A Valuable Preservation Tool
An historic preservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement made between a property owner and a qualified nonprofit organization, such as the Conservancy. Its purpose is to protect a significant historic property, landscape, or archaeological site by restricting future changes to or development on the site.
The Conservancy has been accepting preservation easements for over 40 years and currently administers 41. Some of these were donated by the owners at the request of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in connection with air rights transfers and other special permits to ensure that the buildings would be kept in sound, first-class condition forever.
But most of our easements have come directly from conscientious owners who seek to preserve their property in perpetuity. The Conservancy continues to accept historic preservation easements on buildings and sites of historic value in the five boroughs of the New York City.
As part of the requirements of the easement agreement, the Conservancy conducts an annual exterior inspection for each property and contracts a preservation architect or engineer to conduct an in-depth inspection every five years. The Conservancy sends a copy of a written report with photographs to the owner and highlights any repairs or restorations that need to be done to maintain the building in good condition. The Conservancy will work in collaboration with the owner to address the repairs. We can provide low-interest loans to qualified owners, as well as technical assistance and contractor referrals.
When evaluating the appropriateness of proposed alterations, the Conservancy adheres to widely accepted preservation standards, including the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for Historic Preservation and the Title 63 rules of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). For properties that fall under the jurisdiction of the LPC, the Conservancy works in conjunction with the LPC to ensure that preservation standards are met. The Conservancy staff annually updates its list of easement properties and shares it with the LPC.
If the Conservancy and property owner cannot reach an understanding about implementation or enforcement of the conditions of the easement, the Conservancy reserves the right to initiate legal proceedings to address these issues and secure its rights.