City to start moving on South Village landmarking — but will they
endanger historic area in the process?
After many months of efforts by GVSHP and its members, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has agreed to put forward a proposal for landmark designation of the area of the proposed South Village Historic District west of 6th Avenue, as they committed to GVSHP to do over a year ago. GVSHP has been working with the Commission to ensure that as much of the area west of 6th Avenue is included in the proposed district as possible, successfully advocating for the inclusion of additional properties for inclusion. Thank you to all our members, allies, and supporters who wrote, faxed, and e-mailed the LPC to make this happen! The LPC will present this proposal to property owners in the district on Tuesday, May 12 at 6 P.M. in the basement of Our Lady of Pompei Church, at Carmine and Bleecker Streets.
While the fact that the Commission is moving forward with considering designation of part of our proposed South Village Historic District is very good news, we have several very serious concerns. Every property owner in the proposed district, including developers, is being notified of the May 12 meeting and the fact that the LPC is considering landmarking their property. However, the LPC is NOT taking any action to prevent developers who would oppose landmark designation from simply securing permits before the meeting to demolish or alter existing buildings or build new ones, and is not planning on doing so until quite some time after the meeting. This not only allows, but in some cases encourages, bad actors to take actions to sidestep the impending potential landmark designation.
That is why GVSHP had urged the LPC NOT TO DO THIS, and NOT to hold this meeting UNTIL they have calendared the district for designation, which is the first step that puts in place safeguards against demolition, etc. Without such protections, we are very concerned that holding this meeting will spur landmarking opponents to secure permission to demolish or alter their buildings, and to build inappropriate new ones, which subsequent landmark designation then cannot undo. We have seen this happen with prior district designations, and do NOT want to see that happen in the South Village.
Our other main concern is for the remaining 2/3 of the district which the LPC has not yet considered for designation. After originally indicating that they would consider the area west of Sixth Avenue as a first part of a larger “South Village Historic District,” the LPC is now indicating that they are considering this area as an extension of the existing Greenwich Village Historic District, without any definite commitment one way or the other regarding the remaining 2/3 of the proposed district. While we recognize that the LPC unfortunately does not typically designate districts as large as the proposed South Village Historic District in one piece, it is CRITICAL that there be a definite commitment to consider the remaining 2/3 of the proposed South Village Historic District, which is imminently endangered, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
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