Residents demand a rezoning for part of Washington St.
By Albert Amateau
At least 150 Village residents met on Monday to demand a rezoning of six blocks in the Far West Village to prevent what they fear is impending high-rise development, including hotels and dorms, in a low-rise, mixed-use neighborhood.
The six blocks, all within the Greenwich Village Historic District, extend from W. 12th to W. 10th Sts., mostly along the east side of Washington St., but extend to the west side of Greenwich St. between Perry and W. 10th Sts.
Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, explained that buildings in historic districts are generally protected against demolition, but the Landmarks Preservation Commission can find that a particular building is not aesthetically or historically important, and allow it to be replaced. In the case that it allows a demolition to occur, the L.P.C. has to rule on whether the replacement building is appropriate for the historic district.
Last year, a developer won L.P.C. approval to demolish a two-story building at 145 Perry St. at Washington St., used for truck loading since 1938, and received a certificate of appropriateness for an eight-story hotel 87 feet tall.
“The C6-1 zoning that covers those six blocks allows hotels and even encourages them,” Berman noted. Depending on how much of the lot is covered, the zoning could allow buildings 10 stories and 100 feet tall. Moreover, a project that includes a community-facility use could be even larger in a C6-1 zone.
In fact, a 26-story New York University dormitory on E. 12 St. was built under the same zoning, but in the low-rise Greenwich Village Historic District, the L.P.C. is not likely to find a building that tall to be appropriate.
However, the dark economic clouds have had a silver lining for preservation advocates. The developer who won approval for the eight-story hotel at 145 Perry St. dropped the project, and a new developer is seeking Landmarks approval for a three-building project on the site: two six-story, 71-foot-tall townhouses with Washington St. entrances, and a seven-story, 80-foot-tall inn with 57 rooms and an entrance on Perry St.
Geoffrey Knox, a member of the coalition that sponsored the April 6 meeting and a longtime resident of W. 11th and Washington Sts., said that Robert Gladstone, the new developer of 145 Perry St., told neighbors recently that the inn would include a bar in the basement and a kitchen to provide breakfast for guests of the inn.
The developer is scheduled to present plans for 145 Perry St. to a Community Board 2 Landmarks Committee meeting at 7 p.m. Mon., April 13, at New York University’s Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place. A public hearing for 145 Perry St. is on the L.P.C.’s April 21 agenda at its Municipal Building office at 1 Centre St.
Berman said that preservation advocates have been trying to get the City Planning Commission to consider more restrictive zoning for the six-block stretch for more than a year. In addition to 145 Perry St., he said, there are a dozen “soft sites,” with undistinguished buildings from two to four stories tall that could be developed.
“In this economic downturn, there won’t be much development here, so it’s important to get zoning in place now to protect the district,” he said.
Brad Hoylman, chairperson of Community Board 2, told the meeting that the community board met with City Planning last week and made a similar plea for a zoning change that would be more appropriate.
“They understood our concern and said they would conduct an analysis of the area,” Hoylman said, adding, “The community board is going on record in support of a C6-1A zone, or something similarly restrictive.”
Kate Seely-Kirk, Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s aide, noted Quinn’s office was among the supporters of a 2005 downzoning for the area west of Washington St.
Aides to Borough President Scott Stringer, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, state Senator Tom Duane and Congressman Jerrold Nadler also attended.
In addition to G.V.S.H.P., the Greenwich Village Community Task Force and block associations and co-op and condo boards from Jane, Perry, Horatio, Waverly, Bank and W. 10th Sts. sponsored the meeting, along with the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront and Great Port and the West Village Committee.