The three sites GVSHP fought to get placed back in the proposed South Village Historic District have now been restored to the proposal, and will be considered for landmark designation! Thank you to everyone who called and wrote the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Speaker Quinn to make this possible!
This is an enormous victory -- these three sites all contribute immensely to the history and character of the South Village, and each could and likely would be replaced with oversized, out-of-character development in the future without landmark protections. They are:
130-148 West Houston Street, between MacDougal and Sullivan Streets, were built in 1844 in conjunction with the adjacent, landmarked MacDougal Sullivan Gardens. Though altered, these four-story houses are closely intertwined with the development of the South Village, first as a merchant outpost and then as a center of Italian-American and immigrant life. Without landmark protections and under the existing zoning, new construction more than double the height of the existing buildings could be built here.
NYU Law School's Vanderbilt Hall is a 4 ½ story red-brick neo-Georgian style full-block "mini-quadrangle." Built in 1950, community pressure helped bring about a design which reflected the scale and architecture of the surrounding Village and Washington Square - a rarity for NYU, and for most post-war development. The Greenwich Village-born architect Otto Eggers chosen to design Vanderbilt had labored as a member of the New York City Arts Commission to preserve Washington Square, and made a career swimming against the architectural tide with historicist, contextual designs - an approach once shunned, now returning to architectural fashion. Without landmark protections, Vanderbilt Hall could be replaced by NYU with a 300 ft. tall tower of 300,000 square feet - roughly twice the height of the neighboring, hulking NYU Law School Furman Hall.
NYU's Kekorvian Center for Near Eastern Studies was designed in 1972 by Philip Johnson, considered one of the most influential architects of the second half of the 20th century. It was Johnson's fourth NYU building and his sole departure from the massive, red sandstone designs which included the controversial Bobst Library. Unlike those projects, however, Kevorkian received praise for its subtle monumentality, and combination of bold modernism and sensitive contextuality, continuing the roofline of the neighboring landmarked Judson Hall. Without landmark protections, this quiet presence on Washington Square South could be demolished and replaced or disfigured by NYU.
Read more about the history of each of these buildings HERE.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will soon vote to "calendar" the proposed district. Once the calendaring is approved, some preliminary protections take effect for the district, and a public hearing is expected in June, with a final vote deciding designation before the end of the year. The district includes over 250 buildings one more than a dozen blocks covering a broad array of the Village's history and architecture; images and more information are HERE.
The City has not yet agreed to consider the portion of our proposed South Village Historic District south of Houston Street for designation. Click to enlarge.
While there is much to celebrate with this step forward, there is still much to do. Until the LPC votes to designate the district, which is not expected until year's end, building in the district can be torn down and new construction can take place; building and demolition permits received before designation are also "grandfathered," and therefore can be used after the landmarking takes effect. Also, when the LPC does finally vote on the proposed district, they can reduce (but not expand) the boundaries, eliminating sites, so the final outcome is not yet guaranteed. And we must continue to fight to get the gravely endangered section of our proposed South Village Historic District south of Houston Street landmarked, which the City has not yet agreed to do.
But with your help we continue to make tremendous progress -- thank you for all your support!
If you would like to help GVSHP make more progress in protecting our neighborhoods, make a contribution HERE.