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Happy Anniversary, Gansevoort Market Historic District!

On September 9, 2003, the Gansevoort Market Historic District was officially designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.  The designation not only culminated a three-year effort to protect the increasingly endangered Meatpacking District from the very real prospect of mass demolitions and oversized new development (such as the Hotel Gansevoort, which preceded the landmark designation), but was the end of a thirty-four year logjam during which there had been no new historic district protections added in Greenwich Village, and the beginning of a decade of landmarking successes by GVSHP which ultimately included landmark designation of over a thousand buildings, and community friendly contextual rezonings or downzonings for nearly one hundred blocks.

(l. to r.) GVSHP Exec. Dir. Andrew Berman, Jo Hamilton, former LPC Chair Sherida Paulsen, and Florent Morellet after the vote designating the Gansevoort Market Historic District.

click to enlarge

The effort to secure landmark designation for the Meatpacking District goes back to at least Jane Jacobs’ days, when advocates sought landmark designation for all of Greenwich Village, including the Hudson River waterfront, the Meatpacking District, and the South Village.  After its establishment in 1980, GVSHP focused a great deal of its energy on documenting the history of the Meatpacking District and the rest of the Greenwich Village waterfront, and pushing for landmark protections, but to no avail.

But starting in 2000, a renewed effort to seek landmark designation specifically for the Meatpacking District was born.  Though it faced much initial skepticism, GVSHP’s Save Gansevoort Market Task Force, consisting of local business, community, and preservation leaders, and led by Jo Hamilton and Florent Morellet, eventually helped secure landmark designation for about 2/3 of the Meatpacking District, and State and National Register of Historic Places listing for the entire district.  The effort also blocked plans for a 500 ft. tall tower in the Meatpacking District — twice!

Fortunately, the successful Meatpacking District/Gansevoort Market landmarking effort was just the beginning of a long run of landmarking and zoning successes GVSHP has had in our neighborhoods, after a rather protracted dry spell — the last new historic district in Greenwich Village before the Gansevoort Market Historic District had been designated in 1969 (though local activists had been able to get a small but important two-building expansion of the East Village’s St. Mark’s Historic District in 1984, and the first stage of the NoHo Historic District designated in 1999).

The Gansevoort Market success was followed in 2006 by the Far West Village expansion of the Greenwich Village Historic District and the Weehawken Street Historic District, in 2010 by the South Village expansion of the Greenwich Village Historic District, in 2012 by the East 10th Street Historic District, and again in 2012 by the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District.  And in 2010, 2013, and 2016, the three phases of our proposed South Village Historic District were landmarked after a more than ten year campaign, protecting about 750 buildings on forty blocks.  GVSHP also strongly supported the designation of the NoHo East Historic District in 2003 and the NoHo Historic District Expansion in 2008.

Villagers rallied many times with GVSHP at City Hall to push for preservation measures, here in 2004.

Additionally, GVSHP successfully proposed and secured landmark designation for more than two frozen individual buildings, including the multi-building Westbeth and Silver Towers complexes, and successfully supported individual landmark designation of another twenty buildings.

GVSHP was also able to help secure four different community-friendly contextual rezonings and downzonings in our neighborhood, including the 2005 Far West Village rezoning (the first downzoning in Manhattan in a generation), the 2008 East Village/Lower East Side rezoning (the largest rezoning in Manhattan since 1961), the 2010 3rd and 4th Avenue Corridor Rezonings, which will prevent more high-rise NYU dorms from ever being built in that area, and the 2010 Washington and Greenwich Street rezoning, which blocked two out-of-scale projects including a planned 100 ft. tall hotel.

In all, since 2003, GVSHP has helped secure landmark designation for 1,250 buildings, and contextual rezonings or downzonings of nearly one hundred blocks. Of course there have been many losses and other challenges as well, but one might say that starting with the Gansevoort Market Historic District, we have been on a very good roll.

Click here or on map below for more details and explanations about successful landmarking and zoning protection efforts in our neighborhoods.

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