LESPI's Letter re De-calendaring

December 3, 2014

Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chair Srinivasan:

I’m writing on behalf of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI) to express our strong objection to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s proposed administrative action to remove properties calendared for more than five years from consideration for landmarking. This action has several strongly negative effects, it:

- results in probable loss of a significant number of buildings already deemed historic by LPC, including many broadly known sites as well as two building's in the historic Lower East Side.

- wipes away a list of properties that represents countless hours of individual and community effort to have them calendared in the first place, which in effect disenfranchises communities that have been seeking landmark protection for their historic sites and neighborhoods.

- subverts the time-tested procedure for landmarking buildings and districts: calendared properties, which have already been deemed to have historic merit by the LPC, should be entitled to their "day in court.” Undermining this process sets a bad precedent, that will discourage communities from bringing forward buildings if they believe the process cannot be consistently relied upon to ensure a full review of each building or district based on merit.

- is of a magnitude that warrants an LPC public hearing with proper public notification to allow affected communities and others to weigh in; otherwise this action will encourage public disengagement and a degradation of democratic involvement in our civic processes.

We respectfully but strongly urge the LPC to cancel the vote this Tuesday, and instead hold a public hearing to review this action and consider the buildings individually on the merits.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc:
The Honorable Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President
The Honorable Margaret Chin, NYC Council Member
The Honorable Rosie Mendez, NYC Council Member

 

LESPI's Letter re landmarking Eastern Dispensary building

February 3, 2014 rev.

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

Re: Landmark Designation: Eastern Dispensary Building, 75 Essex Street, Manhattan

Dear Chair Tierney:

I am writing to support Individual Landmark designation for the Eastern Dispensary Building at 75 Essex Street in Manhattan.

The building remains very much intact from its original 1890 construction. Designed by architects Rose and Stone, it has a simple yet strong Italianate style architecture enlivened by ground floor rusticated masonry and arched windows. It has a notably commanding presence on the street, and serves as a vivid reminder of the immediate area’s important immigrant history.

One of a relatively small number of dispensary buildings created during the late 18th and 19th centuries by the city to assist the healthcare of poor residents, the Eastern Dispensary exemplifies the early phase of New York’s then increasing sense of charity and civic responsibility. In our time, when the role in government in helping the poor and providing health care is frequently subject to fierce debate, historical markers such as this provide a critical lesson in the successes and failures of past attitudes, policies and institutions.

The building is within the Lower East Side National Register Historic District, and was listed as a site with architectural / historic significance in the Seward Park Mixed-Use Redevelopment Project’s Environmental Impact Statement. We respectfully request that the Commission act to designate the building an Individual Landmark at the earliest opportunity. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

Cc: Councilmember Margaret Chin, New York City Council This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Susan Stetzer, Manhattan Community Board 3 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

LESPI's Letter re landmarking Tifereth Israel synagogue building

October 25, 2013

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

Re: Landmark Designation: Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue Building, Manhattan

Dear Chair Tierney:

I am writing to strongly support Individual Landmark designation for the Tifereth Israel Town and Village synagogue building at 334 East 14th Street in Manhattan.

The building has a striking and robust architectural design and a very strong presence on the street. Its history reflects the area’s cultural and demographic transitions over the last century and a half, and thereby serves as an important historical marker for the Lower East Side community.

The Tifereth Israel Town and Village synagogue building was originally built in 1866 as the German Baptist Church. Occupying the outskirts of the Lower East Side’s Kleindeutschland neighborhood, the structure would have visually dominated the surrounding streetscape from its first construction. That it continues to have such as strong presence today speaks forcefully to the building’s architectural character and to its continuing prominent role in the life of our community. The building’s transformation over time, from its original use as the German Baptist Church, to its conversion to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 1926, and finally to its present use as Tifereth Israel Town and Village synagogue, can be traced in the subtle changes in the building facades, most notably with the replacement of the steeples with onion domes in the early 20th century and the introduction of the Star of David motif in the windows during the later 20th century.

The building has historically played and continues to play an important role in the life of the Lower East Side, and we believe it is essential that the building survives for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Its importance was recognized by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966 when it calendared the property. We applaud the Commission’s recent scheduling of a public hearing for the building, and respectfully request that the Commission acts to designate the building an Individual Landmark at the earliest opportunity. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

 

LESPI's Letter re landmarking Stabile Row

August 21, 2013

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

Re: Landmark Designation: Banca Stabile Row, Little Italy, Manhattan

Dear Chair Tierney:

Manhattan’s Little Italy is well known throughout this country as our most historically important Italian American neighborhood. Today, there are only reminders of this once sprawling and culturally diverse community, which had greatly influenced our city’s political and cultural life.

