Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation


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Table of Contents

From Previous Newsletters:

From our Fall 2000 Newsletter Gansevoort Market Task Force Established
From Our Spring/Summer 2000 Newsletter Protecting the Integrity of the Gansevoort Market
From our Spring/Summer 2000 Newsletter
GVSHP Defends Integrity of Washington Square Park
Winter 2001-2002: A Busy Season for Advocacy
Changes in City Government

From our Spring 2001 Newsletter

Gansevoort Market: Advocacy Continues

The Gansevoort Market continues to be the focus for advocacy efforts by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, with increased public interest in protecting this historic neighborhood in the northwest corner of Greenwich Village. Under the aegis of the Save Gansevoort Market Task Force, a number of programs and events have helped raise awareness of the value in preserving the distinctive character of this vulnerable area, which has been a wholesale market for more than 150 years, first as a farmers’ market and for the last half century as a wholesale meat market.

Thomas Mellins has been commissioned by the Task Force to write a comprehensive study of the cultural and architectural history of Gansevoort Market. As co-author of an award-winning series of books on the city, New York 1930, New York 1960, and the recent New York 1880, Mr. Mellins has extensive experience in writing about architecture and urbanism. He also collaborated on the documentary television series, Pride of Place. It is planned that his study of Gansevoort Market will be submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the summer, in response to their request for additional information on the architecture and history of the area. Regina Kellerman originally compiled archival research of the Gansevoort Market in her encyclopedic study of the Greenwich Village waterfront that was published in 1989 by GVSHP and New York University Press.

Fundraising for Save Gansevoort Market got off to a lively start last October with Beefstock, a bluegrass and folk music festival that raised $5,000 and was sponsored by the local production company Hudson River Pictures. In November, at a Kick-Off Party at Restaurant Florent and the next-door architectural office of Fairfax and Sammons, over 150 people – elected officials, business leaders, and local residents – turned out to express their commitment to protect the Gansevoort Market. Scott Heyl, president of the Preservation League of New York State, was at this event to present a check of $5,000 from Preserve New York, a grant program of the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts. Thus far, over $30,000 has been raised for the Gansevoort initiative. Plans are being made for a late-spring fundraising party at the studio of Diane von Furstenberg, an enthusiastic supporter of Save Gansevoort Market.

From our Fall 2000 Newsletter

Gansevoort Market Task Force Established

On August 1, 2000 the Greenwich Village Society convened the first meeting of the Gansevoort Market Task Force, a coalition of local residents, business people, tenants, property owners, representatives of civic organizations, and others interested in protecting the historic character of the Gansevoort Market neighborhood. Under the leadership of Task Force Co-Chairs Florent Morellet (owner of Restaurant Florent) and Jo Hamilton (a local community resident and Trustee of the Greenwich Village Society), and with the support of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the Task Force is launching an organized effort to protect the historic Gansevoort Market with the ultimate goal of securing its designation as a local historic district.

This coalition is being created at a time when continued existence of this historically and architecturally significant neighborhood is seriously threatened. The recent death of a major landowner in the area has left pre-assembled development sites that could be transformed very quickly. Recent land purchases by national retail and hotel chains portend rapid development without adequate planning and development guidelines. In addition, construction of the Hudson River Park promises to put further pressure on property values. These and other complicating factors make conditions ripe for radical changes in the Gansevoort Market district.

To address these circumstances in the coming year the Task Force plans to: commission the first comprehensive and detailed study of the cultural and architectural history of the area; create public programs such as regular walking tours, slide presentations, lectures and special events; raise public awareness about the value and vulnerability of the neighborhood; and convince civic leaders of the need to protect this unique New York City resource.

The Gansevoort Market Task Force is currently in formation, and in need of additional support. For further information, please call the Society’s office at 212/475-9585.

From Our Spring/Summer 2000 Newsletter

Protecting the Integrity of the Gansevoort Market

As part of a larger goal of safeguarding historic resources in the Greenwich Village waterfront neighborhood, one of the Society’s most important ongoing initiatives is an effort to protect the historic Gansevoort Market area.

