May 20, 2019
Huge Turnout Against East 14th Zoning Variance
On Tuesday GVSHP was joined by dozens of neighbors, the East Village Community Coalition, members of SEIU Local 32BJ union, and a representative of City Councilmember Rosie Mendez to oppose a zoning variance application for 432 East 14th Street (1st Avenue/Avenue A). The developer is seeking permission to building more than 50% taller (124 feet high vs. 80 feet on 14th Street) and more than 25% larger than zoning rules allow (application here). GVSHP is strongly opposed because the development would be woefully out-of-scale for the East Village, and because the developer has failed to meet the legal findings required to get such a zoning variance (read our testimony here).
We’re pleased to report that the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) agreed with many of our contentions about the faulty logic behind the variance application, based upon supposed “hardship” from soil conditions on the site which are common throughout the area. The BSA also pushed back upon the developer’s justification of the proposed scale of the new building by pointing to the towers of Stuyvesant Town across 14th Street, which are set back behind parks and driveways, unlike the narrow streets of the East Village. The Commissioners also cited the receipt of more than 300 letters generated by GVSHP members expressing opposition to the variance as part of their deliberations.
You can read more about the case and the hearing in the New York Post, EV Grieve, Real Estate Weekly, and The Real Deal, and view photos of the hearing here.
The next hearing is tentatively scheduled for March 28th. We will need to maintain a strong presence at the BSA hearings and continue to flood the agency with letters in opposition to keep our momentum going and prevent this bogus zoning variance from being approved here.
HOW TO HELP:
- Send a new letter to the BSA (or your first if you haven’t written them before) urging them to reject the zoning variance application for 432 East 14th Street in light of the developer’s failure to make a convincing case at Tuesday’s hearing > >
Keeping An Eye on 738 Greenwich, 24 Charles, and 182-186 Spring Street
GVSHP closely monitors sites throughout our neighborhoods for potential future developments, demolitions, or other potential changes that might be cause for concern or engagement. Here’s a few we’re keeping our eyes on:
|l. to r. - 738 Greenwich, 24 Charles (after the recent fire), and 182-186 Spring (before
demolition). 182 Spring is the corner storefront with 186 directly to the right.
738 Greenwich Street This parking garage at the northwest corner of Perry Street is located within the Greenwich Village Historic District. In 2010 GVSHP got this and other surrounding sites rezoned to place height limits on new development and to encourage residential uses rather than hotels in any new developments. We did so because even within designated historic districts, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will sometimes allow demolition of existing buildings and their replacement with new buildings, albeit subject to their design approvals and the public hearing process. All this is relevant because this site was placed on the market several years ago to be sold for development – whether through adaptive reuse or new construction. After being taken off the market, it is now back up for sale. Under the zoning for the area GVSHP secured in 2010, development is limited to no more than 80 feet in height, and a hotel use (as pursued by some developers in the area) as opposed to a residential use would be difficult though not impossible. GVSHP is closely monitoring the site, and if and when any application is made for substantial changes to the physical building that would require landmarks approval, we will notify the public. If you are particularly interested in news about this site, email email@example.com with 738 Greenwich Street as the subject.
24 Charles Street This early 20th century tenement on the corner of Waverly Place suffered a serious fire in December, which damaged the building. Concerns were expressed by neighbors and residents that damage might result in the building being demolished. The building is located within the Greenwich Village Historic District. Once the fire was extinguished, GVSHP immediately reached out to the Department of Buildings and Landmarks Preservation Commission about the status of the building and its future. Current plans are for the building to be repaired and restored. GVSHP will continue to closely monitor the site and building to help ensure that, if at all possible, the building is restored. If you are particularly interested in news about this site, email firstname.lastname@example.org with 24 Charles Street as the subject.
182-186 Spring Street An 1824 rowhouse eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places was demolished at 186 Spring Street over the objections of GVSHP in 2012 when the City refused to landmark it. It was later found the demolition was improper because ownership of the site was in dispute. The site was intended to be part of a new development along with the adjacent early 20th century commercial building at 182 Spring Street at Thompson Street, but financial issues and litigation kept that planned development from moving ahead. In December 2016, GVSHP got this site and surrounding blocks landmarked as part of the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District. The site has now been placed up for bankruptcy auction. While landmark designation cannot bring back the historic house at 186 Spring Street or invalidate existing demolition permits for 182 Spring Street, it does mean that any new development here is subject to the public hearing process and approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is charged with ensuring any new development is appropriate for its historic context. GVSHP will continue to closely monitor the site, and notify the public if and when any applications are filed for landmarks approvals for a new building here.
New February Programs
Thursday, February 2 | 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Ours to Lose: When Squatters Become Homeowners
Loisaida Center, Inc., 710 East 9th Street
The Lower East Side in the 1980s and '90s was home to a revolutionary, radical squatting movement that blended urban homesteading and European-style squatting in a way never before seen in the United States. Amy Starecheski's book Ours to Lose tells the story of that movement through oral histories and personal experiences. This community of diverse Lower East Side squatters occupied abandoned city-owned buildings in the 1980s, fought to keep them for decades, and eventually undertook a long, complicated process to convert their illegal occupancy into legal cooperative ownership. Some of these buildings, built in the 1890s, were rescued from disrepair and demolition and are now an important part of the architectural and cultural fabric of the community. In this multimedia event, Starecheski uses oral histories to explore the complicated relationships involved in homesteading and squatting on the Lower East Side and throughout American history. After the talk, purchase Ours to Lose and have your copy signed by the author. Learn More>
Tuesday, February 7 | 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Stoops to Conquer: The Evolution of the New York Townhouse
Salmagundi Club, 47 5th Avenue
Co-hosted by the Merchants House Museum.
New York City in the popular imagination may be defined by the skyscraper, but in reality our city's landscape is dominated by a grid plan that minced most blocks into a staggering number of narrow lots – easily bought, sold, and built upon. The development of these small individual lots produced entire neighborhoods of narrow residential buildings, making the townhouse the true vernacular architecture of the city. Join architect Richard Sammons as he traces the origins and evolution of the ever-present townhouse in New York City. Townhouses give so many historic neighborhoods their charm, but what are the weaknesses of the form? And how can modern architects and city-dwellers improve upon this classic architectural style to bring the economical, adaptable, and sustainable townhouse into the 21st century? Learn More>
Monday, February 13 | 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Fair Folks & a Goat Cafe, 97 West Houston
Join Nancy Rosin, President of the National Valentine Collectors Association, for this time-travelling presentation on the history of valentines and tokens of love. These days, the practice of sending valentines is most often relegated to children’s classrooms. But throughout history, adults have used beautiful, sentimental, and intricate paper goods to show their affection, love, or friendship. For Victorian New Yorkers, it was a way of life. Many of these expressions of love were designed and printed right here in New York City, and the history of valentines has an unexpected life that weaves religion, mourning, love, and culture. Nancy will discuss the fascinating early history of valentines and show off pieces from her own fabulous collection from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. During the event, enjoy coffee and tea courtesy of Fair Folks & a Goat, plus a cash bar. Learn More>
Didn't make it to a recent GVSHP program? Visit our website to see photos, videos, and sometimes even presentation materials from recent programs.