The Greenwich Village Societyfor Historic Preservation
gansevoort Gansevoort

Fighting the 450 ft tall Residential/Hotel Project

in the Meat Market

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Hearing on Landmarking of Meatpacking District Remains Set for March 18 at 9:30 am Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1 Centre Street

Greenwich Village -- Lawyers for the developer of the proposed 450 foot tall luxury high rise in the Meat Packing district withdrew their application today for a variance needed to allow this project to go forward (see attached letter to the Board of Standards and Appeals [BSA]). Today was the last day for public comment on this proposal, and the BSA had received a flood of letters and postcards opposing the plan. At the final public hearing on the proposal on December 11, over 150 people, led by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and its Save Gansevoort Market Task Force, turned out to demand the proposal be rejected. A decision was scheduled to come from the BSA on March 25, but believing he would lose the case, the applicant chose instead to withdraw the request.

"This threat to Gansevoort Market's very existence has been eliminated," declared Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and its 'Save Gansevoort Market' Task Force. "A residential building had no place in the middle of the Meatpacking district, where residents could never live with the noisy and odorous meat businesses or the late night bars and clubs, and would have inevitably forced out these long-time businesses. Also, any sort of 450 foot tall building had no place in this historic, low-rise district, and would have permanently destroyed the scale and feel of this unique neighborhood," added Berman.

In addition to fighting this residential variance, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) has also been pushing for historic district status for the area, and after a two and a half year battle finally got the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to schedule a hearing for March 18 on a landmarking plan. However, while GVSHP has requested that the entire district be considered, the district the LPC has proposed and which will be heard on the 18th does not include most of the waterfront blocks in the district, including the 848 Washington Street site of the proposed development. In the attached letter to the BSA withdrawing the application for a residential variance, the lawyers state that the "applicant intends to proceed with development as-of-right," meaning they would build within the currently allowed zoning, which allows hotel development. The developer Stephen Touhey has previously stated he would try to develop a hotel at the site if he could not develop his luxury residential high rise. GVSHP has asked the City to consider changing the zoning in this area not to allow new hotel construction.

"We have won this battle, but we recognize that the war is not over," stated GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman. "We are very concerned about any new development Mr. Touhey would propose for this area until or unless historic district protections are in place, to ensure the development is compatible with the surrounding district. And while a hotel would not have the same devastating impact as a residence, it might still create significant problems for the existing businesses, and we are concerned about the developer's inclination to try to build a very tall building with no relationship to its historic surroundings. Given the economy, however, we are also very skeptical that Mr. Touhey will be able to get financing for construction of a hotel at this location any time soon. Regardless, we will continue to monitor the situation closely, and oppose any inappropriate development at the site," stated Berman.

The hearing on the proposed historic district designation for the Gansevoort Market (Meatpacking district) is scheduled for 9:30 am on Tuesday March 18, at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, One Centre Street, 9th floor.

Attachment: Withdrawal Letter to BSA

Please feel free to contact the GVSHP office with at 212/475-9585 or any questions, and please spread the word.

Greenwich Village Society
for Historic Preservation
232 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10003


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