Community Board 12 Opposes Demolition Of Historic Row Houses, Urges Preservation Improvement

March 13, 2024

Community Board 12 Manhattan (CB12M) expresses its dismay and outrage regarding the imminent demolition of the historic row houses at 636-646 West 158th Street in Washington Heights.

Since 2009, CB12M has overwhelmingly voted in favor of their preservation and inclusion within the Audubon Park Historic District. These homes hold historical and architectural value to this neighborhood and tell a significant story in the urbanization and development of northern Manhattan.

In 2021, New York Yimby posted an article stating that permits were filed for this Washington Heights gem.

We call upon Artifact Real Estate to reconsider its demolition plans for these row houses before it takes this irreversible and hugely regrettable action.

The demolition of these houses not only robs our community of tangible links to its history but also perpetuates the systemic erasure of significant historical, architectural, and cultural sites in low-income and majority communities of color. As the landscape and architectural character of the district continue to be impacted by new development projects that are insensitive to their neighborhood context, we see an urgent need to preserve sites that embody the stories and struggles of generations, serving as a testament to the resilience and heritage of Washington Heights/Inwood.

Over the years, multiple Requests for Evaluation and potential designation submitted to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) with support from residents, organizations like the Historic Districts Council, and elected officials were rejected for dubious reasons. Despite our persistent appeals and advocacy efforts to LPC and local officials, the repeated disregard for the preservation of these homes is deeply troubling and speaks to LPC’s failure to adequately address matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion in its designation of landmark buildings and districts.

As an official City agency committed to amplifying the voices and needs of the Washington Heights/Inwood community, we urge LPC to better engage residents and stakeholders in developing improved practices towards equitable preservation efforts that celebrate the rich collective memories and heritages of all New Yorkers.

Community Board 12, Manhattan, 530 West 166th Street, New York, NY 10032, 212) 568-8500

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