Monthly Archives: May 2016

Petition LPC: No Giant Buildings on Gansevoort Street!

Send an email and help Save Gansevoort Market!   A developer is  proposing to build two massive buildings on historic Gansevoort Street in the landmarked Meatpacking District.   This project threatens Gansevoort’s unique character, its historic streetscape, low buildings and market-style architecture.  Sign our petition and it will send an email directly to the Landmarks Preservation Commission  (and please sign this even if you have already signed our old petition)!

Reduce the Height of Proposed Gansevoort Buildings!

Dear Chair Srinivasan -

The revised plans submitted by Aurora Capital for 46-74 Gansevoort Street fail to meet the conditions that you and the other commissioners set forth during the February 9th public meeting. The Landmarks Preservation Commission should require the applicant to submit a proposal that is consistent with your explicit comments on February 9th.

I strongly urge you to require that the height of the proposed buildings at 74 Gansevoort Street and 60-68 Gansevoort Street be further reduced, per your own instructions.

• Regarding 74 Gansevoort Street:

The developer has ignored the commissioners' directive that in addition to removing the penthouse, the height of this building should be significantly lowered. The revised building (exclusive of the penthouse) is a mere 2 feet lower than the previous proposal.

Furthermore, the commissioners were explicit that the height of this building should be evaluated in the context of the LOFT buildings in the district. However, the developer attempts to justify its size by referring to various large WAREHOUSE buildings in the district, which are in general considerably taller than the loft buildings specified by the commissioners.

The existing loft buildings in the district average about 55 feet in height. By contrast, the developer's revised building is 82 feet tall (97 feet tall when the large array of mechanicals is included). The proposed building at 74 Gansevoort Street should be lowered to about 55 feet in height so as to be comparable with the average loft building.

Additionally, it should be noted that 7 individual records from the Department of Buildings show that the pre-existing tenements at this site were between 50 and 55 feet tall; the developer's proposed building is thus nearly double the size of the previously existing structures.

• Regarding 60-68 Gansevoort Street:

The commissioners were clear that the new building at this site should be no higher than the previously existing tenements. 20 individual DOB records show that the tenements at this site were between 50 and 55 feet tall. However, the developer is now proposing a structure that would be 62 feet tall. The proposed new building at 60-68 Gansevoort should be lowered to a height of no more than 50-55 feet.

I am disappointed that LPC has arbitrarily reached back to an earlier stage in the district's history to justify replacing existing low-rise market buildings with massive new construction. Nonetheless, if the rationale is to return Gansevoort Street to its earlier tenement configuration, then the new buildings at 60-68 and 74 Gansevoort must conform to the size of their predecessors.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Share this with your friends: Tell Mayor de Blasio and LPC Chair Srinivasan to Save Gansevoort Street!

   

[The next LPC meeting on the massive Gansevoort development will be Tuesday, June 7th, 9:30 AM at 1 Centre Street.  Please come and show LPC you oppose this project!]

Dear Chair Srinivasan –
 
The revised plans submitted by Aurora Capital for 46-74 Gansevoort Street fail to meet the conditions that you and the other commissioners set forth during the February 9th public  meeting.  The  Landmarks Preservation Commission should require the applicant to submit a proposal that is consistent with your explicit comments on February 9th.
 
I strongly urge you to require that the height of the proposed buildings at 74 Gansevoort Street and 60-68 Gansevoort Street be further reduced, per your own instructions.
 
Regarding 74 Gansevoort Street:

The developer has ignored the commissioners’ directive that in addition to removing the penthouse, the height of this building should be significantly lowered.  The revised building (exclusive of the penthouse) is a mere 2 feet lower than the previous proposal.
 
Furthermore, the commissioners were explicit that the height of this building should be evaluated in the context of the LOFT buildings in the district.  However, the developer attempts to justify its size by referring to various large WAREHOUSE buildings in the district, which are in general considerably taller than the loft buildings specified by the commissioners.
 
The existing loft buildings in the district average about 55 feet in height.  By contrast, the developer’s revised building is 82 feet tall (97 feet tall when the large array of mechanicals is included).  The proposed building at 74 Gansevoort Street should be lowered to about 55 feet in height so as to be comparable with the average loft building.
 
Additionally, it should be noted that 7 individual records from the Department of Buildings show that the pre-existing tenements at this site were between 50 and 55 feet tall; the developer’s proposed building is thus nearly double the size of the previously existing structures.

