Volume 73, Number 43 | February 25 - March 2, 2004

Concern historic lane being ‘obliterated’

Part of historic Charles Lane has been covered by concrete and a construction fence.

Construction of the third Richard Meier-designed tower on the Greenwich Village waterfront has resulted in “the apparent obliteration of a large chunk of the cobblestones on historic Charles Lane,” according to Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and Save Gansevoort Market.

Concrete and a fence for the construction site now covers about a third of the width of the lane at its western end. But Berman said he’s not sure what the exact extent of the damage is.

“It is not clear to me if the stones are still under there and will be revealed unharmed when the work is over, or if they have been irreparably harmed or destroyed,” he said.

The building is being developed by Izak Senbahar and Simon Elias. A Meier spokesperson said of the concrete and fence, “It’s a construction procedure to control water flow to the street. The architect and developer of Charles Street are dedicated to preserving and maintaining the historic characteristics of the site.”

The spokesperson said he believed the cobblestones were only covered and that they would somehow eventually be restored.

Berman has asked for action from the Department of Transportation, but said he had not yet gotten a response. 

“The situation,” Berman said, “points to two serious problems: the lack of a clear policy from D.O.T. about the preservation of historic cobblestones and the lack of clear communication to property owners regarding their responsibility in relation to maintaining the stones; and the lack of landmarking protections for historically significant areas like Charles Lane, which are being eaten away at, literally, by development.

“Charles Lane should be designated [as a landmark], and then its cobblestones could be protected and have a very necessary additional layer of protection added. This is particularly terrible to see happening on Charles Lane, whose cobblestones are so wonderfully intact and handsomely laid, and whose scale and feeling has been so butchered by the Meier towers.”


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