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GVSHP Milestones and Victories

Since 1980, GVSHP has been a preservation leader in Greenwich Village. The following are some interesting milestones and important achievements.

2016

After a ten year effort, GVSHP finally secures landmark designation of the third and final phase of our proposed South Village Historic District, known as the Sullivan Thompson Historic District.  GVSHP also secures protections for the entire Greenwich Village waterfront from air rights transfers from the Hudson River Park, which had been made possible by 2013 state legislation, thus preventing as much as a million and a half feet of additional development in the Village’s westernmost blocks.  The Society also succeeds in getting massive planned “big box” stores and “destination retail,” which would generate huge amounts of traffic, eliminated from a proposed development on the St. John’s Terminal site at Houston and West Street.  Plans for 80-90 ft. tall glass and concrete towers to be added to 85-89 Jane Street in the Greenwich Village Historic District are disapproved after staunch opposition led by GVSHP.  The Society helps get the beloved Mosaic Lamposts returned to Astor Place after they were removed as part of a renovation of that intersection.  After a fourteen year effort, GVSHP secures landmark designation of 1819 federal house at 57 Sullivan Street, and issues report documenting the nearly one hundred fifty federal-era (1790-1835) houses the Society has been able to help get landmarked.  GVSHP also helped lead the opposition against the Mayor’s plans to roll back neighborhood zoning protections, successfully blocking most of the plan and leaving the majority of our zoning protections untouched.  The Society also helped lead the opposition to the City Council’s anti-landmarking, pro-demolition Intro. 775, getting the most onerous parts of the bill removed. GVSHP and partner Two Boots unveiled historic plaques marking the former homes and studios of artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Chaim Gross.

2015

In January GVSHP released its proposal for a contextual rezoning of the University Place and Broadway corridors to prevent developments like the 300 ft. tall tower planned for University Place and 12th Street.  The proposal quickly garnered strong support from the local community board and every city, state, and federal local elected official, though the City resisted.  In November GVSHP staged a demonstration calling for the city to finally move on the rezoning, joined by hundreds of local residents, elected officials, and actor and neighbor Edward Norton. GVSHP spent much of the year educating the public about and organizing the charge against the Mayor’s citywide rezoning plans, which would gut neighborhood zoning protections GVSHP and others fought years to achieve.  The plan was scaled back by the City, but still moved through the public review and approval process.  GVSHP continued to take on the Real Estate Board of NY’s (REBNY) false contentions that preservation undermined affordability, first issuing a report in April showing how REBNY is a key player in blocking the affordable housing agenda in Albany and New York City, and in September, GVSHP teamed up with a researcher whose work REBNY appropriated for a report purporting to show that landmarking hurt affordability to refute REBNY and the report’s claims.  GVSHP’s historic plaque program was expanded to mark the former Horatio Street home of James Baldwin and the former Fifth Avenue dance studio of Martha Graham.  In June, after a year-and-a-half campaign, GVSHP succeeded in getting the Stonewall Inn landmarked, the first site to ever be landmarked in New York City based upon LGBT history.  GVSHP led the charge against the anti-preservation, pro-demolition Intro. 775, helping to turnout hundreds to the City Council hearing at which several of the bill’s sponsors dropped their support for the bill and the bill’s authors agreed to amend the legislation.  In the fall GVSHP pushed for designation of four “last chance” landmarks – historic sites under consideration for landmark designation for between five and nearly fifty years which the City had previously proposed to simply remove from the list but which now, thanks to pushback from GVSHP and other preservationists, were getting public hearings and a vote on the merits from the Commission.  GVSHP helped lead the charge against a proposal for demolition and oversized development on Gansevoort Street in the Gansevoort Market Historic District which GVSHP proposed and got landmarked in 2003.  In September GVSHP made its historic image archive available to the public on-line for the first time, with a mapping tool, and in November released twenty new oral histories, largely focused on the East and South Village, to add to our oral history collection.

