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Alert Albany – Protect Our Neighborhoods

Last Chance! Contact Your Legislators Now!

We have still not seen a promised amendment to the Faith Based Affordable Housing Bill that would ensure that landmark religious properties would still be protected by landmark laws and regulations.

If West Park Presbyterian Church said they would put some affordable units in a new tower, they would be free to tear down one of the best examples of Romanesque Revival architecture in the City.

Please tell your legislators not to pass the bill unless it is amended to clearly state that landmark laws apply.

Here are links to the members of the State Senate and Assembly including their email addresses.

The Conservancy has been working with colleague groups to defeat two proposals in the State Legislature. Now final decisions are being made and we are asking for your help.

One proposal would allow giant buildings in neighborhoods throughout the City. The second would eliminate landmark protections for current landmark religious buildings and allow them to be demolished.

The first proposal would lift the current State cap on the size of residential buildings. We have managed to defeat this for several years. But it is caught up in the overall Albany push for more housing development. The Senate has proposed raising the cap but excluding historic districts. The Assembly has not announced its position.

We support lifting the cap to allow the conversion of office buildings to residential. But there is no need for an overall lift. New York has seen the growth of numerous new “luxury” towers. Building has not stopped because of this cap. And there is no requirement for affordable units in lifting the cap.

The second proposal the “Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act” is being pushed by Open New York, a group openly hostile to landmarking. The language allows landmarked religious properties to be exempt from local landmarks jurisdiction if they build “affordable” housing on their land. Many landmark religious institutions do not have parking lots or other open spaces. This would give developers even more incentive to try and buy and tear down religious buildings for new towers.

We emailed lawmakers our concerns about this bill and also signed a colleague letter in opposition.

The sponsors of this legislation have said it is not their intent to exempt religious buildings from landmark jurisdiction and promised an amendment to make that clear. We haven’t seen an amendment. It is important to defeat the bill as written. Because of our Sacred Sites program, we understand the financial needs of religious institutions and are actively helping them maintain their buildings. We also have always encouraged reusing schools and other buildings for housing or community needs as well as appropriate new development.

Here are links to the members of the State Senate and Assembly including their email addresses.

Please email your representatives with two messages:

  • Do not lift the FAR Cap on residential properties.
  • Do not support the “Faith Based Affordable Housing Act.”

Please act today.

Peg Breen, President
The New York Landmarks Conservancy

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