Slopers: Development-loving DeBlasio stonewalling historic district expansion

Brooklyn Paper
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History can’t wait.

Park Slope preservationists are convinced Mayor DeBlasio is railroading their efforts to further expand the neighborhood’s cherished historic district in order to clear a path for developers, after his appointees on the Landmarks Preservation Commission recently shelved the arduous process of ratifying the historic district’s third expansion for at least a year.

“The city agencies do what the mayor tells them to do, and it’s been quite clear since DeBlasio has been in office that the LPC has slowed down considerably the pace of its landmarking,” said Peter Bray, chair of local civic group the Park Slope Civic Council’s landmarks committee. “People’s sense of belonging is being torn apart by a massive development boom prompted by the DeBlasio administration and this was done without any consideration of any historic resources in these communities.”

The commission approved the second expansion of the Park Slope Historic District in April — adding 300 houses on the streets bounded by Flatbush Avenue and Union Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues to the protected zone — and Bray and his fellow architecture aficionados were hoping to kick off the process for a third immediately.

But Bray says the panel’s chair Meenakshi Srinivasan told them at a meeting in July that the city would not even discuss the geographic dimensions of the third extension — of a planned four — which is required before the four-to-five-year landmarking process can even begin. Srinivasan said the city had other priorities, albeit not what those were, he said.

That’s a big change from when the agency was operating under former-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and structured the expansions so that when one was finished, the next could begin immediately, he claims.

“Under the old administration, conversations took place about the next phase as the active extension was being worked on, so that when we approached the point at which one extension was approved, there was already feedback from the LPC that they would consider for the new upcoming extension,” Bray explained. “That doesn’t exist with this administra­tion.”

A commission spokesman defended the agency in a statement saying the third extension has not been “postponed” because it was never on its calendar, and that the commission looks at many factors when prioritizing which proposals go next — although not what those are.

“The commission sets its priorities based on many factors, including its responsibility to consider resources in all five boroughs,” said Damaris Olivo.

But another historical architecture lover believes it is a symptom of the mayor’s desire to create more below-market housing by fueling development in the city, which means everything else — including landmarking — has taken a back seat.

“Development has taken precedence over almost everything,” said Simeon Bankoff of preservationist group the Historic District Council. “All you ever read in the papers is ‘affordable housing, affordable housing, affordable housing,’ and to the detriment of other goals.”

Meanwhile, the extra time gives the owners of properties in the proposed third expansion — roughly between Union and Eighth streets along Sixth Avenue — an opening to make changes that undermine the area’s historical value, with threats ranging from entirely new developments all the way down to small-scale renovations that modernize buildings’ 19th-century facades, Bankoff said.

“You can start losing aesthetic integrity when people start changing the windows, or they want to do something modern,” he said.

Once an area becomes a historic district, building owners have to keep the height and look of their properties in harmony with the locale’s lookbook, and can’t make any changes the facade without the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s okay.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Misty from Park Slope says:
That ding-dong is just hoping to get kickbacks from those who want to knock down the homes. He's doing it to get money to line his own pockets!
Sept. 13, 2016, 6:15 am
Dave from Boerum Hill says:
Regarding “All you ever read in the papers is ‘affordable housing, affordable housing, affordable housing,’ and to the detriment of other goals.”

YES, exactly. The city needs affordable housing! "Aesthetic Integrity" is at best secondary and kind of tired of hearing people b-tch about it.
Sept. 13, 2016, 8:38 am
Misty from Park Slope says:
Dave - if you ever left your bubble of trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods you'd see that there is tons of affordable housing in the Bronx and bad neighborhoods.
Why does the city need more below market rate housing than the public housing sector proivdes? Plenty of people just commute from neighborhoods that are further out. There's no shortage of cheaper apartments there. I can see no reason to ruin a unique historical part of New York to give a few people cheaper rent in a deisrable neighborhood. Furthermore, no one intends to develop this area with cheap housing, it will just be newer, more expensive, poorly made, and destroy a unique part of Brooklyn history.
Sept. 13, 2016, 9:38 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
the cost of housing has gotten more expensive under DeBlasio administration.. It didn't happen during the Bloomberg era.
Sept. 13, 2016, 9:57 am
Bkmanhatman from Nubrucklyn says:
@misty from Parkslope Working class and low income people in Brooklyn deserve as much as he enrichment of the art,education, and culture that the museum and library offer.