2014

In January, GVSHP and co-plaintiffs won in court against NYU’s 20 year expansion plan; the ruling was overturned at the appellate division, and at year’s end was awaiting appeal in the State’s highest court.  After a huge outcry, in December, the Landmarks Preservation Commission withdrew a plan adamantly opposed by GVSHP and other preservationists to “de-calendar” ninety-four individual sites and historic districts currently under consideration for landmark designation throughout the city. In July, GVSHP released a report showing how the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s early pre-notification of property owners and developers that they are considering  landmarking their sites has led to the loss of many important potential landmarks, and recommended changes to the Commission’s procedures. After nearly fifty years in “landmarks limbo,” in October the 1866 Tifereth Israel Synagogue at 334 East 14th Street was finally landmarked, following a campaign by GVSHP to get the building reconsidered for landmark designation after first being calendared in 1966. In March GVSHP’s book Greenwich Village Stories was released, a love letter to the Village and East Village consisting of sixty-six reminiscences and memories by artists, writers, actors, and performers connected to the neighborhood, including Lou Reed, Wynton Marsalis, Karen Finlay, and Mario Batali, with illustrations and photographs by Berenice Abbott, Allen Ginsberg, Rudy Burckhardt, Saul Leiter, Ruth Orkin, and Weegee, among many others. In September, GVSHP and our allies get the City to overturn Buildings Department approvals for a ‘dorm-for-hire’ in the old landmarked P.S. 64 at 605 East 9th Street, an approval which would have gutted hard fought for restrictions governing permits for dormitories. In June Governor Cuomo withdrew a plan adamantly opposed by GVSHP for the transfer of air rights from Pier 40 to the St. John’s Building across West Street without any public review or approval.  Community groups from Tribeca to Hell’s Kitchen support restrictions upon and alternatives to the transfer of air rights from the Hudson River Park put forward by GVSHP. In June, GVSHP and partners Two Boots place a historic plaque on the former home of poet Frank O’Hara on East 9th Street and in October on the former home of the Fillmore East on 2nd Avenue. In November, GVSHP launched its ‘Business of the Month’ program, celebrating, promoting, and supporting local independent small businesses. In May we defeated a zoning variance which would have allowed a 34% increase in the allowable size of a planned new glass office tower at 10th Avenue and 13th Street. In December the City Planning Commission approved a rezoning advocated by GVSHP of much of the block bounded by 14th and 15th Streets, 9th and 10th Avenues, limiting the allowable height of new development and preventing the transfer in of air rights from the Hudson River Park which 2013 State legislation would have allowed.  During the summer, work finally began upon the restoration of 43 MacDougal Street, a landmarked 1846 house which had been allowed to decay and deteriorate for years, and for which GVSHP had long sought the restoration. In June, GVSHP co-sponsored the Stonewall 45 Exhibit in storefronts along Christopher Street, designed to attract foot traffic to local merchants and highlight the street’s unique role in advancing the cause of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) civil rights. GVSHP began making video recordings of all of our public programs, as well as of Landmarks Preservation Commission hearings on items in our neighborhoods, available via our YouTube page.

2013

In December, GVSHP secured landmark designation of the new South Village Historic District, Phase II of our proposed South Village Historic District, a 250-building, 13-block district between Washington Square and Houston Street.  This was the largest expansion of landmark protections in Greenwich Village since 1969 and the brought to over 1,100 the number of buildings GVSHP helped get landmarked in the Village, East Village, and NoHo over the last ten years.  In December, New York State also approved GVSHP’s nomination of the entire South Village for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.  In November, GVSHP convened a Town Hall co-sponsored by twenty other West Side groups and attended by several hundred people about newly enacted state legislation which allows the transfer of air rights from the Hudson River Park for increased development inland; GVSHP made it a priority to mobilize and educate the public about this provision and its potential dangers, as well as to seek solutions for how to support the park without allowing overdevelopment of areas of our neighborhood adjacent to our waterfront.  In October, GVSHP organized a demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Real Estate Board of NY with affordable housing advocates to refute REBNY’s recently published reports claiming that landmarking negatively affected the affordability of neighborhoods in New York.  In October, GVSHP published its report “Ten Years – A Thousand Buildings Landmarked – A Hundred Blocks Rezoned” outlining the progress made during the Bloomberg Administration, as well as preservation priorities for the next several years.  In September, GVSHP exposed that City officials had completely ignored their commitments regarding the Trump SoHo and had never asked the developer to supply legally required independent audits to prove that zoning regulations were not being violated in the occupancy of the building.  In June, GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman was named to the Vanity Fair “Hall of Fame” for his work protecting and preserving the Village.  In February, after months of investigation, GVSHP revealed that community “givebacks” touted by the City Council in its approval of the upzoning of Chelsea Market, such as requiring that 75% of the ground floor market remain for food related uses, and excluding chain stores, were neither permanent nor guaranteed, as there was absolutely no enforcement mechanism attached requiring adherence to the agreement, although the rezoning granted for Chelsea Market was irreversible.

