Undulating glass tower approved
A few hours after approving the historic extension of landmark protections to the Far West Village, the LPC also approved a controversial design for an undulating glass tower on a parking lot at 122 Greenwich Avenue (at 8th Avenue and 13th Street – for pictures, CLICK HERE. GVSHP had expressed deep concerns to the LPC about the proposed design and its inappropriateness for the Greenwich Village Historic District, and had urged the Commission to reject or alter the design to make it more in keeping with the character of the historic district. Council Speaker Quinn, Borough President Stringer, State Senator Duane, and Assemblymember Glick, as well as a broad array of local and citywide preservation organizations, had also urged the Commission to reject the design as is.
We are very concerned about this approval for several reasons, and wrote to the LPC Chair after the last hearing on this item when it seemed clear that the Commission was moving towards approval to express these concerns (CLICK HERE). Special thanks go to State Senator Duane and Assembly Member Glick, who also sent similar follow-up letters to the LPC. We feel very strongly that the purpose of historic districts, which cover only about 2% of New York City, is to preserve and reinforce the unique historic character of areas containing some special significance. It is hard to imagine how an undulating glass tower, even on what is now a parking lot, accomplishes that goal, and we believe there could have been many other more appropriate options for a design on this site. Also, the success of the landmarks system depends upon the willingness of owners to accept the burden of regulation and the requirement for maintaining the historic integrity of properties which comes with it. GVSHP is concerned that approval of a design such as this not only undermines the integrity and character of this historic district, but may reduce the willingness of owners to support and abide by the system if they do not feel that its provisions are being applied consistently and fairly.
The design for 122 Greenwich Avenue will still require a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals to build about 15 feet higher and slightly larger than the underlying zoning for the site allows. That will require a public hearing at the Community Board and the Board of Standards and Appeals, though no date has yet been set. Should the BSA reject the variance, it would reduce the size of the building slightly, but not necessarily prevent the development or the approved design from getting built. GVSHP will keep you posted when the dates for these hearings are set.
Funding for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s work to preserve the Far West Village comes from the Kaplen Foundation, the Flora Family Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and GVSHP’s members.