Barrison: Lundy's Decision A Black Eye To Preservationists

Cherry Hill Gourmet Market at Lundys in Sheepshead Bay
Photo by Ray Johnson

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Committee approved an application by the owners of Cherry Hill Gourmet Market to legalize a series of alterations they made to the landmarked Lundy’s building during an August 2 hearing, tying no strings to the landlord despite outrage from community leaders.

The hearing reviewed Cherry Hill Gourmet Market’s (1901 Emmons Avenue) alterations, which include several changes made during the property’s renovation two years ago to convert it from a restaurant space to a market. Preservationists hoped that the owner, David Isaev, would be forced to pay to undo changes and restore it into compliance, but the committee gave the greenlight to all the changes, including the most contentious ones – the installation of a large external air conditioning unit adjacent to the back wall, and changes to the sidewalk.

Now Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison is slamming the decision, calling it a disgrace and saying it weakens landmark preservation laws citywide.

Barrison writes:

This is a CITY disgrace; I was away out of satellite reception for the most part and I sent my email as soon as I heard for the first time of this LPC hearing.
But this now changes the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) game for all of NYC, like the illegal approval of Lohmann’s 800% over the Sheepshead Bay Special District zoning farce back in 1996, which reversed 2 earlier unanimous denials by the BSA. It then opened the flood gates citywide to over development in all 5 boros.
This shameful approval by the LPC, rubber stamping wrong doing with a mere fine, also sets another precedent for Landmarks in all 5 boros. Any landmark owner knows that even changing a door handle, etc is a burdensome process. Here the Lundy operator of the ILLEGAL Cherry Hill supermarket (not permitted in the waterfront Sheepshead Bay Special District) punched many holes for illegal electrical work and non landmark approved lighting, awnings, and other facade work ALL done WITHOUT prior application or approval, and all that happens is he pays a fine!
This means any owner can now break the law for a price; by just paying a fine. What is the point of a Landmarks Preservation Commission? For the well heeled it is no longer a deterrent to prevent the landmark violations and they will run rampant in the future in our city for anyone that can simply afford to pay the fine. This is wrong and simply should be a call for outrage from the Historic and Preservation community in NYC! This is insulting and weakens the entire foundation of what the Landmarks Preservation Commission stood for as an example for the nation. This decision should be reopened or appealed by our elected officials and preservation leaders and organizations in NYC.
This is forever and the only landmark in the heart of Sheepshead Bay’s historic special waterfront. Now the elected and other officials have the need, opportunity and duty to step up here. In addition, the BSA variance led by none other than hired gun, former city BSA head, and CPC Commissioner, Howard Hornstein, to legalize this illegal use must be opposed and denied for the same reasons. The history of the Lundy building and NYC landmarks everywhere is more important for generations to come, than one short term deep pocketed commercial cowboy. The integrity of Landmarks and their preservation cannot be weakened by the highest bidder. Let’s see what the landmark, historic preservation community and our elected officials do to stop this now.