Bay Ridge

Gentile backs historic district status for ‘Doctor’s Row’

July 26, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Residents of Bay Ridge Parkway, who want their street to be named a historic district, got a big boost when Councilmember Vincent Gentile endorsed the idea. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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An effort by Bay Ridge residents to have their street declared a historic district by the de Blasio administration is getting a big assist from Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who has come out in favor of the idea.

In a letter to Meenakshi Srinivasan, chairman of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, Gentile wrote that he fully supports the proposal by the Bay Ridge Parkway 400 Block Association to have the city designate the block as a historic district.

The street of Bay Ridge Parkway between Fourth and Fifth avenues is known throughout the neighborhood as “Doctor’s Row” because of the numerous doctors’ offices located there.

“Doctor’s Row” is special, according to Gentile, who marveled at the block’s architecture.

“This beautiful block represents our unique ‘small town in a big city’ feel. The row houses date back to the turn of the 20th century with Neo-Renaissance architecture. Original cornices, stoops, sills and other marvelous displays of craftsmanship have withstood any natural or fabricated changes. From avenue to avenue, ‘Doctor’s Row’ is sprinkled with limestone facades on both sides of the street adding an antique flavor that yearns for feathered hats and trolley lines. The historic aesthetic composition of this street is noticeable to any visitor,” Gentile wrote in his letter.

Preserving the look of the block “will benefit both local residents commuting to their homes and tourists exploring Brooklyn’s history,” said Gentile, who added that the street “maintains a distinct ‘sense of place’ and a coherent streetscape identifiable by the naked eye.”

Besides, Gentile said, it’s about time the commission recognized Bay Ridge’s special nature.

“Throughout my tenure in the City Council, 18 destinations in Brooklyn have been designated as historic districts; none of them in Southwest Brooklyn. In fact there is currently no historic district on the west side of Ocean Parkway,” Gentile wrote.

Gentile’s endorsement could give the historic district effort momentum.

Last month, Community Board 10 voted to send a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission urging the panel to take a look at the block.

If the commission takes up the matter, the proposal to grant historic district status to the block would likely come back to the community board for its consideration, Zoning Committee Chairman Brian Kaszuba said. The community board would vote on the proposal and send its recommendation to the commission.

“If it came back, I would be in favor of it,” Kaszuba recently told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The Historic Districts Council of New York City is providing support and guidance to the Bay Ridge Parkway 400 Block Association. 

If historic district status is eventually granted, a homeowner on the block who would want to make major changes to the facade of the house would have to obtain the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Getting the commission’s approval isn’t that hard, Kaszuba said. “Landmarks works very well with individual homeowners,” he told the Eagle.

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