Morningside Heights Historic District Council

Preserving, Improving, and Telling the Story of our Community

Neighborhood Threats & Soft Sites Report

The existing and pending portions of our Historic District are threatened by the erosion of local character over time, as well as by the adverse effects of large real estate development projects. Gradual changes are typified by the removal of cornices and other decorative features (sometimes in the wake of Local Law 11 activities), weathering, improper maintenance, and neglect.

Larger development projects undertaken by institutions have already changed the District’s character in several places. This disruption threatens to continue without the protection provided by Historic District designation. Some intrusions include:

The replacement of a row of lower apartment buildings along Morningside Drive by the overpowering slab of Columbia’s East Campus dormitory

Manhattan School of Music’s apartment tower on Claremont Avenue

Columbia’s science building, known as the Northwest Corner Building, on the corner of 120th and Broadway

Shapiro Hall, a Columbia dormitory on 115th Street between Broadway and Riverside

“Soft sites” is a term used to describe buildings and parcels of property that are particularly “at-risk” of overdevelopment due to a lack of residential tenants and large amounts of available air rights.

MHHDC’s sister organization, the Morningside Heights Community Coalition, developed a September 2016 report of sites in Morningside Heights vulnerable to overdevelopment: MHCC Soft Sites Report.

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