Upcoming public meeting on New School building
GVSHP urges you to attend a very important public meeting next Thursday, March 13 at 6 P.M. in the New School’s Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, regarding a proposal by the New School to build a large new building at the corner of 14th Street and 5th Avenue. This would be by far one of the largest buildings ever in our neighborhood, but certain aspects of the proposed development require variances, or exemptions from zoning regulations, in order to move ahead, giving us an ability to affect the final outcome. See flyer at right (click on it to enlarge).
Background: The New School wants to replace its Albert List building at 65 Fifth Avenue with a new main campus building. Using air rights they are purchasing from adjacent properties, The New School intends to construct a building which would rise 300 feet straight up on 13th and 14th Streets and 5th Avenue, with another 50 feet of enclosed mechanical equipment set back above that. By comparison, the other three buildings around the intersection of 5th Avenue and 14th Street are between 130 and 170 feet tall. Current plans also show the proposed new building would also be almost entirely glass on the exterior.
The site is not located within the Greenwich Village Historic District, nor does it have contextual zoning which would impose an absolute height limit, and the zoning does allow for a building of a fairly substantial size at this very prominent intersection. In other words, The New School can build a fairly large building of any design they like here without needing any public approvals.
However, their particular building plan does require at least two zoning variances. The zoning for the site requires that a new building set back after a certain height rather than rising straight up for 300 feet as planned. The zoning also does not allow them to move bulk, including much of the air rights they are purchasing, from the eastern 1/3 of the site, which is in one zoning district, to the western 2/3 of the site, which is in another zoning district. To get these variances, The New School must, among other things, prove that they face a “financial hardship” which is not self-imposed, which requires them to violate the zoning for the site in order to fulfill the mission of the school. The New School has announced that they intend to file for their zoning variances in the fall, which would require public hearings and approval of the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals.
GVSHP has consistently raised concerns about the project with The New School, including the all-glass facade, and the extreme massiveness of the proposed building, which would dwarf most buildings around it. The New School has responded to concerns expressed by GVSHP and others about their initial plan to have different colored lights projecting from the building by removing that element from the plan. However, the all-glass facade remains, and the estimated size of the new building has not only not shrunk, it has actually grown.
We hope to see you on the 13th.