This article from the Real Deal questions whether our mayor and his Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, are really committed to historic preservation. When de Blasio was a public advocate he was a supporter. Now that he’s Mayor, preservation seems a low priority:
Bill de Blasio can be “very eloquent” on preservation issues. Or at least he was as public advocate. But since he took over City Hall, preservationists like New York Landmarks Conservancy President Peg Breen have noticed, “It’s clearly not one of his major topics[…] He’s more or less silent on it.”
What’s more, his administration has made some moves that generated dismay. Most notably, shortly after de Blasio appointed Meenakshi Srinivasan as the chair of the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, she proposed to “de-calendar” almost 100 sites and neighborhoods waiting for historic designation, including some that had languished for decades. “We wanted to address the issue of backlog,” Srinivasan told The Real Deal, a situation both sides said needed to be addressed.
After opposition from preservationists, the commissioner, a trained architect who previously served as chair of the city Board of Standards and Appeals, withdrew the plan and asked for input from the community on how to address the matter. “She got off on shaky footing,” said Peter Bray, a Park Slope Civic Council trustee.
DNA Info reports on last week’s community presentation by Aurora Capital of their plans for massive new buildings on the south side of Gansevoort Street:
Just 10 minutes into describing a new Gansevoort Street development, the architect’s presentation was already going off the rails. Harry Kendall, a partner at BKSK Architects, broke off mid-sentence from the first slide and turned to a cluster of women.
“Don’t shake your head,” he urged, offering an anecdote about his jury duty service that morning. “The underlying basis of our justice system is innocent until proven guilty,” he said, drawing a few laughs before the women interrupted with a chorus of “Guilty!” Kendall said it was “disconcerting” and “unkind” of the women to judge his plan so quickly…
The meeting represented Aurora’s attempt to woo skeptical locals, who had loosely organized under the banner Save Gansevoort. “We’re hoping to position the block as multiple luxury retail tenants,” said Jared Epstein of Aurora, the developer of several buildings nearby including one on Ninth Avenue where a construction worker was killed in April. “Gansevoort Street has been a blight on the community,” Epstein continued to gasps and grumbling. “There’s nightclubs there. There are buildings that have been boarded up.”
The Greenwich Village Society For Historic Preservation has sent a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission strongly urging that they reject the proposal from Aurora Capital to build a massive mall development on landmarked Ganseoort Street. We couldn’t say it better ourselves:
The current plan, which would involve the demolition of two buildings on Gansevoort Street, the construction of two new buildings, one at the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Street reaching approximately 120 feet in height, and the addition of four stories on top of the iconic row of two story market buildings at 60-68 Gansevoort Street, runs completely contrary to the entire purpose of the designation of the Gansevoort Market Historic District, and would destroy many of the very features the district is intended to celebrate and preserve. As the organization which originally proposed and, along with many others, fought for the designation of this district, we would find the approval of this plan or any plan which includes these basic components a tragic and devastating blow not only to the Gansevoort Market Historic District, but to landmark designation and historic preservation in New York City.
Gansevoort Street forms the heart of the Gansevoort Market Historic District, and its cobblestoned street surrounded by low-scaled market buildings encapsulates exactly what is so unique, visually pleasing, and historically significant about the Meatpacking District. This proposal would erase many of these key elements and features. Transforming the row of two-story market buildings at 60-68 Gansevoort Street into a six-story building merged with a new, adjoining 8-story, 120 foot tall structure would completely change the scale and feel of this block which serves as a gateway for thousands of people each day to and from the Meatpacking District, the rest of the West Village, the High Line, the Whitney Museum, and the Hudson River Park.
The headline says it all:
Concerned residents living in and near the district packed a room above the Gansevoort Market food court on the evening of Tues., Aug. 18, to hear the developer’s proposal for a row of new buildings that will reach up to eight stories and replace some of the one- and two-story market buildings that currently line the block, between Greenwich and Washington Sts.
“I think Gansevoort St. has been a blight for the community,” Jared Epstein, vice president and principal at Aurora Capital Associates, told the meeting.
There was a GREAT turnout for the community meeting with the Gansevoort Towers developer; the room was packed. The project is even worse than we thought. Our guesses about the heights of the buildings were close (they will be about 111′ and 88′) but we were surprised by how massive they are – these things are ugly. We’ve posted all the details of the project on our Proposed Gansevoort Towers page.
Aurora/Gottlieb and their architect, BSK Architects, will be giving a detailed presentation of their plans for the entire block on the south side of Gansevoort Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets. This will be an opportunity to learn exactly what the developer hopes to do, and to ask questions.
All are welcome.
The meeting will be held at 58 Gansevoort Street, 2nd Floor, above Gansevoort Market, on Tuesday August 18th at 6.30pm.
See you there!
The facebook event page can be found here:
There is growing opposition from preservationists and neighbors to the proposed development of Gansevoort Street South . Widespread concern is turning to action among community members who have formed savegansevoort.org and started an online petition. And other organizations are now getting involved:
This new proposal is really a bridge too far,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation…“It would seem to almost obviate the notion of this being in a historic district at all.
Manslaughter charges have been filed against two contractors at the site being developed by Aurora/Gottlieb on Ninth Avenue in The Meatpacking District. The same developers (and architect) are behind the proposed towers on the south side of Gansevoort Street. The charges arise from the treacherous conditions that existed during excavation inside the old Pastis building, resulting in the death of a worker.
From The New York Times:
The worker who died, Carlos Moncayo, 22, an Ecuadorean immigrant who lived in Queens, was crushed by thousands of pounds of dirt when the walls of a site in the meatpacking district, steps from the High Line, collapsed around him on April 6.
Prosecutors said on Wednesday that the two managers — Wilmer Cueva, of Sky Materials, and Alfonso Prestia, of Harco Construction — had ignored repeated warnings for months from private inspectors that treacherous conditions existed at the site on Ninth Avenue.
“Carlos Moncayo’s death at a construction site was tragic, but it was also foreseeable and avoidable,” said Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance in a statement. “As detailed in court documents, repeated warnings about safety hazards at 9-19 Ninth Avenue were issued in the months, weeks, and even minutes before a trench collapsed, killing Mr. Moncayo.”