City LPC Quietly Pulls Angel Guardian Landmarking off Agenda

Election time politics or a government agency needing more time for due diligence?

Either way, the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) abruptly took the Angel Guardian landmarking off the agenda the night before it was scheduled for a vote this week, Tuesday, October 27, rescheduling the decision for November. 

“This was simply an administrative decision. Staff needed a little more time to finish its work. We expect to reschedule the vote for November,” said NYC Landmarks spokesperson Zodet Negrón.

The Angel Guardian Home, on 12th Avenue between 63rd and 64th Streets in Dyker Heights, issue involves those who believe that one of two buildings on the four-building site should be landmarked, and others who want to see both or the entire site landmarked.  

The last public hearing was held on August 11, with the Angel Guardian considered an individual landmark. Sources close to the issue noted that Barone bought the property ‘as of right.’ Some community members have also said that the old convent building is “not eligible to be landmarked because it has been altered many times over the decades” and therefore the architecture has fundamentally changed. 

State Senator Andrew Gounardes
State Senator Andrew Gounardes

The community has criticized stakeholders in the property, like developer and owner Scott Barone and city officials Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, parts of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) and State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park), for not including community input and only landmarking one building out of the three on the historical site. 

Gounardes, who is locked in a tight election race with Republican Vito Bruno, has taken $2,500 in campaign contributions this year from Barone. His spokesperson Sarah Anders denied any political pressure, saying she hadn’t heard of LPC postponing the meeting.

“Andrew has long been on the record supporting and fighting for the landmarking,” said another campaign spokesperson Mike Favilla.

Brannan, who also took a campaign contribution from Barone, doesn’t technically represent the Angel Guardian site as it falls just outside his district.

City Councilman Carlos Menchaca
City Councilman Carlos Menchaca

City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook, parts of Dyker Heights) who does represent the site, has written the LPC in support of landmarking the entire site. 

“Council Member Menchaca has been very supportive of the Angel Guardian home since the beginning. We are working to get it on the schedule again for November,” said Menchaca spokesperson Carlos J. Calzadilla.

Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann said she was copied on an email from supporters of the full landmarking to LPC requested an explanation for the item being pulled from the agenda.

LPC explained the reason for the postponement was that more time was needed to complete their work and expected this item to be added to the next agenda,” said Josephine Beckmann.

Fran Vella-Marrone, President of the Dyker Heights Civic Association as well as the Brooklyn Conservative Party and a staunch Bruno supporter, testified at the public hearing in August in favor of landmarking both buildings.

“It was the first one [item] on the agenda,” she said. “I’m concerned that it’s been taken off the agenda, we were looking forward to the LPC voting on this and voting in favor of not only the main building but the sister building as well.”

Meanwhile, construction crews can be seen onsite working with the eerie perimeter fastly shut closed. Just over the brick walls and ancient barbed wires, the old, captivating buildings continue to loom, for now.

Editor’s note: Updated with response from Gounardes’ campaign spokesperson.

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