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Saving Historic Buildings, Small Businesses, and the Neighborhood South of Union Square

The seven buildings being considered for landmark designation (top l.) 841 Broadway; (top r.) 840, 836, 832 Broadway; (bottom l.) 832, 830, and 826 Broadway; (bottom r.) 817 Broadway.  None are endangered, and are just the tip of the iceberg of historic buildings in this area that warrant landmark designation.


Last week, New York Times architecture critic (and Greenwich Village native) Michael Kimmelman published a piece examining the issues surrounding the proposed landmarking of 828 Broadway, the building in which the Strand Bookstore is located, and the need to preserve small businesses in New York (here). Unlike much of the recent press on this subject, the piece hit the nail on the head in identifying the lack of even-handedness of a city which gives billions in tax breaks to giant corporations, but fails to help struggling small businesses, as well as the fact that the proposal to landmark 828 Broadway and just six other buildings out of nearly two hundred historic buildings in the endangered area south of Union Square runs contrary to what GVSHP and countless residents of these neighborhoods called for as mitigation for the City Council’s approval of an upzoning for the Mayor’s “Tech Hub” on 14th Street, which increases development pressure on this neighborhood.
Historic buildings like the former St. Denis Hotel at Broadway and 11th Street are being demolished to make way for glass office towers due to a lack of landmark protections for this area.


But as the piece also indicates, the answer isn’t to not landmark historic buildings like 828 Broadway, especially as landmarking would have a minimal impact upon the operation of the bookstore or any business located inside (landmarking only governs the exterior of buildings, and as the Kimmelman piece pointed out, we have actually found there are often lower rates of retail vacancy in landmarked areas as compared to non-landmarked ones, indicating they help foster a healthy environment for retail). Instead, we need to fight for more ways of supporting and preserving small businesses in our city. And we can’t let the cynical, woefully insufficient and ill-conceived landmarking deal between Councilmember Carlina Rivera and Mayor DeBlasio deter us from our ongoing fight to preserve and protect the neighborhood south of Union Square from ever-increasing development pressure, made worse by their Tech Hub deal, which is leading to the demolition of historic buildings like the former St. Denis Hotel (1853) just down the street from the Strand, to be replaced with a large glass office tower without action by the City.

We’re continuing the fight – here’s how you can too:



GVSHP is calling for landmark protections for much of this area, not just the seven buildings currently being considered.








Next: 5/7/19
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Home : Advocacy : University Place-Broadway Rezoning/Bowlmor Tower : Latest News : 2/4/19

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