Preservation Issues

Landmarks Chair Resigns - Tenure Included Many Designations but Concerns About Rules Continue

April, 2018

Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan announced that she would be resigning as of June 1. Though long planned, the announcement came in the midst of public concern over proposed rules changes at the agency.

The Conservancy joined colleagues in a recent letter to the Chair asking that the rules process be stopped because of many and various questions from Community Boards, elected officials and preservation groups. There has been no response to date. (read letter)

Srinivasan is both an architect and city planner. Her focus at LPC has been on efficiency, transparency, greatly improving information on the agency website and cultural landmarks. During her tenure, the LPC designated 3800 buildings. These include 67 individual landmarks, 9 historic districts and 3 interior landmarks.

The individual landmarks include 12 in Midtown East; buildings in East Harlem and East New York, areas being re-zoned; and 27 buildings that had lingered for years on a “backlog” list that has now been cleared. Interior landmarks include the great public rooms of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and the New York Public Library’s glorious Rose Main Reading Room. Cultural landmarks include the Stonewall Inn.

Srinivasan was quoted as saying that she was proud that the Commission focused on areas not previously represented by designations, but with stories to tell. She also said she was returning to her “first love, city planning and zoning.”

The Conservancy also joined colleagues in a joint letter to the Mayor describing preservation’s contributions to the City’s economy, tourism and quality of life and stressing the importance of the Chair’s position. (read here)

The Conservancy is concerned about the proposed rules changes because they would add a complicated layer of bureaucracy to the permit process and, in practical terms, requiring hiring an architect or expediter. They would limit Community Board review of projects that have a strong impact neighborhoods, such as rooftop and backyard additions. They would also create a new category of “lesser” buildings within historic districts, potentially allowing significant alteration or even demolition in a district without public notification or input.