2012

GVSHP helped secure designation of the East Village/Lower East Side and East 10th Street Historic Districts, covering more than three-hundred fifty buildings on sixteen blocks.  These were the first new historic district designations in the East Village since 1969, and increased the historic district protections in the East Village tenfold – from forty buildings on three blocks to four hundred on nearly twenty.  GVSHP had helped get the districts expanded to include several key historic sites, including the Russian Orthodox Cathedral at 59 East 2nd Street, the former Magistrates Court at 32 2nd Avenue (now Anthology Film Archives) and 101 Avenue A; the district also included notable sites such as the Congregation Mezritch Synagogue and the Community Synagogue (both of which GVSHP had fought to landmark) and the former Fillmore East.  We secured a “Seven To Save” designation for the South Village, naming it one of the seven most important and endangered historic sites in New York State by the Preservation League of NY State, and launched a video campaign by notable actors, businesspeople, and community leaders to call for landmarking the area. GVSHP launched a historic plaque program along with the Two Boots Foundation.  After a six year campaign, we finally secured landmark status for 128 East 13th Street, the former studio of artist Frank Stella housed in the last surviving horse auction mart building in New York City, which served as a women’s assembly-line training center during World War II.  GVSHP secured groundbreaking determinations of eligibility for the State and National Registers of Historic Places for sites of significance to the LGBT civil rights movement, Julius’ Bar in the West Village and 186 Spring Street in the South Village.  The New School’s new main building topped out at 14th Street and 5th Avenue at roughly half the size and height originally proposed, and without the all-glass, multi-colored projecting lights originally planned, thanks in part to GVSHP’s efforts.  NYU’s massive twenty year expansion plan was approved by the Borough President, City Planning Commission, and City Council, but advocacy by GVSHP and others got the plan reduced by about 20% and eliminated elements like a planned 400 ft tall tower on Bleecker Street, the tallest ever in Greenwich Village.  GVSHP, NYU faculty, and a coalition of neighborhood and preservation groups filed a lawsuit to overturn the approvals.

2011

GVSHP celebrated the 20th anniversary of its groundbreaking Children’s Education Program; The Westbeth Artists Center was landmarked by the City, capping a seven-year advocacy campaign; GVSHP helped convince the City to expand proposed landmark protections in the East Village to include critical endangered cultural and religious sites; We completed a comprehensive historic resource survey of the East Village which will lead to broad-based landmarking proposals in addition to what the LPC is considering; GVSHP helped lead the public response to NYU’s massive expansion plans which were released at the end of the year; GVSHP helped pressure the City to reject an out-of-scale proposal for rooftop additions on the Puck Building; GVSHP launched its blog, Off the Grid, updated daily with fascinating facts, insight, and perspectives about the Village, East Village, NoHo, and the Meatpacking District, and their history; Our “Much Ado About Noshing” Benefit featuring Calvin Trillin and the Russ & Daughters family was a huge success.

