Volume 74, Number 32 | December 15 - 21, 2004


Far West Village needs protection, now

Although it’s a relief to hear that the proposal to designate a 14-block section of the Far West Village as a new historic district is gaining speed, things are still not moving fast enough to counter development forces at work.

At a recent meeting with the Landmarks Task Force of Community Board 2, Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairperson Robert Tierney said there was “momentum” in the Bloomberg administration to consider the preservation measures. Yet, it seems any action is not likely for several months. The fact is that measures by the city must be taken now, or the Greenwich Village waterfront and Far West Village landscape as we know them will be irreparably altered. By now, we are quite aware that real estate developers consider this area the new “Gold Coast” and that they are eagerly angling for any property — no matter how small the lot — to build new glass trophy towers.

Morton Sq. — that hulking, prefab monolith — was enough. But there are also three new Richard Meier towers and a new project slated by Related Companies for the Superior Ink site. Seven sites in all — including the W. 12th St. properties recently sold by Diane von Furstenberg — are at risk of development right now.

There’s only one Greenwich Village in the world and only one Far West Village and Lower Manhattan waterfront. Let’s not blow it by waiting too long. It’s imperative that the Bloomberg administration act and that Landmarks calendars this district for a designation hearing posthaste so that the area’s destruction and development will be put on hold, and hopefully — with designation — halted and the area preserved.

Think globally, shop locally

Despite the urgings of certain local performance artist preachers to “stop shopping” and the resolution of one of this newspaper’s columnists to have a noncommercial Christmas, many of us will soon be foraging out to buy presents for friends and loved ones or even just “secret Santas” or “Chanukah Harrys” for office co-workers.

For those who do decide to shop for the holidays, we strongly recommend spending your dollars in the neighborhood and supporting local businesses. There are businesses that are still not fully recovered from the effects of 9/11 — especially those to the south, closer to the World Trade Center site, such as Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Tribeca and Soho. These businesses — and restaurants, too — still need extra help.

More recently, the Republican National Convention hit town, and, as opposed to being a boon for Downtown merchants, it turned out for many to be a bust. From the sound of it, the number of delegates who ventured Downtown did not offset the amount of New Yorkers who fled town. And let’s not forget that flash flood that hit Soho a few months ago that put some businesses out of commission for days. Those merchants can surely use help.

As the expression goes: Think globally and act locally. For the sake of our local economy, we’d add to that saying: And shop locally.

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