Volume 74, Number 43 | March 02 - 08, 2005


Tallest tower yet is slated for the Village waterfront

By Albert Amateau

The Related Companies is planning a 20-story residential tower designed by Gwathmey Siegel Associates for the Superior Ink factory site on the Greenwich Village waterfront across the street from the Westbeth artists’ residential complex.

The proposed 225-ft.-high building at Bethune and West Sts. would be the tallest building on the Village waterfront, surpassing the three recently constructed Richard Meier-designed towers on West between Perry and Charles Sts. — which are 210 ft. tall — and the Memphis at 140 Charles St. — 193 ft. tall — as well as the 13-story Westbeth complex.

With 104 apartments, the project on the manufacturing-zoned site will require a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals or a zoning change. The developer has indicated that a variance is most likely. David Wine, a Related vice president, said it’s not sure yet if the building would have an undulating, mirrored facade like Related’s new building on at Astor Pl. and Lafayette St., also designed by Gwathmey Siegel.

“Related is known for building spectacular buildings and that’s what we plan to do,” he told The Villager.

The prospect of another high-rise luxury residence designed by a high-profile architect on what has become known as “The Gold Coast” has aroused opposition from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and from the Westbeth Artists Residents Council.

“The proposed building is completely inappropriate for this site, and we absolutely intend to fight it, and fight hard,” said Andrew Berman executive director of G.V.S.H.P.

“The Related Companies proposal is an abomination,” said George Cominskie, president of the Westbeth Residents’ Council. “It is does not fit the character of the neighborhood and the residents of Westbeth will fight this proposal. We are united in our efforts to preserve the architecture, historic buildings and characteristic charm that define Greenwich Village,” Cominskie said.

G.V.S.H.P. has been lobbying the Landmarks Preservation Commission for more than a year to designate a new 14-block historic district from Horatio to Barrow Sts. between Greenwich and West Sts.

The proposed district would include the Superior Ink factory, whose twin smokestacks over 100 ft. tall have stood on the site since 1919 when it was built by Nabisco as a cracker bakery.

The Related Companies project would require also require an increase in bulk, from the current 5.0 floor-to-area ratio allowed for new development to a 6.5 F.A.R. for the new building.

By law, in order to win a variance, the developer would have to prove that it is seeking the “minimum variance necessary” — the smallest possible change from existing zoning needed to make a reasonable return on the property.

“Their claim that they need any sort of variance to turn a profit on this property is simply laughable,” said Berman, who insisted that many profitable uses could be made of the site under the existing zoning. “This is a bald-faced attempt to circumvent the zoning for the area before the landmarking proposal is heard. Related is going to have a very, very big fight on their hands,” Berman added.

“I’m not going to comment on anything Andrew Berman has to say,” Wine said.

“This is exactly why the landmarking proposal we have submitted and which is currently under consideration by the city should be enacted — to prevent the destruction of historic buildings like the Superior Ink factory, and the destruction of a historic neighborhood like the Greenwich Village waterfront,” Berman said.

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