Assembly Member Al Taylor Urges Preservation of Historic Row Houses at 636-646 West 158th Street: Immediate Action Required from NYC Landmark Preservation Commission

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New York, NY – As the Assembly Member representing this vibrant community, I stand in solidarity with Community Board 12 Manhattan (CB12M) and my district in expressing profound dismay over the imminent demolition threat facing the row houses at 636-646 West 158th Street in Washington Heights. Since 2009, CB12M has steadfastly championed the preservation of these historic structures, consistently pushing for their inclusion within the Audubon Park Historic District. Nonetheless, it is evident from the attached map that this row has been unjustly omitted from the district boundaries.

These buildings are not mere architectural relics; they are living testimonies to the rich heritage and development of northern Manhattan. Alongside residents and esteemed organizations like the Historic Districts Council, the Upper Riverside Residents Alliance, and the Save Riverside initiative, have fervently petitioned Artifact Real Estate to reconsider its demolition plans. The irreversible loss that would result from their destruction is immeasurable, and I implore the developer to heed our community's impassioned plea for preservation.

The demolition of these row houses signifies more than just the loss of physical structures; it represents the erasure of our community's narrative and cultural identity. The ongoing dismissal of our preservation efforts by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) highlights a systemic disregard for the historical and architectural significance of marginalized neighborhoods. Despite persistent advocacy and appeals to both LPC and local officials, the refusal to designate these homes as landmarks is deeply disheartening and underscores the urgent need for reform within the LPC.

As elected representatives, it is our duty to amplify the voices and concerns of our constituents. Therefore, I urge the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to adopt more inclusive and equitable practices that prioritize the preservation of sites reflecting the diverse histories and experiences of all New Yorkers. Our community's collective memory and heritage deserve the utmost respect and protection.

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Together, let us work towards a future where the rich tapestry of our neighborhoods remains intact for generations to come.

Al Taylor
New York State Assembly Member Al Taylor
71st Assembly District