Committee Denies Software to Raze Milstein Household Residence at 76 Birchall Drive

Committee Denies Software to Raze Milstein Household Residence at 76 Birchall Drive

Attorneys for the Milstein household made a 3rd try to realize approval to raze a household dwelling at 76 Birchall Drive at a gathering of the Committee for Historic Preservation on September 20, 2022.

Primarily based on convincing proof that the home was the work of grasp architect Simon B. Zelnik, the committee reluctantly turned down the applying to demolish it. Although the vote was three in favor of the demolition and two in opposition to it the code requires 4 votes in favor and that night time, two of the committee members weren’t current.

The proceedings have been additional sophisticated by a final minute change from a digital assembly to a hybrid assembly that was not famous on the Village web site. Consequently the committee was current at Village Corridor, together with the candidates. However neighbors, who had shaped a gaggle to avoid wasting the home, weren’t suggested that the assembly can be held in particular person.

The unique mid-century trendy home was inbuilt 1950 and sits on three acres with a round driveway lined with Japanese maples. The house was designed by architect Simon B. Zelnik who additionally designed two different houses in Scarsdale, which have each been destroyed, together with the Joyce Theater, the Riverdale Temple and the Chemical Financial institution Constructing in NY.

One of many standards for the preservation of a house is a discovering that it’s the work of a grasp, a lot of the dialogue centered on Zelnik’s credentials. On the prior assembly, Chair Adam Lindenbaum requested the neighbors to carry proof that Zelnik may certainly be outlined as a grasp, which they did with the assistance of Bryan Zelnik, an architect and grandson of Simon B. Zelnik.

Displays offered to the committee exhibits that Simon B. Zelnik was named a fellow of the American Institute of Architect in 1967, when he was awarded a certificates, a medal and a banquet plate. This honor is awarded to solely 3% of AIA members. His submission included the houses he inbuilt Scarsdale.

Representatives for the Milstein’s retained architectural historian Emily Cooperman from Cherry Hill, New Jersey to current proof that the house didn’t warrant preservation.

She sought to show that Zelnik was not a grasp, as he lacked “greatness,” and to point out that renovations to the home and the roofline altered Zelnik’s design. After outlining modifications and additions she argued, “It’s not the shape that Simon Zelnik constructed.”

The Milstein’s case was bolstered by Andrew Dolkart, the Village’s professional who reviewed the house and located, “76 Birchall is a uncommon instance of a mid-century Trendy home in Scarsdale and it has some very good-looking options, notably the massing and stonework of the entrance elevation. I believe that an argument might be made for the home and the grounds for rarity, however, basically it doesn’t seem to satisfy the factors for preservation. Simon Zelnik was not a grasp architect. The home was commissioned by a major particular person, however he doesn’t appear to have lived in the home for very lengthy. The home has had some important alterations that compromise the integrity of the design, notably on the rear.”

One other professional introduced in by the Milstein’s was Barry Silberstang who reviewed the alterations made to the home, primarily to the rear, to exhibit that the home was now not what it was. Discussing the modifications, he mentioned, “To a layman it could not matter. To an architect it’s big. It’s mediocre.”

He disparaged Zelnik and his credentials, saying “I went to Cooper Union and I by no means heard of him. It’s not a major home any longer. …Get sufficiently old you’ll obtain honorariums.” He conceded that he was not an AIA fellow.

Neighbor David Greenberger of 65 Birchall was a late arrival to the assembly. He mentioned, “I used to be moved that Zelnik was profiled within the Architectural Discussion board. I believe Bryan Zelnik gave a persuasive argument …..The residents of Birchall Drive and Mr. Zelnik have given you a lot proof. His submission to the AIA was primarily based on the homes he inbuilt Scarsdale.”

Gayle Hellman of 62 Birchall Drive mentioned, “You requested crew Birchall to come back by with the proof – and we did. Concerning the additions, from what I see in Scarsdale, modifications are allowed to houses which might be thought-about historic. In response to the way in which Emily Cooperman outlined a grasp beforehand, Zelnik is a grasp. He’s a fellow of the AIA and did enter competitions in NYC.”