Regarding 60-68 Gansevoort Street:

The commissioners were clear that the new building at this site should be no higher than the previously existing tenements.  20 individual  DOB records show that the tenements at this location were between 50 and 55 feet tall.  However, the developer is now proposing a structure that would be 62 feet tall (70 feet including mechanicals). The proposed new building at 60-68 Gansevoort should be lowered to a height of no more than 50-55 feet.

I am disappointed that LPC has arbitrarily reached back to an earlier stage in the district’s history to justify replacing existing low-rise market buildings with massive new construction.  Nonetheless, if the rationale is to return Gansevoort Street to its earlier tenement configuration, then the new buildings at 60-68 and 74 Gansevoort must conform to the size of their predecessors.

Sincerely,

1smallLineBDeveloper’s revised plan

Gansevort StreetGansevoort Street as it currently exists – the last remaining intact block of one- and two-story market buildings in the Historic District

New Plans Released – Next LPC Meeting on Massive Gansevoort Project will be June 7th

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has just announced that their next public meeting on the massive Gansevoort Development project will be on Tuesday, June 7th, at 9:30 AM.  The meeting will be held at 1 Centre Street (at Chambers Street), 9th floor – the same location as the previous hearings.

The public will be able to attend (but not speak at) this meeting. WE NEED A GOOD TURNOUT TO REMIND THE COMMISSIONERS HOW STRONGLY THE COMMUNITY OPPOSES THIS MASSIVE DEVELOPMENT. We will have stickers so that the commissioners know that we want this project stopped.

Aurora Capital has submitted a revised plan for the development.  The new design can be viewed here.

1smallLine
Revised proposal for 70-74 Gansevoort St.

Here’s a brief summary:

1.  The proposed building at 70-74 Gansevoort (see rendering above) is still WAY TOO BIG.  At the previous public meeting on February 9th, LPC told the developer to remove the penthouse structure and then reduce the size of the underlying building itself.  The penthouse structure has indeed been removed, but the base building is essentially the same height as before.  The total building height including some large mechanicals is now  97 feet.  This height needs to be significantly reduced.

A huge problem is that Aurora is justifying this height by comparing their proposed building to the existing warehouse buildings in the Gansevoort Market District.  However, at the February  9th public meeting LPC Chair Srinivasan was explicit that the height of 70-74 Gansevoort Street should be determined in the context of the “loft-style” buildings in the district.  The 7 existing loft buildings in the district are considerably lower than the warehouse buildings which Aurora is now citing as the “context” for their 97-foot-high proposal.

2.  The new design for 60-68 Gansevoort is an improvement over what was proposed in the original plan.  The  penthouse has been removed, and the new building is now 62 feet  to the top of the cornice (compared with approximately 70 feet in the old design).  There are some small mechanicals (really pretty unobtrusive)  on top of the building which bring total height to 70 feet, compared to 98 feet in the original plan. The design of the facade has also been improved.  HOWEVER, IT IS STILL TOO TALL.  LPC was explicit at the February 9th meeting that the new building should be no higher than the old tenements, and we have multiple documents from the Department of Buildings stating that the height of the original tenements was between 50-55 feet .  The height of this building needs to be reduced by an additional 7-11 feet to match what LPC mandated at the previous meeting.

3.  Last, the new design for 50 Gansevoort (on the eastern end of the block) has been greatly improved.  Instead of a weird three story building masquerading as a four-story building, it’s now a two story building matching the adjoining structures, with an unobtrusive set-back 3rd story addition.

We strongly disagree with LPC’s decision to arbitrarily reach back to an earlier stage in the district’s history to justify replacing existing low-rise market buildings with massive new construction.  Nonetheless, if the rationale is to return Gansevoort Street to its earlier tenement configuration, then the new buildings at 60-68 and 74 Gansevoort must conform to the size of their predecessors.

Please send an email to the Landmarks Preservation Commission asking the commissioners to hold fast to their guidelines and insist that the heights these buildings be further reduced.  It only takes one click!

Gansevort Street
Gansevoort Street as it currently exists – the last remaining intact block of one- and two-story market buildings in the historic district.

Images of 85 Jane St. Towers Released

There was a great turnout at last Thursday’s Community Board 2 hearing on the proposed 90′ tall towers at 85 Jane Street!  Over 70 community residents appeared in opposition to the proposed 90′ tall towers at 85 Jane Street in the Greenwich Village historic District.  Not one person spoke in favor of the project.

