Laurelton considers historic-district designation

Marchers in the Laurelton Memorial Day Parade follow a route along one of the neighborhood's landscaped malls.
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Built as a planned community in the earlier part of the 20th century, Laurelton was notable for its variety of Colonial Revival-style homes and landscaped center malls that stretch up and down several streets crisscrossing the neighborhood.

Also notable is the fact that — for the most part — these features have remained intact.

“Laurelton has a high degree of integrity,” said Paul Graziano, a consultant working to have the neighborhood listed on the national and state historic registers.

Developed by state Sen. William Reynolds beginning in the 1910s, Laurelton is a mix of row- and single-family detached homes in a variety of styles. During the warmer months when trees are in bloom, the landscaped malls lend the neighborhood a quiet, leafy feel.

“It’s quite unique to have these malls and there’s a competition among homeowners to see who has the best malls,” said resident David Lucas. “Everyone practically takes care of the malls in the community.”

In 2008, the city rezoned Laurelton to limit high-density development in the neighborhood. Around that time, Concerned Citizens of Laurelton President Kim Francis and Graziano, both members of the citywide Historic Districts Council advocacy group, worked to get the neighborhood initial eligibility for historic registry.

Roughly a third of the neighborhood, or about 1,200 homes, is being considered for the district.

“The consensus is the majority of people in the Laurelton community are on board with this,” Francis said.

Once an in-depth study of the neighborhood is complete, homeowners will have an opportunity to vote on whether or not to have the area listed on the state registry, and Graziano said that will almost certainly lead to a national designation.

Unlike designation by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, listing on the registries places fewer restrictions on buildings as well as fewer protections.

The tools the LPC uses to preserve the integrity and character of a neighborhood can be burdensome to homeowners, such as requiring historically accurate materials to be used during repairs.

Listing on the registries is more of an honorific designation. It does not provide protections to residential or commercial buildings, though simply being considered eligible for registration requires a state review if the city decides to demolish one of its buildings, such as Laurelton’s PS 156.

Being listed would make Laurelton eligible to receive federal and state monies to restore parts of the neighborhood, such as the malls city planner Robert Moses removed along four blocks of Francis Lewis Boulevard in order to increase traffic flow.

“On those four blocks, we’d love to have those back,” Lucas said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 8:48 pm, February 7, 2013
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Reader feedback

Ann Parker from Laurelton says:
I was at the meeting and one of many who support the this. I hope that my neighborhood is part of the District. I live on Francis Lewis Blvd and I'm tired of my property value going down and people selling their homes for next to nothing. We deserve more!
Feb. 7, 2013, 6:27 pm
Pat from Laurelton says:
Laurelton is a beautiful community, and needs to remain so. Having it designated as an historic district would bring a respect to the neighborhood that anyone who wishes to live here will know what the expectations are and continue to preserve its beauty and charm.
Feb. 11, 2013, 11:40 am
David Lucas from Laurelton says:
As a resident,concerned citizen and realtor of this community, this is wonderful news. Especially for homeowners here and those who will be future homeowners.
Knowing that your investment will have added value that's documentable, should be motivation to invest in Laurelton real estate.
Here you will find just about every style of home. Victorian, English Tudor, Colonial, Cape, Ranch, Dutch Colonial,, Spanish Colonial, Ranch, High Ranch, Townhouse, from 800 sq ft. to 4000 sq ft. Interior. Lot sizes from 20' x 54' to 100' x 134'.
Feb. 12, 2013, 9:41 pm
A. from Cole says:
This is a wonderful idea. But as a 30 plus year Laurelton resident I am fearful that this historic label will raise property taxes and force some of our elderly and lifelong residents out of their homes. The trend across the country has been with an historic designation is placed up a particular area it drives up the property taxes. Laurelton has always been a working to middle class neighborhood. One where people like myself never that was raised here never leaves and now raise my children here. This is an idea we really need to know all the facts on before a decision is made.
Feb. 19, 2013, 4:14 pm

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