Sorry but the far off end of the Bronx doesn't have those developments. Besides the developers are already accelerating not their plans to transform he South Bronx.
Shame on you.
Sept. 13, 2016, 10:16 am
Dave from Boerum Hill says:
Misty from Park Slope and MJ from Bay Ridge

Are you guys joking, or are you both really this ignorant???
Sept. 13, 2016, 10:16 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
The city should absolutely be curtailing the historic district in order to make room for more residents.

Sure, the residents of one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city don't want more people to join them. Sure, people like Misty want to concentrate the non-rich in the Bronx. But the city (and state) should not allow Park Slope to put up a wall to keep people out.
Sept. 13, 2016, 10:50 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Of course we want to raise the perceived value, because then the TAXES go up.

One and Done for Bolshevik Bill.
Sept. 13, 2016, 10:58 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
@Dave from Boerum Hill

I am not joking nor is an ignorant. Please look at the chart from Zillow (from Jan 2014 to present)
Sept. 13, 2016, 11:01 am
Tyler from pps says:
MJ --

Can you recall what happened in 2008/2009 that may better explain the flatness of that line for 4 or so years? Anything?

[Hint: It's not the mayor.]
Sept. 13, 2016, 11:43 am
TruthTeller from South Slope says:
DeBlasio (Italian for all my opening are open for business) is the cause of the resentment because he is an "auto"-first proponent who also let developers build all sorts of shlock throughout Brooklyn. Look at 4th Avenue and certain side streets. Certain developers there have been banned from further construction because they are corrupt and constructed building that contribute nothing to the streetscape or assist in the overflow of the impact of new residents on subways and other infrastructure. I could go on and on. DeBlasio is a disgrace.
Sept. 13, 2016, 2:26 pm
Virginia from Brighton Beach says:
Dave and BKManhattan - you can enjoy other neighborhoods than where you live. I would like to live in Park Slope, but it's out of my budget. I still go to the museum and the central library. I use a secret trick called the subway. It connects the whole city.
Misty is right that you live in a bubble. Some neighborhoods are expensive, others are cheaper. Just because snobs like you can't imagine living anywhere else doesn't make other parts of Brooklyn or NYC uncivilized or bad. I don't want to subsidize others to live in a place I can't afford. I don't want to tear down the old houses so that some connected people can get cheap rent.
Sept. 13, 2016, 3:47 pm
Dave from Boerum Hill says:
@ Virginia, yes definitely the wealthy home owners of Park Slope who use exclusionary zoning to displace lower economic classes are those most in touch with reality. /sarcasm

Can I ask you a serious question - did you eat a lot of lead paint as a child?
Sept. 13, 2016, 4:14 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
I definitely ate lead paint chips and I'm fine.

