“The Landmarks Preservation Commission has ceased to be a commission that engages in landmark preservation,” the attorney said. “Instead, it has become a city agency dedicated to justifying decisions favorable to real estate developers — even if it means that L.P.C. violates its own prior rulings and the language and history of the Landmarks Law.”
Save Gansevoort has filed a lawsuit against the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to overturn its decision to allow a massive, out-of–character development in the Gansevoort Market Historic District. Gansevoort Market, the West Village, Greenwich Village and other historic districts throughout NYC are under attack by developers. We hope this lawsuit will send a message to the Landmarks Preservation Commission that they must consistently and forcefully protect the historic districts and landmarks they are charged with preserving. The LPC approved the massive development on Gansevoort in spite of overwhelming opposition by public officials, area residents and preservation groups. Many of you were shocked and appalled by LPC’s decision and we will work together to continue this fight. Save Gansevoort LLC is being represented by Michael S. Hiller of Hiller PC, a law firm that has successfully fought to overturn similarly misguided LPC decisions, most recently the Clocktower case at 346 Broadway in Tribeca. Lawsuits are expensive and we need your continued support to fight this. So far, Save Gansevoort has been funded by over 100 individuals. We need everyone who has supported us to give again, and we need help from the hundreds of other people in our community who have voiced opposition to this project and who care about the future of our city. Let’s join together to fight this decision and show City Hall that developers and lobbyists like Jim Cappalino who represents Aurora Capital – just as he also represented developers involved in the Rivington Street nursing home scandal – cannot continue to ruin the character of our city. Please click here and give generously to this fight! Every donation counts, no matter how large or how small. All donations are fully tax deductible. We would also like to provide everyone a chance to meet our lawyer Michael Hiller, and on November 1st we will be holding a town meeting where he can discuss the lawsuit and answer questions:
Tuesday, November 1 at 7 pm. 22 Little West 12th Street, 2nd floor.
More information about the lawsuit, including our petition to the New York State Supreme Court, can be found here. Thank you for helping to preserve the character of our beloved city.
The Community Board 2 Landmarks Committee will be hearing an application by Restoration Hardware to build a two-story rooftop addition on top of 55 Gansevoort Street, directly across the street from Aurora Capital’s massive Gansevoort project, this coming Thursday: Thursday, July 14, 6:30 PM NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 520 (near the Northeast corner of Washington Sq. Park) Restoration Hardware is planning to open a boutique hotel at 55 Gansevoort to complement the flagship store they are building at the old Pastis site at 9-19th Ninth Avenue, which they have leased from Aurora Capital. This addition is very large, and very visible both from Gansevoort Plaza, from Washington Street, and from the High Line. CB2 should recommend rejection of the application, or at least recommend that the addition be significantly reduced in size and visibility.
Once again, there is a James Capolino connection. Aurora Capital was represented by lobbyist James Capolino when they got Landmarks permission for the huge addition on top of the old Pastis building which will be the site of the Restoration Hardware store, and Aurora’s massive Gansevoort project is also represented by Capolino.
The Community Board 2 Land Use Committee will be holding another hearing this coming Wednesday on TF Cornerstone’s application to amend the restrictive declaration (RD-93) on the northwest corner of the West Coast Apartments building (the currently vacant 4700 sq/ft ground floor space at the corner of Gansevoort and West Street):
Wednesday, July 13, 6:30pm NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 520 (near the Northeast corner of Washington Sq Park)
Their goal is to combine this space with an adjacent vacant space to the east to create an 8,100 sq/ft space (plus another 3,500 sq/ft in the basement) which would be leased for a HUGE restaurant operation – we’re talking a capacity of several hundred seats! A year ago, TF Cornerstone attempted to illegally lease this space for restaurant use in violation of the restrictive declaration.
We have previously said that we would oppose market-rate retail or restaurant uses in this location, but would support amending the restrictive declaration to allow uses by non-profit organizations. TF Cornerstone is apparently going to offer a deal whereby in return for lifting the restrictive declaration on the 4700 sq/ft space at Gansevoort and West, they would make a significantly smaller space in the West Coast building fronting Horatio Street available for non-profit use.
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.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold its hearing on the proposal to build two 90′ tall towers at 85-89 Jane Street – just two blocks South of Gansevoort Street – this coming Tuesday, July 12th, at 1 Centre Street, 9th floor (at Chambers Street). LPC estimates that this application will be heard at 2:45 PM, but recommends coming one hour early in case the previous items end early. It’s important that as many people as possible attend the hearing and testify briefly about why the proposed buildings would be completely out-of-character with the Greenwich Village Historic District. Furthermore, the proposed facade additions would create an overbearing, uniform 41′ tall street wall, which would have a sterilizing effect on this charming low-scale block. If you are not comfortable testifying, please come anyway and hold a sign! Also, if you haven’t already done so, please send a message to LPC here.
This project is represented by James Capolino and Company, the same lobbying and PR firm that represents Aurora Capital’s massive Gansevoort development.
We’ve got an op-ed piece in Slant, the blog of City and State Magazine, reflecting on the significance of the Landmark Preservation Commission’s decision on massive Gansevoort development project. In our biased opinion, it’s worth a read!
