Bigger Slope historic district could curb development near arena

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Preservationists and elected officials are pushing to expand Park Slope’s historic district — a move that could protect the neighborhood’s charm amidst a predicted wave of development sparked by the soon-to-open Barclays Center.

Councilmen Steve Levin (D–Park Slope) and Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) are throwing their weight behind a longstanding Park Slope Civic Council effort to extend the community’s already substantial landmark district to include 12 blocks of buildings between Fifth and Sixth avenues bounded by Flatbush Avenue and President Street — effectively barring non-contextual construction in the neighborhood anywhere near the arena.

“For people who live nearby, this is a pretty important thing,” said Park Slope historian Francis Morrone, noting that stadiums rarely rise so close to buildings with so much history and unique style. “Without protection, there’s every reason to think [future development] would be inconsistent with the historic character.”

Indeed, merchants and property owners near the new home of the Brooklyn Nets have already begun putting their land up for sale — raising concerns that a real-estate gold rush near the arena will change the look of Park Slope dramatically.

The proposed district would force owners of landmarked properties to seek special permits from the Landmarks Preservation Commission before altering the facades of their buildings or demolishing their homes, but it won’t include retail establishments on Flatbush and Fifth avenues.

The Civic Council has fought for years to implement a three-phase Park Slope landmarking plan that initially called for preserving almost every building in the neighborhood, but the group began pushing for the smaller historic zone because it is more likely to gain city approval, said Peter Bray, chair of the council’s historic district committee.

Bray claims the landmarking push isn’t a direct response to scheduled opening of the Barclays Center, as the proposal has been in the works for years. But he says the historic zone would help if an arena-influenced wave of development hits Park Slope.

“It’s a tool for preserving architecture integrity, the character of the streetscape and quality of life — and Atlantic Yards has some bearing on that,” said Bray.

Levin — who has not taken a strong public stand on the Atlantic Yards project — also refused to link the landmarking push to the mega-development, but said historic districts can protect buildings that need to be saved.

“As development increases throughout Brooklyn, it is more and more important to preserve the historic character of Park Slope,” said Levin.

Landmarks officials are midway through a survey examining the neighborhood’s “architectu­ral and historical significance” and are now “working to finalize boundaries,” according to spokeswoman Lisi De Bourbon.

It is unlikely the city will approve the district before the Barclays Center opens its doors in September, considering that a similar proposal to expand a landmarked district in South Park Slope has taken about a year and a half with a scheduled final vote in April.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.
Posted 7:57 am, February 17, 2012
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Reasonable discourse

Not Joe Stalin from Park Slope says:
If you support "Historic designation" and oppose the eminent domain used for the atlantic yards site you are a hypocrite. This is the exact same principle - the taking of the rights of many property owners by an entitled few. Whether the taking is to prevent or hasten development is besides the point. If this is truly the will of the neighborhood and not the well heeled few then go through the zoning process and go for a down zoning instead of this end around in the name of historical preservation.
Feb. 17, 2012, 1:51 pm
obviously from BedStuy says:
Its the same as eminent domain but in reverse. Architectural integrity? Do we really want Brooklyn to look the same in 20, 50 and 100 years from now? Development is good for property values IMO or am I missing something?
Feb. 17, 2012, 4:59 pm
ty from pps says:
Too bad they didn't "landmark" the area 100 years ago... that "historic character" was destroyed with these horrible brownstones.
Feb. 17, 2012, 5:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
"If you support "Historic designation" and oppose the eminent domain used for the atlantic yards site you are a hypocrite."

You are aware that was actually the abuse of eminent domain. The term actually means taking property for the use of the public, not giving it to a private owner. Either way, landmarking is actually preserving buildings whereas eminent domain takes it away. Still, it would be nice to share some nostaligia in neighborhoods rather than just having it all torn down again to replace them with architecture that will only last as long as a fad as they cycle would repeat.
Feb. 17, 2012, 6:36 pm

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