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Today at the LPC: St. Vincent’s, Fillmore Place & More

williamsburg fillmore place street angleThe LPC’s agenda today is full of projects MAS has been following.  This morning, the agency addressed the St. Vincent’s hospital and new residential development projects, and this afternoon the Commissioners are scheduled to vote to make Fillmore Place in Williamsburg a historic district. More designations are taking place this afternoon too – keep reading for details.

In another split vote, the LPC today voted to approve a “notice to proceed” with the demolition of St. Vincent’s 1960s O’Toole building and the construction of a new hospital on the site. This was the final step of the hardship process, which started about a year ago, allowing the project to move forward to seek other required land use and State Department of Health approvals. Despite its name, the “notice to proceed” does not allow for the immediate demolition of the Modernist icon. Continue Reading>>


Grand Ferry Park, A Place That Matters

williamsburg grand ferry parkGrand Ferry Park, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for providing public access to the waterfront for nearly one hundred years.

In the hopes of creating a suburb of Manhattan, real estate speculator Richard M. Woodhull purchased 13 acres of land in Brooklyn. In 1802, Woodhull launched ferry service that ran from the foot of his parcel at North 2nd Street to Grand Street, on the Lower East Side.

The new neighborhood surrounding the ferry landing was called “Williamsburgh,” after the surveyor of the site, Colonel Jonathan Williams.  A relative of Benjamin Franklin, Colonel Williams was the first superintendent of West Point, the Chief Engineer of the Army Corps of Engineers and a member of Congress representing Pennsylvania. Continue Reading>>


March Madness Update: the Outer Boroughs Go 3 and 1 for Landmarks

williamsburg fillmore place street angleYesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted in favor of designating 3 new individual landmarks: the Museum building and the Fountain of Life and Tulip Tree Allée at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx; Jamaica High School in Queens; and the Rutan-Journeay residence in Tottenville, Staten Island.

In a disappointing turn of events, the Greek Revival-style Dissosway-Cole House on Arthur Kill Road in Staten Island was deemed too altered for NYC landmark status after incurring fire damage and subsequent replacement of some of the building’s original fabric. MAS had testified in favor of all four designations, stating in particular that there was enough remaining material and documentation at the Dissosway-Cole House to allow for an authentic restoration.

The commission also held public hearings on 11 designation proposals, and MAS testified in favor of all of them. Continue Reading>>


Williamsburg’s Fillmore Place in Historic District Pipeline

williamsburg fillmore place street angleThe Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled tomorrow to calendar the proposed Fillmore Place Historic District in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (calendaring is the first step in the designation process). MAS is particularly pleased to see this proposed historic district coming down the pipeline. In 2005, we, in partnership with the Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, identified and nominated this collection of residences as part of our Williamsburg and Greenpoint historic resources survey. Read more about the history of Fillmore Place below.
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Demolition=Wasteful; Reuse=Green

Joining founder of the Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint and Williamsburg Ward Dennis were: moderator and president of the Society for Industrial Archaeology Mary Habstritt; MAS director of advocacy and policy Lisa Kersavage; president & chief operating officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Andrew Kimball; and preservation consultant to the Austin, Nichols, warehouse rehabilitation Robert Powers. Continue Reading>>


Greenpoint Manufacturing & Design Center, A Place that Matters

greenpoint manufacturing design center Greenpoint Manufacturing & Design Center (GMDC) – the premier not-for-profit industrial developer in New York City – was one of ten New York City places honored by Place Matters at its tenth anniversary and awards ceremony in May of this year. GMDC, located at 1155 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, was celebrated for creating a vital gathering space.

The organization has rehabilitated five vacant North Brooklyn manufacturing buildings for occupancy by small manufacturing enterprises, and a historic spinning house is currently in the process of restoration. Rehabilitation of these buildings has made more than 700,000 square feet of space available for 100-plus tenants, triggering the preservation and creation of over 500 blue collar jobs. Continue Reading>>


Coney Island in Focus in September, Moynihan Station Round-Up

coney island surf avenue by jay specAs part of its ongoing advocacy on Coney Island, MAS is holding two public programs in September which focus on the past and future of “America’s Playground”. Titled, respectively, Coney Island: A Ride Though History and Coney Island at the Crossroads, the programs will first set the scene with a vivid history of the area featuring Charles Denson, author of Coney Island: Lost and Found, and then representatives of the Dept. of City Planning and Coney Island Development Corporation will present the city’s plan, and a panel comprising sympathetic and critical voices will discuss its merits. For more information and reservation details for these programs, visit www.mas.org/programs.

What’s more, today’s Brooklyn Paper covers upcoming programs and tours focused on Coney Island also in September. Continue Reading>>


Gotham Gazette Examines Public Participation in Planning Processes, Quotes MAS

willets point garagesIn yesterday’s Gotham Gazette, writer Courtney Gross examines in detail the ongoing conflict between the Bloomberg administration’s rampant rezoning of the city and community advocates’ call for more public participation in the planning process. From the Jamaica Plan to Williamsburg to Willets Point, she points out the flaws in the process that allow plans to proceed despite community opposition. She also tackles the issue of the lack of teeth given to 197-a planning under the current system.

