S.I. homeowners split over historic district plan

October 19, 2012 09:30AM

A Staten Island neighborhood has been seeking a historic district from the Landmarks Preservation Commission since 2005, but now that Landmarks is moving forward, some residents and politicians are worried about what it will mean for housing costs.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the 43 houses that comprise the area surrounding Harrison Street in Stapleton are all well-preserved examples of Greek Revival, Second Empire and Queen Anne architectural styles. The LPC’s final hearing before it can decide whether or not to approve the district’s designation is set for October 30.

But some vocal Harrison Street residents and Borough President James Molinaro are fighting the designation because they believe it would impose financial hardships on homeowners.

“If I own a house and it becomes a landmark, I should be rewarded, maybe with a tax break, because I may have to pay $6,000 to replace a window so it looks like the original style of the house,” Molinaro said. “If someone wants to buy that house, they might not want to pay the $6,000, either.”

Another resident has started an online petition against the proposed district.

But Cynthia Mailman, a former president of a local preservation group heading up the effort, disagrees — arguing in favor of the gentrifying affects of a historic district. “The majority of the people living around here are poor or working class,” Mailman, said. The designation “could help lift up the area, which doesn’t have great commercial activity.”

According to Staten Island State Senator Diane Savino, who represents Stapleton, homeowners are almost evenly split over the plan. [WSJ] —Christopher Cameron