The architectural and historic significance of Little Italy, a NYC Special Purpose Zoning District and part of the Chinatown and Little Italy National Register Historic District, is apparent from the area’s rows of historic buildings ranging in date from the early 19th to the early 20th century. Wandering the neighborhood’s streets, one is still able to envision Italian American immigrant life 100 years ago.

The heart of this area is around Mulberry and Grand Streets, where the Banca Stabile row at 181-189 Grand Street is located. This row originally dates from the 1830s. In the 1880s, the corner building at 189 Grand Street was converted to Banca Stabile. Like other local banks of its type, Banca Stabile played a central role in the residents’ lives. The row remains very much intact from its turn of the 20th century appearance. Notably, Banca Stabile’s historic banking hall also remains well preserved.

The Banca Stabile row is now under threat of demolition and redevelopment. The redevelopment will forever carve the heart out of Little Italy, not only destroying buildings that strongly contribute to the area’s history and architectural heritage, but inserting an out-of-scale, non-contextual building into an historic streetscape.

Unfortunately, the area’s Special Purpose Zoning and National Register district designations do not guarantee the preservation of Little Italy’s historic architecture. Therefore, we request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission move without delay to create a historic district to include the Banca Stabile row and the other historic buildings around this important intersection, as well as to review and calendar surrounding streets of intact historic buildings within Little Italy. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard Moses
President

 

LESPI's Testimony re: Landmarking Seward Park Library

March 20, 2013

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

Re: Landmark Designation for Seward Park Library, 192 East Broadway, Manhattan

Dear Chair Tierney:

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative - LESPI - is writing to support designation of Seward Park Library as a New York City Individual Landmark. This wonderful neo-Renaissance style building, which remains in very good condition from its original construction, maintains a strong visual presence on East Broadway and beautifully frames the southeast corner of Seward Park.

As you know, at the turn of the 20th century the Carnegie Libraries were highly important neighborhood intellectual and cultural resources as well as local expressions of civic pride and aspiration. At the time of its construction, perhaps no other community was more suitable for a Carnegie Library than the Lower East Side’s immigrant community, and Seward Park Library’s architecture tells an important story about the lives and goals of the peoples it has served over many generations. It is a landmark in the true sense of the word: its architecture proudly and elegantly proclaims its presence on the streetscape, and speaks to the history of the surrounding neighborhood, in this case a history with tremendous local, national, and even international significance.

We request that the LPC vote without delay to designate the Seward Park Library as an Individual Landmark. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard Moses
President

 

LESPI's Testimony to NY City Council re: East Village / LES Historic District

TESTIMONY: NY City Council Landmarks Submcommittee January 29, 2013

RE: EAST VILLAGE / LOWER EAST SIDE HISTORIC DISTRICT


My name is Richard Moses, President of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, also known as LESPI. LESPI is a not-for-profit, grass roots, all volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation of the historic streetscapes of the East Village / Lower East Side.

We respectfully urge the Landmarks Subcommittee to vote to ratify landmark designation for the East Village / Lower East Side Historic District. The East Village has great local, city-wide and national importance for its central role in our culture's immigration, political, music, art, and theater history. This history is reflected in the area’s wonderful variety of beautifully ornate 19th and early 20th century architecture. The scale, materials and ornament of these historic buildings provide us today with a profoundly rich urban environment.

Development pressures in the East Village are intense and getting stronger all the time. Although the 2008 rezoning of the area established certain height limitations, the brute force of gentrification has resulted in ornate historic buildings and facades being demolished and replaced with generic glass and stucco boxes. Without landmark designation the historic East Village will be lost building by building and street by street.

There have been concerns raised about the religious properties in the district. When my great-grandmother first arrived in the Lower East Side from Russia 120 years ago, having been sent alone by her family as a teenager 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 beacons, providing residents a sense of spiritual peace and reassurance as society becomes increasingly commercialized. Losing these magnificent structures 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 historic district designation in just a few petitioning sessions. Community Board 3 has voted in support of the district.

The East Village / Lower East Side Historic District will provide solid and necessary protection for its historic buildings and streetscapes. Historic district designation is the only way to effectively ensure that what we cherish about our neighborhoods will survive in the years to come. Please vote to ratify landmark designation for the East Village / Lower East Side Historic District with its current boundaries intact.

Thank you.

 

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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