Landmark Designation

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What does it mean when a building is given landmark status?

It means your building has special historical, cultural, or aesthetic value to the City of New York, state or nation, is an important part of the City's heritage and that LPC must approve in advance any alteration, reconstruction, demolition, or new construction affecting the designated building.

What's the difference between a building that's designated within a historic district and a building that's designated as an individual landmark?

Historic districts are collections of landmark buildings that, together, create a distinct sense of place. Individual landmarks are standalone structures that have architectural, cultural, or historical significance. The regulatory process is the same for historic districts and individual landmarks, although certain features and sites may be identified as significant at the time of designation. Many of the City's individual landmarks are located in historic districts. Owners of individual landmarks and buildings within historic districts are required to obtain permits from the Landmarks Commission for most types of alterations.

Does LPC have to review and approve changes to buildings in historic districts?

Yes. Every designated structure, whether it is an individual landmark or a building in a historic district, is protected under the Landmarks Law and subject to the same review procedures. If you want to perform minor work or make alterations to your building (with the exception of ordinary repairs and interior alterations mentioned below), you must obtain the Commission's approval before you begin the work.

Are there any types of work that do not require LPC's approval?

Yes. Ordinary exterior repairs and maintenance, like replacing broken window glass or removing small amounts of painted graffiti don't require a permit. Interior work generally does not require LPC review, except in the following cases:

  • when the work requires a permit from the Buildings Department or,
  • when work on the interior affects the exterior or,
  • when the interior has been designated by the Landmarks Commission as an interior landmark

What are my obligations as the owner of a landmark building?

In general, there are three things you're required to do as the owner of landmarked property:

  • Obtain prior approval from LPC before starting work
  • Follow and abide by all permits and other conditions required by LPC
  • Keep the building in a "state of good repair," ensuring it is protected from the elements

Does LPC require owners to repair their landmark buildings?

The law protects landmarks from "demolition by neglect," which occurs when buildings have deteriorated to the point of collapse or where significant architectural features are damaged. To prevent demolition by neglect, the Landmarks Law requires that designated properties be kept in good repair. You may be issued a violation if you fail to keep a landmark building in a state of good repair. This provision is similar to the Buildings Department's requirement that all New York City buildings must be maintained in a safe condition.

Does landmark designation prevent all alterations and new construction?

No. Landmark designation does not "freeze" a building or an area. Alterations, demolition, and new construction continue to take place, but LPC must review the proposed changes and determine whether they are appropriate. This review helps ensure that the special qualities of the designated buildings are not compromised or destroyed. In addition, new construction may occur when an owner of a vacant lot or building of no significance in a historic district wishes to construct a new building on the site. The Commission has approved such proposals when the design of the new building was found to be appropriate to the character of the historic district.

Can the Commission designate a building or neighborhood even if an owner objects?

Yes. However, the Commission works hard to obtain owner support for its designations. When a building is designated, owners enter into a long-term partnership with the Commission. The partnership is strengthened when there is owner support.

What's the difference between a New York City landmark and a building that's on the National Register of Historic Places?

The National Register of Historic Places is a list of buildings and sites of local, state, or national importance. This program is administered by the National Park Service through the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

The National Register is separate from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, although many of New York City's individual landmarks and historic districts are also listed on the National Register.

Are all landmarks or buildings in historic districts owned by the state, federal, or local government?

No. The vast majority of individual landmarks and buildings in historic districts are privately owned.

How do I find out if my building is designated?

Enter the address into the Landmark Search tool on the LPC homepage to launch a search of the City's landmarked properties.

Can the Landmarks Preservation Commission make me restore my building to the way it looked when it was first built?

The Commission cannot make you do work on your building, and only reviews work when changes are proposed. For example, if prior to designation the stoop was removed and a ground-level entrance installed, the Commission cannot make you replace the stoop. However, if your building has modern windows or doors and you want to replace them, the Commission would apply its standards in reviewing these changes. Similarly, if a highly visible and inappropriate rooftop addition had been added prior to designation, the Commission cannot make you remove the addition. But, if you desire to change the design of the addition, the Commission would review those changes in accordance with its standards of appropriateness.