29 November 2008

Lost City in the News; Carroll Gardens Must Be Saved

A couple weeks back, New York Post real estate and preservation reporter Julia Vitullo-Martin contacted me. She was embarking an a large article about New York's most endangered landmarks. I sent over about ten suggestions of buildings and areas I thought were under threat by development forces or the Bloomberg administration.

The article came out Nov. 30 and it's quite a thorough piece of work, about as long as a Post feature gets these days, I should imagine. "The pause in New York City's building boom," it begins, "may have one side benefit: It gives everyone a chance to think. As projects skid to a halt and buildings get stopped in mid-construction, developers - and their neighbors - have an opportunity to reassess their plans and consider different options for the future."

She astutely points out, "Other beloved buildings evade the wrecking ball but are allowed to deteriorate so badly that demolition becomes inevitable. The law even has a term for this: Constructive demolition."

There's one large article and then a lengthy sidebar titles "10 Endangered Buildings Worth Saving." She pays special attention to Moynihan Station, the city's beleaguered churches, the Henry Hudson Parkway and Carroll Gardens. This last, I'm proud to say, came at my suggestion.

Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn is an old Irish and Italian neighborhood of row houses and distinctive deep gardens, often laid out in front rather than in back of single-family homes. The neighborhood was designed as a unit by surveyor Richard Butts in 1846, and developed in the late 19th century. Brooks of Sheffield, a journalist who blogs on preservation issues, notes that the surrounding neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and Park Slope have large historic districts, which has the unintended effect of putting development pressures on Carroll Gardens. The blog calls the neighborhood "a black hole in this sea of protection." Historic districts are tricky to define initially and even trickier for property owners to negotiate later, but it's clearly one strategy here. It's also worth noting that public transportation is limited in Carroll Gardens - just the F line - so that overly intense development would be too automobile-dependent, which is contrary to the Bloomberg administration's new green emphasis.

1 comment:

Ken Mac said...

The Times just ran a piece as well, I believe, and it skewered Landmarks Commission chairman Tierney, who sounds like a paid off hack if ever there was one. 7 years to even review a structure up for landmark status? Something stinks.
Glad they are coming to you for the real deal.