Hud. Sq. rezoning O.K.’d; S. Village landmark pledged

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON |The City Council in committee has voted to approve the Hudson Square residential rezoning plan, coupled with the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s agreement to vote on designating about half of the unprotected area of the proposed South Village Historic District within the year. The full Council is expected to approve the rezoning later this month.

The Council secured a commitment from L.P.C. to calendar and vote on the next remaining section of the proposed South Village Historic District (the area north of Houston St.) and complete a survey of the proposed district’s final section (the area south of Houston St.) by the end of the year.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, speaking before Wednesday morning’s Council votes, said, “Currently, there are no height restrictions in the district, which could lead to unwanted skyscrapers. Additionally, the outdated prohibition of residential development has led to little foot traffic on nights or weekends hurting the neighborhood’s small businesses.”

The votes by the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and Committee on Land Use, she said, would “help to preserve much of the neighborhood’s beloved character and commercial foundation while also bringing a desired vitality and more open space to attract new residents and businesses.”

Trinity Real Estate, the area’s major property owner, was the applicant for the rezoning.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Community Board 2 and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, among others, had lobbied the Council to vote “no” on the rezoning unless the city moved ahead on South Village landmarking.

“This is incredibly important progress because clearly the Landmarks Preservation Commission was not moving forward with any more of the South Village Historic District,” said Andrew Berman, G.V.S.H.P. executive director. “The commitment to hear and vote upon more than half of the remaining proposed South Village Historic District before the end of the year will help protect this endangered neighborhood from the increased development pressure it faces from this and other rezonings. However,” he added, “we are very concerned about the lack of commitment on landmarking the southern half of this neighborhood and we will continue to fight to preserve this vitally important area.”

In addition, $5.6 million in “mitigation funds” from Trinity, designated for open-space improvements, has now been split between the Dapolito Recreation Center, at Clarkson St. and Seventh Ave. South, and Pier 40. Separate payments of $2.8 million each will go toward the rec center — allowing it to operate its indoor and outdoor pools at the same time — and toward the pier, to help fix its crumbling roof.

Also, the plan O.K.’d by the Council’s Land Use Committee will allow creation of about 130 more affordable units in the rezoning district, for a potential total of more than 600.

Trinity additionally has agreed to construct new recreation spaces for community use at the site of a 444-seat elementary school it plans to build at Duarte Square, in the base of a new residential tower.

According to David Gruber, chairperson of C.B. 2, these new spaces will include a 7,500-square-foot, N.C.A.A. standard-size, double-height gym for basketball and other sports and a 2,100-square-foot “flex area.” These facilities will be open to the community during non-school hours, weekends and holidays. Gruber said the hope is for the spaces to be programmed by a third-party operator, similar to, for example, Manhattan Youth.

The rezoning, as previously O.K.’d by City Planning, includes a prohibition of new hotels of more than 100 rooms without a special permit.

Said Gruber, “We truly thank Speaker Quinn and the Council for forging a true win/win compromise on the rezoning.”

Said Glick, “I am pleased that a contribution to Pier 40 can be used toward repair of its roof, which is necessary to preserve the only major playing fields in the park.”

Jason Pizer, Trinity Real Estate’s president, said, “Today’s positive action significantly advances the process launched more than five years ago, and we look forward to the rezoning’s final consideration by the full Council.”

Ellen Baer, president of the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district, said, “The Hudson Square rezoning will transform our thriving business neighborhood into a 24/7 community.”

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2 Responses to Hud. Sq. rezoning O.K.’d; S. Village landmark pledged

  1. southvillageneighbors

    The City Council's vote in Committee this past week to approve rezoning of the Hudson Square area without immediately providing landmark protections for the South Village is a disaster for our neighborhood.

    The promise to "study and consider" landmarking one section of the South Village and leave the southernmost section "to be surveyed" sometime before the end of the year is little more than a thinly-veiled attempt on the part of Speaker Quinn to secure some political cover in the neighborhoods that she has left wholly at the mercy of rapacious developers dressed up as non-profits: NYU in the northern part of the South Village and God's Love We Deliver working with Quinlan-Tavros Development to the south.

    Particularly vexing is the fact that with the City Council's "pledge," the southern part of the South Village — which directly abuts the soon-to-be-rezoned Hudson Square District and so faces the greatest development pressure from this new district — remains wholly unprotected.

    And if that weren't bad enough, the time frame of "before the end of the year" for any new landmarking in the South Village will allow developers ample opportunity to snap up properties, secure demolition permits, and wreak havoc. The City Council might as well have announced: "Developers, Rent your backhoes, get out your checkbooks, and let the land grab begin!"

    Now is the time to ask ourselves: "If this is how Speaker Quinn protects the residents of her own district, how can she be trusted to look out for the interests of New Yorkers if she were elected mayor?"

    The Landmarks Preservation Committee has had more than four years to study the proposed South Village Historic District. And while I'm all for studying — I've done plenty of it in my life time — some times simply call for action. If we can't count on our elected representatives to take appropriate action to protect our neighborhoods, we will have to look for other avenues of redress and new political leaders.

    Micki McGee
    South Village Neighbors

  2. It's really a bit late already, isn't it? Children's Aid Society is gone. And the developers have torn down most of that Sullivan Street building. Who knows what huge building they'll put there turning the neighborhood into another replica of the gentrification of SoHo. What a pity. The Landmarks Preservation Committee should be replaced with people who are more timely in studying important sites such as the South Village.

    Sylvia Rackow
    The Committee to Preserve Our Neighborhood

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