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Historic Bed-Stuy brownstones’ fate debated at heated public hearing on Willoughby-Hart landmarking proposal
Historic Bed-Stuy brownstones’ fate debated at heated public hearing on Willoughby-Hart landmarking proposal

Jun. 14, 2024 By Anna Bradley-Smith

More than 30 years after the city’s landmarking body first considered preserving a historic section of Willoughby Avenue and Hart Street in Bed-Stuy, residents — some whose brownstones have been in their family for five generations — were able to share at a public hearing why they are calling on the agency to designate part of their neighborhood as a historic district.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, 57 people testified in a heated three-hour-long public hearing about the proposed designation of the Willoughby-Hart Historic District. Creating the district would mean more than 100 houses over most of Willoughby and Hart streets between Nostrand and Marcy avenues would be landmarked and protected from significant alteration.

While the majority of the 32 people who spoke in person at the hearing were in vocal support of preserving the historic, mostly brownstone architecture in the neighborhood, three men, two of whom are real estate lawyers and one who owns a townhouse in the area, decried the proposal. All three said landmarking is discriminatory against large Jewish families who need to expand their homes and that there isn’t anything landmark worthy about the blocks. Those who spoke in support cited the area’s importance to local history and community and its well-preserved late 19th century row houses and streetscape.

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