What types of properties can be designated?
The Landmarks Law requires that, to be designated, a potential landmark must be at least 30 years old and must possess "a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation."
What is a landmark?
There are four types of landmarks:
- Individual Landmarks (individual structures that can range from bridges to rowhouses to skyscrapers; examples include the Woolworth Building, the Langston Hughes House in Harlem, and the Wonder wheel at Coney Island);
- Interior Landmarks (building interiors that are “customarily open or accessible to the public,” such as the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport, the RCA Building Lobby, and the Ed Sullivan Theater);
- Scenic Landmarks (city-owned parks or other landscape features, such as Prospect Park, Central Park, and Ocean Parkway); and
- Historic Districts (areas of the city that possess architectural and historical significance and a distinct "sense of place," such as Ladies Mile in Manhattan, Cobble Hill in Brooklyn, and St. George-New Brighton in Staten Island).
What is the LPC's procedure for considering and designating potential landmarks?
1. Requests for Evaluation.
The LPC receives a steady stream of suggestions for designation from interested citizens, property owners, community groups, public officials, and others.
Landmarks Commissioners and staff also may identify potential buildings and areas of interest. The Commission asks members of the public who propose properties for potential designation to fill out a Request for Evaluation (RFE) form. This form requests the individual to provide as much information about the property as possible, including photographs and/or slides.
Once the LPC receives a request, an RFE Committee, consisting of the Chairman, the Executive Director, the Chief of Staff, the Director of Research, and other agency staff members, review the materials submitted and discuss whether the property meets the criteria for designation. The Director of Research then sends a letter to the person who submitted the request, informing him or her of the committee's determination.
3. Calendaring and Commission Review.
If the RFE Committee determines that a proposed historic property merits further consideration a photograph, statement of significance and the committee’s recommendation is sent to each individual commissioner for their comment. Ultimately the decision whether to bring the property forward to the full Commission for review is made by the Chair.
The full Commission reviews such potential landmarks at public meetings. At these meetings the Commission can vote to schedule a public hearing on the properties they believe merit further review.
For structures being considered as individual landmarks, the LPC staff usually contacts the owner after the Chair decides to send the item to the full Commission to discuss the meaning of landmark designation and the designation process. One or more meetings and/or site visits are scheduled with the owner or owner's representative to discuss potential regulatory issues.
4. Public Hearing.
The LPC holds a public hearing for each property that the full Commission has voted to consider for designation. Notice of the hearing is published in the City Record and sent to the property owner, the City Planning Commission, and the affected community boards and elected officials.
At the hearing a member of the Research Department makes a brief presentation about the property under consideration. The Chairman then asks whether the owner or a representative of the owner would like to speak. All other interested parties are then encouraged to present their opinions on the proposed designation. Interested parties can also submit written statements about the proposed designation at the hearing or after the hearing, up to the time that the Commission votes on the proposed designation.
5. Discussion and Designation Report.
While a historic district is under consideration by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Research Department writes a detailed report, describing the architectural, historical, and/or cultural significance of the historic district and a detailed description of each building within the proposed district. Building owners are mailed a draft copy of their building’s description for review and comment. The Commissioners also review the draft report and use this report, along with public testimony, as the basis for their decision-making.
6. Commission Vote.
The Commission then votes on the designation at a public meeting. Six votes are needed to approve or deny a designation. By law, landmark designation is effective upon the Commission's vote, and all rules and regulations of the Landmarks Law are applicable. Within ten days, the LPC files copies of the final designation report with the City Council, the City Planning Commission, and other city agencies. The LPC also sends a Notice of Designation to the property owner and registers the Notice at the City Register's or County Clerk's Office.
7. City Planning Commission Report.
For all designations, the City Planning Commission has 60 days in which to submit their report to the City Council on the effects of the designation as it relates to zoning, projected public improvements, and any other city plans for the development or improvement of the area involved. For historic districts, the City Planning Commission must hold a public hearing prior to issuing their report.
8. City Council Vote.
The City Council has 120 days from the time of the LPC filing to modify or disapprove the designation. A majority vote is required. The Mayor can veto the City Council vote within five days; the City Council can override a Mayoral veto by two-thirds vote within 10 days.
For more information about the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the effects of landmark designation, please view our FAQ What Landmark Designation Means to Property Owners or use the Contact LPC link at the left.