Historic zoning is important, but must be balanced with the right to housing. We need affordable housing in NYC! However, the pay to play with developers is poisoning the water and good will. Further, you need single landlords in Brownstone Bk to keep the city in check and focused on important issues. Single home owners interests are more aligned with renters, the biggest being, and as opposed to large building LLCs, these two groups are actual people who can form meaningful relationships.
Sept. 13, 2016, 5:44 pm
Ralfff from Staten Island says:
Come for the preservationist whining, stay for the commenters lecturing you on why you should be thankful for your market-rate apartment/condo/co-op property taxes subsidizing their tax-capped Class 1 multimillion dollar houses.
Sept. 13, 2016, 9:13 pm
boo says:
The Bronx is actually a culturally and economically diverse borough with much to offer. That aside, don't drag the city's architectural standards to its knees just to make life easier for a few, for a generation or so.
Sept. 13, 2016, 9:32 pm
Misty from Park Slope says:
So the neighborhoods with the most development in New York are Chelsea, East Williamsburg, and Bed Stuy. Clearly that has not made housing cheaper in these neighborhoods. Development will increase housing prices, not lower them.
It will also ruin the historic charm of the neighborhood. I'm not saying no new buildings can go up, just don't do it here. There's literally dozens of other places. This neighborhood qualifies for the zoning, the mayor is just dragging his feet to get more money for himself. Not for the people of the city.
Sept. 14, 2016, 6:17 am
Brooklyn Bob from Carroll Gardens says:
I grew up in affordable housing. It was a large apartment building complex set up for those in the lower-lower-middle income sector. It was lovely. It was also in CANARSIE. This meant a very long commute for my dad into the city for his job. But that made sense. That was the trade off. And if you think DeBlasio is truly interested in creating more affordable housing, you are delusional. He's interested in clearing the way for developers (who contributed a lot of $$ to his campaign, and still contribute) under the guise of creating more affordable housing. All of those developers are getting huge tax breaks (and tax CREDITS), which, if paid, could have been used to create more affordable housing complexes like the one I grew up in.
Sept. 14, 2016, 9 am
RBC from Coney Island says:
Misty & Dave:

There is NOT enough affordable housing in NYC, even in unpopular neighborhoods. But development makes the affordable housing crisis worst because new construction is expensive. In Prospect-Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn - which is NOT the safest neighborhood - they repurposed the old Caledonian Hospital into a luxury rental where rents start at $2300. The vast majority of the residents in this City can't afford that. I can't afford that!!
Sept. 14, 2016, 7:53 pm
I could be wrong says:
I wouldn't necessarily say development makes the affordable situation worse, rather a particular type of development…inclusionary housing.

Ever wander through the Ten Eyck Houses? Those are really very nice, though maybe the ceilings heights are antiquated.

The psychology and maintenance of such a project may be problematic? And thus we've inclusionary housing.
Sept. 15, 2016, 5:54 am
I could be wrong still says:
That low ceiling height was corrected with a minimum requirement via an improved building code. Meanwhile most new construction being built, at the moment is requesting to be reviewed under codes that are not current. Kinda makes you wonder, no?
Sept. 15, 2016, 6:41 am
Matt Cvetic from Carroll Gardens says:
They told me if I voted for Christine Quinn New York City would be in the hands of developers and they were right!
Sept. 15, 2016, 9:26 am
Dave from Boerum Hill says:
@ RBC from Coney Island

Do you not see the problem with what you stated? Think for a moment.
Sept. 15, 2016, 9:29 am
They're circling says:
New construction is often bad quality and too expensive. A destructive combination.

If 421a is reintroduced it has the potential to wipe out any area both architecturally and economically, which is not contextually zoned/historically designated. Is such a change appropriate?
Sept. 15, 2016, 10:34 am
Lisa from Cobble Hill says:
At least Blasio temporarily froze rent stabilization. Though that sometimes feel like a bandaid gradually being pulled off.
Sept. 15, 2016, 11:43 am
Jen from Windsor terrace says:
There are newer wood frame non historic houses adjacent to park slope ( like where deblasios house was/is) on 12th, 13th, 14th and on. Newer , as in built in the 30s, not 1800s... And are just as easily accessible to subways etc... My family is from park slope, and although I couldn't afford to buy there, I think it's disgraceful to rip out historical brownstones to make way for luxury condos (affordable, who are they kidding?!) and why not put them in nearby neighborhoods off 2nd avenue where there's old beat up wood frame houses and unused warehouses? Why does every nice block have to have a row of houses ripped out to make way for a Walgreens or ugly condos that look like office buildings? The reason it's a nice neighborhood is because of the trees and the architecture and "slope" of the landscape, if people don't care, why don't they move back to the towns they're from, full of strip malls and wood houses that were all built in the 50s!
Oct. 1, 2016, 12:53 am

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