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News November 2009

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Update on O’Toole Building Lawsuit

November 20, 2009

In early November the Municipal Art Society and the New York Landmarks Conservancy, joined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the Preservation League New York State, the Brooklyn Heights Association and the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, submitted to the court a persuasive amici curiae (Friends of the Court) brief supporting the position taken by Protect the Village Historic District in its lawsuit against the LPC’s approval of the demolition of the O’Toole Building on hardship grounds. DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State is petitioner on the Article 78 appeal, which was filed in February 2009.

If you’ve been following this matter you know that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) originally found that the Curran/O’Toole Building should be preserved for its architectural and historic value, but subsequently authorized demolition under the preservation law’s hardship provision. The amici brief strongly supports the petitioners’ claim, arguing that the LPC applied the wrong test in authorizing the demolition and is offering an insupportable rationale-campus transfer-to try to justify its decision. The comprehensive, 49-page brief also concludes that if the LPC decision were upheld, it would set a precedent that could undermine New York City’s Landmarks Preservation law and, by extension, similar laws across the country.

The City and St. Vincent’s have until early December to submit their briefs, after which the petitioners will reply. The case is expected to go before the judge in January, with a decision in late spring.

The Municipal Art Society has a more detailed explanation of the legal details and ramifications of the lawsuit on its website:

Curran O’Toole Building Brochure cover