New York takes giant leap forward with new landmarks legislation

New York City Council recently passed legislation that will, at long last, bring greater predictability and transparency to the City’s process for designating new landmarks.

With the passage of Intro. 775-A, there will now be a reasonable timeline for the process of designating new landmarks.

When signed into law by the mayor, this legislation will require the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate a calendared building as a landmark within 12 months, and historic districts within 24 months.

The most recent version of this legislation differs slightly from the original. One important distinction is that Intro 775-A contains a provision for the 12-month time limit on specific buildings to be extended by an additional 12 months with the approval of the building’s owners, with historic districts not being open to extensions.

The original legislation also contained a five-year moratorium for a building to be calendared again if LPC had not designated a building in the 12-month timeframe, which the new legislation does not include.

The lack of a reasonable timeline for the landmarking process had resulted in a significant backlog in the number of calendared properties until very recently.

MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO

 MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO

In the past year and a half, LPC has greatly reduced the number of calendared properties through its Backlog. The passage of this latest legislation will only continue to improve those efforts and further streamline the landmarking process to ensure that New York City will be able to stay current while efficiently preserving the buildings and historic districts that have significantly contributed to making this city the greatest in the world.

This accomplishment would not have been possible without the leadership of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Land Use David Greenfield, and Chair of the Council’s Land Use Subcommittee on Landmarks, Peter Koo.

I also want to thank the organizations such as 32BJ SEIU, the NYS Association for Affordable Housing, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Building Owners and Managers Association of New York, the Archdiocese of New York, the Partnership for New York City, the Building Trades Council, both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Chambers of Commerce, and the Rent Stabilization Association.

The widespread support of these organizations for this legislation was vital in emphasizing that this was a bill in the best interests of New Yorkers across all five boroughs.

I would also like to thank all of REBNY’s members for their help in advocating for this legislation — its passage is a direct result of REBNY’s advocacy over the last several years.Landmark-Preservation-Commission-Seal-NYC

We could not have accomplished this victory if not for the hard work of many smart and talented people. In particular, I would like to thank Mike Slattery, Paimaan Lodhi, Ali Davis, John Doyle and Jim Whelan who worked hard to make this happen.

Landmarks are a vital part of New York City’s legacy and an essential part of its identity. REBNY members own and maintain New York’s most iconic landmark buildings and proudly support truly worthy districts.

The passage of this legislation is a step in the right direction. It should help curtail the mis-use of the historic designation process by those who simply want to stop new development and the creation of new housing and jobs.

And it begins to restore the high standards that were originally envisioned when the Landmarks Law was adopted over 50 years ago.