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The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
 
 
21 August 2009

In This Issue

NYU Breaks Promise To Preserve Playhouse Walls

MePa Glass Tower Plan Trimmed
New Dangers to Landmarked 43 MacDougal

NYU Breaks Promise To Preserve Provincetown Playhouse Walls

Last week GVSHP discovered that NYU had broken its commitment to preserve the walls of historic shell of the the Provincetown Playhouse Theater; neighbors sent GVSHP pictures showing that, behind its construction walls, NYU had dismantled large chunks of the theater’s north wall. In 2008 NYU promised to preserve all four walls and the entrance to the theater (see highlighted area in photo), even as it demolished the other 94% of the building in which the theater was located at 133-139 MacDougal Street. GVSHP and many others objected to this plan, but with approval by the local community board, it went forward. Now NYU claims that with the rest of the building demolished, sections of the the walls of the theater were found to be “structurally in very poor condition” and thus were removed.
 
This calls into serious question, yet again, NYU’s willingness and ability to keep its word and to be honest in its dealings with the public. See the letter on this and other recent NYU issues from GVSHP to Borough President Scott Stringer, who chairs the Community Task Force on NYU Development, of which GVSHP is a member. Borough President Stringer has written to NYU President Sexton regarding the university’s destruction of the Playhouse walls. See coverage in the Architect’s Newspaper, the New York Press, and The Villager.
 
Later this year, NYU is supposed to put out its final 2031 Expansion Plan for adding 6 million square feet of space, as much as 60% of which may be located in the Village. GVSHP has been working with a coalition of community groups to push NYU to curb its expansion in our neighborhoods, and seek alternate locations for its growth. We are urging the city, local elected officials, and other members of the NYU Task Force to join in this call.

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Glass Tower Plan for 437 West 13th Street in the Meatpacking District Trimmed

GVSHP has led the opposition to the variances being sought for a glass tower development at 437 West 13th Street, which would allow the building to be 55% larger than allowed by zoning, and have triple the allowable retail space. The Board of Standards and Appeals, which decides variances, has expressed a great deal of skepticism about the developer’s claim of ‘economic hardship,’ which must be proven in order to get the variances. At a recent hearing the developer trimmed the requested bulk variance from 55% to 42%, lowering the proposed height of the building from 215 ft. to 201 ft. While this is a good indication of the resistance this application is facing, GVSHP remains opposed to any variance to allow an increase in the allowable size of the development, or to increase the allowable retail space, which would significantly impact neighborhood character and traffic. 
 
Read the coverage in The Villager; for more information, CLICK HERE.

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New Dangers to Landmarked 43 MacDougal Street

GVSHP and neighbors have long fought to have the city take action against the owner of the landmarked 43 MacDougal Street, an 1846 house which has been abandoned for many years.  Frequently left open to the elements and intruders, the building has become a health and safety threat to its neighbors, and GVSHP is concerned that irreparable damage is being done to the historic building. GVSHP has succeeded in getting city agencies to issue fines against the owner, seal the building, erect a sidewalk shed to protect passersby, and begin initiation of a “demolition by neglect” lawsuit, which charges the owner with allowing a landmarked building to be demolished due to neglect, and forces them to make repairs. 
 
In spite of this, the building continues to deteriorate, and most recently water collecting on the roof has led to warping of the facade, graffiti has appeared on the building’s upper floors, and there is clear evidence of squatters living on the city-installed sidewalk shed and possibly within the building. This presents the very real threat of immediate safety hazards for the building and its neighbors.
 


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The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
232 East 11 Street, New York, NY 10003 : 212.475.9585 : gvshp@gvshp.org

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