December 8, 2009

Dear friend,

This has been a challenging year for GVSHP, as the economic climate has forced us to do more with less, even as demand for our services have grown and hurdles facing our preservation efforts have remained strong. Nevertheless, GVSHP scored some critical victories in 2009, and we look toward even bigger challenges and bigger goals in the new year, our 30th anniversary year.
 
That's why I am asking you to consider a year-end contribution to GVSHP to help ensure we can continue our success and do even more in 2010.
 
Here is just some of what GVSHP accomplished this year:
  • South Village: Got the city to hold hearings on first phase of our proposed South Village Historic District, which would be the largest expansion of landmark protections downtown since 1969;  got the city to agree to pursue a "demolition by neglect" case against 43 MacDougal Street, a decayed landmarked 1846 house, in order to force owner to restore building

  • NYU:  Held a Town Hall meeting attended by over 250 people calling upon the university to halt its expansion in our neighborhoods and keep its promises regarding re-use of existing buildings and seeking alternative locations for facilities; exposed the university's hidden demolition of parts of the Provincetown Playhouse Theater which it pledged to preserve

  • Far West Village: Got the city to agree to rezone an outdated district in the Far West Village whichencourages oversized, out-of-character commercial development
  • Westbeth: Filed successful nomination for the entire complex to be placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, and got the city to finally keep its commitment to consider the complex for landmark designation; completed three-year project to document the groundbreaking history of Westbeth's transformation from a disused factory to affordable artists' housing, including interviews with Merce Cunningham and Richard Meier, all available on our website

  • St. Vincent's/Rudin: Joined leading preservation groups in filing a friend of the court brief challenging the city's finding of a "hardship" which could allow other non-profits and institutions to circumvent landmarks protections; identified serious flaws in environmental review for proposed zoning modifications and called for changes to more accurately measure potential impacts on neighborhood

  • The New School: University agreed to reduce and redesign plan for a massive new building at Fifth Avenue and 14th Street which GVSHP and neighbors opposed

  • Small Business Retention: Held three panel discussions with business leaders, government officials, and advocates on the plight of small businesses and joined with citywide coalition looking at measures to protect and promote such businesses in our neighborhoods

  • Meatpacking District: Led the opposition to zoning variances for a proposed 250 ft. tall glass tower with oversized retail space in its base, leading to a 64% reduction in the variances for the size of the building and a 50% reduction in the size of variances for the retail space

  • East Village: Got the city to commit to rezone the 3rd and 4th Avenue corridors to reduce the allowable size and height of new development; got the city to agree to hold hearing on landmarking endangered historic Russian Orthodox Cathedral at 59 East 2nd Street, which GVSHP proposed for landmark designation; supported successful landmark designation of several sites including LaMaMa Experimental Theatre at 74 East 4th Street and Isaac Hopper House at 110 Second Avenue.

  • Federal Houses: Secured landmark designation of another of thirteen federal houses (1790-1835) GVSHP proposed for landmark designation, and hearings on two others

  • Illegal Billboards: More than a half dozen signs erected without permits or in violation of zoning or landmark regulations targeted by GVSHP in the Far West, East, and South Village and Meatpacking District were removed, including some four stories tall

  • MTA Mulry Square Project: Helped lead community response to project which would require years of digging and construction in the heart of the Greenwich Village Historic District, calling for consideration of alternatives and better design choices by the agency

  • League of Preservation Voters: Co-sponsored a series of candidates forums and breakfasts and posted questionnaires from candidates, educating elected officials, candidates, and the public about on preservation issues

  • Public Outreach: Expanded resources available to public on website, including oral histories/interviews, interactive maps, and tapes and transcripts of public programs; attendance at public programs increased by more than 60%, while participation in children's education program's fall session increased by more than 85%.
But there is MUCH MORE to do in the coming year:
  • Respond to NYU's plans (to be released in 2010) to add as much as 3.6 million sq. ft. of new space in our neighborhood over the next 20 years, doubling their rate of growth over the last several decades

  • Get the city to move ahead swiftly with designation of the entire South Village as a historic district, and prevent further losses and demolitions in the neighborhood

  • Push the city and City Council to follow through on commitments to rezone the Hudson Square area, where 40+ story buildings are currently allowed, and to prevent abuses of zoning protections such as those allowed for the Trump SoHo 'Condo-Hotel'

  • Complete our historic resources survey of the entire East Village, documenting the history of every one of over 3,000 buildings, to formulate landmark and historic district proposals for the entire neighborhood

  • Continue to push for promised expanded landmark protections in the Far West Village, and for enactment of promised zoning changes as soon as possible

  • Continue to push for changes to the St. Vincent’s/Rudin plan (which still needs several approvals and faces a court challenge, both expected to be decided in 2010) to balance the need for new hospital facilities with neighborhood preservation concerns and maintaining the integrity of landmarks regulations.

  • Get the city to agree to rezone the Bowery, to preserve the thoroughfare's character and prevent out-of-scale development

  • Continue to monitor and respond to plans by the New School, to ensure that new development is sympathetic in character to surrounding neighborhood

  • Push for measures to help promote and preserve small businesses and small theaters in our neighborhoods, which have been increasingly threatened

  • Meet the growing public demand for the resources GVSHP provides by making more historic data, images, and interviews available through our website, increasing the number of public programs we provide, and increasing the number of student served by our Children's Education program

It will take a lot of work to respond to these challenges, and to build on our successes of the last year. 

That's why I would like to ask you to consider making a year-end contribution to GVSHP, to help ensure we can undertake and succeed in these and other important initiatives.  Just go to www.gvshp.org/membership to make a contribution.

Best wishes for the holiday season and for a joyous New Year.

 

Sincerely,

Andrew Berman
Executive Director 

To join GVSHP or support our preservation efforts, visit here.

Connect with GVSHP:

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