Local residents and stakeholders are rallying against the construction of a nine-story building adjacent to the landmarked Angel Guardian Home on Dyker Heights’ 12th Avenue, demanding developers address the concerns of residents and halt the project.
A group of local stakeholders called The Guardians of the Guardian organized a July 19 rally at the construction site of a planned ambulatory diagnostic and treatment facility, the development of which is raising concerns over the building’s “overwhelming scale” and its possible impact on traffic congestion, property values and privacy.
“It’s totally out of character with the community, it’s totally out of character with the rest of the construction that’s here now. And it’s not going to work. It’s not going to work for us in the community. It’s wrong. It shouldn’t happen,” said Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association.
Vella-Marrone led calls on the developers to redesign the plans for the building so that is more in character with the new residential buildings that were built on the 64th and 63rd streets, as well as the existing buildings directly across from the historic house.
City officials voted to designated the century-old Angel Guardian Home a landmark in November 2020. The unanimous vote from the Landmarks Preservation Commission came after years of pressure from local activists, who pushed for the preservation of the stately 1899 building that spans 12th Avenue between 63rd and 64th streets.
The Guardians of the Guardian had previously advocated for the entire lot to be landmarked, however, only the main building was preserved in the end.
Without the protection of the landmark status, residents say the developers were able to use a planning loophole to demolish the sister building without having to consult the surrounding community by altering their original plans for the lot.
Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann explained to concerned residents gathered on July 19 there are few requirements for a developer when an alteration application is made.
“When a demolition is done of a building, normally, there are notifications. But when an alteration application is made, there are no requirements,” according to Beckmann who said that CB10 learned of the demolition after residents got in touch to question why the adjacent building had been knocked down — except for one segment of a wall, which remained standing.
Beckmann added the CB10 has been in touch with the LPC and are hoping the body will step in to make sure the developer does not impede on the landmarked building.
“We’re going to continue to work with the LPC and the Department of Buildings to make sure that the Angel Guardian Home, the first landmark building in Dyker Heights, is preserved and not impacted,” she said.
Kelly Carroll, a member of the board of advisors at the Historic District Council, told the crowd that they should not be faced with this issue “had the landmark process proceeded how it’s supposed to.”
“If it had been elevated based on merits, we would still have the sister building here. I’ve never seen a landmark designation like this,” said Carroll.
Local pols gathered at the rally also voiced their concern at the rationale to landmark just one building on the lot, with Council Member Alexa Avilés describing the decision as “arbitrary and weak at best.”
State Senator Iwen Chu, who lives close to the landmarked site, said it was unfortunate to see the city has a loophole that can easily change the landscape of a neighborhood.
“You want to build up you, need to have community input. This is our community we need to preserve it,” said Chu.
The developer could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
Correction 08/04/2023, 11:40 a.m.: This article previously misstated Kelly Carroll’s role on the Historic District Council. We regret the error.