Eve Baron of the Municipal Art Society Planning Center and our the Campaign for Community-Based Planning Task Force says, “When we’re talking about public participation, sitting down and being willing to talk before rezoning happens is one thing,” said Baron. “There is another thing that is working with the community beforehand to create proactive plans.” For more news, Continue Reading>>


New MAS President, Amusing Shopping at Coney Island

Today’s New York Sun covers Vin Cipolla, the future President of MAS, discussing his strategy to expand MAS’ advocacy efforts to the Capitol during his tenure.

In an update on MAS advocacy priority, Coney Island, Thor Equities feels shopping is the perfect kind of entertainment for Coney Island because it is “amusing”, says today’s Marketplace. Also, the roller rink in the historic Child’s Restaurant building at Coney Island will remain open through October report The New York Times. Continue Reading>>


Dunkin’ Donuts More Numerous than Starbucks and Nets Arena Completion Date

planning in greenpoint williamsburgMAS in the Press: MAS will lead tours of Coney Island and Williamsburg, Brooklyn this week (Brooklyn Daily Eagle).

MAS Issues in the Press:
- The Nets arena may not be finished until 2011, according to developer Forest City Ratner (New York Observer); however due to the eminent domain case filed in state court last week, the realistic date of completion may be later (Atlantic Yards Report). The City’s Economic Development Corporation has hit a snag in their attempt to acquire and relocate the largest, privately owned business in Willets Point, Queens (Crain’s New York Business).

- Opponents of the proposed expansion of the Hospital for Special Surgery on the Upper East Side fear worsening traffic congestion and air quality, and loss of scenic river views (New York Times). Starbucks isn’t New York City’s most prolific chain store, Dunkin’ Donuts is (Brooklyn Daily Eagle). Continue Reading>>


City Begins Environmental Review for Domino Site

domino sugar refinery brooklynThe developer CPC Resources proposes to redevelop the former Domino Sugar Refinery site on the Brooklyn waterfront and an upland parcel by constructing new residential buildings containing 2200 apartments (of which 660 would be affordable) while adaptively reusing the main refinery buildings. The City Planning Commission recently held a hearing for the scope of the forthcoming environmental review, and the MAS submitted comments focusing on the need to explore reusing more of the historic resources on the site, building shorter and less dense buildings, retaining industrial jobs in the surrounding area, greater use of sustainability strategies in light of the Mayor’s PlaNYC initiative, and maximizing the public quality of the open space and waterfront access in the proposal while maintaining the commitment to the project’s affordable housing component.

Resources:

MAS Comments on Draft Scope of Work for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Domino Sugar Rezoning

Additional details about the Domino Sugar Refinery site


Brooklyn’s Industrial Heritage: Now Less Endangered

save industrial brooklyn heritageOn June 14, 2007 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the industrial heritage of the Brooklyn waterfront to its annual list of the nation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, based on a nomination made by the Municipal Art Society. Since that announcement, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has taken action to protect some of the most significant places on the waterfront and have held hearings on three of the sites highlighted in the MAS nomination. Continue Reading>>


Brooklyn is Booming

brooklyn construction

Photo: Giles Ashford

Brooklyn is booming these days with a flood of development that could permanently alter its character. Major developments in in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, at the Atlantic Yards site in Prospect Heights and in Coney Island are either underway or slated to begin soon, but less well-publicized areas adjacent to these developments are also experiencing significant changes to their built environment.

According the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, an estimated 13 million square feet of development was planned for Brooklyn in 2005. Recently, The New York Times reported that of the 24,610 permits issued by the City Department of Buildings in Brooklyn in 2005, 1,740 were for new buildings — a rate of four new building permits each day. In that same time, the department issued 1,924 permits for demolition, or five per day. In the simplest terms, Brooklyn lost five buildings and gained four new ones every day in 2005. Continue Reading>>


Living in a Sugar Factory

domino sugar refinery brooklynWhat do a casket factory, a glass factory and a high-tech laboratory have in common? All are former industrial buildings that have been transformed into high-quality housing for low-income people. While some developers say that to build affordable housing we must sacrifice historic buildings and significant neighborhoods, history demonstrates clearly that we can have both. New York City has a long record of re-adapting historic buildings for many uses, including affordable housing. Continue Reading>>


Significant Historic Resources in the Greenpoint / Williamsburg Rezoning Area

greenpoint williamsburgGreenpoint and Williamsburg have a long and venerable past, and there remains a wealth of buildings related to their history. Williamsburg, which in the 1850s was the third-largest city in the region, is filled with 19th-century rowhouses and manufacturing buildings interspersed with historic banks, schools, churches and synagogues. In Greenpoint, 90 percent of the existing housing stock was built before World War II, much of it constructed by the 19th-century shipbuilders who worked on the nearby docks. Amid this rich housing stock are some of Brooklyn’s oldest churches — and significant collections of manufacturing buildings that are reminders of the neighborhood’s industrial past. These buildings, which bear witness to the neighborhoods’ rich history, also play a significant role in shaping the character and sense of place of these communities. When the city brought forward a proposal to rezone large sections of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, we became concerned that the historic buildings would be negatively impacted if steps were not taken to protect them. Continue Reading>>