Monday, July 14, 2008

In Case You're Still Asking "What's the Demolition Review Amendment?"...

Thanks to Susan Hefti, I have obtained a PDF that contains the complete text of what is being proposed and hopefully presented to the various lawmakers on the City Council as well as, I guess, the Council as a body.

All this presumes Councilmember Melinda Katz believes in representing the best interests of New Yorkers, not real estate tycoons who'd sell their mothers to make a buck, and probably already have. (Come on, Councilmember Katz, we know your heart is with what is right. You know you were raised to be kind to decent folk. Can't you just prove it?)

But before you read the text of the Amendment:

Please first read the following text, provided to me by Susan. This will help you, should you want to get involved or state your support in the name of preservation, to do just that.

Dear Friend,

Please take a moment today to show your support for the Demolition Review Amendment currently under consideration by NYC Council Members !

Simply cut and paste the note below, adding your name and street address (as politicians only pay attention to voters). It doesn't matter if they all get the same exact message—they just count heads!

The message should be addressed to:
Council Member Melinda Katz (, Chair, Land Use Committee,
Council Member Jessica Lappin (,
Council Member David Weprin (,
Council Member Dan Garodnick (
Council member Tony Avella (

Please cc:
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (
Counsel NYC LPC, Mark Silberman (

so we can keep track of this important correspondence. The other recipients of the amendment can be copied or blind copied by cutting & pasting the email list below this sample message:

SUBJECT LINE: Demolition Review.

That way, the Council Members will see the same subject coming in from different NYC residents and they will pay more attention.


Dear Council Members Katz, Lappin, Weprin, Avella and Garodnick,

I strongly support the Proposed Amendment to the NYC Zoning Code known as "Demolition Review" and submitted on June 9, 2008 by the 93rd Street Beautification Association.

Without this necessary change, NYC's historic structures and neighborhoods, along with their history, will disappear, destroying what we know as the City of New York.

I strongly urge the NYC Council to immediately adopt the "Demolition Review" Amendment before NYC's neighborhoods are completely stripped of their character, cultural heritage and architectural history.

Thank you for your interest in the concerns of NYC's residents.

With best regards,


Here are more recipients you can cut and paste into the cc section of your email:

And now the proposed Demolition Review Amendment

Legislative History:
In the wake of an unprecedented number of construction accidents, and an overwhelming number of applications for demolition in New York City, it has become clear to the public that a more vigilant review is an imperative to ensure the public safety, the city's physical environment and the historic character of the city's neighborhoods and streetscapes.

In response to unchecked development and the enduring vulnerability of New York City's remaining historic housing stock, the 93rd Street Beautification Association urges the New York City Council and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to take immediate action for the betterment of our city's future by fostering a more thoughtful and comprehensive development approach and by adopting the proposed Zoning Code Amendment found here below.

The Amendment, known as 'Application for Demolition' or 'Demolition Review', is modeled upon the like zoning amendment adopted by the City of Boston, there known as Article 85.


Article #_____. Application for Demolition must be submitted to the NYC LPC as follows:

New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit a complete, signed application and to factor the review and potential delay period into the project schedule.

The Process:
Once received, the application is reviewed by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission staff in accordance with Section *, Article # .

The LPC staff shall have ten (10) days from the date of the submittal of a complete application to determine whether a demolition permit may be issued or whether a hearing is required.

If the property is determined not to be significant, no further review will be required and the LPC staff will issue a determination authorizing the Department of Buildings to issue a demolition permit.

If the property is determined to be "significant" as described by the legislation, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a public hearing within forty (40) days of submittal of the application to decide whether the property will be subject to demolition delay. The LPC staff will notify the applicant regarding this hearing.

Prior to the hearing, the applicant shall conduct a community meeting, open to the public, at which the applicant shall make a good faith effort to present an alternative, or a range of alternatives, to the proposed plan that includes preservation and reuse of the building or buildings proposed for demolition.

The community includes but is not limited to, civic and neighborhood associations, the public-at-large, and interested entities such as preservation organizations and historical societies.

The applicant shall contact the Mayor's Office to confirm names of appropriate civic and neighborhood associations to be notified of the meeting.

