Wednesday, April 25, 2007

N-Y Historical Society Scales Back

New-York Historical Society: Back from the Drawing Board with a Scaled-Back Plan...But the Worst is Still to Come
Over the past few months, the New-York Historical Society has learned a hard lesson in "you can't always get what you want." (Whether they actually NEED what they're getting is another thing entirely.) What is clear is that the Society's ambitions will change one of New York's most significant and beloved landmarks forever -- with the blessing of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and the Bloomberg Administration. Remember, the real deal is a 280-foot tower. Scroll down to see the rendering published in the New York Times last November. We've come a long way...but not far enough.
Yesterday, the LPC gave the Society the final go-ahead to proceed with plans to alter the Central Park West and West 77th Street facades of its "Triple Landmark." The revised design is a far cry from what the Society presented to crowds numbering in the hundreds at community meetings in January, February and March. Overwhelming public opposition pressured the Society and the LPC to overhaul the design, eliminating sidewalk-eating ramps at the Central Park West entrance and significantly reducing the amount of historic fabric that will be disturbed. But disturbed it will be.
The LPC was under clear political pressure to give the Historical Society something, if not everything they wanted. The fix was in, and still is. Now that it has gained a toehold for redeveloping its landmark site, the Society will soon be back with its plan for a tower (potentially 280-feet, or 28 stories in height). Not in a matter of years, but months. The developers are in the wings. No wonder the New-York Historical Society--despite a pummeling in the court of public opinion--is still smiling.
Stay tuned for next steps.
"The Society's tactics remind me of the card shark in my home state of Texas who looks across the table at his mark and say, 'Now play the cards fair, Reuben, I know what I dealt you.'"
~ Bill Moyers, 3/15/07 letter to LPC Chair Robert B. Tierney

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