Neighborhood Conservation Districts

A New Approach to Neighborhood Conservation Districts

Exploring the Applicability of Neighborhood Conservation Districts to New York City: A Senior Practitioner Ginsberg Fellow Project
By Carol Clark

Rethinking Neighborhood Preservation aims to identify and advance planning and zoning tools to help protect the integrity of New York City’s historic neighborhoods while facilitating appropriate development.  The project’s principal researcher is CHPC’s William R. Ginsberg 2009 Senior Practitioner Fellow, Carol Clark.  Her Research Assistant is Gillian Connell, MSUP/HP ’10 Columbia University.

In a growing number of cities around the country, Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs) are being established.  They are located in neighborhoods with distinct physical character that do not necessarily merit historic district designation but warrant special land use attention.  A central question for the project is: what lessons do the practices of other jurisdictions hold for New York City?  Preliminary findings indicate that the emphasis NCDs place on neighborhood planning initiatives within a citywide context is both instructive and relevant.  There are, however, formidable challenges in adapting the NCD approach to New York City.

Members of the project’s Advisory Committee include:

* Sandra P. Acosta, Principal, A & C Development Partners
* Richard C. Anderson, President, The New York Building Congress
* Laurie Beckelman, Principal, Beckelman & Capalino
* Eugenie L. Birch, Professor of City and Regional Planning, Graduate School of Design, University of Pennsylvania
* Robert S. Cook, Esq., Anderson, Kill & Olick, LLP
* Mark E. Ginsberg, FAIA, Partner, Curtis & Ginsberg Architects LLP,
2009 CHPC President
* Lucille L. McEwen, President and CEO, Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement
* Sherida  E. Paulson, FAIA,  2009 President, AIA New York Chapter,
Principal, PSKB Architects LLP
* Jerilyn Perine, Executive Director, Citizens Housing & Planning Council
* Frank J. Sciame, Jr., Chair, Board of Directors, New York Landmarks Conservancy, Chairman & CEO, F. J. Sciame Construction Co. Inc.
* John Shapiro, Chair, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, Pratt Institute
* Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Dean, Graduate School of Design, University of Pennsylvania
* William Traylor, President, Richman Housing Resources LLC
* Julia Vitullo-Martin, Senior Fellow, The Manhattan Institute
* Anthony C. Wood, Chairman, Steering Committee, Preservation Vision: NYC
* Funders of the project include the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s John E. Streb Preservation Fund for New York and the New York Community Trust.

Funders of the project include the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s John E. Streb Preservation Fund for New York and the New York Community Trust.

Useful links

Protecting Older Neighborhoods through Conservation District Programs, a booklet available for purchase from the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Directory of Neighborhood Conservation Departments in US Cities compiled by CHPC

Adam Lovelady, “Broadened Notions of Historic Preservation and the Role of Neighborhood Conservation Districts”, Urban Lawyer, Volume 40, Number 1, Winter 2008, 147. (See abstract or search for sources.)

Teardown Tools on the Web, a useful PDF containing tools to manage better teardowns, created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Projects, Studies & Proposals, NYC Department of City Planning

The Campaign for Community-Based Planning, The Municipal Art Society of New York

Community Planning at the Pratt Center for Community Development

The Historic Districts Council of NYC

Neighborhood Preservation Center of NYC

Neighborhood Conservation Districts post header

  • Carol Clark’s Approaches to Conserving Neighborhood Character Presented at the 2011 Fitch Forum

    Presented on February 11th 2011 at Columbia University by Carol Clark, CHPC Practitioner Fellow

    In New York City, a wide variety of older residential neighborhoods are suffering stunning losses of distinctive character.  Whether through demolition and replacement of perfectly decent housing stock with McMansions, or from unsympathetic alterations  that compromise completely the original appearance of a building with bad siding, unfortunate windows or front yards paved over with parking as we see in this example in Astoria, Queens. These changes detract from the quality of these invaluable   neighborhoods.  And while this problem is quite evident throughout New York City, it is, in fact, very widespread.

    The Times decried the so-called “teardown” epidemic, asserting that it is a rapidly growing hazard.  There is also an important economic factor to consider: people prefer to reside in places that possess a cohesiveness and feel comfortable to them.

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Carol Clark’s Approaches to Conserving Neighborhood Character Presented at the 2011 Fitch Forum

Figure 3

Presented on February 11th 2011 at Columbia University by Carol Clark, CHPC Practitioner Fellow

In New York City, a wide variety of older residential neighborhoods are suffering stunning losses of distinctive character.  Whether through demolition and replacement of perfectly decent housing stock with McMansions, or from unsympathetic alterations  that compromise completely the original appearance of a building with bad siding, unfortunate windows or front yards paved over with parking as we see in this example in Astoria, Queens. These changes detract from the quality of these invaluable   neighborhoods.  And while this problem is quite evident throughout New York City, it …

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CHPC/AIA Event and Panel

“Rethinking Neighborhood Preservation: Fresh Approaches to Protecting Community Character”

The Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) and the Planning and Urban Design Committee of the AIA New York Chapter cosponsored this event.  It was held on May 15, 2009 from 8-10 am at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place.

Panelists:
Carol Clark: CHPC’s 2009 William R. Ginsberg Senior Practitioner Fellow
Frank Branconi, Chief Economist, Office of the Comptroller, City of New York
Mark E. Ginsberg FAIA, Principal, Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP
Margery H. Perlmutter, A.I.A., Attorney at Law, Bryan Cave LLP
Jerilyn Perine, …

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