The Gansevoort Street developers claim that their plan to demolish two buildings and build massively tall new structures is historically appropriate because it would restore Gansevoort Street to its pre-1930’s residential architecture. This misleading argument is clearly driven by their desire to permit the largest and most profitable buildings on this site. In 2003, the Landmarks Preservation Commission chose to landmark Gansevoort Street in its current low-scale market configuration, the form in which it has existed for the past 75 years. The Commission did so for good reason. The LPC’s designation report is very clear: the Gansevoort Market Historic District – and the Gansevoort block in particular – was designated to preserve the area’s unique market character and history. The Gansevoort block is the only remaining intact block consisting entirely of one- and two-story market buildings in the Historic District.
The 1930’s alteration of the Gansevoort buildings from residential to low-scale market structures, as the designation report explicitly states, represents an essential phase in the district’s history: a time when the market expanded due to innovative new transportation projects and great economic change.
The designation report states that “one of the district’s unique qualities is that earlier buildings were retained and altered to market uses.” The designation report further states that in the 1930’s, “The unusually wide Gansevoort Street assumed its distinctive character of low-rise market buildings with metal canopies at this time, largely through such newly-adapted structures… [as] No. 60-68 (five 1880-81 tenements), reduced to a two-story market building in 1940.” As the designation report emphasizes, “The market buildings in the Gansevoort Market Historic District are among the last remaining examples of this once-popular building type in Manhattan.” The market buildings of the Gansevoort block in their current form exemplify precisely the history and character that the Landmark designation is intended to protect. They should be preserved for posterity, not demolished or transformed beyond recognition. Any changes to this block must be in keeping with the characteristics described in the designation report. The developer can’t just randomly pick any period from the district’s past as the basis for his proposal. Otherwise, one might equally well argue that the street should be restored to Indian Long Houses, which are what stood in this location when the village of Sapokanican existed on this very site in the 17th Century:
Furthermore, let’s get the facts straight. The developers’ proposed structures would be nearly twice as tall as the 5-story tenements they claim they wish to replicate. The pre-1930’s buildings were almost certainly no higher than 60′. The new structures would be 98′ and 120′ tall (including mechanicals). This is in part because the new structures would be 6 and 8-stories tall, not 5-stories, and partly because of the new structures’ extremely large 14-15′ floor-to-ceiling heights. (Because of these tall floor-to-ceiling heights it’s highly misleading to describe the new structures in terms of the number of stories they contain.)
Please send an email to the Landmarks Preservation Commission asking that they honor the history of Gansevoort Street and preserve it as a low-scale market street.
The companies behind the massive Gansevoort development proposal have been conducting a “push-poll” in an attempt to drum up support for their beleaguered project. A “push-poll” is a telephone campaign in the form of a public-opinion survey designed to sell a certain product or idea (or political candidate). The questions are heavily slanted in order to suggest a particular viewpoint and to push people to answer in the way that the entity paying for the “poll” wants them to answer. According to one neighbor who got in touch with us after being called by the push-poll, eight or nine questions were designed to convince her that Gansevoort Street should be returned to the configuration it had before buildings were converted to market use around 1939 – ie, the buildings should be made much taller than they are now. (Of course, no mention was made of the fact that they were landmarked in their current, market-style form.) Our neighbor says that the interviewer asking the questions just wouldn’t let go of this idea, and pushed her multiple times to agree with it; it was practically impossible to get through the poll without eventually giving the answer that the developer wanted to hear. Our neighbor also said that several questions focused on the ‘run down’ condition of the existing buildings, and wouldn’t it be good to renovate them and make Gansevoort street a vital commercial/retail area? (Needless to say, everyone is in favor of renovating the existing buildings; this is a completely separate issue from whether or not one approves of the developers’ plan to demolish two of the buildings, build a new 120′ structure, and construct a massive addition on top of one of the remaining existing buildings. Additionally, as we recently reported, the developers are currently evicting long-standing tenants in an effort to make the area appear as run-down as possible.) At the end of the poll, our neighbor says she was asked a number of questions about her ethnicity, political beliefs, and income level that she thought were completely inappropriate and intrusive. The Villager newspaper has just run an article about the “push-poll,” reporting that multiple residents had experiences similar to our neighbor’s. After the article went to press, an online addendum was added in which a spokesperson for the developer responded to the Villager’s claims by saying that the poll was “market research” and that it showed “local residents support the redevelopment initiative by a 4-to-1 margin.” When the Villager reporter asked what questions were in the survey, the developer’s spokesperson refused to answer, claiming that the questions were “proprietary.” Exactly why won’t the developers release the questions from this “poll”? What are they trying to hide? And if local residents really support this project by a 4-1 margin (heck, if there are any local residents at all who support this project), why did 100 people turn out for the Community Board hearing and not a single person spoke in favor of the plan? Why did 150 people turn out for the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, and only two persons spoke in favor of the project – one of whom was a Gansevoort St. property owner who clearly wants to develop his own property, and the other turned out to be an employee of the developers? If you were contacted by the “push-poll,” we’d like to hear from you. Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the entire Villager article about the push-poll here.
