HELL’S KITCHEN — A West Side power plant that preservationists have deemed as historically significant as the Metropolitan Museum of Art could still become a city landmark, despite past opposition from building operator Con Ed.
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission last week agreed to keep a plan to protect the Interborough Rapid Transit Powerhouse on the table “until a framework that ensures [Con Ed] can continue to operate and provide power to its customers is finalized,” a spokeswoman said Thursday.
Since a public meeting last February, the commission has been working with Con Ed “to develop a designation and regulatory framework” that won’t hinder the utility company’s operations, the spokeswoman added.
No active power plant in the city — “and potentially the nation” — has ever been designated a landmark, she noted.
The powerhouse, which spans an entire block between West 58th and 59th streets past 11th Avenue, currently provides steam for Manhattan-based Con Ed customers.
In the past, the company claimed the station wasn’t “architecturally significant” and said a landmark designation would make it more costly and difficult to operate.
Preservationist groups including Landmark West!, however, have said the Stanford White-designed structure is akin to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library and the old Penn Station building.
“We have a longstanding working relationship with Landmarks staff that has given us the flexibility to maintain the production of steam and electricity from our 59th Street steam plant," Con Ed said in a statement Thursday. "We remain engaged with the Commission to ensure that we can continue to safely and reliably meet our customers’ energy needs.”
At Community Board 4’s Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Land Use committee meeting Wednesday, chairman Jean-Daniel Noland praised the LPC’s decision.
“That’s a great victory for this board," he said. "Because we have been writing letters since the fall of Rome to try to preserve that."