Thursday, September 25, 2008

93rd Street Beautification Association Asks CB8 for Ethics Reform

Great letter from the association to the CB8. I don't have the images, but the content of the letter is clear:

Mr. David Liston
Chair, Community Board 8
505 Park Avenue, Suite 620
New York, NY 10022
September 22, 2008

Re: Formal Request for Reconsideration of CB8 Vote of September 10, 2008 Approving Proposal to Construct Penthouse Atop the Penthouse at 150 East 93rd St. in Carnegie Hill

Dear Mr. Liston,

As you know, historic East 93rd Street between Lexington & Third Avenues is a very special block. In addition to the world-famous Marx Brothers House, the block boasts a row of 19th century brownstones that are older than any of the brownstones already within the protection of the Carnegie Hill Historic District.

In addition to these two significant facts, East 93rd Street's unique stepped-down roofscape, in part a function of the block being one of the steepest hills left in Manhattan, has been celebrated by architects and historic preservationists alike. In fact, Place Matters, the partnership project of the Municipal Arts Society and City Lore, is so charmed by our remarkable stepped-down roofscape, it has devoted an entire page to our historic block at So, we have no doubt that CB8 can also appreciate the fact that any project that threatens the historic character of our little neighborhood is of grave concerns to the residents of East 93rd Street and the Carnegie Hill Neighborhood at large.

That is why we are writing to you today to express our very serious concerns about the September 10, 2008 CB8 vote approving a proposed Penthouse which the applicant wishes to construct on top of his existing Penthouse at 150 East 93rd Street in Carnegie Hill where the applicant serves as the President of the Co-Op Board.

It is our understanding that the formal resolution of the subject CB8 Board vote has been sent to BSA, but that the matter has not yet been scheduled by that Board. We hereby formally request that Community Board 8 reconsider the subject September 10, 2008 vote, vacate the Board's previous approval of the subject Special Permit and notify BSA of the Board's new action on this matter.

At this point in time, before irreparable harm is rendered upon our block, we respectfully ask CB8 to reconsider its subject vote of September 10, 2008 for the following reasons:

1.) Applicant falsely claimed that his existing Penthouse can not be seen from the street and, thereby, deliberately misled Community Board 8 in his description of the impact of his proposal on the character of the neighborhood.

As shown in the photographs below, the existing Penthouse can, in fact, be seen from the street. If applicant is allowed to construct a Penthouse atop his Penthouse, twice as much of it will be seen.

2.) Applicant failed to provide Community Board 8 with exact specifications (height, etc.) about the proposed Penthouse. When asked at the September 10, 2008 CB8 meeting, by neighbor Marci Wertheimer, for the exact height of the proposed Penthouse and the exact height of 150 East 93rd Street if the proposed Penthouse were approved and added to the top of the extant Penthouse, applicant stated that he only had approximations and no exact measurements.

3.) A laundry list of Public Safety issues are raised by applicant's failure to provide exact specifications, measurements and details for his proposal to construct a Penthouse atop his existing Penthouse at the tallest peak on our block.

4.) Whether this block has yet or ever will be landmarked, it is undeniably very rich in NYC history (as set forth in great detail in the RFE filed with Community Board 8 on September 8, 2008). And while that incontrovertible fact may not yet trigger a review by NYC's LPC, it underscores the importance of Community Board 8 giving due consideration to the impact of this proposal on the character of the neighborhood, historic East 93rd Street.

5.) The applicant deliberately misled CB8 in his assertion that 150 East 93rd Street is surrounded by nothing but high rises. The photographs above and below show that 150 East 93rd Street abuts a row

of tiny brownstones that are only 4 stories tall and are older than any of the brownstones that are already within the Carnegie Hill Historic District.

Because of the applicant's deliberate mischaracterization of the neighborhood that will be affected if his proposal is approved, CB8 has not yet had an authentic opportunity to seriously consider the impact of this proposal on the character of the subject neighborhood.

As illustrated by the photograph above, the block is dramatically dwarfed by 150 East 93rd Street, our tallest peak already. If CB8 were to grant the Special Permit requesting approval to add yet another Penthouse to the top of applicant's extant Penthouse, the disparity in scale would be far more lopsided, and surely stick out like a sore thumb on our ancient little block of 19th century houses.

6.) In light of the Manhattan Borough President's recent efforts to strengthen the public’s protection against construction projects not thoroughly vetted, and the fact that even the DOB refused to approve the applicant’ proposal to construct a Penthouse on top of his existing Penthouse, CB8 should reconsider and vacate its September 10 Approval of the subject Special Permit so as to ensure public safety; protect the continuity of the neighborhood's distinct and historic character and to encourage the necessary construction reforms being pursued by the Manhattan Borough President's office.

Thank you for your swift and thorough attention to this formal request to reconsider and vacate CB8's September 10, 2008 approval of Mr. Mark Martinez' Special Permit for his proposal to build a Penthouse on top of his existing Penthouse at 150 East 93rd Street.

Respectfully Submitted,
Susan Kathryn Hefti
Co-Chair, 93rd Street Beautification Association

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