Broadway-Flushing rallies for historic district status

By Tom Momberg

The Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association joined state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and 75 residents in Bowne Park last Saturday, calling on the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to grant the neighborhood historic district status.

The Broadway-Flushing civic group has made four official requests through Avella’s office to the LPC since 2005, asking the city agency to grant landmark status to the roughly 1,300 stand-alone residences in the neighborhood, or at least to consider doing it in phases.

The neighborhood is bordered by 25th Avenue to the north, 154 Street to the west, Northern Boulevard and Crocheron Avenue to the south and Francis Lewis Boulevard to the east.

The central Queens neighborhood has already been recognized by both national and state registers for its historical features, but city status would allow for public review before any structure is demolished and to oversee structural and exterior features of any new construction.

Protecting neighborhoods from overdevelopment might be more of a matter of rezoning, but allowing local control over preserving the historical nature of an entire neighborhood by granting historic district status is something already afforded by the LPC to Hunters Point, Jackson Heights, Douglaston, Fort Totten, Stockholm Street, Douglaston Hill, Sunnyside Gardens, Ridgewood North, Ridgewood South, Addisleigh Park and Central Ridgewood, listed chronolologically.

Concerned about development of homes that do not match the colonial-style nature of much of the neighborhood, as well as overdevelopment, the homeowners association and state lawmakers were joined by members of several other Queens civic groups and city planner Paul Graziano.

When Broadway-Flushing was placed on the national register in 2005, the report granting status said that 7 percent of the buildings in the neighborhood were not contributing to the historical nature of the neighborhood.

“That figure has probably doubled in the past 10 years,” Graziano said at the rally. “There is an accelerating trend of tearing down the buildings and the history in this neighborhood.”

The homeowners association president, Maria Becce, said the LPC seems more willing now under its new commissioner, who is Meenakshi Srinivasan, to have the public discussion to consider granting historic status to the neighborhood.

“Whatever the outcome is, and of course we are hoping and praying for a positive one, Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association is committed to preserving this neighborhood by every tool we have at our disposal,” Becce said.

Borough President Melinda Katz is also encouraging the historic status for Broadway-Flushing.

“It would be a shame if we missed the opportunity to protect and preserve this wonderful community for future generations,” Katz said in a statement. “The effort to designate Broadway-Flushing as a historical district should be commended and it has my unwavering support.

A spokeswoman for LPC said granting historical status to the neighborhood would be unlikeley at this point.
“After conducting extensive surveys, the agency has found that the area does not have enough historic fabric to merit historic district designation due to numerous alterations and new buildings,” she said.
The city agency’s research department performed a survey of 2,300 buildings in the area in 2006 and 2007, and determined the neighborhood lacked strong architectural significance and had too many newer buildings.

(The article as originally quoted the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association president as saying the LPC commissioner is Mary Beth Betts. Meenakshi Srinivasan is the commissioner.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.