Going up! Park Slope historic district could get bigger — and much taller

GOING UP: This 20th century high-rise apartment buildings on Plaza Street West could become a landmark.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The city’s largest historic district will get even bigger — and substantially taller — if a new plan that is backed by a local panel gets the city’s okay.

Neighborhood leaders gave the thumbs up to a second extension of Park Slope’s already-enormous historic district on Thursday night, unanimously approving the second phase of the city Landmark Preservation Commission’s plan to add nearly 287 buildings across more than a dozen blocks in the shadow of the Barclays Center — and some 20th-century high-rise apartment buildings on Plaza Street West.

“These blocks have a unique sense of character that I think defines much of Brownstone Brooklyn,” said Peter Bray, chairman of the Park Slope Civic Council’s Historic District Expansion Committee, which has led a longstanding effort to extend the landmark district.

The proposed expanded district would primarily include blocks of row houses dating back to the 1860s between Fifth and Sixth Avenues bounded by Flatbush Avenue and Union Street, but it was the addition of the newer high-rises near Grand Army Plaza that had one neighbor raising his eyebrows.

“It is a mistake,” said Plaza Street West resident Robert Minsky, who spoke at the committee’s hearing. “You’re adding a new building type in to the district and now are saying that high-rise apartment buildings are an appropriate building type within the Park Slope historic district.”

Historic architecture: The Landmarks Preservation Commission wants to add these buildings on Prospect Place between Fifth and Sixth avenues to Park Slope’s enormous historic district.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

But Minsky’s remarks did not at all sway the decision of Community Board 6’s Landmarks and Land Use committee, which overwhelmingly praised adding on to an historic district that already boasts 2,575 protected edifices.

“Those buildings are worthy of some protection because they are part of the fabric that Park Slope is now,” said committee member Jerry Armer referring to the high-rises.

In addition to row houses and apartment buildings, the proposed district also includes a number of garages, carriage houses, and three churches, one of which houses a school.

The proposed district would force owners of newly landmarked properties to seek special permits from the Landmarks Preservation Commission before altering the facades of their buildings or demolishing their homes. Members of the Park Slope civic group say that all of Park Slope should be landmarked.

“It’s a 19th century neighborhood that retains much of its character and once that’s gone it’s never coming back,” said Bray, adding that new developments in the area are all too often of “abysmal quality” made with modern materials like stucco and too much glass.

Historic architecture: The Landmarks Preservation Commission is considering adding more than a dozen blocks of old buildings in northern Park Slope, including Prospect Place between Fifth and Sixth avenues (pictured above), to Park Slope’s enormous historic district.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The landmarks committee approved the proposal with a motion to add both sides of Park Place and the rest of Sterling Place, both between Fifth and Sixth Avenues to the historic district.

Park Place was excluded from the commission’s proposed extension because “many of the buildings were altered and were inconsistent with the others in the proposed district extension,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission spokeswoman Lisi De Bourbon.

The landmarks committee also stressed in a motion that the Landmarks Preservation Commission should designate the district in an expeditious manner considering that it took the city nearly two years to designate a similar proposal to expand a landmarked district in South Park Slope.

The Landmarks Preservation is holding a public hearing on the proposed extension on Oct. 29.

The Park Slope Civic Council, which initially called for preserving every building in the neighborhood, said it has plans to push for about 1,500 more buildings in the neighborhood to be included in the historic district over several phases.

Growing district: The Landmarks Preservation Commission is considering expanding the existing Park Slope historic district (shaded in purple) to include 287 buildings across more than a dozen additional blocks (shaded in orange) in the northern part of the neighborhood.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

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