Pressing for a new city historic district 1

Houses in Broadway-Flushing are being demolished or significantly altered, such as this one on 32nd Avenue by 156th Street, and preservationists are calling on the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the area as historic to preserve its unique character.

Incensed at the continued demolition of historic houses in Broadway-Flushing, homeowners at 11 a.m. Saturday will rally at Bowne Park to call on the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate their area a historic district to save the character of the neighborhood.

“Northeast Queens is one of the last bastions of one- and two-family homes and quiet, tree-lined residential streets,” state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who is sponsoring the rally, said. “If we don’t protect it, it will be gone forever.”

Broadway-Flushing is a part of Flushing bounded by 155th Street on the west, 29th Avenue to 162nd Street and then 32nd Avenue on the north; Northern Boulevard and Crocheron Avenue on the south and 170th Street on the east.

It is already in the national and state registries of Historic Places but has yet to receive historic district status from the LPC. Should the LPC decide to designate the area as such, developers seeking to alter or demolish homes there would have to receive the commission’s approval first.

But as the wait for historic status goes on, homes in the area are being torn down or significantly altered — with eight cases this year alone, according to urban planner Paul Graziano.

“It’s sick. It’s really sick,” Graziano said of the homes being torn down. “Every building that has been torn down since 2005, is entirely the fault of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.”

When asked about Graziano’s criticism of the LPC, a spokeswoman for the commission said the district has already been found to not be historic.

“The agency’s research department performed a house by house survey of approximately 2,300 buildings in the area in 2006-2007. The survey included, but was not limited to, comparing the current conditions of the buildings with those documented by historic photographs,” the spokeswoman said in an email on Wedensday. “The agency’s decision not to recommend Broadway Flushing for consideration as a historic district was based on the number of inappropriate new buildings in the area, the numerous alterations to the houses, such as filling in of the porches, re-siding, changes in the shapes and configurations of openings, and the removal of decorative details. In addition, the agency found that there was a lack of strong architectural significance.”

Graziano wrote the application for Broadway-Flushing when it joined the National Registry of Historic Places. In that document, he called the homes there “a remarkably intact architecturally and historically significant development spanning from 1900 to 1950,” and cites its historical significance to Queens.

The tasteful, quaint houses originally constructed there have been replaced by “big, ugly boxes,” Graziano said.

Graziano, and the senator, added that should the LPC not designate the Broadway-Flushing area as historic, it will be “destroyed” in the near future.

He and Avella also criticized the agency for dragging its feet on officially recognizing the area for its importance and added that other boroughs are given more consideration than Queens.

“If someone sneezes in Manhattan, that corner becomes a landmark,” Avella said.

Both stated there are only a small number of people who do not support making Broadway-Flushing a historic district, with most homeowners in favor of it.

Avella said he hopes to make it clear that the LPC needs to “get off its butt and talk actual designation for the Broadway-Flushing area.

“If you do have concerns, then let’s talk about them,” the senator added.


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