Crown Heights Residents Speak Out About Landmarking Neighborhood
09/19/2006 07:47 PM
The city's Landmark Preservation Commission is considering a new historic district — the largest of its kind in a decade. But as NY1’s Molly Kroon reports in the following, the area isn't in Manhattan or Park Slope, but a gem just off Eastern Parkway.
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Stanford Greavy bought his five-bedroom home more than 20 years ago.
"I spent a lot of time and a lot of money to restore it," says Greavy.
The area is a pastoral scene in the heart of Crown Heights.
So special, in fact, that the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission is considering including Greavy's home, and about 470 others, in a proposed Crown Heights North Historic District, which encompasses the area around Dean Street between Bedford and Kingston Avenues.
Landmarking the area means homeowners won’t be able to make any changes to the exterior of their properties without approval. Many at a hearing Tuesday welcomed the idea.
"This designation preserves the unique ambiance in this neighborhood for this and future generations," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
"I am a homeowner in the community who believes in the quality and integrity of the housing treasures that have survived the test of time deserve to be preserved," said homeowner Deborah Young.
At the turn of the century, this area attracted wealthy New Yorkers with them came Victorian mansions like the Dean Sage residence. Beautiful row houses sprouted up after the Brooklyn Bridge opened. And after the subway arrived in the area in 1920, so did middle class immigrants and Tudor-style apartment buildings to house them.
Now, it's home to a diverse community of homeowners, many of them African-Americans and many of whom have been lobbying the Commission for landmark status for the past five years. Critics say for too long the Commission has focused mainly on tony neighborhoods in Manhattan.
"We're now moving in a major way back into Brooklyn," said a representative on the commission.
But while many homeowners are saying the plan is long overdue, others say they don't want the city telling them what they can and can't do with their own homes.
"On Sunday night there was a gentleman who was shot on Dean Street — several shots. Does that mean I need a metal door to protect myself, but I must wait to get a permit from the city?" said an area homeowner.
"It belongs to me — not to this board or any of my neighbors — it belongs to me," added area homeowner Kevin Anthony Williams.
But supporters say architectural gems like the ones in Crown Heights belong to future generations.
Ultimately, the commission will have the final say.
— Molly Kroon