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The First Round in Fight Over 508 Park Avenue Goes to History and the Preservationists

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To no one's surprise, on Wednesday evening the Landmark Commission's Central Business District Task Force denied, unanimously, Colby Properties' request to tear down 508 Park Avenue. The simple reason: The three members of the task force do not buy the owners' claim that the 1920s-era structure is an "imminent threat to public health and safety," simple as that. In other words, yes, it may indeed be dilapidated and inaccessible, but it won't fall down any time soon. So the task force won't help the owners expedite the process.

Geoff Reiner, a senior associate for Gromatzky Dupree & Associates, tried to make the Glazers' case for demolition; his firm, after all, more or less recommended the razing -- from a purely architectural standpoint, of course. Several times, he tried to convince the task force members that its structural instability makes the space vulnerable to just catching on fire, endangering those inside and outside the building. And, he warned yet again, sinking millions into a redo just isn't practical; better to cut and run.

To which the task force responded: It doesn't matter that a renovation would cost upwards of $4 million, nor does it matter to them that the only people who visit 508 Park Avenue with any regularity are the homeless. Said one of the task force member, "We focus on health and safety, not ... the cost of renovation. We look from a historical perspective only." The Glazers will now take their fight to the Landmark Commission, where they're likely to be greeted with the same reception; after that, the City Plan Commission.

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