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January 23, 2009
Good news! Last night, Community Board #2 voted to reject variances to allow a 55% increase in the size of a planned development at 437 West 13th Street (at Washington Street) in the Meatpacking District. GVSHP and its members had pushed hard to get the Community Board to reverse a unanimous vote by its Zoning Committee to support almost all the variances requested by the developer.
The owner of 437-51 West 13th Street is proposing to demolish the historic meatmarket buildings on the site and build a 215 ft. tall office tower with a 3-story big-box retail space in its base. The proposed building would be 55% larger than the zoning allows, and the retail space three times the size the zoning allows. The design of the proposed building would be all- glass on three sides with a 215 ft. tall blank windowless wall directly abutting the Gansevoort Market Historic District, to which GVSHP also objected. The building would replace the current Art Deco meat market buildings which are located in the Gansevoort Market State and National Register Historic District, and which were intended to be in the NYC Gansevoort Market Historic District (which would have prevented demolition), but were removed from the proposed district by the City after heavy lobbying by the owner.
The Community Board did vote to support doubling the size of allowable retail space, as opposed to tripling the size as the developer requested (or no increase, as GVSHP had urged). The variances will now go to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which will decide whether or not to allow the increased bulk and retail size the developer is asking for. When that hearing has been scheduled, we will let you know.
Thank you to all the GVSHP members and supporters who turned out to these hearings and wrote the Community Board with your concerns. See entries at the New York Times, Jeremiah's Vanishing New York and Curbed for more.