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A ‘historic’ effort

The Brooklyn Paper
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Fort Greene and Clinton Hill activists are pulling out all the stops to protect the “character” of their rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods.

On top of a highly anticipated downzoning — now in its final stages of approval — the Fort Greene Association and the Society for Clinton Hill will soon jointly demand that the city expand existing historic districts to cover more of the area.

The double-teaming is an attempt to not only strengthen the request, but also prevent the inter-neighborhood competition that arises when too many areas petition the short-staffed Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“It’s important to work together, because your political representation overlaps, and getting the Commission out to a neighborhood is always difficult,” advised Andrew Dolkart, the Columbia preservationist who is consulting on the project.

Historic-district designation means that homeowners and landlords must get city permission before altering their buildings, thereby preserving the “character” of the neighborhood.

The still-theoretical proposal would expand the pre-existing Fort Greene and Clinton Hill historic districts to include the countless row houses, brownstones, churches, and commercial buildings that don’t presently have any protection.

According to Dolkart, who just completed a cultural resources survey for Fort Greene and is finishing up another for Clinton Hill, the neighborhoods have plenty of historical artifacts worth protecting.

If he had his way, Dolkart would expand the Fort Greene historic district to include sites like the “semi-suburban” South Oxford Place, particularly the Italianate villa at 158. Dolkart would expand the Clinton Hill historic district to include buildings like the Charles Pratt Stables on Vanderbilt Avenue, and the Loeser’s Department Store stables on Quincy and Downing streets, designed by Francis Kimball, the same architect who built Emmanuel Baptist Church on Lafayette Avenue and the Montauk Club in Park Slope.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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