Thursday, January 25, 2007

Save Our Skyline (SOS)

SAVE OUR SKYLINE…or Kiss It Goodbye

If the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s recent rejection of a 30-story glass tower at 980 Madison Avenue made you think the war was over, think again. The Commission’s decision was the right one, but we can’t let down our guard just yet. The New-York Historical Society’s latest proposal to put a new face (and a luxury tower to boot) on its venerable Landmark, on Central Park West, is yet another sign that the fight must go on.

Take a stand against the exploitation of our city’s Landmarks and Historic Districts as “development opportunities”. Here are two ways to help:

--> Lend your name in support of “Save Our Skyline (SOS)”: Individuals, organizations, boards, etc.—all are welcome! Please contact LANDMARK WEST!:, 212-496-8110. The growing list of supporters includes NYS Senator Thomas K. Duane, NYS Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, the Historic Districts Council, representatives of historic blocks all along Central Park West, and advocates in neighborhoods throughout the city. For more information on SOS, click here. (Additional materials, plus the support list, will be available shortly at

--> Mark your calendars and pack the room on Wednesday, January 31, 7:00 PM

Louise Mirrer, President of the New-York Historical Society, will give a presentation on “future plans for the institution.” The location is the Fourth Universalist Society, 160 Central Park West at 76 Street.

As reported in the New York Times in November 2006, the New-York Historical Society plans to 1) redesign the Central Park West façade of its Landmark building between West 76th and 77th Streets; 2) build a 280-foot glass apartment tower cantilevered over the Landmark; 3) construct an auditorium annex on the West 76th Street residential block; and 4) add a large penthouse directly on top of the Landmark. The New-York Historical Society is one of our city’s few “thrice-landmarked” buildings—it is an Individual Landmark, part of the West 76th Street Historic District and the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District. Eventually (sooner rather than later), the project will have to be presented to the Landmarks Commission for review.

Please make every effort to attend on the 31st! Speak up! Ask questions! Will Louise Mirrer present specific, comprehensive architectural plans for the Society’s Landmark site? Or will she merely offer bland platitudes about “creating opportunities for growth” and “seeking dialogue with the community”—while the transformation of one of New York’s most important Landmarks gets shaped behind closed doors? We know that a Request for Proposals was issued in fall 2006 to developers for the Tower portion, with responses due back on December 15. These are preliminary steps towards a full-blown construction project. The barn door is open, and the horse is getting ready to run…

The Historical Society is just one of many developers/institutions keen to test the limits of the Landmarks Preservation Commission's regulatory policy. If this domino falls, the rest are sure to follow.

Sign on to SOS today!, 212-496-8110

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