Demolition Permit Denied Again for 8 Heathcote Road Plus Home Sales
- Real Estate
- Published on Thursday, 30 January 2014 12:52
- Joanne Wallenstein
The application to demolish the former home of Earl Graves at 8 Heathcote Road in Scarsdale was denied for a second time this week. After the Committee for Historic Preservation turned them down on November 19, 2013, the new owners, Steven and Fiona Silver, took their case to the Board of Architectural Review on Monday night January 27. In a vote of 5-2, the BAR rejected the "certificate of appropriateness" which would have cleared the way for a demolition permit for the stately brick colonial that was built in 1907.
The Silvers are represented by Lawrence Otis Graham, a real estate and land use attorney with Cuddy & Fedder of White Plains. Commenting on the BAR's decision, Graham said, "I was surprised that although the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) voted that the vast majority of the Code Criteria for preservation were not satisfied, the BAR still went ahead and voted to deny the application. The house does not meet either the necessary level of architectural or historical significance to outweigh the private property rights of the new owners. No one has suggested converting this house into a Museum or Historic Site in public ownership. The evidence did not support the Decision."
Mr. Graham added: "In the prior (November 19, 2013) hearing in front of the Committee for Historic Preservation, the Committee based its vote on their insistence that three additional famous Scarsdale residents had owned the home. In a complete title search of the property, I revealed that the Committee was wrong and that none of those individuals had owned the house. It is unfortunate that their decision was informed by their incorrect assertions."
However Andy Bass of Scarsdale who often advocates to protect Scarsdale's older homes sent us the following to support the historic merit of the house. Here he quotes a prominent architect whose firm was retained by the Village of Scarsdale to create a historic resources survey of the Village's homes and buildings. It is curious that 8 Heathcote Road was left off the list of potential landmarks. Here is the architect's comment on the omission:
"I fully support the preservation of this house," writes Andrew Dolkart, Director of Columbia University's Historic Preservation Program, in a January 26 letter to the BAR. Counsel for the applicant had repeatedly noted that the building was not among those identified as worthy of preservation in the reconnaissance survey report Dolkart and Li/Saltzman Architects prepared for the village in 2012."
According to Dolkart, the building was simply "missed." He writes, "I can say categorically, that had we reviewed this house, we would have included it in the list of potential individual landmarks." Dolkart concludes, "8 Heathcote Road is a building of significance that should be preserved."
In a January 27 letter, Kathleen A. Howe, Survey and Evaluation Coordinator at the New York State Historic Preservation Office, writes, "the house appears to be eligible for the State/National Registers of Historic Places for its association with Earl G. Graves, Sr."
"The property," Howe explains, "appears to be exceptionally significant under National Register Criterion B for its association with Graves, who made significant historic contributions to African American business history in the post-civil rights era. Though his contributions are relatively recent, sufficient scholarship exists to determine the eligibility of the Graves House."
Now that the Silver's application has been denied by the BAR, they can appeal the case to the Scarsdale Board of Trustees.
Like Earl Graves, the Silver's attorney, Lawrence Otis Graham, is also a person to note. Educated at Princeton and Harvard Law School, Graham, who is Afro American, is the author of 14 non-fiction books. Perhaps he is best known for an article he wrote in New York Magazine about his experience going undercover as a busboy at The Greenwich Country Club during the 1990's to explore racism and anti-semitism. Today, Graham and his family live in Chappaqua and in addition to serving as Special Counsel to Cuddy & Fedder he lectures, writes and is a frequent guest commentator on television.
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