A New Upper East Side Landmark in 2018…?

LPC calendars a new Upper East Side building for landmark designation! 
Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to calendar the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York for potential landmark designation. The building was calendared not only for individual designation of the exterior, but for designation as an interior landmark as well!
The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York built their headquarters at 215 East 71st Street from 1929 to 1930. Designed by architect Richard Henry Dana, this Colonial Revival style building draws design inspiration from iconic Colonial-era buildings across New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Today, the building serves as a museum and hosts a number of public events.
Stay tuned for a public hearing date next year!

Quality of life is fundamental to our Upper East Side. Help protect it today!

Quality of life is fundamental to our Upper East Side. Help protect it today!

Dear Friend,

You and I know what makes the Upper East Side one of New York’s great neighborhoods – from the gorgeous architecture of its historic districts to the village charm of its side streets. But those very qualities we love are at risk.

FRIENDS is fighting for smart development on the Upper East Side that preserves a balance of human-scale character on our side streets and limits higher-density development on wider streets and avenues. But, it’s a big fight and we need your help.

Today, please make a year-end donation of $50, $100, $250 or more to FRIENDS. You will help us take action against the on-going and blatant subversion of our zoning laws that is threatening not just this community, but neighborhoods throughout New York.

Diagram of 249 East 62nd Street showing an octagonal structural core (shown in gray) that will raise the top residential floors.

Here’s what we are up against:

In the case of 180 East 88th Street, the developers have artificially divided their lot to evade zoning regulations and add height to the building. This, combined with unnecessary voids, excess mechanical space and ultra-luxury ceiling heights (when did a single story become 16 feet?) has allowed the developer build to over 500 feet in a neighborhood where, under traditional building assumptions, a 300-foot building is the norm.

And just when you thought that manipulation of the zoning laws couldn’t get any worse, a recently announced development at 249 East 62nd Street — just steps from the Treadwell Farm Historic District — has over 150 feet of empty space whose sole use is to lift residential units high into the air, where views are better and apartments more profitable

Zoning laws are intended to serve the public interest… to ensure that alongside the necessary evolution and growth of our city, it remains livable for all of us, with plenty of access to light, air, and open space.

These manipulations by developers are symptoms of a larger illness: a disregard of the public purpose of our zoning laws. Your year-end gift to FRIENDS will allow us to pressure the Department of City Planning to re-write the zoning to eliminate such egregious loopholes.

Your gift will help us lead a coalition-building effort with other groups across the city as we collectively challenge the City’s approval of projects that that negatively impact the public realm.

Please give today and be as generous as you can. It’s a fundamental investment in the future quality of life of our Upper East Side.

With thanks and best regards,


Franny Eberhart                                         Rachel Levy
President                                                      Executive Director

FRIENDS Challenges “Periscope” Tower at Second Avenue and 62nd Street

FRIENDS Files DOB Challenge Against Approval for New Development at 249 East 62nd Street

The construction of yet another megatower has been approved by the Department of Buildings (DOB) on the Upper East Side at 249 East 62nd Street. Just steps away from the Treadwell Farm Historic District, the Rafael Vinoly-designed building will contain a 152 foot “void” in the middle of the building. Slated to reach a height of 510 feet, the building will contain only 25 usable floors, with 12 residential stories at the base, the 152 foot octagonal void (with a party room) in the middle, and another 12 stories perched atop the “periscope” tower.
On November 3, 2017, FRIENDS, working with urban planner George Janes, filed a Zoning Challenge with the DOB. In the challenge, we argued that 249 East 62nd Street is a tower-on-base building unlike any ever conceived,with the octagonal void constituting a nearly unprecedented exploitation of the city’s Zoning Resolution. The void is vastly larger than necessary for any possible mechanical use, and the space is entirely deducted from the building’s floor area calculation, making it a particularly egregious example of zoning loopholes in action. 
The architect’s filings for this building also contain a number of other technical issues, including basic arithmetic errors, which call to question the reliability of the project’s approval (and in turn, the approval process as a whole). FRIENDS raised these issues in the challenge, and requested that DOB require the applicant to address these issues. 
249 East 62nd Street exemplifies the zoning loopholes FRIENDS has raised repeatedly over the last year. In April, FRIENDS hosted the half-day “Attack of the Killer Megatowers” workshop, which featured presentations on the basics of zoning and how developers are using loopholes in the city’s Zoning Resolution to game the system for additional height, including ultra-luxury ceiling heights, excessive void and mechanical spaces, and improper manipulation and sculpting of the zoning lot. To view videos of our presentations on these issues, including a video by George Janes, click HERE. Ultimately a legislative solution is needed to close the loopholes, and FRIENDS continues to meet with policymakers and experts to devise a solution. 

A Warm and Festive Evening at FRIENDS 14th Annual Ambassador to the Upper East Side Award Dinner

14th Annual Ambassador to the Upper East Side Award Dinner

On Monday, September 25th, 250 friends from around the city gathered to honor the incomparable Ann Pyne at our Fourteenth Annual Ambassador to the Upper East Side Award Dinner. Since 2002, Ann has been a partner at McMillen Inc. Interior Design and Decoration, the oldest design firm in America, where her mother, the legendary designer Betty Sherrill, worked for 62 years. An accomplished preservationist, Ann is dedicated to safeguarding the architecture of the Upper East Side as well as the Village of Southampton.

Special thanks to our Benefit Committee, including Co-Chairs Helena and Roman Martinez and Dailey and Gordon Pattee, and Vice Chairs Janine and Tom Hill, Alexandra and Philip Howard, Barbara and Tom Israel, and Kitty and Tom Kempner. It was a warm and festive evening for all, as we also celebrated the 35th Anniversary of FRIENDS! Photos by Sarah Greig Photography.

Hear City Council Candidates’ Plans for OUR Neighborhood – Candidates’ Forum August 30th

Madison Avenue at 63rd Street. Photo by Trix Rosen

Upper East Side City Council District 4
Candidates’ Forum

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
6:30 pm
House of the Redeemer
7 East 95th Street
Free, RSVP here.

New York’s 51 City Council seats are up for election this year with party primaries on September 12th and the general election on November 7th.

On Wednesday, August 30th, meet the candidates running for the open seat in District 4, currently represented by Dan Garodnick, who has reached his term limit.

Hear the candidates discuss historic preservation, the threat of overdevelopment, and the land issues you care about. Learn how they plan to preserve the quality of life and   character of our neighborhoods.

This event will be moderated by Gina Pollara, Senior Advisor at ReThinkNYC.

Get to know the candidates so you can make your voice heard at the primary election on September 12th! To read more about the field of candidates, click HERE for Gotham Gazette‘s coverage.

Send your questions to the candidates to us in advance, and RSVP by clicking HERE or by calling Carnegie Hill Neighbors at 212-996-5520. Space is limited. Arrive early to guarantee a seat!

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