As most, if not all, regular readers of this blog know, Brooklyn Heights was New York City’s first designated historic district. This means there are strict controls on what can be built here and how existing buildings can be modified. Without these rules, it seems likely to me that all the townhouses along the west side of Columbia Heights by now would have been demolished and replaced by a phalanx of high-rises. Some regulations seem to me a bit persnickety. Why is it that the owner of a nineteenth century townhouse that had its stoop removed a century ago can’t have a new stoop installed unless she has access to the design of the original stoop and can duplicate it exactly? If the design has been lost, I’d rather see a reasonable facsimile of a nineteenth century stoop there than none at all.
Some object to historic districts generally because they adversely affect the availability of affordable housing by limiting allowable density, thereby reducing the supply side of the supply/demand equation. Others object on the grounds that they infringe on the rights of property owners, or prevent what they consider the proper operation of real estate markets.
We’ve received notice from Community Board 2 and from the Brooklyn Heights Association that researchers at Columbia University are conducting an online survey “to better understand how different New Yorkers value the social, environmental, and economic aims of historic district preservation.”
The researchers are looking to reach a broad cross-section of the city’s population so anyone may participate in the survey. In particular, they are hoping to reach the growing number of stakeholders within and beyond the traditional core of preservation. They believe that the residents and business people within Brooklyn Community District 2 could be critical participants and would be very grateful if you take the survey.
We’re told the survey takes about five minutes to complete (I did it in four). Access it here
Photo: Claude Scales