Author Archives: Simeon Bankoff

Simeon Bankoff

About Simeon Bankoff

Since 2000, Simeon Bankoff has been the executive director of a New York City based Historic Districts Council (HDC), a not-for-profit organization working to preserve the history of New York City by advocating for the protection of historic buildings and neighborhoods.

The Next NYC Landmarks Commission Chair

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NYC Landmarks Preservation CommissionIt is the Historic Districts Council’s firm belief, backed up by decades of observation, that the New York City Landmarks Law and the Commission empowered by it have enhanced and improved New York City.  Landmark designation stabilizes neighborhoods, enhances property values, empowers communities and attracts private investment into the city. More importantly, landmarks and historic districts provide a physical continuity to our city’s past, enabling residents and visitors alike to physically experience New York’s history.

With all this in mind, it’s no mystery that the still unfilled de Blasio appointment for Landmarks Chair is a matter of great interest to us and we have thought a great deal about the type of person whom we’d like to see in the role. Continue reading

Ladies’ Mile Historic District: Plan Will Demolish Buildings

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unnamed(10)Today, the owner of 51 and 53 West 19th Street in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District in New York City will request the Landmarks Preservation Commission for permission to demolish two buildings and to construct a 14-story building in their place. Unfortunately, this is not an April’s Fool joke.

51 and 53 West 19th Street are five-story, residential buildings built in 1854 which were converted to commercial and/or manufacturing use in the 1920s. Such a history is very much in keeping with the Ladies’ Mile Historic District. In fact, the designation report lists “converted dwellings” as a building type in the district along with “residential construction”, “office buildings”, “store and loft buildings”, and “retail stores/department stores.” The report points out that after World War I, the shopping district had moved north and the area’s focus shifted to manufacturing. The 1916 zoning resolution had prohibited the construction of tall buildings on mid-block sites, and so instead the surviving residential buildings were converted. Converted dwellings are obviously a part of the fabric of the district, and these two nicely-designed buildings are good examples of this typology. Continue reading

The NY Real Estate Board’s 50-Year War on Landmarks

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New-York-US-Open-533_thumbYou may have noticed that the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) have been making some noise lately about how much of Lower Manhattan has landmark protection. This is really no surprise to anyone who has been paying any attention for the past 50 years – Lower Manhattan includes some of New York City’s oldest concentrations of historic architecture and strong communities who have invested a lot of time, energy and money in maintaining, protecting and revitalizing them.

What’s strange is that the folks at REBNY think this is a bad thing: “We think the city’s future is tied to growth. We think we need to generate new housing, generate new jobs, that generates new tax dollars. If we start landmarking more and more of the city, we are landmarking away the city’s future economic growth” REBNY President Steven Spinola recently told NY1. Continue reading