Update 1/26/16: DNA Info now has a story on the poll, based primarily on info provided by the developers. Of course, the developers continue to refuse to release both the questions from the poll and the script used by the interviewers.
“One resident, who’s lived on West 12th Street since 1982, told The Real Deal that one question presented the issue in extremes, asking if he’d prefer decrepit buildings or ones that honored the historical significance of the neighborhood. Another resident, Ruth Halligan, said that even though she opposes the proposed project, the questions were intentionally difficult to answer in the negative. She said while the pollsters didn’t say who commissioned the survey, it became very obvious that the developers were behind it.
If it was a push poll, it may have backfired.”
Love the photo Real Deal chose to illustrate the piece:
Aurora principal Jared Epstein caused an uproar last August when he fallaciously described Gansevoort Street as “blighted“. Now, Aurora Capital and Gottlieb Real Estate, the developers of the proposed massive Gansevoort project, seem to be doing their best to make that description a reality. Macellaria, the Italian restaurant at 48 Gansevoort Street much beloved in the community, has just been forced to close. Macellaria actually wanted to remain in their location as long as possible, and asked to stay open on a month-by-month lease. Despite the fact that this would have enabled the developers to continue to generate income from this property and it will be many months – at a minimum – before any construction can begin, Aurora and Gottlieb said “No.” They gave Macellaria no option except to close.
Rapha Racing at 64 Gansevoort Street is about to close because they lost their lease, and Sugar Factory at 46 Gansevoort St. has been vacant for several months. The Gansevoort Market at 52 Gansevoort St. is currently thriving, but we’ve been told that Aurora/Gottlieb plans to evict them as soon as their lease expires.
We recently heard that the developers are conducting a telephone “push poll” encouraging community residents to support their project on the grounds that these landmarked buildings are in bad shape.. It appears that Aurora and Gottlieb are now going out of their way to make the block look as decrepit as possible – even if it means they have to lose income – in order to make it easier for them to argue that this historic block is not worth preserving.
Macelleraria, 48 Gansevoort Street:
Rapha Racing at 64 Gansevoort Street:
The Gansevoort Market, 52 Gansevoort Street. Now a thriving success, however Aurora/Gottlieb plans to evict them as soon as their lease expires:
Sugar Factory at 46 Gansevoort St, now closed for several months:
But there’s hope! Someone posted this sign on the Sugar Factory door:
The Villager newspaper has a report on the Gansevoort developers’ latest tactic, a deceptive “push-poll” designed to manipulate people into voicing support for their plan.
As the article states,
Push polling is a form of telemarketing disguised as a survey, in which a caller asks the listener a series of leading questions meant to influence his or her opinion on a particular subject. The Gansevoort pollsters reportedly asked community members questions like, “Would you prefer to see a series of decrepit, partly demolished buildings, or a historically sensitive restoration of what Gansevoort St. looked like until the 1930s?”
One resident who was called by the pollster called the poll “deceptive” and a “pretty low way to go about doing things.”
Tellingly, the developers are refusing to reveal the questions asked in the ‘poll’ or the script used by the interviewers.
The next LPC meeting on the proposed massive Gansevoort development project (which we had thought might be held January 12th) has been postponed; LPC is now telling us that this meeting will NOT take place in January
We’ll post an update as soon as we are given a date. Please check back! We will need a good turnout at this meeting to remind the Commissioners how strongly the community opposes this massive development.