Boerum Hill

Some Atlantic Avenue landlords oppose expansion of Boerum Hill Historic District

May 8, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The proposed landmarking of 50-plus Atlantic Avenue buildings has ignited opposition among landlords. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

“The building is my 401(k),” said one resident

Leave us out of it!

Some landlords on Atlantic Avenue are mounting a last-minute campaign to keep the blocks between Hoyt and Nevins streets out of the proposed expansion of the Boerum Hill Historic District, claiming the landmark status will affect the value of their buildings.

“I am a senior citizen whose sole livelihood depends on the investment in my Atlantic Avenue property,” Glenda Forde testified to the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, which held a hearing on Tuesday morning. “The building is my 401(k).”

The proposal calls for more than 50 rowhouses with storefronts to join the historic district, a designation that deters large-scale development because property owners must obtain city approval to demolish buildings or alter their exteriors.

Being in the historic zone imposes additional renovation costs such as mandated materials and the need to send architects to testify at agency hearings. It adds “layers of costs, delays and red tape” that would drive away funky, entrepreneurial retail tenants, said property owner Rene Lynch, who gave the commission a petition signed by more than 20 Atlantic Avenue property owners.

Another opponent, Roberto Rivera, said his property would drop in value if he could no longer sell its air rights.

Supporters say landmarking would protect the Victorian architectural features of the buildings. Many cite a case from 2012, when a firm bought rowhouses at 438 and 440 Atlantic Ave., tore them down, and built a single six-story, eight-unit apartment building with ground-floor commercial space.

That new building is just outside the area that’s proposed for landmarking.

“There is so much new construction enveloping the area that we are in danger of losing the very appeal that the historic buildings offer to shoppers and residents alike,” said Atlantic Avenue property owner Kate Perry.

The proposed Boerum Hill Historic District Extension, which dates back four decades, also includes two small sections of the neighborhood filled with homes built before or just after the Civil War. These blocks were left out of Boerum Hill’s original historic district, which was created in 1973.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Boerum Hill Association President Howard Kolins called the designation of  the Boerum Hill Historic District Extension “long overdue.” And City Councilmember Steve Levin (D-Boerum Hill) backs it.

A final vote is set for May 29.

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