The preservation community was recently disappointed by two city council members who proved they were only fair weather friends of historic preservation. Selling out preservation and knowing better were Council Members Margaret Chin and Brad Lander. Reversing her earlier pro-preservation position on saving 135 Bowery, Council Member Chin condemned this 1817 row house to the rubble heap. Having been designated a landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the designation was rejected by the City Council based on the time-honored tradition of that institution–bowing to the wishes of the local Council Member when it comes to land use issues. Chin was willing to see this almost 200 year old survivor of old New York destroyed for the temporal promise of retail and office space at below-market rates. Sad but true that in 2011 the fate of a landmark in New York City rests in the hands of one person—if that person is the City Council member in whose district the unfortunate landmark resides.
Chair of the Landmarks Subcommittee Council Member Brad Lander went along with this travesty. He certainly knows better. Honoring such bad behavior by a city council member is not what leadership is all about. What a disappointment! It is time for the City Council to step up and change its ways.
We’re happy to report that one Council Member had the courage to do the right thing—Bravo to Council Member Rosie Mendez! May her courage and leadership inspire others.