Roughly bounded by 14th Street, Hudson Street, Jane Street and Tenth Avenue, the Gansevoort Market area is architecturally and historically significant and worthy of protection as the only remaining, virtually intact streetscape of 19th century market buildings in New York City. The Gansevoort Market has served the city as a wholesale food market continuously since as early as the 1830s.

There are many buildings in the Gansevoort Market of high architectural merit, designed by distinguished architects such as Boring & Tilton, Trowbridge & Livingstone and Joseph M. Dunn. Further, they have shown themselves time and again to have a remarkable resilience and capacity for adaptive re-use. Woven together by the surrounding cobblestone streets, these structures clearly represent the early commercial and manufacturing development of the City. Walking through the Gansevoort Market, one still has a distinct sense of being in another time and place that is like no other in the City. It is this unique character that is, in fact, attracting much of the current commercial and development interest in the market area.

Over the past year, the Society has further documented the historic resources in the Gansevoort Market, performing a land use survey, and creating a slide presentation highlighting the area’s unique sense of place. The Society has also has engaged in discussions with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the City Planning Commission and local community groups regarding the area’s protection.

If you would like more information regarding these ongoing efforts, or would like to offer your support, please call the Society at 212/475-9585.

From our Spring/Summer 2000 Newsletter

GVSHP Defends Integrity of Washington Square Park

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has been closely monitoring New York University’s latest plans for two major development projects on the south side of Washington Square Park, urging the University – through discussion and demonstration – to respect the historic character of the park and its surrounding neighborhood.

The first project is a 12-story, 206,000-square foot student center to be built on the site of the recently-demolished Loeb Student Center (on the corner of LaGuardia Place and Washington Square South). Designed by the architectural firm of Kevin Roche/John Dinkeloo Associates, the proposed Kimmel Student Center building will include a 1,000-seat performing arts center, an auditorium and dining space, spaces for student clubs and activities and a rooftop conference and gathering center.

Concerned that the proposed architectural design is incompatible within the context of Washington Square and the adjacent Greenwich Village Historic District, members of GVSHP’s Preservation Committee have engaged in a series of meetings over the past year with representatives of the University and their architect. GVSHP has strongly urged the University to consider several specific design modifications that would reduce the negative impacts of the project. GVSHP has suggested: reducing the height and bulk of the building, changing building materials (from the originally proposed granite, to brick and/or stone), using less glass, and incorporating additional active uses on the ground floor.

GVSHP is also lending support to grassroots community efforts to urge NYU to rethink the project. On Sunday, March 19th, GVSHP invited its members to Washington Square Park for a “Human Shadow” demonstration where a sea of black umbrellas was unfurled to simulate the additional shadows the proposed Kimmel Student Center would throw over portions of the park. Demonstrators were joined by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Thomas Duane, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Councilmember Kathryn Freed, and GVSHP Trustee Jonathan Russo.

Meanwhile, New York University Law School intends to develop a major new facility one block to the west. Working with the architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the Law School is devising plans for a large mixed-use building that would incorporateclassrooms, seminar rooms, clinic space and faculty residences.

As currently envisioned by the University, the development would necessitate the demolition of several 19th century structures on the block. These include 235-289 Thompson Street (Judson House), 85 West Third Street (Poe House) and 89 West Third Street (Fuchsberg Building). These properties are all owned by the University and are unprotected by New York City Landmarks Law.

As with the Kimmel Center project, GVSHP has initiated discussions with the University and their architect regarding this project. GVSHP has expressed concern over the loss of 19th century building stock, and is urging sensitivity to the potential impact the project will have on Judson Memorial Church and tower (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), the south side of Washington Square Park, and the scale, rhythm and texture of the existing historic streetscape of Thompson and West Third Streets.

The Society remains hopeful that substantive opportunity for meaningful public comment will occur frequently in the design process for this important project and future University development projects.