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Advocates Call For Changes to Landmark Designation in New York City

by Stephanie Kuo
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gsz, Flickr

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer plans to introduce legislation to revise landmark designation process, following the city's decision against a historic bookstore's landmark status.

Rizzoli Bookstore sits in a 109-year-old building on West 57th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan.

For the past 29 years, its hand-wrought chandeliers and large storefront windows have brought Old World charm to book lovers and tourists. But it now faces an untimely demise, following a decision by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission earlier this year. It found that the building "lacks the architectural significance necessary" to be considered as an individual landmark. The decision was met with public outcry and a petition of nearly 16,000 signatures to halt Rizzoli's demolition. Andrea Goldwyn is the Director of Public Policy at the New York Landmarks Conservancy. She says she understands New York is a city always undergoing changes, but...

"New York's also a city with a fantastic history, expressed through these great buildings. And it's these buildings that help make New York unique and exciting," Goldwyn said. "We don't want to see a city that is just very homogenous, that's all glass boxes."

That's why Goldwyn joins other advocates and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, in calling on the Landmarks Commission to study and landmark the remaining historic buildings on the block. They're also calling on the agency to reform its process, by being more transparent and timely when responding to future landmark designation requests. Brewer says she plans to introduce legislation to enforce this.

In regards to Rizzoli's, a spokesperson for the Landmarks Commission says the agency's currently reviewing a request for the property to be considered as an interior landmark instead.

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