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Landmarks Conservancy celebrates 40th anniversary of Historic Properties Fund loans

Program has been very active in brownstone Brooklyn

February 4, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The New York Landmarks Conservancy is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its New York City Historic Properties Fund (HPF), one of the largest revolving loan funds for preservation in the country.

“The longevity of the program has allowed the Conservancy to make a meaningful impact on our community,” said Deb Howard, former executive director of IMPACCT Brooklyn, also known as the Pratt Area Community Council, and a longtime resident of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill. To date, HPF has helped 84 property owners in that area of Brooklyn restore and maintain their buildings.

Over the past 40 years, loans have supported more than 273 projects, providing over $31.6 million to building owners. Many of HPF’s early loans were in low- and moderate-income brownstone neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Upper Manhattan.

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39 Clifton Place in Clinton Hill (corner building), before renovation. Photo courtesy of NY Landmarks Conservancy

From Harlem and Crown Heights brownstones, to Jackson Heights co-ops, to a pre-Revolutionary-era home in Staten Island, to the Eldridge Street Synagogue, and a gothic cottage on City Island, HPF loans have helped transform buildings and neighborhoods throughout the boroughs.   

The Conservancy staff works with all borrowers to help define scope of work, find skilled contractors and make sure projects are done to landmark standards. In addition, the Conservancy has helped 17 qualified borrowers obtain a total of $644,367 in State Homeowner Tax Credits. 

1325 Dean St. in Crown Heights, before renovation. Photo courtesy of NY Landmarks Conservancy

   

“We were all amateurs looking to do a major renovation project,” said Andrew Parker, a Brooklyn co-op president. “The Landmarks Conservancy really held our hand and helped us through the entire process.”  

The Historic Properties Fund resulted from Conservancy efforts to find new uses for the then-vacant Federal Archive Building in Greenwich Village, an imposing 400,000-square-foot landmark owned by the General Services Administration (GSA). The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan facilitated the Conservancy’s involvement with the building.   

The Conservancy commissioned the Graduate School of Architecture & Planning at Columbia University in the mid-1970s to analyze the property.  Their proposal called for the conversion of the Archive Building to a mixture of commercial, residential, and community uses. 

1325 Dean St. in Crown Heights after renovation. Photo courtesy of NY Landmarks Conservancy

Over the next several years, the Conservancy served as the project manager for GSA, found a developer to create apartments and retail spaces, and worked with many public agencies at all levels to put the transaction together. 

Paul Byard, a long-time Conservancy trustee, proposed using the proceeds the Conservancy received for its work to create a revolving loan fund for preservation.  The Conservancy has supplemented the proceeds with additional fundraising through the years, resulting in over $10 million in assets. 

“The Historic Properties Fund is a cornerstone of the Conservancy’s efforts to preserve the historic buildings, and transform the neighborhoods, that are the heart and soul of our city,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. “We are truly honored to mark the 40th year milestone of the fund and acknowledge the dedicated New Yorkers we have worked with along the way.”

Since its founding, the Conservancy, a private non-profit organization, has loaned and granted more than $54 million, which has leveraged more than $1 billion in 1,850 restoration projects throughout New York, revitalizing communities, providing economic stimulus and supporting local jobs.  The Conservancy has also offered countless hours of pro bono technical advice to building owners.


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