Hizzoner only hope to save the Angel Guardian home, expert says

Catholic Charities balks at buying Angel Guardian Home
File photo by Georgine Benvenuto

The mayor must show mercy!

Mayor DeBlasio is the only person who can save the more than century-old Angel Guardian home from its impending demolition, according to a rep from a private citywide historic preservation organization.

“The best way to get this landmarked is to get Mr. DeBlasio to care about it,” said Kelly Carroll of the Historic Districts Council, at a Feb. 15 community board meeting on land marking the property.

Carroll told members of the Community Board 10’s Zoning and Land Use Committee and locals from the Guardians of the Guardian organization — a civic group that called for putting affordable senior housing in the space — that the mayor could pressure the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, which awards designations, to save the city-block-sized home between 63rd and 64th streets, bound by 12th and 13th avenues. Such a designation would not have to be approved by the Sisters of Mercy, but the landmarks agency would likely still involve them in the process to keep the peace, according to Carroll.

“It doesn’t make landmarking look very appealing to people when the government can do what they want with your property,” she said.

But getting Hizzoner to care about the historic property is unlikely without some local help, since he rarely makes comments on historic preservation and his administration is so concerned with development of affordable housing, Carroll said, adding that Councilman Justin Brannan (D—Bay Ridge) could — and should — leverage his close relationship with DeBlasio to help save the home.

“I am really hoping that our new Councilmember Justin Brannan, who has a direct ear to DeBlasio, can say, ‘This is really important, can you do us this one solid?,’ ” she said.

Brannan’s district does not include the Angel Guardian home, but he has castigated the Sisters over the terms of the secret sale, alleging that the nuns were “giving our neighborhood the finger as they leave” and “spitting in the face of this community.”

His chief of staff, Chris McCreight, told this paper that Brannan would be willing to bring the matter to the mayor’s attention to make sure plans for the building’s future best served the community’s needs.

“Councilman Brannan remains committed to finding ways to ensure the Angel Guardian site continues to serve the needs of the local community,” McCreight said. “To that end, he has been in talks with many of the stakeholders is ready to roll up his sleeves and work with anybody, including Mayor DeBlasio, to make sure this site serves the neighborhood no matter who the owners are now or in the future.”

The committee voted 6–0 at the meeting to support the Guardians of the Guardian’s landmarking application for the property, which the full board will vote on at the Feb. 26 meeting at the Norwegian Christian home at 7 pm. The board’s vote is not binding, but helps give the application more weight with the landmarks agency, according to Guardians of the Guardian member Fran Vella-Marrone.

The executive director of the Historic Districts Council, Simeon Bankoff, also wrote a letter to the landmarks agency on Jan. 31 supporting the Guardians’ efforts, citing the property’s architectural and historical significance as well as Dyker Height’s lack of landmarked sites.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.