Storefronts

Storefronts are a vital part of New York City’s streetscapes. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), responsible for protecting and preserving the City’s landmark properties, regulates changes made to storefronts on designated buildings. This page provides resources for business owners looking to get a permit from LPC for work on storefronts and related installations to help speed up the approval process.

How can I find out if my storefront is on a designated building?

You can search for the building on the Discover NYC Landmarks map. If it is within a historic district, read on to learn more about LPC rules and regulations for work on storefronts and related installations, how to apply for a permit and how to get a permit as quickly as possible. You can also download our Fact Sheet for Storefronts in Historic Districts.

NOTE: Different rules apply if the below conditions exist:

1. The property is an individual landmark.
2. The property has a Warning Letter or Notice of Violation for removing a storefront without permits. Warning Letters and Notices of Violation are posted to Department of Buildings’ Building Information System (BIS).
3. The property has more than three uniform storefronts and one of them contains most of the building’s historic elements.

Please contact LPC to find out how to get approval in these cases.

How does LPC regulate changes to storefronts in historic districts?

LPC has rules that establish the criteria for staff to review and approve permit applications for proposed storefronts in historic districts. They allow staff to issue permits for storefront proposals that do not involve the removal of historic materials. The design can either replicate the historic storefront or it can be contemporary as long as it is based on relevant historic features within the district and includes typical storefront elements like large display windows, bulkheads and transoms. For more information, see Section 2-17 of the LPC Rules.

There are also specific rules and master plans for the following historic districts:

• Jackson Heights Historic District
• Stone Street Historic District
• Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side Historic District
• Madison Avenue in the Carnegie Hill Historic District
• Madison Avenue in the Metropolitan Museum Historic District

Permit applications that meet LPC rules and master plans can be approved faster by staff. If they do not meet the rules and requirements, staff may suggest alternatives or the proposal may be presented to the full Commission for review at a Public Hearing. LPC staff can guide you through the process.

When do I need a permit from LPC?

Any change to the exterior of a storefront requires a permit. The most common types of work include:

Storefront Installation
You need a permit to restore or install a storefront. See our Guide for Storefronts in Historic Districts.

Awning Installation
You need a permit to install or replace awnings. See our Guide for Awning Installation.

Signage and Lighting
You need a permit to install or replace signs and lighting. See our Guide for Signage and Lighting.

Painting
You need a permit to: change the paint color, power wash, or use a chemical solution to remove paint. See our Guide for Restoring Architectural Features.

Sidewalk Café Installation
You need a permit from LPC and a Sidewalk Café License from the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to install an unenclosed sidewalk café. See our Guide for Sidewalks and Sidewalk Cafes.

See our Applications page for more information on LPC permits.

How can I apply for a permit?

Before you begin work on your property, you must apply for a permit from LPC.  You can apply for a permit by filling out the Application Form for Work on Designated Properties, which can be used for any work type.

LPC also has a Fastrack Application Form that can be used for certain types of work including installing unenclosed sidewalk cafes and temporary installations, as long as there are no violations from LPC.

In order to obtain faster approval, make sure your application is complete. A complete application includes:

1. The correct application form signed by the property owner.
2. Color photos of the property
3. Written specifications, drawings, and/or samples that fully describe the proposed work

For a detailed checklist, please refer to the Permit Application Guide. If the application is complete upon submission, staff can issue the permit within 10 business days (Fastrack) or 15 business days.

Only complete applications can be processed, so make sure it is complete. If the application is incomplete, staff will send you a checklist showing what materials are missing.

Applications must be submitted in hard copy either by mail or in-person drop off to:

NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
Attn: New Applications
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor, North
New York, NY 10007

See our Applications page for more information.


Links to Additional Resources

Guide to Researching Historic Buildings

Barrier-Free Access/Accessibility

Temporary Installations Guide

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Equipment

SBS Guide to Storefront Improvements