Later on the assembly, Hellman identified an inconsistency in Cooperman’s testimony. Hellman famous that Cooperman had beforehand mentioned architect Julius Gregory was not a grasp as a result of he was not a fellow of the AIA and didn’t have articles in skilled publication, however argued now that Zelnik was not a grasp although he held these credentials.

Calling in on Zoom, Bryan Zelnik countered, “I discover it upsetting the way you disparaged by grandfather. IM Pei and Philip Johnson have been each fellow in the identical class of the AIA. When he designed the primary Baracini home my grandfather was the grandfather of contemporary structure in Scarsdale. The one trendy structure journal featured his dwelling. I offered overwhelming proof of my grandfather’s contribution to structure in Scarsdale and architectural historical past.”

Committee members spoke.

Chair Adam Lindenbaum learn an announcement from Committee member and architect Mark Behr who was not current on the assembly. He mentioned, “We didn’t have all of the pertinent info on the first assembly. Now I take into account Zelnik a grasp in his subject …. As a result of his inclusion as a fellow within the AIA, two of the six works submitted have been residences in Scarsdale – these two are each gone at this level…. 76 Birchall is the final remaining residence which makes it extra distinctive and historic. Although it took 3 times to get admitted (to the AIA), that doesn’t lower the accomplishment… The additions and renovations didn’t diminish the design and traits of the unique design. For the explanations said above I can’t assist the applying.”

Jonathan Lerner mentioned, “I work in actual property, I take a look at homes on daily basis. I went up the driveway at present. It blends into the panorama. It’s not a cookie cutter dwelling. It’s distinctive. It’s a stunning dwelling. Whenever you go to see a bit of artwork and it strikes you.”

Talaiya Safdar mentioned, Now we have proof for standards 3 or 4. (Zelnik was a grasp or “That the constructing embodies the distinctive traits of a sort, interval or methodology of building that possess excessive inventive worth;”

Kevin Reed thought there was sufficient proof to disclaim the applying and let the Board of Trustees determine, if the candidates appealed.

Wendy Goldstein was involved concerning the renovations to the home. She mentioned, “Assuming he’s a grasp, how substantive are the modifications and do they make it not a Zelnik home?”

Lerner responded, “Take a look at the home – it’s the identical home because it was in 1950. You may’t see the modifications within the roof.”

Lindenbaum mentioned, “Now we have to talk clearly and we’ve to make a suggestion. I should be satisfied that the modifications didn’t have an effect on the historic significance of the home.”

Kevin Reed then modified his thoughts, saying, “We’re right here to protect houses, however provided that they meet sure standards – I’m going to assist the applying. Because of the renovations.”

Taliaiya Safdar defended preservation, saying “What house is value preserving if not this?”

Finally, Chair Adam Lindenbaum, Kevin Reed and Wendy Goldstein forged their three votes to approve the demolition of the home. Talaiya Safdar and Jonathan Lerner voted to disclaim the applying. The vote stood 3-2. Lindenbaum reviewed the code and located that 4 votes have been wanted to approve an utility. Quick one vote, the applying was denied.

Lindenbaum informed the candidates they’d the appropriate to enchantment to the Board of Trustees and to plead hardship.

The choice might be appealed on hardship, however the query arises: Is it a hardship when one of many wealthiest households within the nation is denied the appropriate to demolish a house and promote the property to a developer who will subdivide the property and construct two houses the place there at the moment are one? Moderately than promote it to a developer, may they discover a household who would possibly stay within the dwelling and treasure it, even when the sale worth is a bit decrease?

And concerning the resolve of the CHP: The committee had ample proof to defend Zelnik as a grasp architect and to defend a uncommon mid-century trendy dwelling in Scarsdale. Nonetheless, it was clear that the management of the committee was reluctant to show them down and spur a possible lawsuit from the candidates who opened the assembly by threatening an Article 78.

Ever because the complete Committee for Historic Preservation (CHP) resigned in protest in 2017 when the Village board overturned their resolution on 12 Dolma Street, the alternative committee appears cautious about following the code to protect houses, particularly when the homeowners have deep pockets.

If any houses are to be saved, the code must be strengthened, the Village Board must train some resolve or new personnel are wanted on the CHP.

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