted by the construction. Among these are the Essex Street Market, Fire Engine Company 17 at 185 Broome Street, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, and The Dispensary Building. Additionally, the State and National Register Lower East Side Historic District and the potential (State and National Register Eligible) Clinton, Rivington, Stanton Street Historic District are within close proximity to the site.

We do not believe it is appropriate for state and federal funds to be used to demolish or significantly damage an historic site that is either listed or deemed eligible for listing in the State or National Register of Historic Places.

The Lower East Side is an area of immense historic significance to our city and country. This community has and continues to lose large numbers of historically and architecturally significant buildings at an alarmingly fast rate. Demolishing more of these buildings will further diminish this fragile historic neighborhood already pockmarked with insensitive development.

Several types of mitigation have been proposed. We strongly assert that mitigation for demolition typically does not come close to balancing the loss of the cultural / historical resource. Mitigations such as creating museum exhibits on a demolished building’s history within the new structure, and preserving a section of the building’s façade and building the new structure behind it (i.e. facadism) do not address historic preservation concerns or values.

The best way to minimize impacts on the area’s historic districts – either listed or considered eligible - is for the scale and materials of the new buildings to be sensitive to the surrounding historic sites. This does not mean that the new buildings should slavishly imitate the style of the historic buildings, or resort to apologetically bland generic designs. Conversely, it is most appropriate for the new design to be robustly modern, and to develop a dialogue with the historic buildings in the spirit of the robust architecture of the neighborhood’s historic structures.

Creative urban and architectural design can ensure that a new development takes its place comfortably on the Lower East Side, contributing to the area’s vital historic character and respectful of its rich architectural and historic resources.

LESPI is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the architectural, historical and cultural heritage of Manhattan’s East Village / Lower East Side. With historic resources falling prey to demolition and defacement on an almost daily basis, it is imperative that the city act now to save the historically intact areas of these locally and nationally important neighborhoods for current and future generations.

Please feel free to email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call at 347-827-1846. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

Cc:
Margaret Chin, NY City Council
Gigi Li, Manhattan Community Board 3

 

LESPI's Public Hearing Testimony for Landmark Designation of the Proposed East Village / Lower East Side Historic District

TESTIMONY:
NYC LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION PUBLIC HEARING FOR THE PROPOSED EAST VILLAGE / LOWER EAST SIDE HISTORIC DISTRICT
June 26, 2012

Good afternoon, my name is Richard Moses and I am President of Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, also known as LESPI.

I am here today to support, in the strongest and most emphatic way possible, landmark designation for the Proposed East Village / Lower East Side Historic District. The East Village is an integral part of the historic Lower East Side, an area of great local, city-wide and national importance for its central role in our culture's immigration, political, music, art and theater history. Its historic streets include a wonderfully rich variety of beautifully ornate 19th and early 20th century architecture. By landmarking this district, the city is ensuring that we and future generations can appreciate the physical evidence of its fascinating story and legacy.

As you know, development pressures in the neighborhood are intense and getting stronger all the time. Historic buildings are being demolished and defaced on an ongoing basis. If we don’t act now to save the historic areas of the East Village they’ll be lost forever - time is of the essence in designating this historic district.

There have been concerns raised about the religious buildings in the proposed district. When my great-grandmother first arrived in the Lower East Side from Russia 120 years ago, having been sent alone by her family at age 13 to escape the programs, she was disappointed that the streets were not literally paved in gold. But the countless religious buildings in the neighborhood did provide this aura. Although many of our community’s religious buildings have been lost over the years, those remaining continue as spiritual beacons, providing spiritual peace and reassurance for residents as society becomes increasingly commercialized. Losing these magnificent buildings would be a tragic loss for us all.

Based on our extensive outreach, we believe that the vast majority of the neighborhood’s residents want landmarking. We have gathered over 1,000 signatures in support of landmark preservation, which I have here, in just a few petitioning sessions. Community Board 3 has voted in support of the district.

Although the recent landmarking of the East 10th Street Historic District was a good first step toward the preservation of the historic Lower East Side, that district is only a single blockfront, and the landmarking of the much larger Proposed East Village / Lower East Side Historic District will go much further toward providing the area’s intact historic streetscapes the landmark protection they deserve.

Finally, we ask the LPC to continue moving forward to preserve additional intact streets of the historic Lower East Side, from the east side of Tompkins Square Park west to the Bowery and Broadway, and from 14th Street south to Chinatown, as these neighborhoods are very rich in history and architecture and under increasingly destructive development pressures as well. Thank you.

 

Landmark Designation for The Bowery Mission

June 8, 2012

Honorable Robert Tierney, Chairman
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Via email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Re: Landmark Designation for The Bowery Mission, 227 Bowery, Manhattan

Dear Chairman Tierney:

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative - LESPI - is writing to support LPC’s designation of The Bowery Mission at 227 Bowery as an Individual Landmark.

This well preserved Neo-Grec style building, which dates from 1876, has functioned as the Bowery Mission since 1909 when the Mission took over the property. The richly ornamented Tudor Revival window bay, inserted by the Mission during the building’s conversion, is an important and aesthetically attractive alteration that broadcasts the structure’s communal function and proclaims its welcome to the poor and needy.

The building’s conversion to philanthropic use marked an important transitional time in New York’s attitude toward its poorest residents. Jacob Riis’s 1890 How the Other Half Lives awakened many New Yorkers to the immense suffering of the city’s impoverished. In the decades following its publication, new philanthropic groups were organized, charitable facilities constructed, and legislation and programs for low income housing initiated. The Bowery Mission is a product of – and exemplifies – this era’s activist Progressivism and heightened compassion.

The Bowery Mission clearly warrants landmark protection on both historical architectural and cultural grounds. We request that the LPC designate this important structure as an Individual Landmark as soon as possible. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

Cc: Hon. Margaret Chin, New York City Council

 

Landmark Designation for Bowery Bank Building

May 14, 2012

Honorable Robert Tierney, Chairman
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Re: Landmark Designation for The Bowery Bank of New York, 124 Bowery, Manhattan

Dear Chairman Tierney:

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative - LESPI - is writing to support LPC’s designation of the former The Bowery Bank of New York, at 124 Bowery aka 230 Grand Street as an Individual Landmark. This Beaux Arts style building has a strong visual presence on the Bowery and has an aesthetically important relationship with the Bowery Savings Bank building, one of New York’s most cherished landmarks which flanks this building on either side.

The Bowery Bank building, constructed in 1901 by prominent architects York and Sawyer, is in the heart of the Lower East Side’s immigrant community. In New York, Beaux Arts architecture is perhaps stylistically unsurpassed in its outward expression of civic pride, virtue, stability and aspiration. 124 Bowery’s architecture tells an important story about the hopes and desires of the community it served: its monumental architecture proudly and emphatically proclaims its presence on the streetscape, and beautiful façade with classical ornamentation speaks of its long term contribution toward and commitment to the surrounding community. Today these values continue to ring true.

The building is a highly valued and irreplaceable architectural and cultural resource for both the Lower East Side and New York City as a whole. Its loss would diminish the architectural and cultural wealth of our community and city, as well as the Bowery Savings Bank’s architecture and aesthetics of the surrounding streetscapes. Only landmark status will ensure the preservation of this important structure.

We request that the LPC vote to designate 124 Bowery as an Individual Landmark as soon as possible. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

 

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The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is dedicated to preserving the historic streetscapes of the Lower East Side, including the East Village, Lower East Side below Houston Street, Bowery, Chinatown and Little Italy