Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city has preserved more historic districts than under any other mayor, the Wall Street Journal reported. Bloomberg has added or extended 41 historic districts in his three terms, compared with 18 in Rudolph Giuliani’s two terms and 27 in Ed Koch’s three terms. Approximately 2 percent of the city is part of an historic district; In Manhattan that figure is 10 percent.
Despite Bloomberg’s pro-development stance, his penchant for designating large historic districts such as the Brooklyn skyscraper district in Downtown Brooklyn has irked some real estate pros, who argued that increased regulation stifles commercial resurgence in the neighborhoods. Some also have accused the mayor of allowing the landmarks process to be guided by development rather than true architectural importance.
One of the groups critical of Bloomberg, led by the Real Estate Board of New York, is advocating for a shift in how historic districts are designated. The coalition is arguing that the LPC should be forced to release a draft of its designation report before it goes before a public assembly. If vacant lots or significantly altered buildings account for more than 10 percent of any proposed district, the designation should be ruled out, they say.
Robert Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said there was no basis to claims that the commission was led by development concerns. “We don’t do historic designations to stop development or to control development,” he told the Journal. “Historic preservation starts from eligibility of cultural importance and character.” [WSJ] – Katherine Clarke