Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What Designation Might Not Allow - Part 2

Our last post reviewed examples of modifications to existing buildings that might not have been allowed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Today we will feature examples of new development in Park Slope that might have been examined very closely by the LPC.

Keep in mind that Park Slope is nearly fully built up; there are not many empty lots left to develop. Each of the buildings shown below most likely replaced an earlier structure that stood on the same spot. The first hurdle to constructing a new building in a historic district is whether the existing building contributes to the historic character of the district. The LPC will include such assessments in the detailed "Designation Report" that it compiles for each historic district. The LPC would most likely be reluctant to permit the demolition of a designated building that contributes to the character and "sense of place" of a historic district.

The next hurdle for new construction in a historic district, assuming a developer can gain control of an empty building site, is that the LPC will consider whether the proposed building detracts from the historic fabric of the district. The proposed new building should not be an ersatz replica of a historic building. But it seems reasonable that the LPC will seek to protect the quality of the designated historic district, and will expect any new building to be sensitive to and respectful of the larger district, and to not detract from the integrity of the historic district in which it is placed.

Some examples...

Generic "little box" stores, which as we have seen are great at annihilating sense of place, might not be permitted in a historic district:

5th Avenue - Rite Aid

9th Street - CVS

5th Avenue - Key Food

Mid-block buildings that tower over their neighbors might not be allowed:

11th Street

Some buildings seem like maybe they're trying to fit in, but just don't for some reason:

6th Avenue

Update: Commenter "slopefarm", writing on Brownstoner, says that the building above is not in fact new construction: "That is not infill construction -- they busted open the brownstone facade, put in a front extension with a stone face, and stuccoed up the rest of the exterior. Marred an otherwise neat row of small brownstones."

Some buildings seem to go out of their way to contrast with their neighbors:

13th Street

Developers often gain control over multiple contiguous lots, replacing smaller buildings with larger ones that can overwhelm the streetscape:

8th Street

15th Street

And finally some new buildings are just totally weird:

12th Street

We suspect that all of the buildings shown above might have come in for close scrutiny by the LPC, had they been proposed within the boundaries of a historic district. Most of them seem to detract, at least in our mind, from the unique "sense of place" that characterizes Park Slope. It might have been preferable had the original buildings been left alone.


Anonymous said...

Ooh, painful to look upon. Important work you're doing with this kind of documentation. Thank you.

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