Balancing A City's History With Its Future

In a place as dynamic as New York City, balancing preservation with development pressure is no easy task.
December 3, 2008, 12pm PST | Mike Lydon
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"The battle lines were familiar. Churning out petitions and clamoring at hearings, hundreds of city residents had mobilized to protest a plan by St. Vincent's Hospital to replace nine buildings in the Greenwich Village Historic District with a 20-story medical center and condominiums.

On the other side were the Rudin Management Company, one of the city's largest developers, and St. Vincent's, which argued that a new building and income from the condo deal were vital to saving the hospital and meeting Manhattan's health needs.

In the middle, as usual, was the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which was struggling this year to make a judgment call under the klieg lights as city politicians took positions for and against.

Over a decade of whirlwind development, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has repeatedly played dance partner to a potent mix of preservationists, developers and city politicians. It must strike a balance between protecting architecture and accepting economic realities, between a responsibility to history and a knowledge that the city must evolve."

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Published on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 in New York Times
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