Landmarks Conservancy Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Historic Properties Fund Loans
39 Clifton Place in Clinton Hill (corner building), after renovation. Photo courtesy of NY Landmarks Conservancy
The New York Landmarks Conservancy celebrates the 40th anniversary of its New York City Historic Properties Fund (HPF), one of the nation’s largest revolving loan preservation funds.
“The program’s longevity has allowed the Conservancy to have a meaningful impact on our community,” said Deb Howard, former executive director of IMPACTT Brooklyn, also known as the Pratt Area Community Council, and longtime resident of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill. . To date, HPF has helped 84 property owners in this Brooklyn neighborhood restore and maintain their buildings.
Over the past 40 years, loans have supported more than 273 projects, providing more than $31.6 million to building owners. Many of HPF’s early loans were to low- and moderate-income brownstone neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Upper Manhattan.
From brownstones in Harlem and Crown Heights, to co-ops in Jackson Heights, to a pre-Revolutionary-era house in Staten Island, the Eldridge Street Synagogue, and a Gothic cottage on City Island, HPF loans have helped transform buildings and neighborhoods across the boroughs.
Conservancy staff work with all borrowers to help define the scope of work, find qualified contractors and ensure projects are completed to benchmark standards. In addition, the Conservancy has helped 17 qualified borrowers obtain a total of $644,367 in state homeowners tax credits.
“We were all hobbyists looking to do a major renovation project,” said Andrew Parker, president of a Brooklyn co-op. “The Landmarks Conservancy really held our hand and helped us through the process.”
The Historic Properties Fund is the result of the Conservancy’s efforts to find new uses for the then vacant Federal Archives Building in Greenwich Village, a towering 400,000 square foot landmark owned by the General Services Administration (GSA). The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan facilitated the Conservancy’s involvement in the building.
The Conservancy commissioned Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture & Planning in the mid-1970s to analyze the property. Their proposal called for the conversion of the archives building to a mix of commercial, residential and community uses.
Over the next several years, the Conservancy served as project manager for GSA, found a developer to create apartments and commercial space, and worked with numerous public agencies at all levels to set up the transaction.
Paul Byard, a longtime Conservancy trustee, offered to use the proceeds the Conservancy received for his work to create a revolving loan fund for preservation. The Conservancy has supplemented the proceeds with additional fundraising over the years, which has generated over $10 million in assets.
“The Historic Properties Fund is the cornerstone of the Conservancy’s efforts to preserve historic buildings and transform neighborhoods, which are the heart and soul of our city,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. . “We are truly honored to mark the fund’s 40th anniversary and thank the dedicated New Yorkers we have worked with throughout the process.”
Since its inception, The Conservancy, a private, nonprofit organization, has lent and granted more than $54 million, which has leveraged more than $1 billion in 1,850 restoration projects across New York City, revitalizing communities, stimulating the economy and supporting local jobs. The Conservancy has also provided countless hours of pro bono technical advice to building owners.