The developer finally released renderings of his proposed building.  Although it is not clear from the pictures, the concrete tower and the glass tower are actually separate structures, connected with small footbridges:

Rendering24small
Renderings23small

Residents pointed out that the towers are completely out of character with the Greenwich Village Historic District, and that all of the comparable buildings cited by the developer in fact are situated outside of the Historic District.

Residents also expressed concern about the overbearing, uniform 41′ tall street wall, which will have a sterilizing effect on this charming low-scale block.  (The developer claims that the zoning forces him to create this uniform 41′ street wall; however, an exemption from this requirement for buildings in historic districts can easily be obtained through a 74-711  process.)

The CB2 Landmarks Committee voted unanimously to oppose this application, and we expect that the full Community Board will shortly pass a strong resolution against this project.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission – which will make the actual decision to approve, modify, or deny this application – will hold its hearing some time in June.  It is essential that as many community residents as possible attend and speak at the LPC hearing.  Please contact preserveJaneSt@gmail.com in order to receive updates on the fight against this proposal and information about the LPC hearing as soon as it is scheduled.

For more information, go here.

UPDATE:  Following is a report from the #preserveJaneSt coalition:

On Thursday, May 12th, Community Board 2 held a hearing on the proposed development at the former Pro Piano site at 85 – 89 Jane Street. This site sits squarely within the Greenwich Village Historic District.

The proposal includes a request to include two 90’ towers – one concrete, the other glass, lit at night like a beacon – to what is currently a 30’ tall building. The proposal also includes increasing the street façade of two existing low-rise structures to a uniform 41’ across the entire 110’ street frontage. The two structures date from the late 1800’s / early 1900’s and have had a variety of commercial uses over the years – ranging from horse stables to a garage to ice-cream manufacturing to a piano showroom most recently. The final structure would be a ~20,000 square foot single family home.

 The meeting was standing-room only. A majority of the attendees proudly wore #preserveJaneSt stickers. Also present were: 
·         Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation
·         Representatives of the Jane Street Block Association
·         Representatives of #preserveJaneSt
·         Representatives from the Greenwich Village Community Task Force
·         Representatives from City Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office

The voice of opposition from the public was fierce, consistent and on-point.  The crowd repeatedly noted that two 90’ towers had no place in the Greenwich Village Historic District. There is no precedent for such height, especially clad in glass, inside the District. The argument presented by the architect – that this design resembled smokestacks that were present on industrial structures outside of the Greenwich Village Historic District – was met with strong disapproval. Buildings outside of the Historic District are entirely irrelevant as precedents for construction within theDistrict.

 Others raised concerns about increasing the street façade to 41’. While this increased height would be consistent with many of the neighboring townhouses, it would have a homogenizing effect and destroy the character of jagged skyline heights that Jane Street has enjoyed for decades. Many feared it would lead to a more soulless atmosphere.  After some of the more passionate contributions made by the public, the crowd erupted into applause.

The Committee voted unanimously to oppose the proposal. We expect formal resolution language from CB2 next week.

This is win for the community. We expect the full Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing to occur in late June. The LPC meeting is where the important decision will be made on what can be built on the site. It is ESSENTIAL that everyone opposed to this plan attend that meeting.

CB2_02CB2_03A

CB2 Hearing on West Coast Apts. Restrictive Declaration This Wednesday May 11

 

RetailRent

UPDATE MAY 14th:  at Wednesday’s CB2 hearing, it was revealed that in addition to illegally leasing this space for a restaurant last year, TF Cornerstone also ripped out all of the infrastructure necessary to maintain a meatpacking operation – the freezers, the rails, etc.  Without this infrastructure, it would require a prohibitive capital investment for anyone to move a meatpacking business into this space. Thus, at the very time that TF Cornerstone was legally required to make “best efforts” to find a meat market tenant for this space, they in fact did the very opposite and took action that made it impossible to lease the space to a meatpacker.

Anticipating that CB2 would vote to reject their  application, TF Cornerstone requested that the vote be postponed for a month, presumably to give them time to attempt to negotiate with the community.  Stay tuned!

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The owner of the West Coast Apartment building (the entire block bordered by Horatio, West, Gansevoort, and Washington Streets) is applying to change a restrictive declaration that currently limits uses in the northwest corner of the ground floor of that building to meatpacking and light industrial uses only.  We believe that meatpacking uses are still viable in this space, which was occupied by Weischel Beef until 2012 – in fact, the meatpacking coop one-half block to the north is currently full up.  

