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February Long on New and Old News

February may be the shortest month, but that does not mean that there is any shortage of important things happening this month on the Village Preservation calendar.

Far from it.  Aside from our ongoing roster of programs, as anyone who has been following the battle over NYU’s massive 20 year expansion plan knows, this month is chock full of important hearings and meetings which will culminate in the vote by the Community Board on February 23rd.

Given the hectic pace of things, we thought it might be interesting to check back in on what was going on just two years ago, in February 2010, and see where things had progressed from there since then…On the zoning front, the plan to rezone six blocks in the Far West Village which Village Preservation and local groups had been pushing for finally moved ahead when the Department of City Planning made a long-overdue public presentation at the Community Board.  After more pushing, the plan was approved and implemented in October of 2010, thus preventing two controversial developments in the area from moving ahead.

Also on the rezoning front, a plan to rezone a sidestreet in the South Village with a commercial overlay, which Village Preservation and many other local groups and leaders opposed, was withdrawn in the face of imminent defeat at the City Planning Commission — score one for grassroots activism!

On a less positive front, the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals approved a variance for NYU’s (then-) proposed Spiritual Center on Washington Square South, which GVSHP opposed.  The building has since been built and, well, you be the judge as to whether or not it’s a worthy addition to the neighborhood.

Finally, Village Preservation reported that the former Frank Stella Studio and early 20th century stable/horse auction mart (and WWII women’s assembly-line training center — the proverbial home of “Rosie the Riveter”) was safe from a prior plan for demolition due to a long-term lease having been signed for re-use of the property and a preservation easement having been placed upon the property.  However, the city had not yet moved ahead with landmark designation, which Village Preservation had first pushed for in 2006 (though the City did intercede at our request and prevent demolition of the building for a 7-story condo from taking place).

Of course Village Preservation recently reported that the city now appears finally ready to move ahead with a vote on landmark designation of this unique historic site, first heard for designation in 2006 following our emergency request.  Progress!

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