Parts of East Village, LES set to get landmark status
The Landmarks Preservation Commission today is expected to grant landmark status to parts of the East Village, amid complaints from neighborhood religious institutions about the designation.
The proposed historic district stretches up Second Avenue between East Second and East Seventh streets along with a few blocks around First Avenue. About 330 buildings across 15 blocks are slated to be landmarked, and Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said the designation is needed to help the locale keeps its personality.
"The East Village is one of New York's oldest and most historic neighborhoods," Berman said. "It's a place that has had an outsized affect on the city's and the nation's history, and it's very much in danger of losing that character due to out of context new development."
Middle Collegiate Church, The Sixth Street Community Synagogue, the former Fillmore East and Saul Birns Building, and a numbers of brownstones, tenement buildings and other religious buildings will fall within the boundaries of the proposed historic district.
With landmark status, buildings must clear all major external modifications - such as big renovations or demolitions - with the LPC, so that the alterations "do not detract from the special character of the city's landmarks and historic districts," according to the commission.
Sticking to those requirements could be a financial burden for nonprofits and religious institutions, said Richard Wright of Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection, on East Second Street between First and Second avenues.
"We have spent nearly $1 million in the last decade alone conserving our building and for the city to come in and tell us that they can do it better is, quite frankly, an insult," Wright told NY1.com, adding that the designation could lead to gentrification.
Still, Berman said that a provision is built into the law to protect such institutions if they face financial hardships, and that grants and financial aid would be made available.
If the LPC approves the proposal, it will go into effect immediately. Within 10 days the commission must send copies of the designation to the City Council, which will have 120 days to modify or disapprove it.