The applicant shall also notify property owners within 500 feet of the building to be demolished.

The applicant shall notify the appropriate neighborhood associations and property owners of the meeting in writing at least a week before the meeting is to take place.

The meeting must be held in a location and at a time that is convenient for people affected by the project.

The applicant must submit a list of people who attended the meeting, and their addresses, to the LPC before the LPC hearing.

If there is no civic/neighborhood association meeting at which the demolition and proposed project can be presented prior to the Article # hearing, the Mayor's Office will assist in scheduling a meeting.

If the initial community meeting cannot be held in the time allotted, the Article # applicant may submit a letter to the LPC waiving the right to a determination within 40 days (see Article #, section #. subsection #) and requesting the next available hearing date after the initial community meeting.

If the applicant has already presented the proposed demolition and development plan at a community meeting or meetings (before submitting the Article # application) and can obtain a letter (s) from the civic or neighborhood association (s) which hosted the meeting (s) or a response from the Mayor's Office to LPC staff summarizing the meeting and the outcome, this provision may be waived at the discretion of LPC staff.

If the Mayor's Office reports that the outcome of a prior community meeting or meetings (before the submittal of the Article # application) included a strong preference to preserve the existing building (s), but no alternatives to demolition were presented to the community, the applicant will be requested to hold a follow-up community meeting before the initial Article # hearing in order to present an alternative plan incorporating preservation and reuse of the existing building (s) into the proposed project.

If the Mayor's Office reports that the outcome of a community meeting resulted in community support for the demolition of the existing building or buildings, the LPC may choose to waive demolition delay at the scheduled hearing.

While the LPC will consider community and inter-departmental input as outlined above, the decision to invoke demolition delay will ultimately lie with the Commission.

Dates and Deadlines:
Applications must be submitted, in full, and a copy of the notice of the scheduled public meeting must be received by LPC staff (14) days prior to a hearing date in order to be scheduled for the upcoming agenda.

Note: Meetings are subject to change due to holidays or cancellations. Please check with the Commission staff to confirm correct dates.

New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Staff:
The Commission staff is available to discuss applications, documentation requirements and the review process.

Article # Summary

Demolition Review

The New York City Zoning Code is hereby amended to include a demolition review policy (Article #, Chapter # of the Zoning Code as amended).

Demolition Review provides a predictable process for reviewing requests to demolish buildings by:

1.) establishing an appropriate waiting period during which the City and the Applicant can propose and consider alternatives to the demolition of a building of historical, architectural, cultural or urban design value to the City;

2.) providing an opportunity for the public to comment on the issues regarding the demolition of a particular building; and by

3.) minimizing the number and extent of building demolition where no immediate re-use of the site is planned.

Demolition Review pertains to applications involving the total demolition of buildings located within the city's limits.

The staff of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission shall have ten (10) days from the date of the submission of a complete application to apply the criteria below and determine whether a demolition permit may be issued or whether a hearing is required.

Location and Age Criteria Subject to Review
All buildings located within the New York City limits at least fifty years of age.

Criteria for Determination of Significance
A. The building is identified as: (i) listed on the National Register of Historic Places; (ii) recommended for such listing; or (iii) the subject of a request/pending application for such listing.
B. The building is the subject of a request/petition to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for designation as a New York City Landmark.
C. The building is historically or architecturally significant because of period, style, method of building construction, or important association with a famous architect or builder.
D. The building has an important association with one or more historic persons or events, or with the broad architectural, cultural, political, economic, or social history of the City.
E. The building is one whose loss would have a significant negative impact on the historical or architectural integrity or urban design character of the neighborhood.

Public Hearing for Significant Buildings
A Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing is scheduled within forty (40) days of application date to determine whether a significant building will be subject to Demolition Review.
The review is invoked if the Landmarks Commission finds that it is in the public interest for the building to be preserved or rehabilitated rather than demolished. In making such finding, the Landmarks Commission considers the following criteria:
1.) the building's historic, architectural, cultural and urban design significance;
2.) whether the building is one of the last remaining examples of its kind in the neighborhood, the City, or the region; and
3.) the building's condition.

