Why expand the Park Slope Historic District?
Landmark designation is the only way to protect the buildings and streetscapes that make Park Slope distinctive. Without this designation, there is nothing to prevent developers or owners from tearing down or drastically altering existing buildings. Zoning law regulates building height and usage but not exterior appearance or fidelity to the surrounding architectural context. Only historic district designation offers that protection, and only about 25 percent of Park Slope lies within the present boundaries of the 1973-designated district.
Who decides whether the Park Slope Historic District will be expanded?
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), with ratification by the City Council, after an extended period of intensive research to document each building in the proposed expansion.
What part of Park Slope is under consideration, and why isn’t it larger?
The LPC has a small staff and can only conduct research into several hundred buildings at a time. In the second expansion phase, the LPC has surveyed about 700 buildings in the North Slope. The Park Slope Civic Council is laying the groundwork so that much more of Park Slope will eventually be considered.
Will building owners be part of the process?
Yes. The process includes communication with all building owners and a public hearing.
Would landmark designation lower my property value?
On the contrary, landmarking tends to raise property values because people want to live in neighborhoods protected from radical demolition and development.
Would I be required to restore my property to some prior period in its history?
Would landmark designation raise my taxes?
Would I be restricted in the kinds of changes I can make to my property?
Yes, but only to the exterior of the building, and the approval process is usually quick and easy. You can find out lots more on the LPC website.
Would I need a permit to make ordinary repairs?
No. For example, you would not need a permit to replace broken window glass, repaint a building exterior to match the existing color, or caulk around windows and doors.
Would landmark designation prevent all alterations and new construction?
No. Changes and new construction can take place, but only if the LPC finds them appropriate. The Poly Prep Lower School addition on First Street is a good example.
Is there any financial assistance for owners within a historic district?
Owners can donate a historic preservation easement on the exterior of their property and then claim a tax deduction. Commercial owners who follow federal guidelines can take advantage of federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits if their property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
If a family member is disabled, could I make changes to my property to accommodate his or her needs?
Yes. The LPC routinely reviews and approves railings, lifts, and ramps to provide accessibility for the handicapped.
What are some of the things the Park Slope Civic Council doing to promote expansion?
The Historic District Committee has been conducting research to supplement the LPC’s efforts and has been meeting with community leaders, elected officials, civic organizations, and other stakeholders. It has photographed every building in the Slope and has launched a petition drive among residents and building owners in the expansion areas under consideration.
How can I learn more?
- The Landmarks Preservation Commission website describes the landmarking process and what it means to you.
- The Historic Districts Council website offers powerful arguments in favor of landmarking.
What if I have questions?
E-mail the Civic Council’s Historic District Committee or call 718.832.8227.