Volume 73, Number 50 | April 21 - 27, 2004


The Villager’s First Annual Progress Report

We are pleased to present to our readers our First Annual Progress Report, which you will find on Pages 15-38 of this issue. The Progress Report allows local leaders and the heads of community groups and institutions to, in their own words, give an update on what issues and concerns they’ve been focusing on recently and what they foresee for the near future.

The attempt was to gather an interesting and newsworthy mix of reports on subjects that are of importance and relevance to the local community and that have a broad impact. Development and preservation, New York University, parks and the Hudson River Park project, community boards, the chamber of commerce and local politics are a few of the areas that leapt out as prime candidates for the section.

Of course, we would need several issues to have progress reports on every deserving organization and topic. In future issues of the Progress Report we will attempt to cover some of those groups that were not included in this inaugural supplement.

What became clear in putting this section together is “progress” is a subjective term meaning different things to different people and in different places. What constitutes progress on one side of town may be considered a disaster on the other side. For example, take development. On the East Side, the start of the long-awaited construction on the final leg of development of the Cooper Sq. Urban Renewal Area was enthusiastically welcomed by most. A $150 million project, the 361-unit Avalon Chrystie Place, the first of four buildings to be constructed, will include 20 percent affordable apartments, a 42,000-sq.-ft. community center and 85,000 sq. ft. of retail, possibly including a supermarket.

However, on the West Side, the surge of new high-end construction on the Greenwich Village waterfront is being fought by residents and preservationists who hope to block a wall of Miami Beach-style high-rise glass towers from being erected.

Similarly, many would say N.Y.U.’s building expansion does not represent progress for the neighborhood in that it too often seems to come at the community’s expense. Witness the Kimmel Center and new N.Y.U. School of Law buildings, which have blocked the sightlines and open vistas south of Washington Sq. N.Y.U. says the law school project benefited from extensive community input in the design process — though, in fairness, this only came about as a result of a lawsuit.

Preserving the status quo can mean progress, too, as seen in the landmarking victory of the Meat Market.

It could be said the new upscale pizzeria in the Meat Market is a step up from the former S & M dungeon. Yet the flipside is the Market is losing (has already lost?) its gritty authenticity. Are the new Ralph Lauren boutiques on Bleecker St. a good trend for retail in quaint and quirky Greenwich Village? Again, progress is in the eye of the beholder. “Progress is the law of life,” Browning wrote. The trick is how you define it.

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