On June 23, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Prospect Heights Historic District. With approximately 850 buildings, the new district is the largest created in over twenty years, and ranks as the fifth largest historic district in New York City overall. “Prospect Heights is among Brooklyn’s most distinguished, cohesive neighborhoods because of its architectural integrity and diversity, scale, tree-lined streets and residential character,” said LPC Chairman Tierney. “These features lend the neighborhood its unique sense of place, making it a natural for historic district status.”
This announcement marks a significant milestone for an innovative civic partnership between the Municipal Art Society of New York and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. The two groups teamed up in 2006 to advocate for historic district designation.
“We are pleased that the Landmarks Commission agreed to protect on of the most diverse and historically significant neighborhoods in Brooklyn,” said Danae Oratowski, Chair of the PHNDC. “It is enormously gratifying to see how a neighborhood led initiative can succeed. We are thankful to the MAS and the countless hours of volunteer efforts that made this designation possible.”
“MAS applauds the Landmarks Preservation Commission for moving to protect this very special neighborhood,” added Lisa Kersavage, senior director of advocacy and policy for the Municipal Art Society. “This is an important act that will protect one of Brooklyn’s finest and well-preserved historic neighborhoods. Designation will protect the neighborhood from pressure from the Atlantic Yards project and other developments.”
Prospect Heights is rich in historic architecture, with blocks of beautiful Italianate and neo-Grec rowhouses, interspersed with churches, small commercial and apartment buildings. Located just north of Prospect Park, the neighborhood has seen few changes since it was first developed in the late-19th century. Today, it is threatened by the Atlantic Yards project, a proposal by the developer Forest City Ratner to build 16 towers and a sports arena on a 22-acre site adjacent to the neighborhood.
Designation protects historic buildings in the neighborhood from demolition and out-of-character alterations. Although the City Council must vote to ratify the approved historic district, protection is in effect from time of LPC approval, and new building plans must be reviewed by LPC.