Thursday, August 3, 2017

Letters regarding the VIP Historic District proposal for Inwood

Earlier this summer, we posted about a Request for Evaluation submitted to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for a proposed historic district for Inwood.  About a week later, VIP received a letter rejecting the request.

Today, we sent a response to the the LPC's letter objecting to the rejection and requesting more information. In order to make the whole process available to the public, we have added the related letters to the same public Dropbox files used earlier (see the June 14, 2017 blog post for the earlier links).  The links are also referenced at the end of theVIP response letter quoted below:

Scan of the LPC letter:

PDF of a response letter to the LPC about the matter from the Historic Districts Council:

The text of the response letter to the NYC LPC from VIP/IP:

"Thank you for your recent letter concerning the Broadway Corridor Historic District for Inwood, Manhattan.  We were both surprised and disappointed to find that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) stated:
“…the recommended historic district lacks the necessary cohesiveness and sense of place necessary to define a potential historic district.  This is based on the different typologies (apartment buildings, smaller houses, commercial and manufacturing buildings, substations, various parks, playfields, a large bridge, among others), as well as the wide range of building ages, styles and scales found in the area.”

The LPC has designated large districts with “different typologies” and “building ages, styles and scales” in other NYC neighborhoods both recently* and in the past.  The LPC has redrawn boundaries or excluded some elements as part of the designation process.  We ask that the LPC treat the Broadway Corridor Historic District proposed for Inwood in a similar manner, as Inwood currently has no designated historic district. 

Inwood was chosen as one of the Historic District Council’s first “Six to Celebrate” communities in 2011. At that time a Reconnaissance Survey database of the area was created. In early 2012, a meeting was held at which the LPC staff was asked for assistance with designation.  Finally, the Request for Evaluation (RFE) for the Broadway Corridor district was submitted in October 2016, during the recent Economic Development Corporation (EDC) attempt to rezone Inwood.

The proposed Broadway Corridor district recalls the 1939 WPA Guide description of Inwood** which includes the triangular portion in the valley below Dyckman Street beginning at West 193rd Street, an area not included in the 2011 database study or the EDC’s rezoning plan.  It is our contention that built Inwood is still much as it was described in the 1939 WPA Guide. The proposed district also includes civic, commercial, and residential buildings east of Broadway.  We are aware that other RFEs have recently been submitted for Inwood.  However, those RFE’s do not include the many historic elements in the areas south of Dyckman Street and east of Broadway. These portions of Inwood should be part of any large historic district. 

The LPC should be open to working with Inwood and giving some feedback, especially in light of the rezoning and especially because LPC Chair Srinivasan has publicly stated that the Commission is interested in the rezoning areas.  To eliminate Inwood in its entirety from consideration is unacceptable, as it is at odds with the agency's stated priorities.

We ask that the LPC provide the community with actionable information about how current or future historic district proposals for Inwood may move forward. 

Volunteers for Isham Park / Inwood Preservation

cc: LPC Commissioner & Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Director of the Historic Districts Council Simeon Bankoff, Community Board 12 Manhattan Land Use Committee Chair Wayne Benjamin

*Related recent designation of a large historic district with “different typologies” and “diversity of building ages, styles and scales” similar to those of the Broadway Corridor Inwood, Manhattan Historic District:
From the LPC’s Morningside Heights Historic District narrative designated February 21, 2017:
“The Commission furthers finds that among its special qualities, the Morningside Heights Historic District contains a large collection of architecturally significant examples of residential building types including apartment houses, row houses and fraternity houses, and ecclesiastical buildings dating from the 1890s to the 1920s; that the development of the area took place over a very brief period of time; that the period of greatest development coincided with the planned arrival and opening of the IRT subway in 1904; that as a result of this late development the dominant housing type is the apartment house; that these apartment houses range in height from six to 15 stories; that they are executed in a variety of historicist styles including Renaissance Revival, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Georgian Revival, and Secessionist…”

**1939 WPA GUIDE description:


Please note, Volunteers for Isham Park’s blog contains dropbox links to the materials submitted for the Broadway Corridor, Inwood, Manhattan Historic District":


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