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City rejects historic housing plan

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The city Landmarks Preservation Commission shot down a controversial plan to build a row of new, gated-off townhouses in the Cobble Hill Historic District.

The commission disapproved of almost all elements of the plan that called for converting the historic Lamm Institute at the corner of Amity and Henry streets into eight apartments and for the construction of six, single-family townhouses in a controversial “mews-style” gated compound that would not only obstruct neighbors’ views, but would also be inconsistent with existing architecture in the historic district.

“The gates were not a feature seen in the district or anywhere in the city of New York for that matter,” said Lisi De Bourbon, a Landmarks spokeswoman, and “the mews concept was out of context with the district.”

The developers designed their project as a modern mews — in this case, a private lane and courtyard — accessible from Henry Street. Five of the townhouses would have formed a row with their entrances on a private, gated lane.

Historically, a mews was a small side street for stables.

Now it’s back to the drawing board for Lucky Boy Development and Time Equities, the developers of the project.

Opponents, including the Cobble Hill Association and Community Board 6, were ecstatic that the city snuffed the plans.

“The project was an interesting idea, but it doesn’t fit with the neighborho­od,” aid Murray Adams, president of the Cobble Hill Association. “They encroached much too much on the backyards” of their would-be neighbors.

Like the rankled residents, the Landmarks Preservation Commission also criticized the layout, because five of the townhouses would not directly face any public street.

The extent of the city’s criticism surprised the developer.

“They certainly had more comment about the site plan than I was anticipati­ng,” said Jonathan Wachetel, principal at Lucky Boy. “I was expecting comments about the façade details — that’s fair game.”

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Reader Feedback

Murray Adams from Cobble Hill says:
Thanks, Mike! Murray
Jan. 13, 2008, 12:30 am

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