The Historic Preservation Commission voted Monday night to ask the town to grant historic landmark status to the former Hotel Huntington building at 410 New York Ave. The Town Board has 45 days from when it receives the recommendation to set a date for a public hearing on that request.
Several people made impassioned pleas for preserving the former hotel building at the corner of Fairview Street and New York Avenue, which most recently has been used as an office building, including Virginia Furman, the daughter of August H. Galow, the architect who designed it.
“It’s a beautiful building,” Furman said. “It’s a nice welcome to the village, with that on one corner and the Conklin farmhouse on the other corner.” Her father also designed Central School on Rt. 110 north of Jericho; Lincoln School by St. Hugh’s, now apartments; and the Cold Spring Harbor Fire Department building. “No buildings that he did have been torn down,” she said. “Every building has been productive and, if it has been changed, it hasn’t been altered to the point where you can never get it back. I think it’s a shame that this building might be torn down.”
Pam Long Ello also urged that the building be protected to preserve the integrity of the town and the welcoming nature of that approach to the village. Putting a drive-through bank there isn’t appropriate, she said. “You can’t call that progress -- it would be more like regress. Put in another hotel,” she urged. “Make that gateway greater than it was.”
TD Bank received zoning board approval in December to tear down the three-story building and replace it with a bank branch with drive-through windows. Fairview residents have opposed the plan, voicing concerns about the building’s historical value as well as traffic congestion and the safety of children in the area.
The bank submitted its site plan application to the town Planning Department today. The plans will now be circulated to various town departments for comment and the planning department will compile a report when it gets their responses. Whether the town board grants the building historic landmark status also will affect the application.
Fairview resident Jan Witkowski also urged the board to do what it can to prevent the building from being demolished. He noted that the town, in its comprehensive master plan update, Horizons 2020, singled out the intersection of Fairview and High streets as a key intersection in the village and recommended enhancements. “I think renovating this building is entirely fitting for the character of the building,” he said.
Robert Hughes, town historian and commission secretary, explained the process to those attending: After a recommendation is submitted, the town board has 45 days to schedule the date for a public hearing.
The agenda for the town’s Feb. 1 meeting already is set, Hughes said, but those who are interested in preserving the building can speak during the public portion of that meeting for 3 minutes each and use that time to urge the board to support landmark status and ask that a public hearing be held at the March 8 town board meeting. To speak, interested parties must register their names, which will be called after any proclaimations are read and any other scheduled public hearings are held.
Historic Preservation Commission members recommend designation of particular sites, buildings or areas as historic landmarks or districts. Members study the proposals for landmark or historic district status and issue written reports and advisory recommendations. It is up to the Town Board to enact the legislation.
In email interview earlier with Patch, TD Bank regional president Chris Giamo explained the bank's side of the matter.
Q: What is the next step in the process?
We are working with the planning department as we
continue to move through the appropriate channels to bring a green LEED-
certified TD Bank to the Village. What this means is that we are building a green building that is energy efficient and better for the environment. TD Bank has been leader in becoming environmentally-friendly. We have already opened 15 LEED-certified stores in 2010 and one of our first ones was on Long Island.
Q: Why do we want to build a branch in a neighborhood that doesn't want us
there? It has been said that this area has too many banks. Does the town need another one?
A. We have heard from many of our customers that they’d like us to have a presence in the downtown village area, and we believe we can have great success here. We have the longest banking hours in all the markets we serve and that is appealing to many people, so they can bank when and how they want, when they want too. We believe we have a different banking model and we can’t wait for people in the downtown area to experience our unparalled level of WOW! customer service. Once we open our store in a location we truly do become part of the fabric of the community.
Q: What should people know about this process?
We have been working on this project for more than two years. The State Office of Historic Preservation determined the site did not have historical significance. Since then, we have proceed to meet all the requirements to develop this site. We worked closely with all the necessary people on the look and feel of the design of the store to make sure our two-story building will fit with the character of the town. The traffic study showed that our proposed new store will reduce congestion and improve traffic in the area.
We also wanted to share with you some significant investment we have made
on Long Island:
- We have close to 50 stores on LI
- Created more than 1,000 quality jobs.
- Support the community through nearly $10 million in donations and sponsorships; support the community via volunteering and truly becoming part of the fabric of a community.
- Are a top SBA lender in NY.
- Are committed to the environment and developing green buildings.
Note: The location of Central School was corrected to indicate it is on Rt. 110 north of Jericho.