Important Update on the Gansevoort Lawsuit

photo: Djmutex
photo: Djmutex

There have been important developments in the past several weeks regarding the lawsuit brought by Save Gansevoort and the Historic Districts Council to stop the massive Gansevoort development.  Here’s an update.

On March 27th, the New York State Supreme Court ruled against our suit to overturn the Landmark Preservation Commission’s approval of Aurora Capital’s huge Gansevoort Street project.  In approving this proposal, the LPC essentially undid important elements of its own designation of the Gansevoort Market Historic District, a designation that occurred just 13 years ago in September 2003. 

We have filed an appeal of the lower court decision, and on April 4th the Appellate Court granted us an emergency stay to stop any exterior construction or demolition work at 60-68 Gansevoort Street and 70-74 Gansevoort Street.

This is great news, but we now need the Court to continue that stay through the appeal process – otherwise, two landmark, historic, irreplaceable market buildings will be destroyed, along with the heart of the Gansevoort Market Historic District.

It is our belief that the lower court decision failed to properly interpret New York City’s Landmarks law.  We are fighting to save one of the last surviving market districts in New York City, and our appeal has the potential to set important precedents for historic districts across the city.  We make multiple arguments, but here are three key points: 

1. Our appeal challenges the assertion that a “no-style” architectural designation automatically allows the Landmarks Preservation Commission to approve a building’s demolition.  In addition to architectural importance, the landmarks law lists eight other criteria of equal importance, such as historical and cultural significance.  These other eight criteria must also be considered before a building may be demolished.

2. Our appeal challenges the LPC’s absurd ruling that the history of the Gansevoort Market Historic District consists of four equally significant periods, and that the previously-existing tenement buildings were as important to the District’s history as the current low-lying market buildings.  This represents a complete misreading of the designation report. It would allow developers to “cherry pick” from any era in a district’s history to justify inappropriate new construction, even if that era was not the reason for the district’s designation.  This would put every historic district at risk. 

3. The lower court erred in determining that so long as the Landmarks Preservation Commission holds extensive hearings and requests at least one modification to a proposed design, its decisions are immune from court review.

The Save Gansevoort lawsuit is one of multiple lawsuits filed against the LPC and other agencies and commissions over a series of unprecedented decisions by the City to grant permission to private real estate developers to develop and convert landmark properties.  Not coincidentally, as with so many of the other controversial decisions by the City favoring real estate developers over the last two years, Capalino & Company was one of the registered lobbyists for the developer on this project, hired for the ostensible purpose of facilitating the approval that the LPC issued.

A copy of the affirmation we have filed in support of our request for a stay pending appeal can be found here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

If you would like to help support our fight, please make a donation here.

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