Boro Prez and others call for landmarks law reform

| 17 Feb 2015 | 01:04

West Side Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and representatives from the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Historic Districts Council are calling for reforms to the city's landmarking process. The appeal comes on the heels of the of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) declining to consider landmark status for the Rizzoli bookstore building at 31 West 57th Street.

"The landmarks process requires reform; we must avoid more Rizzoli-like ambushes on our history," Brewer said. "We are here today to ask that the LPC immediately study those remaining buildings on West 57th Street to identify and landmark those that represent the best of their eras, and I will introduce legislation which will require the LPC to follow transparent and consistent time frames in responding to future designation requests,"

The bookstore has been at its current location fro the past 29 years and will have to relocate if the owners, the LeFrak real estate family and Vornado Realty Trust, follow through with demolition plans for the building.

Landmark advocates have emphasized the cultural as well as the architectural significance of the site.

"The Rizzoli Building is not a hidden gem ? it was a known quantity which the City never acted to protect, despite community requests," said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, refering to requests from Community Board 5 to approve the building's landmark status, which were denied.

Advocates argue that this case illustrates the need for a more transparent and public landmark process.