Volume 76, Number 1 | June 6 - 12, 2007

Letters to the editor

No glowing praise for project

To The Editor:
Re “New 14th St. building colors New School’s future” (news article, May 23):

Since my husband and I are Parsons alumni, I’m happy to see that The New School is growing. But as a neighbor who lives across the street from their proposed new building, I have some major concerns.

A primary concern is the new building’s contextual relationship to its neighbors, particularly the turn-of-the-century 80 Fifth Ave., which commands the intersection at the southwest corner of 14th St. The site also shares the block on its 14th St. side with the 1880 cast-iron former Baumann Brothers’ building, which is currently occupied by The New School. The other buildings on that block are also primarily turn-of-the-century or older.

As interesting as the design for the new building looks, it clearly doesn’t fit in the “Gold Coast” of turn-of-the-century apartment and office buildings of lower Fifth Ave.

Now I come to the “glow.” Transparency, modernity, glowing colors — all great, but better suited to a more commercial district. Colored light will be shining directly through my windows and those of hundreds of other residences at night. That’s not acceptable. As much as I love pink, I don’t wish to have it glowing through my window all night like I’m living above an old Times Square marquee. I think many planners overlook the fact that people actually live — and try to sleep — above the banks and businesses that line 14th St. This proposed green building will be emanating pink light pollution all night.

One of my major goals when I was co-chairperson of Union Square Community Coalition was to have this area recognized as an increasingly residential, not just commercial, neighborhood. My building, directly across the street from the site, has approximately 450 apartments. The residential buildings directly within the sightlines of this planned tower have about 1,250 total apartments combined. In fact, the overwhelming majority of buildings that will be “basking in the glow” are residential buildings.

The catch here is the largest of these residential buildings are across the street from Community Board 2’s district. Jane Crotty, a New School spokesperson, is quoted saying they’ve met with C.B. 2’s chairperson, Maria Passannante Derr, and that “there hasn’t been any major opposition.” Those of us residing on the north side of 14th St. are in Community Board 5. It seems that community boards have a kind of “gentlemen’s agreement” not to comment on issues within a neighboring community board, which leaves us unrepresented at this point.

The renderings in The Villager show at least 17 stories, but the article says the building will be a more reasonable 12 stories. If the actual design is significantly different from the concept drawings, dialogue between The New School and the neighborhood’s residents at this stage would be informative and beneficial for all parties.

The New School has been a good neighbor and I look forward to its expansion and success. I expect that my alma mater will respond to its surrounding community with a greater sensitivity than some other neighboring entities have done. Let’s use this opportunity, now, for all of us to get on the same page, rather than wait for a formal presentation in the fall. It’s best to have everyone feel like they are included in the creation of a wonderful new community facility.

Susan Kramer


Transcendent design needed

To The Editor:
Re “Height’s O.K., but seminary opponents say glass is vanity” (news article, May 23):

For the third time, the General Theological Seminary’s plans for new buildings on its beautiful historic square are disappointing. Is it really so difficult to achieve a look and ambiance compatible with Chelsea’s historic district? The seminary’s prime location in the heart of the district calls for designs that are elegant and inspiring. And if lots of glass is obligatory in today’s market, it need not be tedious. Famous English houses offer many exquisite examples of large and beautiful window design.

Jean Hebb


Letter writer missed meeting

To The Editor:
Re “Rezone the Bowery, too” (letter, by Robert Hollander, May 30):

Rob Hollander’s letter to the editor is indeed correct that rezoning the Bowery will not be on the agenda of the June 18 Community Board 3 197 Task Force meeting. What the letter fails to mention, however, is that this is because a subcommittee of that task force has been formed specifically to examine the possibility of seeking rezonings of the Bowery and Third and Fourth Aves. and the blocks in between, which were excluded from the city’s draft East Village/Lower East Side rezoning plan. That subcommittee will meet on Mon., June 11, at 6:30 p.m. at 113 Second Ave., between Sixth and Seventh Sts., in the black room, and all who are interested in these topics are strongly encouraged to attend.

The letter also fails to mention that at the last meeting, attended by several dozen people (but not the letter’s author), the necessary first steps were taken toward pursuing better zoning for these areas.

Both the Bowery and the Third and Fourth Aves. corridors and the blocks in between are experiencing grossly inappropriate and out-of-scale development. The city’s refusal to include these areas in its proposed rezoning — in spite of the efforts of Community Board 3 and many community groups and individuals — makes pursuing a rezoning of these blocks a considerable task. However, the community board and this subcommittee, working with the offices of the Manhattan borough president and Councilmember Rosie Mendez and interested community groups and individuals, has been able to map out what information and resources would be necessary to seek a rezoning. We encourage participation by all stakeholders to see if a plan can be arrived at for these blocks’ future.
 
Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and chairperson, Community Board 3 Subcommittee on Third and Fourth Aves. and the Bowery Rezoning.



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