Just recently, the commission ruled that massive new buildings – one of them nearly six times as high as the market building it would replace – could be constructed on Gansevoort Street due to the fact that tenements existed on this block more than 75 years ago. That this argument, advanced by the developers, actually won out with the current commission is shocking. One could equally argue that, because this block was once the site of the Indian village of Sapokanikan, it should be rebuilt with one-story wooden longhouses, which stood here in the 17th century. The commission’s verdict is a complete reversal from the decision made by the same agency under a different administration. After all, there was a reason why the area was designated as the Gansevoort Market Historic District and not the Gansevoort Tenement Historic District. Today’s commission has disregarded what its predecessors deemed as the most historically valuable aspect of this area – its market-style buildings – and all for the sake of development. Without question, our community is distraught at the thought of losing what drew us all to this part of the city to begin with. But as New Yorkers who care about preserving the past, we are even more disturbed by the precedents set by the commission’s actions.
At Tuesday’s public meeting, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve Aurora Capital’s revised plan for their Gansevoort development (with two commissioners voting against approval). Although this is the end of the Landmarks process, the battle is not yet over. The developer will likely need to amend a restrictive declaration that currently exists on this site, and we will fight any attempt to do so.
Thanks to the efforts of the many people who have worked so hard to oppose this project, the final plan is significantly improved compared to the initial application. 50 Gansevoort Street will be restored rather than demolished, and the small set-back one-story addition is nicely done. The revised design for 60-68 Gansevoort is a big improvement over the original proposal; in addition to the penthouse being removed, the building is now significantly lower and the facade is more appropriate to the character of the street. The removal of the huge two-story penthouse from 74 Gansevoort is an important change for the better, and the design of the building has been somewhat improved. However, we remain dismayed that the intact, low-rise market architecture of the block is not being preserved, and believe that the new buildings at 60-68 and particularly 74 Gansevoort are way too high.
It is deeply disturbing that in voting to approve this plan, the Landmarks commissioners ignored the guidelines they had established at their previous meeting (read our analysis of why the heights of the buildings in the revised plan failed to meet these guidelines here). They did acknowledge the 30 Department of Buildings records that we found showing 50-55′ tenement heights, but most of the commissioners now dismissed concerns about the exact height of the tenements and indicated that an increase of 6-8 feet above these heights was acceptable. They allowed the developer to leave the height of the base building at 74 Gansevoort essentially unchanged, and to justify that height by comparing the building to the largest warehouse buildings in the district, despite having previously instructed that the new building at 74 Gansevoort should be reduced in height and compared to the (significantly smaller) loft buildings in the district.
We had a great crowd at the Landmarks meeting and spirits were high, but the commissioners unfortunately paid no attention to our signs! (See photos below)
Save Gansevoort has released the following statement:
We are deeply disappointed in the Landmark Preservation Commission’s decision today to accept this massive building plan, disregarding the Gansevoort Market Historic District’s designation report and more than 75 years of history. The Commission’s ruling will not only destroy the last intact block of one- and two-story, market-style structures in Manhattan, but it is also the latest sign that unrestricted development is killing the unique character of so many of our city’s most beautiful neighborhoods. In this day and age, it is disconcerting that even our landmarked areas are no longer protected.
Save Gansevoort will not give up the fight to protect our community. We urge the City Planning Commission and the City Council to block any amendments to the restrictive declaration on these sites that would permit the use of these buildings for office space. Preserving the restrictive declaration would prevent these developers from once again changing existing precedents to fit their bottom line and ensure that we can continue to save the Gansevoort Market Historic District.
The restrictive declaration will be the next fight. We believe that if the developer is unable to amend the declaration, he will have great difficulties making this project economically viable. Stay tuned!
We’ve just posted our analysis of the revised massive Gansevoort development proposal. At its previous public meeting, the Landmarks Preservation Commission was very clear that the proposed building at 60-68 Gansevoort could be no taller than the previously existing tenements at this location, and that the height of the new building proposed for 74 Gansevoort (now 97 feet tall including mechanicals) needed to be significantly reduced.
Yet in the developer’s revised plan, 60-68 Gansevoort is still about 10 feet higher than the old tenements, and the height of 74 Gansevoort (exclusive of the penthouse) was reduced by a mere two feet.
We strongly disagree with LPC’s decision at the previous meeting to arbitrarily reach back to an earlier stage in the district’s history in order 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. There is no excuse for allowing the developer to exceed the extremely generous guidelines which LPC previously established simply to increase his own profits.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold its next public meeting on the proposed massive Gansevoort development this coming Tuesday, June 7th: TUESDAY, JUNE 7TH, 9:30AM (arrive by 9:15 to allow time to pass through security; this item is first on the agenda so there will be no wait!) 1 CENTRE STREET, 9th Floor (at Chambers Street). Entrance is at the south end of the building. The Commissioners will question the developer about his revised proposal, and then either vote to accept the proposal or send it back for further revisions. We strongly believe this proposal fails to meet the guidelines established by the commissioners at the previous public meeting on the Gansevoort application, and that the commissioners should insist it be further revised to significantly lower the heights of the proposed new buildings at 60-68 and 70-74 Gansevoort Street. 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 and signs so that the commissioners know that we want this project radically revised. Whether or not you can attend the meeting, please send an email to LPC right now telling them why you oppose this project! The facebook event is here. See you at the meeting!