2010

GVSHP celebrates its 30th anniversary. The first third of GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic District was landmarked by the city—the largest expansion of landmark protections downtown since 1969 and making the Greenwich Village Historic District far and away the largest in New York City. GVSHP led the response to NYU’s proposed massive 20-year expansion plan, holding town halls and rallies and helping to form a coalition of more than thirty community groups. Following this, NYU dropped its proposal for the tallest tower ever in the Village. After strong initial resistance, GVSHP got the city to rezone outdated districts in the Far West Village and along the 3rd and 4th Avenue corridors in the East Village which encouraged oversized, out-of-character commercial development. GVSHP held a first-of-its-kind artists loft tour of Westbeth to celebrate the 40th anniversary of complex’s adaptive reuse as artists’ housing. GVSHP also got the East Village’s last operating tenement synagogue and the Village’s last remaining fire patrol house ruled eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places. GVSHP launched a first-of-its-kind webpage allowing the public to review and track all major applications for changes to landmarked properties in Greenwich Village, NoHo, and the East Village, and provide feedback to community boards and the Landmarks Preservation Commission before decisions on applications are made.

2009

Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) holds hearing on first phase of GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic District. GVSHP discovers and exposes that NYU violated its promise and demolished part of the Provincetown Playhouse theater walls. City agrees to zoning changes GVSHP fought for in Far West Village and along 3rd and 4th Avenue corridors. GVSHP’s nomination of Westbeth to the State and National Register of Historic Places approved. New School announces plan for reduced and redesigned building at 14th Street and 5th Avenue, eliminating many elements from original 350 ft. tall plan to which GVSHP objected. GVSHP’s opposition leads to 64% reduction in the variances for planned glass office tower at 437 West 13th Street in Meatpacking District. Three more federal houses proposed for designation by GVSHP landmarked or under consideration. LPC agrees to consider East Village’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Martyr, proposed for landmark designation by GVSHP. Attendance at GVSHP’s public programs increases by 60%, while participation in children’s education program’s fall session increases by 85%.

2008

GVSHP secures a commitment from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to begin consideration of our proposed 38-block South Village Historic District, starting west of 6th Avenue. After five-year campaign by GVSHP, Silver Towers receives landmark designation by LPC, putting crimp in NYU’s plan for a 40-story tower — the Village’s tallest ever — on their open space on Bleecker Street. Webster Hall, a 120-year old gathering hall and theater in the East Village GVSHP had long sought to protect, is landmarked. Community groups including GVSHP and Community Board #3 secure passage of long-overdue East Village rezoning. “Bleecker Street: Rural Beginnings,” the third curriculum for GVSHP’s children’s education program, History and Historic Preservation, is developed. NoHo Historic District extended, long a goal of GVSHP; developer-requested carve-out blocked. Demolition of the Mezritch Synagogue, the East Village’s last operating “tenement synagogue,” is prevented and plan for condo-tower atop the historic Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection at 59 E. 2nd St is blocked. GVSHP pushes NYU to seek remote locations for new facilities, helping lead to two new dorms being located outside of the Village. GVSHP nearly doubles the number of programs and events it sponsors and attendance rises nearly 30%.

2007

GVSHP honored with the Preservation League of New York State Excellence in Historic Preservation Award. GVSHP submits proposal for South Village Historic District to the Landmarks Preservation Committee, based on research undertaken in 2003 funded by the Preservation League of New York State. The Italians of the South Village, a report written by historian Mary Elizabeth Brown and funded by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, is released by GVSHP at a public meeting at Father Demo Square on Columbus Day.

2006

After years of research and advocacy work by GVSHP, the Greenwich Village Historic District is extended for the first time in its history to include three blocks in the Far West Village, and the Weehawken Street Historic District is designated the first new district in the West Village since 1969. GVSHP receives the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, in recognition of the organization’s work to save the Greenwich Village waterfront, and named “Best of New York City” by the Village Voice.

2005

Spurred by GVSHP’s campaign, the City votes to downzone (impose stricter building height and size caps) the Far West Village, the first such downzoning in Manhattan in recent memory. The City also commits to extend landmark protections to several dozen buildings on ten blocks in the Far West Village. GVSHP begins research for a study on the history of Italian American immigrants in the South Village with a grant from the J.M. Kaplan Fund. Another Federal style house, 67 Greenwich Street, is designated a New York City individual landmark.

