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Park Slope Historic District Could Grow by Nearly 300 Buildings

 The Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to vote April 12 on expanding Park Slope's historic district by nearly 300 buildings.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to vote April 12 on expanding Park Slope's historic district by nearly 300 buildings.
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Flickr/Matthew Rutledge

PARK SLOPE — Nearly 300 buildings, including some that date back to the Civil War era, could soon become part of Park Slope's historic district.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote April 12 on whether to expand the Park Slope Historic District for the second time since it was first established in 1973, an LPC spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Neighborhood preservationists have long sought the expansion, formally known as the Park Slope Historic District Extension II, said Peter Bray, chair of the Park Slope Civic Council's historic district committee.

The proposed extension has been on the LPC's calendar since 2013 and was added following several years of advocacy by locals.

The extension includes Sixth Avenue between St. Mark's Avenue and Sterling Place and several other blocks in north Park Slope.

The proposed extension would include the former Church of Christ Scientist (now Berkeley Carroll School) at 156 Sterling Place, and St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church on Sixth Avenue and Sterling Place, which was one of the individual landmarks that was in the LPC's backlog until recently.

Park Slope Historict District Extension II

Preservationists originally asked the LPC to consider adding 700 buildings north of Union Street, but the LPC pared the list down to about 290 buildings, Bray said.

The group includes "the oldest part of the neighborhood," including buildings that date back to the Civil War era, Bray said.

The expanded district could also include taller 1920s and '30s era apartment buildings that weren't considered worthy of landmarking when the Park Slope Historic District was first established, Bray said.

The Park Slope Historic District was last expanded in 2012. Buildings in historic districts are treated the same way individual landmarks are, which means homeowners must get approval from the LPC before altering their exteriors.

Though the Real Estate Board of New York (which supported the historic district's 2012 extension) has argued that landmarking is sometimes used to "impede development," Bray said the historic district is a crucial tool for maintaining Park Slope's desirability as a neighborhood.

He noted that the 2012 extension to the historic district included the Pavilion Theater on Bartel-Pritchard Square, which meant locals were allowed to weigh in when Hidrock Realty announced plans to develop the building.

"That was really, really critical," Bray said. "Otherwise, there's no question that the Pavilion would have been demolished in its entirety."

The Park Slope Historic District Extension II is the second of five expansions that local preservationists hope to achieve over the next several years. Next, advocates will push for extending the district into the area known as "Center Slope," Bray said.

"Every year that goes by there are alterations to the buildings in that area which jeopardize the integrity of that area," Bray said.

"The reason people want to live in Park Slope is because of the historic character of the neighborhood. Without historic designation, that character could easily disappear because of the increase of property values, and we would kill the golden goose that makes the neighborhood so attractive."

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