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LPC reforms are another step in the right direction

Later this month, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will hold a public hearing to review an important proposal that, if enacted, would greatly reduce the burden placed on property owners and introduce much-needed efficiency to the agency.

The Real Estate Board of New York applauds this move, which would go a long way toward addressing long-held concerns that the landmarking process is overly-complex, slow, and unpredictable.

The proposed measures are a win-win for all stakeholders involved in the process. Property owners will benefit from a speedier, more ministerial process for routine applications that currently are lengthy and expensive for taxpayers.

This will, in turn, free up more of the Commission’s time, allowing LPC to devote more energy to evaluate which buildings warrant landmark designations — a win for the preservation community.

These reforms are necessary due to the fact that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has a small budget, limited staff, and aside from the Chair, is made up almost entirely of volunteers. The work expected of the agency, though, far outweighs these restrictions. Just consider that there are over 36,000 protected properties across the five boroughs.

Adding to the sheer number of properties is the onerous process through which even minor modifications must proceed.

A simple change, like window replacements or storefront signage, must go through the full public review process — which involves not just submitting detailed plans to the Commission for review, but often hiring consultants and/or specialists to repeatedly present at both local community board meetings and at the Commission itself.

This slow, expensive process takes months, despite the fact that the Commission nearly always approves the application.

In other words, this is unnecessarily time-consuming and costly. Moreover, it not only burdens property and business owners in landmarked properties, but also wastes the time of the Commission itself.

These changes would empower Commission staff to review and approve routine applications in far less time. This is a common-sense measure with meaningful benefits across the board.

These proposed changes make even more sense when placed into the context of other New York City regulations.

The zoning code, for instance, has been updated countless times over its century-long history — but the Landmarks Law has remained virtually unchanged since its inception.

Several years ago, the City Council enacted a law that imposed sensible deadlines for voting on landmarks and historic districts. While many feared that the bill would significantly weaken the landmarks law, the Commission assuaged those fears under the leadership of Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan by designating landmarks within months, a clear sign that improved efficiency does not come at the expense of the organization’s mission.

Smart, sensible measures to make New York more efficient should be welcomed by all New Yorkers. That is why the Real Estate Board of New York fully supports these proposed measures: they would solve a real problem without harming the overall mission in any way.

The Chair should be commended for this set of common-sense measures to make New York City a better place.

In Other REBNY News

At our Spring Members’ Luncheon next Monday, March 19, Bruce Mosler, Cushman & Wakefield’s Chairman of Global Brokerage, will lead our distinguished panel in a discussion on the shifting forces, regulations, and costs of doing business that are impacting strategies to drive value in the New York City real estate market.

The “The New Path to Value: Mega Trends in NYC Real Estate” panelists include: Ric Clark, Senior Managing Partner and the Chairman, Brookfield Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners; Laurie Golub, Chief Operating Officer, Square Mile Capital Management LLC; Jeff Levine, Chairman, Douglaston Development; and Isaac Zion, Co-Chief Investment Officer, SL Green Realty Corp. Purchase your table/tickets online to attend this event from 11:45 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at the New York Hilton Midtown.

We will also announce the recipient of our 2017 Most Promising Commercial Salesperson Award at the Spring Members’ Luncheon. This year’s nominees are: Conor Sullivan, Associate Director, Colliers International; Chad Sinsheimer, Senior Director, Eastern Consolidated; Evan Fiddle, Senior Associate, CBRE; and Christine Colley, Director, Cushman & Wakefield.

Thanks to Members’ Luncheon sponsors Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Cushman & Wakefield, Eastern Consolidated, Glenwood, Jack Resnick & Sons, Inc., and Newmark Knight Frank! For more information and sponsorship opportunities, email Julian Speakes at [email protected]

On Tuesday, March 20 from 9:00-11:00 a.m., attendees at our Residential Brokerage Sales Agent Book Camp, “Winning the Deal: From Pitches to Closing,” will learn how to establish trust, set and manage expectations, establish loyalty, and build winning systems. The event featuring Brian K. Lewis of Compass is presented by our Residential Education Committee and sponsored by Bank of America. Register today.

The residential management community will gather on Wednesday, March 21, for REBNY’s 20th Annual Residential Management Leadership Breakfast at the New York Hilton Midtown to celebrate the achievements of Adam Batista, of Rose Associates, Inc., who will be presented with the Residential Management Executive of the Year Award and Mitchell D. Barry, of Century Management Services, Inc., who will receive the Residential Management Community Service Award. The event’s keynote speaker, John A. Catsimatidis of Red Apple Group, will share his vision for New York City. Register online and email Cindy Ramotar at [email protected] for more information and sponsorship opportunities.

This winter, New York City has experienced some of the coldest weather on record. Gaps, cracks, and other holes in our buildings are costing us money and making residents cold and uncomfortable. At the same time, inefficient heating systems have to work harder just to produce heat. Join the NYC Retrofit Accelerator and REBNY at the Leonard Litwin Classroom on Wednesday, March 28 from 9:00-10:30 a.m. for “Keeping Out the Cold,” a seminar where you will learn how to boost tenant comfort and reduce energy costs by improving your buildings’ envelope and heating system.

This seminar is open to both REBNY members and non-REBNY members, and is recommended for building and facility managers, superintendents, sustainability managers, as well as building owners. Register online and email Sunny Velez at [email protected] for more information.

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