CB 2 votes to approve NYU’s plan for demolition
The historic Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments, 133-139 MacDougal Street, with area NYU has proposed to preserve highlighted
Last night Community Board #2 voted to approve NYU’s plan for demolition of 133-139 MacDougal Street, the Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments; with this approval, it is expected that NYU will move ahead with its plan.
Several weeks ago, after an enormous public outcry led by GVSHP, NYU did agree to preserve the four walls and entry facade of the theater portion of the building, although NYU originally claimed there was nothing worth preserving about the theater. But NYU has continued to refuse to preserve the remainder of the building, which has been called “the cornerstone of bohemia,” “the heart of cultural life of the Village,” and “the center of much of the resurgence and renaissance associated with Greenwich Village” by scholars and historians. Because of the historic significance of the building, and because NYU pledged to community groups, the Community Board, and elected officials to “prioritize re-use before new development” as part of the “planning principles” it agreed to, GVSHP felt it was critical that NYU be called upon to re-use rather than demolish this building. Many community groups, preservationists, theater advocates, historians and neighbors joined GVSHP in this call.
During last night’s Community Board public hearing, speaker after speaker urged NYU’s demolition plan NOT be approved and the ENTIRE building be preserved; only NYU and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office spoke in favor of the current plan. At last month’s Community Board #2 Institutions Committee public hearing on this issue, the majority of speakers strongly opposed the current NYU plan; at the hearing and press conference beforehand, opponents included Actor/NYU alumni John Leguizamo, playwrights Bill C. Davis and Richard Vetere, and Writer/Producer Tom Fontana. Yvette Eastman, the widow of Max Eastman, one of the original Provincetown Players, also attended the public hearing to show support for preserving the entire building.
Ironically, the approval of NYU’s plan to demolish most of the building came just after the New York State Historic Preservation Office, in response to a request from GVSHP, declared that the entire building qualified for the State and National Register of Historic Places due to its historic significance. This finding was shared with the Community Board, along with other concerns that GVSHP had about the plan. On a positive note, the State’s determination means that NYU cannot use State or Federal money for their plan without going through a historic preservation review and approval process, which would allow GVSHP and the public further opportunity to affect the plan.