The old adage says that everything old is eventually new again, but if we are talking about a landmarked building in New York City, you may want everything old to stay that way. New York City has over 80 historic districts featuring unique styles of design, exceptional attention to cultural details, and hand-painted or hand-carved architectural embellishments. Of course, a lot of these historic gems are homes to modern people with modern lifestyles and repairing, renovating or changing these buildings in any manner may require special permission.
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is the city agency responsible for designating and regulating landmarks. The commission has the authority to protect these landmarks—including residential buildings—from any alterations they believe might be harmful to their aesthetic or historic value. A landmark is a building, property, or object that has been designated as such by the LPC for its special character, historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation. (Landmarks are not always buildings. A landmark can be a bridge, a park, a water tower, a pier, a cemetery, a building’s lobby, a sidewalk clock, a fence, or even a tree.) A property or object is eligible for landmark status when at least part of it is at least thirty years old.
Applications and Permits
Tim Fine, executive vice president at Charles H. Greenthal Management Co., welcomes the process of LPC approval on restoration projects. “Management and Landmarks want the same thing; a beautiful building that is well-preserved and retains the style in which it was constructed,” he says.
According to the LPC, every designated structure, whether it is an individual landmark or a building in an historic district, is protected under the Landmarks Law and subject to the same review procedures. The Landmarks Law was enacted in the mid-1960s to protect the city’s architectural, historical and cultural heritage. Any exterior changes, no matter how minor, require the LPC’s permission.
Determining whether your building is already a landmark can be done using an interactive map on the LPC's website, www.nyc.gov/html/lpc. Entering the address will uncover the landmark status of a building as well as other individual, interior and historic landmarks in the surrounding area explains Elisabeth de Bourbon, spokesperson for the LPC.