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August 28th, 2007

GVSHP: FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT(S)

by gvshp

The good folks at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation have been hard at work this summer. Here is an update of their progress:

Trump ‘Condo-Hotel’: Papers have been filed with the New York City Department of Buildings challenging the legality of the permits granted by the City for construction of the 45-story Trump ‘Condo-Hotel’ at Spring and Varick Streets. GVSHP is working closely with the SoHo Alliance and other community groups as the challenge to this outrageous and illegal development moves into the legal arena. For more background, see www.gvshp.org/trump.htm; for more information on the papers, see www.thevillager.com/villager_225/tryingtotrumptrump.html.

NYU Development and Satellite Campuses: GVSHP has led a coalition of community groups which have long called for NYU to work with the City to find locations for satellite campuses for the university, in order to prevent continuing over-development of our neighborhoods (see www.gvshp.org/documents/NYUAuxCampuses.pdf and www.nysun.com/article/29515). Earlier this year, Borough President Stringer began convening an NYU Community Task Force on Development Issues, and NYU finally began its long-promised “Strategic Planning” process, to examine and discuss with the community its long-term growth needs. As a member of the task force, GVSHP has made pushing NYU to make finding satellite locations a top priority. This became especially critical when NYU recently announced they will need six million additional square feet of space over the next 25 years, and will grow by 5,500 students — the equivalent of thirty-four of their new 26-story East 12th Street mega-dorms (www.gvshp.org/documents/NYUDormImages.pdf, www.gvshp.org/NYUdorm.htm) , and five times the entire student population of Cooper Union (see www.thevillager.com/villager_221/talkingpoint.html).

However, NYU recently announced that they are acquiring a site in downtown Brooklyn for a new graduate student dorm, and the university has now clearly stated that they are working with the City to look for satellite campus and other locations outside of our neighborhoods to site future facilities. Of course there is still a long way to go, and NYU is still indicating they believe they will need to grow substantially within lower Manhattan neighborhoods even if they do establish satellite locations. However, this is an important step in the right direction, and there is every intention of ensuring that NYU follows through on its commitments, and of pushing them to go further (GVSHP is still calling for NYU to remain within its existing footprint and envelope within our neighborhood). For more information on NYU’s “Strategic Plan” and their efforts to locate satellite campuses, see www.nyu.edu/about/open.house/pdf/OpenHousePresentation.pdf.

Pier 40—No to ‘Vegas on the Hudson’: GVSHP and a wide array of community groups have opposed plans by Related Companies for an enormous “Vegas-on-the-Hudson” style development on Pier 40 at Clarkson Street (see www.gvshp.org/Pier40.htm). In May, they helped in generating more than 1,500 residents who turned out to oppose the plan at a public hearing. Now the Pier 40 Working Group of the Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council, with a near-unanimous vote, has called for rejection of this proposal (see www.gvshp.org/documents/pier40wkggrprecs.htm). While ultimately the Hudson River Park Trust will make this decision, the Working Group’s recommendation is expected to carry considerable weight with the Trust, which is expected to reconvene in the fall to review the proposals.

Jefferson Market Library Repairs to Finally Move Ahead!: GVSHP and many other community groups have long called for the crumbling Jefferson Market Library facade, which has been surrounded by scaffolding for years, to be repaired as soon as possible (see www.gvshp.org/jefflib.htm). However, the library planned to use the funding it had received from City Council Speaker Quinn and State Senator Tom Duane for an interior renovation, leaving the facade to potentially further deteriorate. After a significant public outcry last year, this funding was shifted by Quinn and Duane to examine the possibility of restoring the facade, but until recently, there was insufficient money to fully fund facade repairs and other contemplated renovations.

Last week, it was announced that Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn have now secured sufficient funding to allow repairs to the facade to finally move forward (see www.amny.com/news/local/am-market0822,0,6630526.story). This will hopefully end the years of deterioration to the facade of this singularly important Village landmark.

Illegal Billboards: As part of their ongoing efforts to identify and remove illegal billboards, GVSHP recently targeted one such sign in NoHo at 441 Lafayette Street (see www.gvshp.org/documents/images/441LafayetteStreet.JPG), reporting it to the city and requesting that violations be issued. Violations were soon issued, and the sign has now been removed.

GVSHP also recently met with Department of Buildings officials regarding the billboards at the Hotel Gansevoort, which they continue to contend violate zoning regulations. GVSHP was joined at the meeting by representatives of Speaker Quinn (whose office arranged the meeting), Borough President Stringer, Congressman Nadler, and State Senator Duane. GVSHP used the meeting to press the Department on its refusal to enforce zoning regulations which apply to these signs (see www.gvshp.org/documents/DOBMtgrspnlet8-07.pdf). They will continue to push the Department to enforce the law in this case, and are urging elected officials to send similar letters to the Department.

Filed Under: Community | New York | News | Politics

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