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A Ringing Victory for Historic Preservation

Lower Manhattan

Clock Tower
April 4, 2016

It was a rare – and ringing – victory for historic preservationists fighting the tsunami of new luxury condo developments washing over New York City. State Supreme Court Justice Lynn Kotler ruled last week that the owners of the Clock Tower Building at 346 Broadway must maintain the 19th-century mechanical works in the four-faced clock that overlooks the civic center in lower Manhattan, the New York Times reports.

The ruling was a rebuke to developers The Peebles Corporation and El Ad Group, who bought the building from the city with plans to turn it into luxury condos – including a private apartment in the clock tower. The clock’s four faces were to be preserved, but the mechanical works were to be electrified, eliminating the need for a clock winder – or any other outsiders – to enter the apartment.

In 1987 the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the clock’s mechanical works an interior landmark. But last year the commission granted the developers permission to proceed with their plan to electrify and privatize the clock tower. It was this permission that Justice Kotler’s ruling revoked.

“It’s just a huge, huge win,” said Michael Hiller, a lawyer for opponents of the clock tower’s conversion into just another untimely luxury condo.

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