Volume 16 • Issue 23 | November 4 - 10, 2003

Group looks to preserve more buildings on John St.

By Albert Amateau

Shaded areas make up a proposed new historic district.
The State and National Registers of Historic Places last week declared a proposed four-block historic district that includes the site of the planned Fulton Transit Center to be eligible for listing.

The John St./Maiden La. District, which is also being studied for possible designation by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, includes about 60 buildings in the area between Broadway and Nassau St. from Liberty to Fulton St., plus most of the block between Nassau and Dutch Sts. from John to Fulton Sts.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is planning a new Fulton Transit Center within the proposed historic district, linking seven subway stations on Broadway between Fulton and John Sts. to the permanent World Trade Center transit hub.

Eventual listing on the state register would require a review and a recommendation concerning any building to be demolished, according to Simeon Bankoff, director of the Historic District Council, the preservation group lobbying for listing the proposed district. “But the protection would be limited,” said Bankoff. “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wouldn’t be obligated to follow a state register recommendation not to demolish a building.”

However, the Corbin Building, designed by Francis H. Kimball and built in 1889 at 11-13 John St. at the corner of Broadway, is among the most distinguished in the proposed district and the m.t.a. last month indicated it would preserve the Corbin.

Indeed Governor George Pataki said last week that the Corbin, “one of the most important early skyscrapers, will be incorporated in the design of the Fulton Transit Center to preserve our heritage even as we build for the future.”

But buildings adjacent to the Corbin, like the Tyler Building at 17 John St., are slated for demolition. And Bankoff said, “There are ways to save a lot of those buildings. We are suggesting they could do most of the work underground and not do much demolition above ground.”

While designation by the Landmarks Preservation Commission would be a stronger protection for buildings in the proposed historic district, Bankoff said, “By declaring the district’s eligibility for listing on the State and Nation Registers of Historic Places, New York State is making a strong statement that preservation has a seat at the table in determining Lower Manhattan’s future.”

The M.T.A intends to build the $760 million transit center to rationalize a confusing tangle of passages to A, C, 2,3, 4, 5, J, M, and Z platforms.



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