Volume 74, Number 33 | December 22 - 28, 2004


Mayor says he ‘fundamentally agrees’ with landmarking effort

By Albert Amateau

About 60 hardy West Village preservation advocates brought their 5-ft.-by-4-ft. Seasons Greetings card to the steps of City Hall on a very cold and windy Monday afternoon Dec. 20 to ask Mayor Bloomberg for immediate help to preserve the historic neighborhood.

As luck would have it, Mayor Mike himself came by at about 1:30 p.m., so Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and State Senator Tom Duane, whose district includes the West Village, delivered the greeting and the plea in person.

“He asked us what this was all about and we explained that at least seven historic buildings in the West Village could be demolished if the neighborhood doesn’t receive landmark protection right away,” said Berman.

“He said, ‘I fundamentally agree with you,’ and asked us if we had spoken to Bob Tierney at Landmarks and to Amanda Burden at City Planning — he thought they’d be sympathetic,” Berman said.

“I said we had talked to them and they were sympathetic, but we needed them to act right away, and he said he would talk to both of them,” Berman related.

After the mayor left, the preservation advocates brought the oversized card with hundreds of signatures to the mayor’s wing at City Hall along with a 2-ft.-tall stack of letters from people calling for historic district status for the low-rise area from Horatio to Barrow Sts. between Greenwich and West Sts.

“It was a worthwhile use of 45 very cold minutes,” Berman said later about the City Hall rally. The Monday afternoon temperature was in the teens and the wind was gusting to 30 miles per hour.

On Dec. 9, more than 250 people had attended a rainy-night meeting about over-development of the 14-block area of the Far West Village. They signed the giant card and penned letters to the mayor about preserving the district. Civic organizations including the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront and Great Port and the Greenwich Village Community Task Force have joined with Community Board 2 and G.V.S.H.P. to support the preservation effort.

The groups want the Landmarks Preservation Commission to confer historic district status on the area with 108 historic buildings. Designation would prevent demolition except for rare instances.

Preservation groups also want City Planning to down-zone the area, reducing the current 6.02 floor-area ratio, which has resulted in new 18-story buildings and could result in buildings 30 stories or taller on large sites.

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