We were struck by the news that the plush Plaza Hotel is suing New York City over the Bloomberg administration’s placing a block-long bicycle rack across from its main entrance facing Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan.
The project underscores the cavalier way private rights are often trampled on in New York.
The Plaza Hotel building is a designated a landmark – i.e. a building the Landmark Preservation Commission has decided is of such aesthetic and historical importance that its design characteristics must be preserved. Thus, while the property owners are free to continue to use and maintain their properties, they may not alter those design characteristics.
This usually means the economic value of the property plummets, often to a point well below the original purchase price and what the commercial market value would otherwise be, since new purchasers would not be allowed to make substantial changes.
Yet without any apparent notice, the city erected a bike rack replete with bikes outside the entrance to The Plaza, whose owners decry the imposition as an “eyesore” in court papers.
As mentioned, the rack faces, in close proximity, Grand Army Plaza, so it is situated directly between two landmarked sites. Whatever happened to the city’s concern for aesthetics and historicity?