The Landmark Preservation Commission turned its attention to eastern Queens in the last couple of weeks, closing the book on two proposals.
The agency approved landmark status for the Hawthorne Court Apartments in Bayside and voted against an expansion of the Douglaston Historic District. Both of these decisions came in the midst of a growing controversy where the LPC was aiming to remove hundreds of proposals from the landmark backlog. After heavy community backlash, it reversed that course of action and will now proceed through each application as normal.
The Hawthorne Court Apartments, built between 1930 and 1931, are located at the corner of 216th Street and 43rd Avenue. The Tudor Revival Style structures, which contain substantial green space, were conceived by architect Benjamin Braunstein and received an award from the Queens Chamber of Commerce in 1931.
The LPC unanimously voted to landmark the structures.
“This charming and ornate complex is a fine example of the Tudor Revival style and provides a critical narrative of Bayside’s transformation to a commuter suburb after the completion of the railroad tunnel to Manhattan in 1910,” LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said.
Paul DiBenedetto, the president of the Bayside Historical Society, was thrilled that the Hawthorne Apartments were recognized with a landmark status. The society had launched a preservation campaign for the buildings.
“The long trips to the LPC offices downtown, to the endless letters, schmoozing, petitions, phone calls, research, yet only to see it put aside (calendared) on two occasions … all worth it in the end,” he said in a letter to the community. “From the massive Bayside rezoning we struggled to achieve in 2005 to this incredible moment, I can say with great civic pride that two amazing things have happened for our community in these 10 years and that our city can work for our interests.”
The commission also nixed an expansion of the Douglaston Historic District that had been calendared since 2008. The proposed extension included about 22 buildings located on or near the Douglaston Parkway, south of the historic district. The area proposed for preservation has 18 houses, the Colonial Revival-style PS 98, the Colonial Revival-style Community Church of Douglaston and a 1928-30 Tudor Revival-style apartment building.
According to Vallone, he was presented with a petition signed by 11 of the 17 affected homeowners, stating their opposition to the historic district expansion. In 2008, Community Board 11 also voted against the proposal.
The LPC decalendared the extension on Dec. 9.
“There are times when landmarking is improper as it imposes undue restrictions on the rights of homeowners to renovate, modify or even sell their properties as they wish,” Vallone said. “When a majority of homeowners are against it, landmarking does not provide a benefit to the City that can override the wishes of these residents.”