Despite the fact that it’s one of Manattan’s best-known buildings, and lays claim to the title of “the largest cathedral in the world,” the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is not a New York City landmark. But that could change: At its regular meeting today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission agreed to calendar a vote on the Cathedral, meaning that it could decide whether or not it becomes a landmark sometime this fall.
The reasons for the cathedral’s lack of protection are numerous and somewhat complicated, but the TL;DR version is that the LPC voted to designate the main cathedral in 2002, but the City Council did not approve it. Meanwhile, the church’s trustees did not want to landmark the entire campus in order to keep two parcels open to private development, which they said was a necessary revenue stream to keep the cathedral functioning. The fact that the cathedral remains famously unfinished hasn’t helped, either.
Private development eventually came to Cathedral’s 12-acre site in the form of two 15-story rental buildings that stand on either side of the campus’s main building. The Enclave at the Cathedral, as the development is now known, began renting earlier this year, with prices for its 430 apartments starting at $2,400 per month for a studio, and rising to nearly $4,800 per month for a two-bedroom. (There are also 87 affordable apartments.)
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The LPC’s decision today will affect the seven buildings that make up the Cathedral campus, including the imposing cathedral itself. A public hearing will take place later this year, possibly in November or December 2016.