The Landmark Preservation Commission is making an example out of one Upper West Side homeowner. The 19th-century Queen Anne-style mansion at 12-14 West 68th Street is in an area that was landmarked in 1990, but sometime in 2005 the owner at the time, Polly Cleveland, received a permit from the Buildings Department to add one floor to the five-story structure. This was completed in 2007, but Cleveland has since moved out. Arthur Minerof is the current owner, and he's now been told the sixth floor has to be torn down.
In March the LPC deemed the addition to be in violation of landmark rules, and now steps are being taken to remove it. But how did it get there in the first place? That part of the story is full of holes. While the new owner isn't talking, Cleveland told the Wall Street Journal that she assumed the requirements were fulfilled when she received the Building Department permit. And indeed, a Buildings Department spokesman told the paper, "Licensed professionals are required to notify the department about a building's landmark status when submitting construction plans. It appears that did not happen in this case."
Alas, the sixth floor, which houses part of a duplex apartment, must come down. In part due to people like Arlene Simon, president of the preservation group Landmark West!, who says, "I organized in all five boroughs to protest this. I told neighbors if it can happen here it can happen anywhere." As it stands, the paper notes that something like this has never happened anywhere in New York.
Well, at least in the end the owner still holds the key to a 19th-century Queen Anne-style townhouse on the Upper West Side.