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ADVOCACY UPDATE: FRIENDS Files an Amicus Brief in Support of NYC

FRIENDS, PROMINENT PRESERVATION GROUPS AND ELECTED OFFICIALS, SUPPORT NYC TO PREVENT DEMOLITION OF LANDMARK BUILDINGS

Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District (FRIENDS) and prominent local and national preservation groups, along with elected officials, have filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the City of New York in an ongoing battle to stop the demolition of   two historic properties.

Joining FRIENDS in the amicus brief are Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Member Benjamin Kallos, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation League of New York State, Historic Districts Council, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Landmark West!, and Friends of the First Avenue Estate.

The amicus brief was filed in response to a lawsuit launched against the City of New York by Stahl York Avenue after the City’s Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) ruled against Stahl’s hardship application to demolish two buildings in the landmarked City and Suburban Homes First Avenue Estate. Stahl York Avenue claims the LPC ruling is “arbitrary and capricious,” resulting in an illegal taking of private property.

The buildings in question are Manhattan’s 429 East 64th Street and 430 East 65th Street, constructed by City and Suburban Homes Company in 1915 and designated as individual New York City landmarks by the LPC for the significance of their design, as well as their pioneering role in social housing reform.

“We fully support the sound and well-reasoned decision of the LPC to deny this hardship application,” said Tara Kelly, Executive Director of FRIENDS. “As the battle for the First Avenue Estate moves into the court, we will likewise continue to fight for these historic structures.”

About 429 East 64th Street and 430 East 65th Street

These two historic buildings contain a total of 190 rent-regulated units. Since the time of the hardship application, 126 affordable apartments have been kept vacant as part of an effort to redevelop the properties into a luxury high-rise. The remaining units are home to longtime tenants of modest income.

Stahl York Avenue submitted a “hardship application” to the LPC for the demolition of the buildings on the grounds that they do not generate a six percent profit, and that the units would not garner more than average rents of $600 per month.  FRIENDS successfully refuted these claims, presenting evidence of rents at comparable properties that are considerably higher. With such evidence, the LPC rejected the “hardship application,” successfully protecting the century-old properties.

86th Street, Manhattan

RKO Proctor’s 86th Street Theatre, Designed by Thomas W. Lamb Source: NYC Municipal Archives