However, IF the city concludes that meatpacking uses are no longer appropriate, then it’s essential that any changes to the restrictive declaration work to benefit the community as well as the property owner.   Come tell Community Board 2 that if the restrictive declaration is changed, then it should allow only cultural, educational, or community uses by non-profit organizations in this space.  Possibilities would include a non-profit art gallery, non-profit theater space, non-profit bookstore, non-profit day care or nursery school, or space for community organizations.

The community doesn’t need more luxury retail or high-end restaurants.  The community does need spaces where non-profit arts, educational, and service organizations can flourish. The property owner negotiated this restrictive declaration in return for an extremely lucrative rezoning.  The owner has already made a huge profit from this deal, and there’s no reason that he should be now be entitled to get market-rate rents in this space for uses that won’t benefit the community.

The CB2 Land Use Committee will be this coming Wednesday:
Wednesday, May 11th, 6:30 PM
Village Community School, 272 W. 10th St., Auditorium 
(between Greenwich and Washington Streets)

The facebook event is here.

Some additional facts:

When Rockrose Development Corporation obtained a 1984 rezoning to allow the conversion of the old Manhattan Refrigeration building complex into the West Coast Apartments , the community negotiated several restrictive declarations in return.  One of these declarations mandated that 4700 sq/ft of ground floor space and 3500 sq/ft of basement space at the NW corner of the building (the corner of West Street and Gansevoort Street, now across from the Whitney Museum) be reserved for meat market uses.

Last year, the current owner of the building (TF Cornerstone)  tried to ignore the restrictive declaration by illegally leasing this space to a restaurant; we stopped them when they tried to apply for a liquor license.  The City should not reward TF Cornerstone  for its illegal behavior by now granting them the ability to make unlimited profits from this space.  TF Cornerstone still wants to put a giant  restaurant into this space; the late-night noise and congestion that such a huge operation would bring to our community would be unacceptable.

The lobbyist that TF Cornerstone has hired to push this application is James Capalino, who  has been involved in other attempts to remove property restrictions which were intended to  benefit the community.  He represented the companies involved in the recent Rivington Street nursing home scandal; he is also the lobbyist for  Aurora Capital, which has said that it will apply to change the restrictive declaration limiting uses on the site of its massive Gansevoort development project.

This hearing is an opportunity to send a message that the community must be fully engaged in the process of negotiating any future attempts to change restrictive declarations, such as the one governing Aurora’s Gansevoort site, and that any changes should  only be permitted if they benefit the community and the community agrees to them.

TFC395 Horatio Space

CB2 Hearing on two 90′ Tall Towers at 85 Jane St. This Thursday May 12

85Jane3

This coming Thursday, May 12th, the Community Board 2 Landmarks Committee will be hearing an application to build a huge addition on top of the existing one- and two story buildings at 85 Jane Street. The result will be a new 80 foot tall structure (plus mechanicals) mid-block on landmarked Jane Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets in the heart of the West Village. This is the old Pro Piano location – see the photo above.  

UPDATE MAY 10TH:  WE HAVE JUST LEARNED THAT THIS PROPOSAL ACTUALLY CALLS FOR TWO 90-FOOT-TALL SLIVER TOWERS (including mechanicals), one made of glass and the other of concrete!   The proposed uniform 41-foot-high street wall running the entire length of the property is also an issue.  At an invitation-only meeting with a few community residents to review the proposal, the owners refused to reveal their names and would not allow residents to take any photos of the plans.  Furthermore, the owners have hired lobbyist James Capalino, a long-time community adversary and major de Blasio fundraiser, to push the city to approve the project.  Capalino also represents Aurora Capital’s massive Gansevoort project.

Please come to the CB2 hearing to learn more about this proposal and to tell the Community Board that new structures of this size are completely out-of-character with the Greenwich Village Historic District and should be rejected!

The hearing will be held:
Thursday, May 12th, 6:30PM
NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 520
(near the Northeast corner of Washington Square Park)

The facebook event for the hearing is here.  Please invite your friends.

If you want to help stop this proposal, please contact preserveJaneSt@gmail.com

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has prepared an excellent history of the two buildings currently on this site.  Read it here.

See you at the hearing!