Landmarks Preservation Law Given Broad Reading by Divided First Department

January 24, 2018

The Appellate Division, First Department, has issued a significant decision in a case involving the proposed conversion of an interior landmark into a private residence.

The Appellate Division, First Department, has ruled that New York City’s Landmarks Preservation and Historic Districts Law (Administrative Code of City of N.Y. § 25-301 et seq.) (the Landmarks Law) permits the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to require the private owner of property purchased subject to a prior interior landmark designation to preserve the historic character and operation of the interior landmark and to continue to permit at least minimal public access to it.

The case is the first time an owner of an interior landmarked property has asked to convert an interior landmark into a private residence. Currently, there are a total of 117 designated interior landmarks in New York City, and the First Department’s decision, in Matter of Save America’s Clocks, Inc. v. City of New York, 2017 N.Y. Slip Op. 08457 (1st Dep’t Nov. 30, 2017), has important implications for them and for future property development in New York.

The case, however, may not be over. Two justices dissented, and the dispute ultimately may have to be resolved by the New York Court of Appeals.

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