East Village Preservation Issues Update

From the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, www.gvshp.org

NYU MEGA-DORM AIR RIGHTS HEARING TUESDAY, APRIL 17 at 11 am: Reminder: the hearing before the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) challenging the air rights “transfer” from the Post Office to the East 12th Street NYU Mega-Dorm will be this coming Tuesday, April 17, at 11 am, at the BSA, 40 Rector Street (between Washington and West Streets, 6th floor hearing room, bring photo ID). Please note the time: 11 am is an estimate; the BSA may not reach this item until later, but we recommend getting there at 11 am to be sure you do not miss the hearing. For a flyer with location information, see www.gvshp.org/documents/BSAhrngflyer407.pdf . For more information, go to www.gvshp.org/NYUdorm.htm .

COME TO THE HEARING — see www.gvshp.org/postofficetest.htm for sample testimony you can use at the hearing. Please also bring 10 copies of your testimony with you if you can.
WRITE TO THE BSA NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY — go to www.gvshp.org/postofficetest.htm for a sample letter you can use (same as sample testimony) .
SPREAD THE WORD — post, copy, and distribute the flyer at www.gvshp.org/documents/BSAhrngflyer407.pdf .

GVSHP BATTLES EAST VILLAGE BILLBOARD PROLIFERATION: Illegal billboards have been proliferating in the East Village, and GVSHP has been leading the charge to get rid of them. GVSHP recently surveyed the entire East Village to identify all illegal billboards and report them to the City and seek their removal. GVSHP particularly targeted two 4-story high billboards on 7th Street and Avenue B overlooking Tompkins Square Park, resulting in several violations by the City. See www.gvshp.org/documents/EastVillagebillboards.pdf.

IF YOU SEE AN ILLEGAL BILLBOARD, REPORT IT TO 311, GET A COMPLAINT NUMBER, AND THEN REPORT IT TO TO GVSHP TO FOLLOW UP. Building addresses are necessary to report illegal billboards, and providing us with a picture can help expedite the process.

PROGRESS ON SAVING “STELLA STABLE’ at 128 EAST 13th STREET: GVSHP has been leading the charge to save the former stable/horse auction mart at 128 East 13th Street which for many years served as the studio of artist Frank Stella (see www.gvshp.org/stable.htm ). After the City heeded our call to consider it for landmark designation last year, the building’s fate has remained in limbo, with no vote yet by the City to landmark it, but a “standstill agreement” in place between the City and the owner to temporarily prevent any demolition or alteration of the building.

However, GVSHP has just learned two important and encouraging pieces of information. The City has extended it’s “standstill agreement” with the owner until July, ensuring the building’s continuing preservation. And we have been informed that the Peridance Center has signed a “long-term lease” for use of the building as a dance studio, which would indicate the owner may be arriving at a plan for permanent re-use of the building. We will continue to closely monitor this situation and advocate for the building to be landmarked and permanently preserved.


CITY AGREES TO SOME IMPROVEMENTS TO DRAFT EAST VILLAGE REZONING: In March, the City released a revised version of its original proposed rezoning for the East Village/Lower East Side. GVSHP had urged that the sidestreets in the East Village be further downzoned than in the original plan, to protect their scale and character, and to discourage tear-downs and rooftop additions. Working with other community groups, GVSHP had particularly identified several blocks south of Tompkins Square Park where clusters of very low-density early tenements required special protection, and further downzoning than in the City’s original draft plan.

The revised rezoning plan released by the city in March made changes to specifically address these concerns, tightening restrictions and lowering allowable heights and densities on sidestreets that would dramatically increase protections for these areas (see www.gvshp.org/documents/EVRezoning.pdf ). However, the revised plan did not respond to several other concerns which had been expressed about height and density along Houston Street and Avenue D, and about the creation and preservation of affordable housing (see www.gvshp.org/EVCBres.htm ).

COMMUNITY BOARD #3’S REZONING TASK FORCE WILL MEET AGAIN ON MONDAY, APRIL 16 at 6:30 pm at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street, at Rivington Street, to review and discuss the current draft rezoning plan. The meeting is open to the public; you can attend to find out more or provide your input.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN EFFORT TO REZONE 3rd and 4th AVENUES: Because the City has refused to include the 3rd and 4th Avenue corridors in their draft East Village Rezoning Plan, GVSHP has been working with Community Board #3, and the offices of Borough President Stringer and Councilmember Mendez, to formulate a community-initiated rezoning plan for the area. Such a plan takes more time than rezonings initiated by the City, and ultimately still requires city approval, but can be a way of getting changes to protect a neighborhood when the City is not willing to do so on their own.

Right now, the zoning for these blocks encourages huge dorms and hotels, like the ones NYU has built and is currently building. GVSHP has been advocating for new zoning to prevent the transfer of air rights, impose height limits (none currently exist there now), and eliminate the incentive for dorm and hotel construction and reinforce the largely residential character of the area.

Thus some very preliminary recommendations are under discussion for zoning changes to pursue for these blocks — see www.gvshp.org/documents/EVrezoningstudyarea.pdf . These appear to be the most restrictive zoning designations possible that would also meet the city’s criteria for rezonings.

COMMUNITY BOARD #3’S REZONING TASK FORCE WILL MEET AGAIN ON MONDAY, APRIL 16 at 6:30 pm at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street, at Rivington Street, and will discuss these preliminary recommendations for pursuing a possible rezoning of the 3rd and 4th Avenue blocks. The meeting is open to the public; you can attend to find out more or provide your input.

Posted Under: Alert, Designation, Downzoning, East Village, Tower

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