SUNSET PARK – Today, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated Sunset Park North,, Central Sunset Park, Sunset Park 50th Street, and Sunset Park South Historic Districts.
“I am very excited by the designation of these four historic districts that together tell the story of Sunset Park’s development,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll in a statement. “The history of Sunset Park is reflected in the architecture and natural topography found in these four historic districts that feature intact rows of buildings that represent the major periods of development in this neighborhood.”
Sunset Park’s development has always been closely connected to its working waterfront along the northwestern border of the neighborhood. The row houses built in the late 1800s and early 1900s were mostly for workers at the port, and it seems the designation was necessary to push back against investor-owners who were not as appreciative of the properties in the area:
“We’re very happy that the LPC designated 4 historic districts,” said Lynn Massimo, Project Leader of Sunset Park Landmarks Committee. “On many blocks generations of Sunset Parkers have kept their rowhouses intact and looking historic, but that history is being erased by an increase in absentee investors destroying the rowhouse facades. That history, which is not only architectural history but is also the history of a proud immigrant and working class community, deserves to be honored and preserved.”
“In an unprecedented move, the LPC designated four historic districts in Sunset Park. After years of local organizing and technical meetings with the LPC, this decision marks the true power of partnership between the people and its government. We are a proud working waterfront neighborhood and the residential architecture keeps that alive,” Councilmember Carlos Menchaca who represents the district told Bklyner. “Sunset Park is experiencing rapid change fueled by gentrification. This landmarking isn’t just about saving the physical nature of our community, it’s about the people who live in Sunset Park keeping it a thriving immigrant and working families neighborhood.”
According to the Landmarks Law, landmark designation is effective upon the Commission’s vote. The final designation report will be filed with the City Planning in the next 10 days, when it will also be posted online. “While Council approval is not required, all designations go to the City Planning Commission for review and then the City Council, which has 120 days from the time of the LPC filing to modify or disapprove the designation,” explained LPC Director of Communications Zodet Negron.
What does it mean for homeowners or those looking to buy within the newly designated districts? As of today, any exterior renovations will need to be approved by LPC, but there may be tax credits and grants available to offset some of the extra cost.
The Sunset Park South Historic District consists of approximately 285 buildings located from 54th through 59th Streets between 4th and 5th Avenues. This area contains some of the area’s oldest buildings in intact rows, capturing the early development of Sunset Park and its residential character.
The Sunset Park 50th Street Historic District consists of two rows of 25 houses framing 50th Street between 4th and 5th Avenues. Constructed between 1897 and 1903, as Sunset Park was developing into a working- and middle-class community, this section of 50th Street is one of the neighborhood’s finest historic blocks, notable for its cohesive rows of remarkably well-preserved brownstone-fronted houses representing the turn-of-the-century architectural development of Sunset Park.
The Central Sunset Park Historic District consists of approximately 148 buildings located on 47th and 48th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues, and along both sides of 6th Avenue between 47th and 49th Streets. Constructed between 1897 and 1906, the Central area incorporates some of the area’s outstanding turn-of-the-century residential architecture and includes intact blocks found along 6th Avenue that extend the character of the mid-blocks and strengthen the sense of place.
The Sunset Park North Historic District consists of approximately 56 buildings on the south side of 44th Street between 5th and 7th Avenues. The two well-preserved blocks overlooking Sunset Park are notable for their cohesive rows of limestone- and brick-fronted houses, and apartment houses all representing the neighborhood’s architectural development just following the turn of the 20th century.