Gansevoort, St. Vincent’s, NoHo & South Village Updates

from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
http://www.gvshp.org/

Gansevoort Market Update: GVSHP continues the fight against the proliferation of illegal billboards in the Meatpacking District, and throughout our neighborhoods (see www.gvshp.org/GansvBlbd.htm ). We have some good news to report on that front – two illegal billboards we targeted have recently been removed. The first covered 1-3 Ninth Avenue at Gansevoort Street (see www.gvshp.org/documents/images/1-3NinthAve.JPG ). GVSHP was able to get violations issued by the City against the sign. Last month, the sign was removed, and the owner has told us it is gone permanently – we will continue to closely monitor the situation. At 675 Hudson Street at 13th Street, GVSHP had long pursued removal of two billboards from the roof of the building, both of which we contend are illegal. We were able to get the City to agree with us on the south-facing of the two billboards (see www.gvshp.org/675HudsonBillboard.htm ), and got violations issued for the sign and successfully opposed a request to “legalize” the billboard at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Last week, the billboard was finally removed, and GVSHP continues to pursue the removal of the building’s other billboard, as well as the other signs in the area we contend are illegal (www.gvshp.org/documents/DOBBillboardLetterOct2007.pdf ). Unfortunately, however, the City has ruled that the billboards at the Hotel Gansevoort, which GVSHP continues to contend are illegal in their current form, are now legal. With this “final determination” by the City the only recourse is a costly legal challenge; GVSHP is consulting with other community and business leaders who joined us in leading the fight against these signs to determine our next steps.

According to the Greater Gansevoort Urban Improvement Project, the NYC Department of Transportation has indicated that they would like to create a public open space in ‘Gansevoort Plaza,’ the intersection of Gansevoort and Little West 12th Streets and Greenwich and Ninth Avenues (see www.gvshp.org/gguip.htm ). GGUIP has been advocating for traffic mitigation and pedestrianization measures in Gansevoort Market. GVSHP supports the creation of more pedestrian space in the Meatpacking District, but wants to ensure that any changes preserve the existing historic cobblestones.

HOW TO HELP:

Attend DOT’s Open House about plans for public open space in Gansevoort Plaza on Tuesday, November 27th, from 6-7:30, at One Little West 12th Street, to find out more and advocate for pedestrian spaces that preserve Gansevoort Market’s cobblestones.

NoHo Landmarks Expansion Proposed – Meeting Dec. 3: On Monday December 3 at 6:30 pm at the 45 Bleecker Street Theater, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission will present and discuss a plan for extending the NoHo Historic District – see map at www.nohomanhattan.org/ProposedNoHoHDExtensionREVISED.pdf . GVSHP, like many NoHo and historic preservation groups, has long advocated for the extension of landmark protections in NoHo, especially as a good deal of out-of-character development has taken place in the non-landmarked sections of the neighborhood.

HOW TO HELP:

Attend the public meeting on extending landmark protections in NoHo on Monday, December 3rd at 6:30 pm at the 45 Bleecker Street Theater to find out more, and advocate for the full extension of landmark protections to one of New York’s most historic neighborhoods.

St. Vincent’s/Rudin Development Update: Last week over 150 people attended the St. Vincent’s Community Working Group meeting about the hospital’s plan to demolish all eight of its buildings on either side of 7th Avenue between 13th and 11th Streets, and replace them with a new 330-ft. tall hospital west of 7th Avenue, and 650,000 sq. ft. of luxury residential development, including a 265 ft. tall building, on the east side of 7th Avenue. The overwhelming majority of those in attendance expressed concerns about the plan similar to those expressed by GVSHP – that the substantial increase in bulk, size, and height from the new development (which is mostly luxury housing), and the wholesale demolition of all the hospital’s current buildings (even those almost 85 years old and in context with the neighborhood), violates the character of Greenwich Village and the protections the Greenwich Village Historic District are supposed to offer, and that key elements of the plan should be reconsidered.

GVSHP has endeavored to supply clear and simple information about exactly what the plan – which would be the largest new development in Greenwich Village in fifty years – would do, and how it compares to the current conditions on the site. Please see www.gvshp.org/StVincentsPlans.htm for our latest graphs and images, which are approximations based upon information St. Vincent’s has supplied. St. Vincent’s has not yet formally filed their plans, which must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council; we are urging that changes be made before they do so.

HOW TO HELP:

SEND A LETTER URGING CHANGES BE MADE TO THE ST. VINCENT’S/RUDIN DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL NOW before it is filed with the City – go to www.gvshp.org/StVincentsLetter.htm and be sure to send copies the elected officials listed on the bottom of the letter.

South Village Preservation Update: Momentum continues to grow in our efforts to preserve the South Village. Last week the New York Landmarks Conservancy wrote to Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Robert Tierney about our proposal for designating the South Village a historic district, urging him to “act on the proposal soon,” and calling the South Village “one of New York City’s great historic neighborhoods…steeped in a rich heritage of cultural history” (see www.gvshp.org/documents/SVdistrictsupportltrs.pdf#page=8 ). The proposals has extensive and growing support from elected officials, historic preservation organizations, and local community groups, business leaders, and institutions (see www.gvshp.org/documents/SVdistrictsupportltrs.pdf ), but danger to the area is also growing, and we need the City to act on our landmarking proposal.

Toward that end, GVSHP will be holding a Town Hall meeting on landmarking the South Village on Monday, December 10th, which will be a critical opportunity to rally support for the preservation effort and push ahead with this campaign. The Town Hall is co-sponsored by Community Board #2.

Finally, GVSHP has been monitoring, and urging the City take action against, a development at 159 Bleecker Street which we believed violated zoning regulations by, among other things, not containing the “community facility” for which it got a zoning bulk bonus (i.e. got to be bigger than normally allowed). It appears our contentions had merit, as the Dalton School, which the developer had previously claimed was operating a “student dormitory” on site to satisfy the “community facility” requirement (even though Dalton is a day school not known to house students), has recently pulled out of the project. See www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/realestate/11Deal2.html for the latest and www.gvshp.org/Circletheater.htm for background.

HOW TO HELP:

COME TO THE SOUTH VILLAGE TOWN HALL MEETING on Monday, December 10th at 6:30 pm in the basement hall of Our Lady of Pompei Church, at Bleecker and Carmine Streets (enter on Bleecker Street) and SPREAD THE WORD!!! — use the flyer at www.gvshp.org/documents/TownHallflyer1207.pdf
(please note: it is illegal to post flyers on NYC public property).

WRITE TO THE CITY URGING THEM TO DESIGNATE THE SOUTH VILAGE HISTORIC DISTRICT RIGHT AWAY in light of the urgent threats the neighborhood faces – go to www.gvshp.org/southvillagesupportlet.htm for a sample letter you can use. PLEASE SEND THIS LETTER EVEN IF YOU HAVE WRITTEN BEFORE!

For more information on the effort to preserve the South Village, see www.gvshp.org/southvillage.htm

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