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October 11, 2005: City Approves Far West Village Rezoning

On October 11, 2005, the Far West Village rezoning plan was unanimously approved and adopted. Village Preservation had led the fight for this plan to protect a vulnerable part of the Village. Here’s the story:

Fighting to save the Far West Village April 2004

In early 2004, following our successful efforts to landmark the Meatpacking District, Village Preservation and allied community groups kicked off an effort to secure landmark and zoning protections for the Far West Village.  For more than a decade, this historic neighborhood had seen an invasion of  inappropriately tall buildings, with more imminently planned.  In April of 2004, Village Preservation led a protest march of concerned neighbors and politicians. The rally marched through the streets of the Far West Village, starting at the site of the third residential tower designed by architect Richard Meier on tiny Charles Lane, near the West Side Highway. (When the Greenwich Village Historic District was created in 1969, the Far West Village was not included in that original designation, nor was the South Village.) The following month we met again in front of City Hall.

Presenting a special card to Mayor Bloomberg December 2004

In December of 2004, over 200 people including residents and politicians, attended a town hall meeting at which Village Preservation Executive Director Andrew Berman shared a first glimmer of hope:  a recent statement by the Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair that there was “momentum” within the administration for consideration of the preservation proposal for the area. Hundreds of letters were written at this meeting, and a giant holiday card was made for Mayor Bloomberg, which was presented to him several days later.

In February 2005, we learned that the real estate developer Related Companies was planning to construct the largest tower (a 20-story, 270 ft. tall building) along the waterfront on the site of the Superior Ink building at 469 West Street. The pressure was on, and Village Preservation immediately appealed to the Mayor and the LPC to prevent this from happening. In May, after another spirited rally near the site of the Superior Ink building, the good news finally came: the City announced that day that it would soon release downzoning and landmark plans for the Far West Village.

As you know, the wheels sometimes turn slowly, and the wait can be excruciating, but Village Preservation was relentless in leading letter-writing campaigns, holding rallies, and keeping residents informed about the process and progress. Finally, on October 11, 2005, we were able to announce:

In an enormous victory for Far West Village preservation efforts, today the City Council voted OVERWHELMINGLY to enact the Far West Village rezoning plan, which takes effect immediately. No changes or “rollbacks” were made to the rezoning plan, in spite of 11th hour efforts by several developers to weaken the downzoning for their sites.

The Far West Village in 2004 — thanks to zoning and landmark protections, not much has changed.

This rezoning and height limits on new construction meant the demise of Related’s original proposed Superior Ink project. The new rezoning isn’t perfect, or course, but it was a giant step in protecting this unique section of the Greenwich Village Hudson River waterfront. It’s very rare for the process to be this relatively quick, but it shows the importance of fighting the fight and not giving in. We are happy and proud to have been a key player in this victory.

To learn more about our efforts to preserve the Far West Village, click here.

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