Press Release: Gansevoort Market Designated a NYC Historic District!

(Left to right) Save Gansevoort Market Co-Chairs Jo Hamilton and Florent Morellet, LPC Chair Robert Tierney, and GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman following the vote to designate the Gansevoort Market historic district.

Following a three year campaign for historic district designation by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) and its Save Gansevoort Market project (SGM), today the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to approve the proposed Gansevoort Market historic district. GVSHP’s Save Gansevoort Market project was founded in 2000 to propose and advocate for a Gansevoort Market historic district. Today’s designation is the first expansion of historic district protections in Greenwich Village since 1969. About 1/3 of Greenwich Village is currently designated a historic district.

“Given the many threats of demolition and new high rise construction we have faced, we are thrilled that the City and the Landmarks Preservation Commission have chosen to act to preserve and protect this unique historic neighborhood,” said Andrew Berman, Executive Director of GVSHP and Save Gansevoort Market. “Today’s action recognizes that this gritty neighborhood, which embodies New York’s industrial history, can make an invaluable contribution to our city and should be saved. Had LPC not acted, surely Gansevoort Market as we know it would not have survived; now it can continue to thrive as lively commercial, industrial, business and retail center. Kudos to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and thank you to the scores of residents, businesses, community leaders, and our elected officials, the unions, the property owners, and the preservationists who rallied to this cause.”

“I am thrilled to be part of a new dawn in the preservation movement,” said area restaurateur and Save Gansevoort Market Co-Chair and co-founder Florent Morellet. “Two weeks before he died, Bill Gottlieb, the largest property owner in Gansevoort Market, suggested I try to get historic district designation for the area to preserve its historic elements such as the distinctive metal awnings. This made me believe landmarking of the area was possible, and what we created was not your garden-variety preservation effort. We are a commercial neighborhood, which is unusual for a historic district, and we include business people and restaurants and landlords and unions — we are a new kind of movement.”

“We have worked very hard for this designation the last few years,” said Jo Hamilton, GVSHP Trustee and Save Gansevoort Market Co-Chair and co-founder, and a resident of nearby Jane Street. “We greatly appreciate the strong interest and work the Landmarks Preservation Commission has put into Gansevoort to move it along so quickly. Though small, Gansevoort Market is such an important neighborhood, because it celebrates our industrial past and because there is so little of that left in Manhattan. We are gratified that the City realizes that preservation and growth and businesses in a neighborhood can work together and go hand in hand.” The boundaries of the new landmark district, in the northwest corner of Greenwich Village and southwest Chelsea, are roughly West 14th and West 15th Streets on the north, Gansevoort and Horatio Streets on the south, West and Washington Streets on the west, and Hudson Street and just east of it on the east. The district covers all or parts of about a dozen blocks and approximately 100 buildings. Click here for map of the district.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission deliberating the designation of the Gansevoort Market historic district at its September 9, 2003 hearing. They voted unanimously to designate the district.

The Gansevoort Market district is distinguished by distinctive metal awnings and canopies extending over many of its sidewalks; cobblestoned streets; simple, utilitarian buildings; and unusual intersecting street patterns creating unique open spaces and distinctively shaped buildings. Such open spaces include “Gansevoort Plaza” at the intersection of Gansevoort and Little West 12th Streets and Greenwich and Ninth Avenues, and examples of unusual buildings include the “Little Flatiron Building” (Herring Lock and Safe Company Building) at 669-681 Hudson Street at Ninth Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets (for pictures of and information about the buildings, history, and architecture of the Gansevoort Market, click here and here. Gansevoort Market, or the Meatpacking district, has faced increasing development pressure in the last several years, and without designation the area would clearly have been altered beyond recognition in just a few years. However, historic district designation now means that major changes to any building in the district, including demolitions, new construction, and alterations, will have to go to the LPC for approval on the basis of their historic and aesthetic appropriateness for the area.

Several new buildings and major alterations to existing buildings have been proposed for the area. A proposal for a 450 foot tall luxury condo located just outside the area which the LPC designated (though within the area GVSHP and SGM requested the LPC designate) was derailed in March when massive public pressure led by GVSHP/SGM and other groups forced the owner to withdraw the variance application necessary to build the structure (its fate remains in doubt).

Supporters of the Save Gansevoort Market effort have included City Council Member Christine Quinn and State Senator Tom Duane; Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler; the Preservation League of NY State, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Municipal Art Society, the NY Landmarks Conservancy, and the Historic Districts Council; Local 342 UFCW (the Meatpackers Union); Community Boards 2 and 4; and many businesses, residents, and property owners in and around the district.

“The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation applauds the actions of the LPC today in recognizing the need to protect this unique area. GVSHP will continue to work with the LPC to see historic district designation extended to other areas it has advocated for protecting, including the far western blocks of the Gansevoort Market neighborhood (which were not included in the historic district designated today but were included in the district GVSHP/SGM proposed), parts of the Greenwich Village waterfront, the South Village, and parts of the East Village,” stated GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman.

September 9, 2003