Preservation Issues

Request to Landmark Buildings Around Grand Central Provokes Harsh Response

February 28, 2013

Preservation concerns, and other questions, about the city’s Midtown East rezoning proposal have hit a nerve. The Mayor recently said that “obstructionists” would not stop this rezoning. And the Conservancy and other groups were denounced in a recent New York Post column for trying to save iconic buildings around Grand Central which the City has marked for development.

At the same time, Crain’s recently echoed REBNY’s attack on the number of historic districts being created by the City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). Just this morning, we read that REBNY issued a “study” that couldn’t find even one additional landmark quality building in the entire, 78-block upzoning area.

The City’s proposal is complicated and being rushed through the approval process without adequate explanation. In addition to preservation concerns, community boards and other groups are questioning why the City isn’t addressing already congested subways and other infrastructure needs before encouraging even greater overcrowding. The New York Times editorial board recently suggested that the City respond to the many questions and slow down the process.

The Conservancy responded to the New York Post and Crain’s; raised our concerns on NY1 television; and continues to ask the public to reach out to the LPC and Council Speaker Quinn to support landmark designation of the great buildings surrounding Grand Central. We thank the many of you who have already done so.

As we have stated repeatedly stated there is plenty of room in the 78-block area proposed for rezoning for great new architecture. But the city should not sacrifice the historic buildings around Grand Central Terminal which give the neighborhood it’s character. The City keeps saying we need giant new office towers to compete with Shanghai. But now Shanghai realizes the importance of preservation.

The Financial Times reported that Shanghai has begun to count the value of preservation.
February 22 Financial Times “Shanghai starts search for its heritage” by Patti Waldmeir

“Vast swaths of that old city were summarily knocked down in the $45bn spruce-up that preceded the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. But now the city fathers are determined to use what is left more wisely, preserving not only those buildings notable for their role in Communist party or colonial history, but also the very fabric of city life, from old docks to disused factories to crumbling neighborhoods. …After 30 years of chasing modernity at any cost, Shanghai has begun to count the value – and not just the cost – of preservation.”

Help us save Grand Central again and keep New York…New York.

First, contact Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Robert Tierney at 212-669-7817 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Second, contact City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at 212-788-5615 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Tell them: Please protect New York’s cultural legacy by designating the 17 buildings around Grand Central that the Landmarks Conservancy has submitted for landmark review. We can have great new buildings without destroying the City’s unique character.