Homes and buildings of historical significance play an important role in maintaining New York City’s history and culture. A couple historic buildings in particular and their future have recently gained a great deal of attention. Here is a closer look.
Clinton Hill Skyscraper to See Some Changes
Earlier this year, Hope Street Capital received permission from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to make repairs to Clinton Hill’s landmarked Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew. As part of the process, the developers received permission to combine the church’s lot with another one located on the corner of Clinton and Atlantic avenues. As part of the repair plans, the developer will also construct a 29-story tower designed by Morris Adjmi Architects. This part of the project will be located on a lot that currently houses the Hot Bird bar.
The original plans drew some concerns from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, particularly as they related to the quality of the materials selected to repair the façade of the church. Modified plans have addressed these concerns with a more extensive restoration program for the church and a modified design for the tower. How this project will pan out still remains to be seen as the developers strive to meet the requirements of the Landmarks Preservation Commission while also bringing their vision to life.
Sunset Park Mansion Gains Landmark Status
Built for the head of the Bay Ridge Savings Bank in 1907, a Renaissance Revival structure that was facing the possibility of demolition has been saved by gaining landmark status. Original plans for the site involved demolishing Sunset Park’s only freestanding mansion and replacing it with a seven-story apartment building. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of Sunset Park residents, however, these plans were drastically altered and the home has now been changed to reflect the name of its original owner: the Dr. Maurice T. Lewis House is now considered to be a New York City landmark.
Located at 404 55th Street, the home was purchased by an LLC in November for $2.8 million. The developer was looking to move quickly with the demolition, with plans to replace the house with 24 apartments. The plan had already been approved by the Department of Buildings before the Landmarks Preservation Commission stepped in. In a move that is outside of the norm with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the LPC put the building on its calendar for designation in February and then landmarked it right away. Typically, the LPC sets a separate date for designation following a public hearing, but the Commission felt the need to act swiftly with this particular case.
In addition to gathering hundreds of signatures to grant the mansion landmark status, dozens of residents also spoke passionately at the LPC meeting where the mansion was discussed. With the overwhelming public support coupled with the permits that were already in place, there was little need to hold a separate meeting.
The home was designed by architect Richard Thomas Short in 1907. Supporters of keeping the home maintain that it is a remarkable example of a Renaissance Revival townhouse. It reportedly took the Commission only a few minutes to unanimously grant the home landmark status following the testimony.