Living in a Landmark Navigating the Repair and Construction Process

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.

"The people of New York care about the beautiful buildings as much as we do and we want the buildings to retain this beauty," says Sherida E. Paulsen, chair of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The 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 part of it is at least 30 years old.

The Commish

"We understand it’s a hoop to jump through for an owner to apply for a permit, but we try to make the process as pleasant as possible," says Paulsen.

Tim Fine, managing director 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.

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