Handicap ramp blocked at Dime Savings Bank

Handicap ramp blocked at Dime Savings Bank

A bank that managed to thrive even in the depths of the financial crisis has finally met its match — preservationists.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission foiled a plan by JP Morgan Chase to make one of the two cash machines in front of Downtown’s Dime Savings Bank building wheelchair accessible by adding a concrete access ramp. The preservationists argued that the addition of a ramp would tarnish one of the most beautiful buildings in the neighborhood.

“Symmetry is incredibly important to the Neo-Classical style,” said Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a Brooklyn-based advocacy group that testified against the ramp.

Landmarks asked JP Morgan Chase to lower the automatic teller machine instead, saying that would not harm any of the structure’s historic material — a solution that the Historic Districts Council supported.

It is unclear whether this solution would cost more than installing an access ramp. Landmarks spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon said that the commission does not require applicants to say how much a proposed project will cost, and no one from the design team said yesterday what the financial effect of the commission’s recommendation would be.

JP Morgan Chase did not respond to a request for comment.

The Dime Savings Bank building, built in 1908, has the rare distinction of being both an interior and architectural landmark. When the city made it a landmark in 1994, the commission called it “among Brooklyn’s most notable works of commercial architecture and stands as a symbol of [the Dime’s] long and significant role in the history of the borough.”

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.