Frequently Asked Questions
What types of applications does this website track?
If a building exists within a designated New York City historic district or is an individual New York City landmark, it is subject to the rules and regulations of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). Thus if the owner of a landmarked site would like to make changes to his/her building, demolish the building, or construct a new building, he/she must apply for a permit from the LPC. The LPC regulates only exteriors, except in the case of a few select buildings that are specifically designated interior landmarks. Landmarks may also be scenic (i.e. parks). More information about types of landmarks can be found here.
The LPC receives thousands of applications each year, and most of them are minor enough that they can be processed by one of the LPC’s staff members without being shown to the public (these are known as “staff-level” permits). However, about 10% of all applications are for work that has the potential to affect significant protected architectural features. These applications must be shown to an 11-member Commission at a public hearing. The Commission is charged with deciding if the proposal is to be approved and, consequently, if a permit known as a Certificate of Appropriateness is to be granted. The public is welcome to testify at all public hearings.
The GVSHP Landmarks Applications website tracks all applications that are required to go through this public hearing process.
The LPC has an informative and detailed explanation of the public hearing process on their website, which may be viewed here. A more lengthy description of the various types of LPC permits, including Certificates of Appropriateness, can be found here.
What is the process by which GVSHP tracks these applications?
Once GVSHP receives notice that an application has been added to the LPC’s bi-monthly public hearing agenda (released twice a month), we immediately post information about the proposal to the website. This information includes a photo of the building and a description of the application in addition to information about how members of the public can attend and testify at the LPC public hearing. Since all applicants are required to show their proposals to the Community Board in advance of the LPC hearing, we also include detailed information about where the Community Board hearing will be held and how members of the public can attend. The public is welcome to speak at all Community Board hearings, and in most cases no advance formal sign-up is required. LPC public hearings are generally held during the day on Tuesdays; Community Board 2 public hearings are generally held on the Monday evening eight days prior to the LPC hearing (other Community Boards hold their hearings on different nights).
After posting the initial details to the website, GVSHP attends the Community Board hearing and photographs the proposal. Shortly thereafter, we update the website with these photos along with detailed information about the proposal, allowing the public the opportunity to review the details in advance of the LPC hearing. After the LPC public hearing, which GVSHP also attends, we immediately update the website to let the public know if the application was approved, disapproved, or if the applicant was asked to return with revisions at a later date.
GVSHP continues to track and report on all revisions made to a proposal until the application is officially either approved or denied.
What determines the order in which the applications are displayed on the website?
The applications are arranged according to the latest action taken by the LPC. Thus the most recent applications posted are those that will be heard at the next LPC hearing.
The website said that an application was to be heard at the LPC last week. I attended the hearing and the item was never heard. Why is this?
It is not uncommon for applications to be “laid over” at the LPC (in other words, postponed for a later date). In rare cases, applications may be withdrawn entirely. Sometimes these postponements or withdrawals happen well in advance of the hearing, and other times at the very last minute. GVSHP updates this website as soon as we receive word that an application has been laid over. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the LPC agenda.
I checked the LPC agenda and I don’t see a time listed for the application I want to see. Why not?
The LPC updates their agendas late in the day on the Friday prior to each hearing. Make sure to check back then to see exactly when the application will be heard. If you intend to testify, make sure to arrive early so you can fill out and submit a public speaker form.
Is there a way to see an actual copy of the approved permit?
The LPC has digitized some of the more recently-granted Certificates of Appropriateness, which are searchable on the database of the New York Law School. However, this database is by no means complete, and many permits are missing. If you are interested in seeing a permit and/or architectural drawings for work at a specific address that is not found in this database, you may fill out a Records Access Request and submit it to the LPC.
What are designation reports and why does GVSHP include them with each application on this site?
The LPC publishes a designation report each time an individual landmark or historic district is designated. Designation photos accompany each report. This report is critical to the landmarks process, as it describes the way the building looked at the time is was designated a landmark. Furthermore, the way a building is described in the report often influences the way it is regulated. You may view full designation reports for all historic districts and individual landmarks within GVSHP’s catchment area on our Resources page.
What are tax photos?
Between 1939 and 1941, and again in the 1980s, the City photographed every single lot in all five boroughs of New York. The LPC often uses these photos to determine how a building has changed over time and to assess the appropriateness of certain proposed changes. The entire collection of tax photos may be viewed at the NYC Department of Records.
My neighbors have just begun construction on their house. I searched this site for information about the approved work and nothing came up. Why is this?
There may be a few reasons for this:
1) Even though work is just beginning, the permit itself may have been granted before this site began tracking applications in October 2009.
2) The permit may be for minor work and may have received a staff-level permit from the LPC. These types of permits are not required to go through the public hearing process and thus are not tracked on this website. If you are interested in seeing all permits and/or architectural drawings for work at a specific site, you may fill out a Records Access Request and submit it to the LPC.
3) The building might be outside the boundaries of an historic district. Work on non-landmarked properties does not require LPC approval. You may check to see if a building is a landmark using DOB’s Building Information Search (a building will be coded “L – Landmark” if it is either an individual landmark or if it is included within the boundaries of an historic district).
4) The work might be illegal. Check to see if the building owners have posted permits from both DOB and the LPC on the outside of their building. If you believe that work is being performed without permits, please let GVSHP know by reporting a violation.
I was at the Community Board hearing, and the Community Board recommended denial of the application. However, I notice that the application was approved by the LPC. Why is this?
The Community Board hearing is a critical step in the approval process because it allows the public to review and comment on the proposal in advance of the LPC hearing, and because it allows the Community Board to make a recommendation to the LPC to either approve or deny the application. However, the Community Board does not have the final say in the approval process, and can only recommend. Only the LPC has the official say about whether an application is approved or denied.
As public testimony is welcome at all LPC and Community Board public hearings, it is important that you attend both to make sure your voice is heard.
I missed the Community Board hearing, but would like to see photos of the proposal before the LPC hearing. How do I do that?
GVSHP attends all Community Board Landmarks hearings, and photographs all proposals. Photos of each proposal will be added to this site shortly after each Community Board hearing. If you would like to see the architectural drawings in person, the LPC displays them at a public review session prior to each hearing. Public review sessions take place in the public hearing room at the LPC (1 Centre Street, 9th Floor) on the Friday before the hearing. Please contact the LPC for further details.
An application I am interested in was heard at the LPC several months ago, and the Commission asked the applicant to return with revisions at a later date. The application is now scheduled to return to the LPC this week. Can I comment on the application at the LPC this week?
Most likely not. The first time an application is shown to the LPC, it is done at a public hearing at which public testimony is allowed. In most cases, all subsequent revisions are shown at public meetings. These public meetings still generally take place on Tuesdays and are still open to the public. However, public testimony is not allowed at public meetings. The LPC agenda will indicate whether the application is scheduled for a public hearing or a public meeting.
GVSHP will update this site to reflect changes made to an application at all public hearings and public meetings.
To contact the Community Board:
How do I find out more about an application beyond what is listed on this site?
For more information, please feel free to contact Sarah Bean Apmann, Director of Research & Preservation, at email@example.com.