Full City Funding for LPC (Council District 1)

March 31, 2022

The Honorable Christopher Marte, Member
New York City Council
101 Lafayette St, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10013

Via mail and email: district1@council.nyc.gov

Dear Council Member Marte:

I am writing on behalf of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative – LESPI – to request that, in negotiating the City’s budget for Fiscal Year 2023, you support full funding for the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The LPC is a very small City agency that runs on a skeletal staff, but has an outsize impact on New York’s economy, built environment, historic and architectural resources, and quality of life. However, it is essential, as New York recovers from the Covid pandemic, that these aspects of city life are not degraded due to LPC being understaffed and overburdened, with the resulting administrative delays, poor performance, and staff resignations.

With the scarcity of Lower East Side individual landmarks and complete lack of NYC historic districts below Houston Street, we are looking for LPC to significantly ramp up their efforts to designate historic LES buildings and streetscapes before they are lost to demolition and insensitive development. 

For more than six years, LPC has been reviewing LESPI’s and Friends of the Lower East Side’s proposal for a Lower East Side Tenement historic district, centered on Orchard Street below Delancey, which has been stuck in LPC’s owner-outreach phase with no sign of movement. Additionally, our groups have had an informal conversation and review with LPC regarding an “Al Smith – Oliver Street” historic district, and LESPI is now preparing a formal Request for Evaluation to submit to LPC. Over the last year, LESPI has submitted four Requests for Evaluation for LES potential individual landmarks, including three historic settlement house buildings, but again no movement.

Diminished staffing due to budget cuts will further slow LPC’s already painfully slow process of achieving landmark designation to protect the Lower East Side’s important architectural and cultural heritage. With economic activity (thankfully) increasing as we emerge from the pandemic, this may be our last chance to act before the Lower East Side as we know it is bulldozed for yet more hi-rise luxury apartments and hotels.

Thank you for your consideration.


Richard D. Moses

Cc: Caitlin Kelmar, Office of Christopher Marte – ckelmar@council.nyc.gov