Asked and AnsweredI’m buying an apartment in a building designated as a “landmark.” Should I be concerned?
Aware of the status, yes, concerned, no. If you are purchasing an apartment in an older, architecturally-distinct building or if you're planning on living in one of Manhattan's historic neighborhoods, you must be aware of the "New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission." This New York City agency is charged with the responsibility of designating various buildings and neighborhoods as "landmarks". Once this designation is made, any building located in such an area is greatly restricted in making aesthetic changes to the facade of the building. All changes which are viewable from the street must conform with the original architecture of the building. This issue arises when a party wishes to replace windows or to install through-the-wall air conditioners. Any such changes must be approved by application to the Commission. The Commission can deny the request or specify the type of materials or equipment to be used. This process can be costly and time-consuming. If alterations were made to a landmark building without prior Commission approval, it's possible that you might be required by the Commission to make the alterations conform to the building's original architecture at substantial expense. Ouch. Once you know that the building is a landmark or is located in a landmark-designated area, make sure you are clear as to what renovations have been made to the apartment. Accordingly, it is important to include a representation in the contract that no alterations or modifications were made to the apartment, without first obtaining the requisite governmental and Board approvals.