– Sullivan-Thompson Historic District Designated!
– Pier 40 / St. John’s Agreement Approved – Community Comes Out Ahead
– NYU’s Behemoth Revealed = Ugh!
First, we wish you and yours all the best for the holidays and the new year ahead.
At this time, we also ask you to help us in our efforts to maintain our neighborhood’s integrity and sustainability in 2017.
Please make a contribution to the SoHo Alliance at http://www.sohoalliance.org/join.html or mail your check to us at PO Box 429, New York, NY 10012.
We only ask once a year, so please be generous.
This is a gift that will benefit you for years to come.
– Sullivan-Thompson Historic District Designated
On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to designate a new historic district on SoHo’s western side, the South Village’s Sullivan-Thompson Historic District. Click here for a map and images of the new historic district.
The City had long refused to consider landmark protections for the area, until the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation mobilized the local community to oppose a proposed rezoning of the nearby three-block-long St. John’s Building site in West SoHo (Houston Street between Washington and West Streets), as well as to demand landmark protections for the South Village.
GVSHP, SoHo Alliance, Community Board 2 and community leaders argued that the proposed rezoning, supported by the City, would increase development pressure on the nearby historic and endangered South Village. City Councilmember Corey Johnson championed this cause, securing a commitment from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider designation.
Historic designation protects 160 buildings from demolition and possible replacement with high-rise towers not unlike Trump SoHo, which the SoHo Alliance fought hard against. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, owns one such property, the large empty lot and adjacent tenement building on the southwest corner of Houston and Sullivan Street. Local residents have repeatedly contacted the SoHo Alliance, expressing their fears that Kushner would want to build a tower there to rival his father-in-law’s. This landmarking designation greatly relieves those and other concerns.
– Pier 40 / St. John’s Agreement Approved
In another extraordinary victory for our community this past week, the City Council approved the Pier 40/St. John’s rezoning plan, negotiated by our Councilmember Corey Johnson. (Johnson’s district starts on the west side of Thompson Street and extends to the Hudson River; Margaret Chin’s district starts on the east side of Thompson and extends to the East River)
Bouyed by a widespread community effort again spearheaded by GVSHP and the community board, Johnson was able to secure many protections and benefits that the Greenwich Village and SoHo communities have been fighting for years to attain.
Because this struggle extends almost half a century, having its genesis in the failed Westway controversy of the 70s and 80s, we won’t fill you in all details here, but refer you to this comprehensive article in The Villager.
Basically, the deal consists of rezoning the St. John’s site from manufacturing to residential use, while transferring 200,000 square feet of Pier 40 air rights into the new project. In turn, Pier 40 will get an infusion of $100 million in exchange for the air rights, with the money being used to shore up the 15-acre pier’s badly corroded pilings. Johnson also secured $14 million in City funding to ensure the pier’s sustainability.
The existing three-block-long St. John’s building will be demolished and replaced with a 43-story building. Yes, this is a very tall building on our low-rise waterfront. However, what could have been built there without this deal would have been much worse, e.g., a hotel, a big box store, offices, or event spaces that would have drawn loads of people through our neighborhood, but add not one resident or a single unit of affordable housing, or any community amenity.
There will be 1,586 residential units, 476 of them permanently affordable. Of these, 175 units will be for low-income seniors; the rest for low- and moderate-income families. After this one-time air-rights transfer, the deal prohibits any future transfers, ensuring that no more high rises will be constructed along our community’s waterfront.
Seven street-level retail stores and a 10,000 square-foot gym to be shared with the building residents and the public are part of the settlement. A much-needed supermarket will be also included. Big box stores over 10,000 square-feet will not be permitted.
– NYU’s Behemoth Revealed = Ugh!
Not everything went so well for us this week. NYU finally revealed the drawings for its so-called Zipper Building that the SoHo Alliance and other community groups fought so hard for years to prevent. Comprised mostly of student dorms and containing 735,000 square feet of floor area, about one-third the bulk of the Empire State Building, the 300-foot structure is worse than anyone could imagine. See below for yourself.
During the Bloomberg administration, NYU had the area rezoned to midtown standards — but this awkward building would be an atrocity even in midtown. Considering that the SoHo, NoHo, Greenwich Village and South Village Historic Districts – as well as several Individual Landmarks – encircle this all-glass modernist structure, NYU’s building is a further affront to our community.
Interestingly, notice how much of the bulk of the building is located on SoHo’s doorstep, on Houston Street at Mercer. And see how the NYU drawings do not actually show the entire height of this monstrous tower. We can thank Councilmember Margaret Chin for that abomination, when she inexplicably asked NYU to shift much of the original bulk of the building from Bleecker Street to Houston Street.
For a more detailed description, we refer you to the story in this week Villager. http://thevillager.com/2016/12/15/close-encounters-of-n-y-u-kind-massive-mercer-design-revealed/
Again asking you to be generous and contribute to our annual fund drive at http://www.sohoalliance.org/join.html or PO Box 429, NY, NY 10012,
Sean Sweeney, Director
PO Box 429
NY, NY 10012