Volume 75, Number 21 | October 12 - 18, 2005

Committee and residents back larger historic district

By Albert Amateau

Beginning the process of designating two new historic districts in the Far West Village as part of the plan with the City Planning Commission to preserve the character of a unique waterfront neighborhood, the Landmarks Preservation Commission sent two staff members to the Oct. 5 meeting of the Community Board 2 Landmarks Committee.

For residents and preservation advocates at the meeting, the proposed Greenwich Village Historic District Extension and the proposed Weehawken St. Historic District were welcome developments, but they wanted more.

Members of the committee, headed by Doris Diether, urged L.P.C. to designate the four-story Superior Ink factory as an individual landmark. The factory, built in 1919 for the National Biscuit Company, is three blocks from the proposed Village District Extension and four blocks from the proposed Weehawken St. District.

Indeed, residents and members of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation called for a historic district that would cover part of the blocks between West and Washington Sts. from Horatio to Barrow Sts. and nearly all of the blocks between Washington and Greenwich Sts. from Perry to Barrow Sts. that are included in the Far West Village rezoning passed by the City Council on Oct. 11.

But the two Landmarks aides, Diane Jacquier, director of community and government relations, and Matt Postal, of the research staff, said any other designations would have to wait for another time.

L.P.C. will hold a 9 a.m. Oct. 19 hearing at its ninth-floor office, 1 Centre St., on the two long-awaited historic districts.

The proposed Weehawken St. District includes 13 buildings on Weehawken, West and Christopher Sts. The proposed Greenwich Village Historic District Extension includes 35 buildings on the three square blocks bounded by Perry, Christopher, Washington and Greenwich Sts.

L.P.C. has calendared a simultaneous hearing on the two districts but the hearing date has not been set.

Calendaring a landmarks hearing adds a layer of protection to an area by giving the L.P.C. time to review plans to demolish or alter a building and consider designating it a landmark.

L.P.C. is also considering other future potential landmarks. One of them is the cobblestone street bed of Charles Lane, according to Landmarks aide Postal. Landmarking the lane would also mean preserving the original paving stones if they are taken up to repair the street.

Another potential landmark is the Westbeth artists residential complex on West St. between Bethune and Bank Sts. Originally an interconnected collection of industrial buildings that served for years as Bell Laboratories, Westbeth was converted into a nonprofit artists residence in 1971 following a prize-winning design by Richard Meier.

Andrew Berman, director of G.V.S.H.P., announced earlier this month that the society had received a grant to create a nomination for the State and National Registers of Historic Places for the entire Westbeth complex.

Currently, only a small part of the complex is listed on the state and national registers. If the entire complex were listed, it could qualify for special federal and other grants for restoration, Berman said.

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