BY YVETTE BROWN
The famed PepsiCola sign on the Long Island City waterfront is on its way to becoming a landmark.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the 80-year-old icon in Gantry Plaza State Park to be “prioritized as a landmark.”
The sign was originally build on the roof of a Pepsi bottling plant in Long Island City in 1936. The plant is long gone, but the sign has been moved several times and ended up in its current location overlooking the East River in the 1990s. In 2013, an apartment building was constructed behind the sign.
The PepsiCola sign was one of dozens of potential landmarks considered at the meeting as the LPC considered a backlog of potential landmarks.
There were four special hearings held on the backlog last Fall to give the public an opportunity to testify and submit information on the calendared properties. The Commission heard almost 12 hours of verbal testimony from more than 300 speakers as well as having received additional written testimony submitted by the public. While at the public meeting, LPC staff presented summaries of the testimony and written submissions for each item along with the agency’s research and recommendations. The Commission made decisions on all of the backlog properties, including the Pepsi Cola sign.
Most of the backlog properties have been on the calendar for 20 years or more, a fact that led to the Commission deciding to prioritize 30 properties by the end of 2016. They also voted to remove five sites from the calendar based on their lack of merit and they removed an additional 43 sites from the calendar because of site-specific issues by giving them No Action Letters, which allows them to be placed on the calendar at a future date if new information or historical interest in them arises. The Commission explained that these sites were removed because of questions regarding their relative significance, alterations that have reduced sites’ historical features and the presence of other regulatory controls that serve to protect the structures from future alterations or demolition.
After considering feedback from stakeholders, including preservationists, architects, developers, community boards, property owners and elected officials as well as the Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the agency was able to establish a plan to address the back log accurately and allow input from the public. The three-phase plan to handle the backlog includes a Public Review Period with more than 15,000 pages of material on the backlog properties available online.
The other properties prioritized for designation for Queens include the Lydia Ann Bell and William Ahles House in Bayside and Bowne Street Community Church. There is no scheduled date for when these sites will become landmarks.
“As the City’s expert body on historic preservation, the Commission has spent months analyzing testimony and conducting further research on these items,” said Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “Our actions today represent an important step in addressing this backlog. While challenging, I believe it was very much needed – the Commission’s designation process should be open, fair and reasonable, and this is a necessary step to achieve that goal.”
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @eveywrites.