Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

December 10, 2009

Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

New York State Historic Preservation Awards Announced for 2009

At a ceremony held at the Cohoes Music Hall on December 8, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash announced the recipients of the 2009 New York State Historic Preservation Awards.

"The Historic Preservation Awards honor the efforts and achievement of individuals, organizations and municipalities that make significant contributions to historic preservation objectives throughout New York State," Ash said. "The range of awards this year reflects the deep commitment and strong partnerships across the state that have made preservation an important tool for economic development. We are pleased to see that several projects involved the creation of affordable housing units, including one project that developed affordable senior housing units."

The State Historic Preservation Awards were established in 1980 to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York's historic and cultural resources. Projects included several buildings adapted or rehabilitated for affordable housing and one that created affordable work spaces for small manufacturers.

Not-For-Profit Achievement:

The Public Policy Program, Preservation League of New York State for outstanding leadership and commitment to the development and enactment of the New York State Historic Preservation Tax Credit legislation. A multi-year effort came to fruition when legislation expanding the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credits was approved and signed into law in July, 2009. The new law offers financial assistance to homeowners and commercial developers.

The League used one of the first applications of GIS mapping to demonstrate the potential impact of legislation during an advocacy process. Mapping and analysis demonstrated the degree to which residents and building owners would benefit from the legislation.

"I'm grateful for the Preservation League's leadership in helping to enact New York's most significant new statute for historic preservation in three decades," Ash said. "The Historic Preservation Tax Credit has enormous potential to revitalize New York's communities while preserving the history and culture that make them unique."

Developers who received awards at the ceremony noted that rehabilitation tax credits provided essential financial support for their projects.

Individual Achievement:

The late Raymond V. Beecher.

When the Thomas Cole house in Catskill was placed on the market in 1979, Mr. Beecher, of Coxsackie, saw past the immediate obstacles to restoring the house and property. He envisioned the site as a viable historic resource and led the Greene County Historical Society's purchase and restoration of the property. The site was designated a National Historic Site in 1999 and opened to the public in 2001.

Mr. Beecher held a number of positions in the community including Greene County Historian, Town of Coxsackie Historian, leadership roles in the Greene County Historical Society for over 50 years and librarian at the Vedder Research Library. A prolific researcher and author, Mr. Beecher understood the importance of documenting the full record of Greene County's built heritage. In order to raise awareness and encourage the preservation of this heritage, he initiated the establishment of the Historical Society's Greene County Historical Register in 1990. The organization has just published the first volume of listed properties. Mr. Beecher died in October, 2008.

Project Achievement:

Knox Street Apartments, Albany for an outstanding rehabilitation project and commitment to community revitalization. WINNDevelopment Company of Rochester, NY and Boston worked in partnership with the City of Albany and the Capital City Housing Development Fund Corporation on an Urban Renewal Plan for Park South Neighborhood. The first implementation phase of the project was the rehabilitation of 18 rowhouses on Knox Street. Project consultants included The Architectural Team, Keith Construction, and Landmark Consulting.

Financing for the affordable housing project included Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits and low income housing tax credits. The rehabilitation has proven to be a catalyst for other neighborhood projects. These included the rehabilitation of one rowhouse whose owner qualified for the first use of the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credits for homeowners.

221 McKibben Street, Brooklyn, for an outstanding rehabilitation project and commitment to community revitalization. Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC) rehabilitated the building for affordable work spaces for small manufacturing firms. Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits and New Market Tax credits were two key financing tools. Project partners included New York City-based preservation consultants Higgins and Quasebarth, OCV Architects, Westerman Construction and PCF State Restoration.

Residential development pressures have forced many Brooklyn businesses and small manufacturing firms to close or move. By preserving an industrial site for continued use, Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center is preserving the industrial heritage of Brooklyn. Morton Goldfein, Chair of the GMDC, appreciated the fact that the award recognized a project that benefitted "people who work with their hands and who still have an important role in society today."

Park Lane Apartments at Sea View, Former Nurses' Residence of Sea View Hospital, Staten Island, for an outstanding adaptive use project and commitment to community revitalization. The Arker Companies and The Domain Companies developed the former dormitory into affordable senior housing units with the help of Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. Other project partners were Building Conservation Associates and Hugo S. Subotovsky, Architects, LLC. The Sea View hospital campus was constructed from 1913 to 1938 for the treatment of tuberculosis, and it was the site of clinical trials that led to the cure for the disease.

The project was the first historic structure to be funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's affordable green design initiative program.

Packard Building, Buffalo, for an outstanding adaptive use project and commitment to community revitalization. Regan Development adapted the 1926 Packard Automobile Showroom and storage facility into affordable housing units and commercial space. Hamilton Houston, Lownie, Architects and Resetarits Construction were the consultants. The work was funded in part by Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits and affordable housing tax credits.

The partners took extra efforts to preserve the building's distinct character. The architects searched nationwide for a firm to custom design replacement windows. In addition, the developers chose to retain and stabilize the building's water tower, recognizing it as one of the landmark structure's distinguishing features.

Public Sector Achievement:The Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council and the Western Erie Canal Alliance for commitment to the field of historic preservation as a tool for community revitalization. The partnership of the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council and the Western Erie Canal Alliance is a model for a comprehensive, regional approach to economic development programs and historic preservation programs.

The Council and the Alliance focus many of their programs on smaller communities where municipal staff may not have the benefit of historic preservation training. Their regional approach is particularly appropriate for encouraging municipalities to collaborate on the community preservation and development programs instead of trying to address economic challenges in a vacuum.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which is part of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, helps communities identify, recognize, and preserve their historic resources, and incorporate them into local improvement and economic development activities. The SHPO administers several programs including the state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program, state historic preservation grants, the Certified Local Government program, and the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, which are the official lists of properties significant in the history, architecture, and archeology of the state and nation.