The Real Deal New York

Preservationists push city to impose height restrictions on Bowery developments

Martin Scorsese pens letter to Amanda Burden in support of groups
March 27, 2013 09:30AM

Neighborhood groups in the Bowery are pushing city officials to impose height restrictions on new developments on the street’s east side, and their campaign is increasingly gathering steam, the New York Observer reported.

In order to preserve the character and visual makeup of the area, the groups aim to cap building height to 85 feet on the eastern side of the street, akin to the restrictions that are already in place on the western side. “To do justice to the Bowery, you really need to do justice to both sides of the street,” Kerri Culhane, an architectural historian and the associate director of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, told the Observer. “I think the planning commission at this point has not considered the Bowery as a whole.”

Indeed, rapid development is quickly altering the landscape of the historic street. Earlier this month, one of the owners of the famous Amato Opera House at 319 Bowery filed papers to convert the vacant property into residential and commercial space.

The preservation effort has drawn support from several local businesses and even director Martin Scorsese, who wrote a letter to City Planning Commission chair Amanda Burden last week.

“Having Grown Up On Elizabeth Street, the neighborhood and residents of the Bowery became clear catalyst for turning me into a storyteller,” Scorsese wrote. “Whether it’s ‘Mean Streets’ or ‘Gangs of New York,’ the influence of the Bowery—the grittiness, the ambiance, the vivid atmosphere is apparent.” [NYO]  –Hiten Samtani