Happy New Year! Tomorrow will mark my four month anniversary working for GVSHP and it has been a whirlwind! My quiet existence as an architectural historian ended on September 8 of last year as I was swept up in the tumultuous world of New York City Preservation. Here are a few of the highlights to date and things to look forward to in 2016 (I can’t wait!)
First day: with little fanfare I was sent directly to LPC to testify on several properties – here is your desk, here are your keys, now go downtown! The testimony included opposition to an application at 17 Barrow Street where a much-beloved Village treasure, the ‘One If By Land’ archway, was illegally removed. The archway on this 1834 Federal row house dates back at least 75 years and is probably older. The Commission took no action at the hearing and asked the applicant to return at a future public meeting with information on restoring the archway. If you wish to receive an alert on this pending application, click HERE.
Then on my second day (second day?!) GVSHP, along with hundreds of New Yorkers, attended the City Council hearing leading the opposition to the anti-preservation, pro-demolition Intro. 775. Several of the bill’s sponsors dropped their support for the bill and the bill’s authors agreed to amend the legislation. This issue has yet to be resolved; click HERE to get the latest news.
It “slowed down” on the third day, you’ll be glad to know, but immediately I was assigned to tasks such as giving a lecture on row houses to realtors as part of the GVSHP Continuing Education for Realtors, working with the students in NYU’s Intro to Public History class on research for presentations as part of GVSHP’s Public Programs, and drafting letters and testimony for the designation of four “last chance” landmarks. These were part of 95 historic sites which were under consideration for landmark designation for between five and nearly fifty years. The City had previously proposed to simply remove these sites from the list but now, thanks to pushback from GVSHP and other preservationists, they are getting public hearings and a vote on the merits from the Commission. Decisions on these landmarks are scheduled to be rendered in 2016. Click HERE to stay tuned.
November and December were dominated by a proposal for demolition and oversized development on Gansevoort Street and the Citywide Contextual Rezoning Plan, ZQA. Once again, GVSHP led the charge and we had an incredible, standing room-only turnout at the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on the proposed development on Gansevoort Street. Hundreds came and the hearing lasted for hours, with only two people speaking in favor of the proposal, and all others speaking forcefully against it. Because the hearing went so late, the Commissioners did not discuss the item, but merely closed the hearing. The next step is they will schedule a public meeting to discuss it, and a decision could be rendered at that time. Click HERE for the latest updates with this application. At the City Planning hearing in December on ZQA, GVSHP offered compelling testimony proving that Zoning for Quality and Affordability would yield neither quality nor affordability. This issue too will continue to unfold in 2016; click HERE for the latest news.
So as you can see, my first four, action-packed months with GVSHP have been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. Looking forward to 2016!