New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

City Land

City Land Landmarks Leaves Only One Backlog Item Remaining After Last Meeting of 2016 by Editorial Board

Landmarks Leaves Only One Backlog Item Remaining After Last Meeting of 2016

Occupying a prominent site that formerly hosted the Vanderbilt mansion at the south end of Grand Army Plaza, the building was designed Ely Jacques Kahn in a Modern Classical style. Bergdorf Goodman was among the original tenants, and grew to become one of the City’s iconic department stores, ultimately purchasing the entire building.

The vernacular Italianate 412 East 85th Street House was built circa 1860, and is a rare surviving wood-framed house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The house has had a series of owners, and undergone some minor alterations, but remains largely intact. The house’s owners, Catherine De Vido and Susan Jordan, supported landmark designation. Council Member Ben Kallos, Gale Brewer, and preservationist organizations also urged Landmarks to designate the property.

The Harlem Branch of the YMCA, now the Jackie Robinson YMCA Youth Center, was completed in 1919 to designs by architect John Jackson. At the time of its construction, YMCAs were racially segregated, and the Harlem Branch was built for the use of African Americans. The building served as a center for Harlem intellectual and social life, and Harlem Renaissance luminaries such as Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and Paul Robeson are associated with the YMCA. There was no opposition to designation on the November 12thhearing. Chair Srinivasan said the cultural and social history associated with the building made it “a standout.”

City Land Elected Officials Challenge Skyscraper’s Skirt of the Zoning Law by Jonathon Sizemore

Elected Officials Challenge Skyscraper’s Skirt of the Zoning Law

The site for the skyscraper forms an L-shape, wrapping around several existing buildings and fronting both Third Avenue and 88th Street. Last year the developer carved out a lot measuring four by twenty-two feet on the development’s 88th Street front. Doing so allowed the owner to avoid strict zoning requirements, including height limits for narrow buildings between two low-rise buildings. The move also allowed the owner to designate space on the side facing 88th Street as a required rear yard, when in practice it would serve as an entrance to the skyscraper. The Department of Buildings approved the carve-out.

In May 2016, after construction had begun, the scheme came to the notice of Council Member Ben Kallos who, with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, requestedthat Buildings immediately stop construction at the site for a review. Together, they called the 88 square-foot lot “the smallest created in modern times” and “unbuildable” with “no legitimate purpose.” Buildings stopped construction at the site shortly after.

Working with the City, the developer proposed increasing the carved out lot to ten by twenty-two feet. On October 27, 2016, Buildings approved the increased size, stating that the agency considered the now larger lot “developable.”

City Land City Council to Consider New Oversight Controls on BSA by Jonathon Sizemore

City Council to Consider New Oversight Controls on BSA

Ten bills will be aired for public opinion to place restrictions on and revamp the processes of the Board of Standards and Appeals. On December 6, 2016, Council Member Ben Kallos introduced five new bills regarding the oversight and operations of the Board of Standards and Appeals at the City Council’s stated meeting. The Board of Standards and Appeals, which was originally created to be an independent board tasked with granting “relief” from the zoning code, is empowered by the Zoning Resolution and primarily reviews and decides applications for variances and special permits.

City Land At Final Backlog Hearing Testimony Considered On Manhattan Items by Jesse Denno

At Final Backlog Hearing Testimony Considered On Manhattan Items

Co-owner of 412 East 85th Street Susan Jordan endorsed landmarking, saying the preservation of the 19th-century wood-framed house was important to the immediate and larger communities, and that the building served as a “reminder of Yorkville’s agrarian past.”  Council member Ben Kallos called the building “absolutely amazing,” and noted that it was one of only six wood-framed houses still standing on the Upper East Side, including Gracie Mansion.  Area resident Franny Eberhart called the building a “window to the history of Yorkville.”

CityLandNYC.org Community Engagement Begins for 86th Street Area BID Formation by Jessica Soultanian-Braunstein

Community Engagement Begins for 86th Street Area BID Formation

“This community has faced a long-standing problem with conditions on and around 86th Street. This corridor’s needs are too great for band-aids or one-off fixes. A BID will provide the supplementary support this neighborhood needs and is long overdue,” said Council member Kallos.