The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
22 June 2010

In This Issue

South Village Phase I Landmarked!

…but Remaining Two-Thirds of Neighborhood Unprotected and Endangered

Huge Turnout at NYU Hotel Tower Public Hearing

South Village Phase I Landmarked!

Today the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to landmark the first phase of our proposed South Village Historic District, adding 235 buildings on 11 blocks to the existing Greenwich Village Historic District. First proposed for landmark designation in the 1960s by Village preservation pioneers like Jane Jacobs, the South Village was excluded from the original Greenwich Village Historic District designated in 1969. With today’s vote landmark designation takes effect immediately, and is the largest expansion of landmark protections in Greenwich Village since 1969!

Today’s designation not only preserves such individually noteworthy structures as Our Lady of Pompei Church, the Varitype Building, 233-237 Bleecker Street (believed to be the inspiration for the Edward Hopper painting ‘Early Sunday Morning,’), the 1830 federal-style house at 7 Leroy Street, and Greenwich House Pottery, but it also preserves literally scores of early 19th century houses, late 19th and early 20th century tenements, 20th century commercial and apartment buildings, and an impressive collection of former stables on Downing and Cornelia Streets. Perhaps most importantly, however, landmark designation helps preserve the character of this neighborhood as defined by its low-scale, small storefronts, and thriving local institutions.

Today’s vote comes on the heels of nearly eight years of effort by GVSHP, local community groups, city, state, and national preservation organizations, elected officials, Italian-American and immigration historians, and literally hundreds of neighborhood residents, businesses, and property owners (CLICK HERE for complete list of supporters). THANK YOU to everyone who made this tremendous victory today possible!

For more information about the South Village, CLICK HERE.

Two-Thirds of South Village Still Lacking Landmark Protections, and Endangered

While today’s vote was a cause for celebration, the lack of landmark protections for the remaining two-thirds of our proposed South Village Historic District and the lack of a commitment by the city to move ahead expeditiously with the remaining section is a cause for serious concern. Since GVSHP first approached the LPC about landmarking the South Village, losses in the neighborhood have included demolition of the Circle in the Square Theater (New York’s first non-profit theater), the Sullivan Street Playhouse (one-time home of the longest running play in modern history, the Fantasticks), the Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments (considered the birthplace of modern American theater, as well as the home of several of the early 20th century’s most important cultural institutions), the Tunnel Garage (a unique monument to the dawn of the automobile age and possibly the first Art Deco building in New York City), 178 Bleecker Street (an 1861 house located in the middle of a row of similar houses in the heart of the South Village) and the alteration of 7 Cornelia Street, a late 19th century tenement which was the former home of poet W.H. Auden. Other buildings within the remaining two-thirds of our proposed South Village Historic District are threatened, and the city has thus far indicated that they will not consider the entire remaining section of the South Village at once, nor will they expedite the process of considering the area (it took about 2 1/2 years between the time the city first indicated it would consider the first 1/3 of the South Village and today’s landmark designation).

Therefore GVSHP sent a letter to LPC Chair Robert Tierney directly following today’s vote urging him to consider the remaining two-thirds of the South Village for landmark designation as soon as possible, all at once, and without further delay. We are pleased to note that Borough President Stringer, Congressman Nadler, State Senator Duane, City Councilmember Chin, and Assemblymember Glick have all made similar requests of the LPC Chair.

GVSHP is committed to pushing for landmark designation of the entire remaining area of the South Village as soon as possible, and will continue to closely monitor the area for any emerging threats or danger.


Huge Turnout at NYU Hotel Tower Public Hearing

Last night, over 200 people turned out to see NYU’s latest proposal for a 38-story, 385 ft. tall hotel/housing tower on Bleecker Street in the landmarked Silver Towers complex. The meeting lasted over 2 1/2 hours, with every public speaker expressing opposition to the NYU plan, which would result in the tallest tower ever constructed in Greenwich Village. See the coverage on NY1, The Real Deal Magazine, and from the Washington Square Village Tenants Association.

GVSHP raised objections to the plan, based upon its lack of compatibility with the landmarked Pei design, the need for NYU to take public land in order to build, the zoning change required which would vastly increase allowable commercial development including a hotel in a residential area, the plan’s incompatibility with the recommendations of the Community Task Force on NYU Development, and the viable alternative option (which NYU is thus far refusing to consider) of building in the Financial District instead where such development has been welcomed by local leaders. Thus far NYU’s main objection to considering the Financial District has been that this and other projects MUST be located in their main Washington Square campus, and not a distance away. However, a rudimentary review performed by GVSHP shows that many universities have facilities spread out over distances equal to or greater than that between Washington Square and the Financial District, thus making this argument ring hollow (see HERE). Based upon this, GVSHP and a dozen other community groups have written to NYU stating their opposition to this proposal while the university refuses to consider the Financial District alternative (see HERE).

This plan cannot move forward without approvals and public hearings by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the City Planning Commission, the City Council, and other government agencies, and none of the required applications have even been filed yet.  There will be many future opportunities to weigh in on this and other aspects of the NYU 2031 Expansion Plan, and GVSHP will let you know as the process continues and how you can be involved.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

To join GVSHP or support our preservation efforts, visit here.

Connect with GVSHP:

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
232 East 11 Street, New York, NY 10003 : 212.475.9585 :


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