On October 7th, 2016, Save Gansevoort and the Historic Districts Council filed suit against the Landmarks Preservation Commission to overturn its decision allowing a massive, out-of–character development in the Gansevoort Market Historic District.
On February 9th, 2017, we won an important legal victory. A judge granted us a preliminary injunction that prevents the developer from doing any work on the exteriors of 60-68 and 70-74 Gansevoort Street until the court reaches a decision on our case. Preliminary injunctions are very difficult to obtain and are rarely granted. We are extremely gratified by the court’s decision.
The principal hearing on our lawsuit took place on March 8th. The courtroom was packed with community residents opposed to the Gansevoort project. At the hearing, the judge dismissed the developer’s arguments about our standing to bring the lawsuit; that issue is now off the table, which is excellent. Our lawyer, Michael Hiller, did a fine job of presenting our case, and then the lawyers for the city and the developer responded. The judge emphasized the limitations on the court’s ability to intervene in agency decisions, and indicated that she will take a narrow view of the court’s authority in these matters.
On March 27th, the lower court ruled against our lawsuit. We have filed an appeal, and on April 4th the appellate court granted us an emergency stay preventing any exterior construction or demolition work at 60-68 Gansevoort Street and 70-74 Gansevoort Street.
On August 15th, the appellate court unanimously granted our motion for a “stay pending appeal” which prohibits the developer from doing any exterior work on 60-68 Gansevoort and 70-74 until the court can rule on our appeal. In order to grant us the stay, the appellate court had to find that there was a substantial likelihood that we would obtain a reversal of the lower court decision which approved the massive Gansevoort development project. The appellate court rejects the vast majority of request for stays that it receives, so the fact that the court granted our request is very significant.
On February 13th, 2018, the appellate court ruled against our appeal. The appellate court’s written decision was very disappointing, and failed to address the many specific points which we raised arguing that LPC’s approval of the project violated Landmarks law. We have filed a motion requesting that New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, hear our case, and the court has granted an interim stay on construction while they consider whether or not to accept our appeal. So, for the moment, exterior alteration or demolition at 60-68 and 70-74 Gansevoort continues to be halted.
On April 11th, 2018, the Court of Appeals denied our motion to appeal. The Court, as is customary, provided no explanation for the denial. The Court also lifted the temporary stay, so Aurora is now free to start demolition of 70-74 Gansevoort Street and initiate work on the addition on top of 60-68 Gansevoort Street. Aurora still has to work within the terms of a Restrictive Declaration on this site which prohibits office use. We will remain vigilant to make sure that the Restrictive Declaration is properly enforced.
An amended version of the arguments we submitted to the New York State Supreme Court can be read here.
A supporting affidavit from Jay Shockley, the author of the Gansevoort Market Historic District designation report, can be read here.
A supporting affidavit from Dr. Helen Tangires, a leading expert in American public markets, can be read here.
A supporting affidavit from Andrew Dolkart, one of New York City’s most respected historic preservation experts, can be read here.
A copy of the affirmation we have filed with the Appellate Court asking that the emergency stay (which prohibits exterior construction or demolition at 60-68 Gansevoort Street and 70-74 Gansevoort Street) remain in effect until our appeal is concluded can be read here.