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Prospect Heights Bank 'Does Not Merit' Landmark Consideration, City Says

 This 1928 former bank building in Prospect Heights is set to be demolished to make way for a new residential project, property records show.
This 1928 former bank building in Prospect Heights is set to be demolished to make way for a new residential project, property records show.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Landmarking for a 1920s-era bank on Washington Avenue facing demolition is a no-go, the city has said, but preservationists in the neighborhood are still clamoring to save the distinctive building.

The former Green Point Savings Bank at 856 Washington Ave. at Lincoln Place is set to be ripped down and turned into condominiums, building permits show.

The neo-classical building was built in 1928, property records show. But neither its age nor its eye-catching stone columns and three-story arched windows were enough to convince the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission that it should be landmarked.

In response to a request from Brooklyn Community Board 8 to landmark the property, Director of Research for the LPC, Mary Beth Betts, said the agency had “carefully reviewed the property” and determined that it “is not a significant example of an early-20th century bank building."

“Therefore it does not rise to the level of significance necessary for designation and does not merit further consideration as a potential individual New York City Landmark,” the Oct. 23 letter reads.

Several local preservationists and leaders took issue with the LPC’s reasoning, urging the agency to reverse its decision.

James Trent of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance Foundation said the bank’s “monumental” appearance — so different from modern banks’ “flimsy-looking storefronts” — must be saved.

“It's envelope of neo-classical architectural idiom and scale, quality materials, and imposing presence represents a building style no longer being replicated today and would be a serious loss to this Brooklyn community,” he wrote.

State Sen. Jesse Hamilton released a statement Friday to point out to the LPC that, of all the landmarked buildings in the Prospect Heights area, there is no “grand commercial space” like the Green Point Savings Bank.

“Given that there is nothing comparable in the community and that it provides an important part of the story of the heart of Brooklyn, I am urging the [LPC] to immediately landmark 856 Washington Ave.,” he said.

A nearby civic group, the Prospect Place of Brooklyn Block Association (part of the Prospect Heights Historic District) also wrote to the LPC to advise they reverse their decision, calling the bank “easily the grandest building on Washington Avenue.”

“We urge immediate action to promote this important architectural gem,” wrote president Stephen Furnstahl.

The Prospect Heights Democrats made a plea in writing, as well, asking the LPC to consider the significance of the building as a place that served some famous former residents in the area.

“Joan Rivers grew up around the corner, as did Howard Cosell and Aaron Copland. Where do you think their families banked?” the group’s message said.

In response to an inquiry about the bank building, the LPC referred DNAinfo to their earlier letter to CB8 declining to move forward with landmarking.

A full demolition of the structure was approved by the Department of Buildings on Oct. 6, records show.