2004

GVSHP begins its “Campaign to Save the Far West Village,” a proposal for historic district designation and zoning protections for much of the area. Campaign scores a quick victory by defeating a new version of the plan for a 500-foot building in the Gansevoort Market Historic District, which would have included luxury condos. The Landmarks Preservation Commission designates four early 19th century Federal style houses at 127, 129, and 131 MacDougal Street and 4 St. Mark’s Place as individual landmarks.

2003

The Gansevoort Market Historic District is designated in a unanimous vote by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the first new historic district in Greenwich Village since 1969. Also in the Meatpacking District, a GVSHP-led coalition defeats variance for 500-foot tower. GVSHP and the New York Landmarks Conservancy call upon the city to protect thirteen outstanding Federal-style row houses in Lower Manhattan by designating them as landmarks. The Preservation League of New York State awards GVSHP a grant to conduct a historical, architectural, and cultural survey of the South Village. GVSHP begins partnership with the GO (Grace Opportunity) Project, offering our children’s education program, History and Historic Preservation, free of charge to over 150 at-risk students enrolled in the program.

2002

At GVSHP’s invitation, the entire Gansevoort Market is determined eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and is named one of 2002’s “Seven to Save” by the Preservation League of New York State. This is the first time a site in the Village makes this list of New York State’s most important endangered historic sites and the first new area of the Village determined eligible for the State and National Registers in thirty years.

2001

The Gansevoort Market Task Force submits a completed architectural and historical report to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

2000

GVSHP forms the Save Gansevoort Market Task Force to research, advocate, and garner support for the historic designation for the Meatpacking District. Architectural historian Thomas Mellins begins a report for submission to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

1999

GVSHP moves into its current home in the Neighborhood Preservation Center in the East Village. After a successful proposal written by architectural historian Andrew S. Dolkart and sponsored by GVSHP and the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects and Designers, Stonewall (the area includes the Stonewall Inn and adjacent public space) is added to the National Register of Historic Places. This is the first site listed on the National Register for its association with gay and lesbian history. GVSHP hosts its first house tour benefit, Adaptive Re-use, from Stable to Studio, to benefit the preservation our work.

1997-1998

With a generous grant from the Vincent Astor Foundation, GVSHP and the Village Committee for the Jefferson Market Area installs a new wrought iron and steel fence around the Jefferson Market Garden.

1995

GVSHP designs and publishes a 12-page children’s workbook, “Discovering Greenwich Village,” for distribution to children in the school program. With funding from Preserve NY, a grant program of the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts, GVSHP begins the process of documenting all of the surviving Federal style houses in Lower Manhattan, with an eye toward seeing them designated and preserved.

1994

The Greenwich Village Historic District is twenty-five years old. A new Preservation Committee begins to focus on preservation issues in the Village and expands GVSHP’s relations with other preservation organizations and committees city-wide.

1991

GVSHP, with the Merchant’s House Museum, launches an elementary school program, “Greenwich Village: History and Historic Preservation.” GVSHP presents its First Annual Village Awards.

1988-1990

GVSHP presents a comprehensive report on the architecture of the Greenwich Village waterfront area to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Architecture of the Greenwich Village Waterfront, published by NYU Press and an exhibition on the cultural and architectural history of the waterfront at the Municipal Art Society both help advance the goal of creating a waterfront historic district.

1986

GVSHP conducts building research on Bleecker Street from the Bowery to 7th Avenue, and Broadway from Houston to 14th Street.

1984

GVT changes its name to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP).

1983

GVT sponsors a study of the history and architecture of the Gansevoort Meat Market in collaboration with Columbia University’s graduate program in historic preservation.

1982

Regina Kellerman is named as the first executive director, and the office moves to the Salmagundi Club on 5th Avenue. GVT begins sponsoring lectures on Greenwich Village history.

1980

GVSHP is founded as the Greenwich Village Trust for Historic Preservation (GVT).




Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Robert Tierney and GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman after the LPC votes to create the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension and the Weekhawken Street Historic District.


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