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Press Release: Village Group Hails Reversal of City Ruling It Fought Which Would Have Allowed Hi-Rise Residential Development in Manufacturing Zones

l - r: members of UFCW Local 342; Andrew Berman, Executive Director, GVSHP; State Senator Thomas Duane; Congress Member Jerrold Nadler; City Council Member Christine Quinn; Assembly Member Deborah Glick

Manhattan -- Save Gansevoort Market and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (SGM/GVSHP) were joined by scores of meatpackers and the Meatpackers Union (UFCW Local 342), Congress Member Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Tom Duane, Council Member Christine Quinn, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, the Historic Districts Council, merchants and residents for a rally today to expose and condemn a plan by a developer to circumvent the law and build a 450 foot tall residential high rise at 848 Washington Street in the meatpacking district.  SGM/GVSHP obtained a document showing that the Department of Buildings (DOB) was colluding with the developer to skirt the law and bypass public review procedures by claiming he was building an as-of-right hotel, when in fact the development would be about half apartments (CLICK HERE TO VIEW DOCUMENT). 

The M1-5 zoning for the area prohibits residential development, although it does allow hotel development.  The developer failed in his attempts earlier this year to get a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals to allow residential development after an enormous outcry from the preservationists, meatpackers, merchants, residents, and elected officials gathered at today's press conference, among others (CLICK HERE FOR WITHDRAWAL LETTER). 

SGM/GVSHP today released a letter co-signed by Congress Member Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Tom Duane, City Council Member Christine Quinn, and Assembly Member Deborah Glick asking the Mayor to intervene and prevent DOB from approving this end run around the law, (CLICK HERE FOR LETTER) pointing out that the Mayor himself and several of his agencies have stated strong support for preserving the mix of uses, the scale, and the historic features of this neighborhood (click HERE and HERE for examples).  SGM/GVSHP also released letters to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, which just a month a go designated much of this neighborhood a historic district, urging them to move forward on designating the block including the proposed development and adjacent blocks part of the new historic district (CLICK HERE FOR LETTER).  These blocks were part of the originally proposed historic district and contain historic buildings which were, along with the rest of the neighborhood, determined eligible for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places by the New York State officials.

"With the Department of Buildings� help, this developer is trying to sneak a 450 foot tall trojan horse into the Meatpacking District, and we are here to expose this fraud," said GVSHP and SGM Executive Director Andrew Berman.  "This plan is a dangerous scam and an utter sham;" continued Berman, "it would result in the destruction of the 50 meatpacking businesses in the neighborhood and the 500 unionized jobs they provide, as well as pushing dozens of bars, clubs, restaurants, and other businesses out of the area.  These are businesses which located here legally knowing that residential development is prohibited in the Meatpacking district, to avoid the conflicts about noise, truck deliveries, and late night traffic which they would face if they were located virtually anyplace else in Manhattan." 

The proposed development is located directly across the street from more than a dozen meatpacking businesses.  During the early morning hours, streets around the proposed development�s location are packed with noisy, idling meat delivery trucks, the streets are virtually impassable due to the sidewalk meatpacking activity, and the gutters run deep with the stench of meat, blood and guts.  It is almost impossible for any other type of foot or vehicular traffic to move in the area during the morning hours due to the intense delivery activity for the meatpacking businesses, which would severely impact any hotel or residential development at this location.  Additionally, a center of late night revelry (especially for motorcyclists), the Hogs and Heifers Bar is located right across the intersection from the site, and a dozen more late night bars and clubs are within just a few blocks. 

"It'll be like oil and water � luxury apartment dwellers and this grungy, noisy, smelly environment just won't mix.  And we know who will get pushed out -- the legitimate businesses who have been here for years, and give the area its unmistakable character," said Jo Hamilton, Save Gansevoort Market Co-Chair and GVSHP Board member.

The proposed development is also located directly across the street from the city�s newest designated historic district, the Gansevoort Market Historic District, approved by the City September 9th.  The proposed tower is located on a block originally proposed for inclusion in the historic district, but not included in the final version of the district (CLICK HERE FOR MAP). 

�It would be an utter travesty to designate this area a historic district one day, and then practically the next day allow a developer to make an end-run around the law and build a 450 foot tall high rise to tower over it," said Berman.  "The buildings on this development site have already been deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  We call upon the City to act swiftly to add these and nearby blocks to the Gansevoort Market Historic District, as they were originally proposed to be, to ensure that the integrity, scale, and feel of this area is not destroyed by one unscrupulous developer," he continued.

At 450 feet tall, the tower, to be developed by Stephen Touhey's �Landmark Development LLC,� would be the tallest building in Manhattan between Midtown and Downtown.  "The scale is wrong, the use if wrong, the location is wrong.  We already won this battle fair and square at the Board of Standards and Appeals, and now this guy is trying to get around the law.  He can call it what he wants � a 450 foot tall residential high rise will destroy this neighborhood and its businesses, just after the City made a commitment to preserving them.  It's a Trojan horse, and we're not going to fall for it," proclaimed Berman. 

Withdrawal of Tower's BSA Variance Application, March 2003


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