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Historic Landmarking and the Strand’s Struggles

Real Estate Developments, Real Estate Legality


This week, Strand Bookstore owner Nancy Bass Wyden said she would sue the city after it confirmed the iconic bookseller’s building would be designated a historic landmark. Designation as a landmark is accompanied by a host of additional rules governing changes that can be made to a structure. Wyden, whose family has owned and run the Strand since 1927, argues that the designation will actually make it more difficult for her to keep the store open. For example, landmarked buildings often require more expensive materials when making repairs or doing other kinds of upkeep–although certain tax credits exist to help owners preserve a building’s historic character. However, it would be deeply ironic if an attempt by the city to safeguard the Strand through landmarking made it harder for the store to stay in business. Because landmarking is a powerful form of regulation in NYC, it will be interesting to see how this case plays out. [1]

Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood is being rezoned, and preservationists there are attempting to get as many buildings designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as possible in a bid to limit development. Five buildings are under consideration, with dozens more suggested for evaluation. Another big developer, Avery Hall Investments, purchased a site in Gowanus for $44 million this week, illustrating the perceived desirability of the neighborhood as well as why some residents are trying to secure landmark status for more buildings. As in the case with the Strand, it remains interesting to see how landmark status affects the real estate market and whether designation can have unintended consequences. [2]

[1] Alexa, A. (September 2019) Owner of The Strand Book Store will challenge landmark status in court from 6sqft Accessed September 25 2019

[2] Spivack, C. (September 2019) Gowanus preservationists push for landmark protections amid rezoning fears from CurbedNY Accessed September 25 2019

Small, E. (September 2019) Avery Hall Investments buys Gowanus development site for $44M from The Real Deal Accessed September 25 2019

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