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For Immediate Release Contact: Andrew Berman 212/475-9585 x38
May 14, 2005 or 917/533-1767
VILLAGERS HOLD RALLY AND MARCH DEMANDING
THE CITY LANDMARK AND DOWNZONE
VILLAGE WATERFRONT AS PROMISED,
AND STOP "SUPER-SIZED" TOWERS FROM BEING BUILT
Manhattan -- The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) was joined today by the Greenwich Village Community Task Force, the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront and Great Port, and scores of Village residents for a march calling upon the City to immediately enact promised landmarking and downzoning measures to protect the neighborhood's waterfront from a massive wave of planned demolitions and development.
The rally began across from the site of the historic Superior Ink factory, a former Nabisco cracker bakery built in 1919 at West and West 12th Streets. Related Companies plans to tear down the factory to build a 270-ft. tall curving reflective glass tower, which would be by far the tallest building on the Greenwich Village waterfront. Marchers then headed south down West Street, past the glass high-rise Richard Meier towers – which began the recent transformation of the Village’s waterfront into what is now dubbed New York’s “condo coast” – to Charles Street. The march culminated in a rally at the site of another planned "blockbuster” at 150-160 Charles Street, where a 200-300 ft. tall development could replace a 3-story warehouse.
“A wonderful historic neighborhood is being destroyed by greedy developers and a lack of planning by the City,” stated GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman. “The City must step up to the plate and keep its promise to protect this neighborhood through the landmarking and downzoning protections we have called for and they have promised to enact. These huge ‘blockbuster’ developments are the exact antithesis of everything people love about the Village – the City must ensure that they are not built,” added Berman.
A giant photo-montage of what the proposed Related Companies development on the Superior Ink site would look like if built among the historic buildings of the Greenwich Village waterfront was on display at the rally. CLICK HERE for image. “I cannot think of a building more alien in its size, scale, or design to this neighborhood than the one which Related wants to put here,” said Berman.
Referring to the fact that Related is seeking a variance – or special exemption from the existing zoning – to allow a building larger than normally allowed on this site by claiming “economic hardship,” Berman stated that “this plan is not only an insult to our eyes, it’s an insult to our intelligence. If real estate giant Related expects us to believe that they are suffering an ‘economic hardship’ and should be given license to build an even larger development on this site, then I am sure they also have a bridge in Brooklyn they’d like to sell us.”
Late last year, Mayor Bloomberg told protestors at City Hall that he supported their call for landmarking and downzoning the neighborhood. Six months later, with several "super-sized" towers moving closer to realization, marchers called upon the Mayor to keep his word to protect this entire neighborhood before it is too late. “Mayor Bloomberg, you can act now to save this historic neighborhood, or you can be the Mayor who let the Far West Village succumb to crushing overdevelopment on his watch. If you don’t act right away, it will be too late,” stated Berman.
In addition to the two sites mentioned, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has identified six other historic buildings in this 14-block area that currently face the threat of demolition and out-of-scale new development. These include 397, 393, and 387 West 12th Street, 166 Perry Street, 164 Perry Street, and 178 Christopher Street. 163 Charles Street, an 1832 rowhouse GVSHP and advocates had fought to save, was demolished late last year over community protests and without intervention by the City.
While the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and allied neighborhood groups and elected officials have been pushing for specific landmarking and downzoning plans for the area for about a year and a half, calls to protect this historic neighborhood go back over 40 years. In 1963, urban planning pioneer Jane Jacobs urged the City to include the Greenwich Village waterfront in a contemplated Greenwich Village Historic District; when the landmark district was designated in 1969, the waterfront section of the neighborhood was excluded.
GVSHP’s campaign to save the Far West Village and Greenwich Village waterfront has generated thousands of letters, postcards, and e-mails to City officials in support of landmarking and downzoning the area. Hundreds more cards were distributed at the march and rally today.
CLICK HERE for a copy of GVSHP’s landmarking plan for the area. For further information on the fight to save this historic area, CLICK HERE.