Early Determination of "No Feasible Alternative to Demolition"
Applicants are requested to present information concerning alternatives to demolition at the public hearing. This information may include:
1.) the outcome of the community meeting held prior to the hearing;
2.) the cost of stabilizing, repairing, rehabilitating, or re-using the building;
3.) any definite plans for the re-use of the property if the proposed demolition is carried out, and the effects such plans would have on the architectural, social, aesthetic, historic, and urban design character of the surrounding area, as well as on the economy of the area of the City as a whole;
4.) any conditions the Applicant proposes to accept for the redevelopment of the site that would mitigate the loss of the building;
5.) the availability of other sites for the Applicant's intended purpose or use.
Although a building may be evaluated as meeting the demolition review criteria, the Commission may consider information presented at the hearing as grounds for issuing a determination of "no feasible alternative to demolition."

Demolition Review Determination
If the Landmarks Commission issues a determination that a significant building is subject to demolition review, the Department of Buildings is notified not to issue a demolition permit until ninety (90) days have elapsed following the close of the public hearing.

The Landmarks Commission also shall invite the participation, on an advisory basis, of the Commissioner of the Department of Buildings, the Director of Housing Preservation and Development and any individual or representative of any group whose participation the Applicant requests, or approves, in writing.

Evaluation of Alternatives to Demolition and Determination of No Feasible Alternative
In evaluating alternatives to demolition, the Landmarks Commission may consider such possibilities as: the incorporation of the building into the future development of the site; the adaptive re-use of the building; the use of financial incentives for the rehabilitation of the building; the removal of the building to another site; and, with the owner's consent, the search for a new owner willing to purchase the building and preserve, restore, or rehabilitate it.

If, based on its evaluation of alternatives, the Landmarks Commission is satisfied that there is no feasible alternative to demolition, the Commission may issue a determination prior to the expiration of the review period authorizing the Department of Buildings to issue a demolition permit.

Demolition Review Expiration and Notification
Upon expiration of the review period, the Landmarks Commission will issue a notice in writing stating that such review period has expired, and the date of such expiration. This notice will be mailed to the Applicant, with copies to the Commissioner of the Department of Buildings, the Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development and, where applicable, to any individual or group that the Landmarks Commission has invited to participate in an exploration of alternatives to demolition.

Article # Required Documentation
The following is a list of documents that MUST be submitted with this application. Failure to provide accurate documentation will cause a delay in the review process and will result in a rejected application. All applications MUST be signed by the owner of record, and must include verification of property ownership (copy of deed or assessing bill).

PHOTOGRAPHS - 3x5 or larger photographs of the property and surrounding areas and properties affected by the proposed demolition must be labeled with addresses and dates and included with this application.

Major elevations of the building (s) and any deterioration or reason for demolition should be documented. All photographs must be keyed to a map (see below) to provide a thorough location description. Photographs may be substituted with slides at the Commission hearing.

MAP - A locus map containing the location of the property affected by the proposed demolition must be submitted with this application. Locus maps should highlight the property and area location.

PLOT PLAN - A plot plan showing the building footprint and those of buildings in the immediate vicinity must be submitted with this application.

PLANS and ELEVATIONS - Plans must be submitted for site improvements. If a new structure is being planned, plans and elevations of the new structure must be submitted.

SIGNATURES and/or PROOF OF OWNERSHIP - Both the applicant's and the owner-of-record's signatures (if different) must be notarized. Failure to supply notarized signature (s) will result in a rejected application. Proof of ownership must also be submitted with the application.

Depending on the scope of the project, additional materials may also be requested for the hearing and should be included with this application:
1.) Adaptive reuse feasibility studies
2.) Structural analysis report
3.) Availability of alternative sites for the proposed post-demolition construction.
4.) Effects of post-demolition plans on the community
5.) Other materials that may help the Commission evaluate whether the property is subject to delay.
6.) An attorney's letter stating whether the proposed project requires zoning relief.

NOTE: Copies of all documentation submitted with this application (photographs, maps, plot plans, etc.) should be retained by the applicant should additional copies be necessary for the commission hearing.

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