The South Village is one of the most historic and beloved parts of our neighborhood and our city. For more than a century the cradle of innovations in theater, literature, music, art, and politics, as well as the home to generations of hard-working immigrants, the South Village has long been defined by low-rise rowhouses and tenements. Left out of the Greenwich Village Historic District in 1969, GVSHP proposed a historic district covering the entire area in 2006, and was able to get the City to landmark two parts of that proposed historic district in 2010 and 2013. But the City has not yet designated a third and final phase of our proposed historic district, and has thus far been unwilling to move on a proposal by GVSHP for zoning protections for the neighborhood that would prevent out-of-scale new development.
As a result, threats to the neighborhood continue. GVSHP has discovered that plans have been filed for an 8-story building to replace 134 West Houston Street, part of a row of ten 3 1/2-story altered early 19th century houses between MacDougal and Sullivan Streets (GVSHP monitors for new building and demolition permit applications for every one of the more than 6,000 buildings in our neighborhood every day). 134 West Houston Street borders the tiny MacDougal Sullivan Gardens Historic District, a collection of twenty-two 3 1/2-story early 19th century houses built in conjunction with the 134 West Houston Street row, which was one of New York’s first designated historic districts. GVSHP fought to have 134 West Houston Street and the surrounding blockfront included in the South Village Historic District designated in 2013, but after initially agreeing to consider them the City excluded this row of houses from the landmark district at the final vote.
GVSHP recently met with the new Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair to stress the importance of landmarking the remaining parts of our proposed South Village Historic District, and continues to push hard for the City to consider our contextual rezoning plan for the South Village. Under our rezoning proposal, a development of the scale planned at 134 West Houston Street would not be possible; unfortunately, under the existing zoning, and lacking landmark protections, a development of the scale planned for this site is currently allowable without any public review or special approvals.
134 West Houston Street is far from the only site in the South Village threatened with inappropriate development, or where historic buildings have been lost. Nearby, three other 19th century houses at 178 Bleecker Street, 186 Spring Street, and 54 MacDougal Street were demolished. At 178 Bleecker Street, at the northern end of the 134 West Houston Street block, a 74-ft. tall building is being constructed; 186 Spring and 54 MacDougal Street, which each dated to the early 19th century, remain holes in the ground after the historic structures were demolished, with development plans in limbo.
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