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Thread: Greenwich Village Preservation Watch - Be on the alert!

  1. #1
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    Default Greenwich Village Preservation Watch - Be on the alert!

    I'm glad to see this now in place...

    New York Times: *April 13, 2003**

    Building A Fifth Column to Preserve Landmarks

    It's not quite Operation TIPS. But a preservation group in Greenwich Village wants residents to tattle on neighbors for suspicious paint jobs, dubious demolition work and clashing window trims.

    The idea behind "Preservation Watch" is to mobilize armchair preservationists in the Sisyphean quest to protect the neighborhood's architectural provenance from being chipped away.

    "There are countless outstanding violations in the neighborhood," said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which started the campaign two weeks ago. "You want to catch the violation before the damage is done."

    That, of course, is the duty of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. But the commission has only three staff members, whose full-time job it is to keep tabs on the city's landmarks. "This could be incredibly useful," said Robert B. Tierney, the commission's chairman. "We do rely on self-enforcement and peer enforcement."

    Potential informants are told to look for certain clues. The first is to be sure the property is a designated landmark, since only those structures are bound by the preservation laws. Maps of historic districts are available on the group's Web site, The group also suggests checking to see if the required permit is on file in front of the job site; even if that rooftop swimming pool seems out of place, the commission may have decided otherwise.

    A report can be filed with the preservation group, asking it to investigate further, or directly to the commission.

    Residents of Morton Street, who are currently feuding with neighbors over plastic fences and air-conditioning units, are ready to do their part. "Just last week, I received a list of eight violations," said Albert Bennett, president of the block association.

    Others say the idea reminds them of the failed plan by the United States Department of Justice to enlist cable guys in the fight against terrorism. "If my neighbors were doing something wrong, I would talk to them first," said Marilyn Dorato, president of the Greenwich Village Block Associations. "I wouldn't go behind their backs."

    Then there is the matter of enforcement. "You can report them, but there is very limited staff who can respond," said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council. "Last I heard, there are 23,000 landmark properties."


    Copyright 2003*The New York Times Company

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    Oct 2002


    The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) now has a new blog, Off the Grid.

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    Oct 2002


    Jane Street Triangle Redesign Update

    By Drew

    A rendering of one of the revised proposals from DOT

    This past Wednesday, representatives from the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) came before Community Board 2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee to present a revised plan for the Jane Street Triangle redesign. DOT hopes to permanently pedestrianize this small piece of West 4th Street which has been closed to traffic for years. In response to suggestions and comments made by the committee and the public at a hearing last month, two new options for the redesign were formulated by DOT.

    The revised plan (full presentation available here) references the historic street grid with distinctive paving inlays, offers some revised seating and planting options, and adds a trio of new bike racks along Jane Street to act as a visual cue to drivers approaching from West 4th Street.
    Because the site falls within the boundaries of the Greenwich Village Historic District, DOT’s proposal will have to be submitted for a public hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission. When the project comes up for review, we’ll inform you about it on our Landmarks Applications Webpage.

    One of the distinctive features of the redesign is the addition of two paved inlay strips that will highlight the former path of West 4th Street through the site. Though West 4th Street has cut through this corner for years, as it transformed from low-scale commercial buildings into the 18-floor Rembrandt apartments at 31 Jane Street in the early 1960s, this small portion of the street was closed to traffic with bollards and planters in the 1990s.

    (click to enlarge)
    (l.) 8th Avenue & Jane Street in 1933, courtesy New York Public Library;
    (r.) The intersection today

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    Edward Hopper’s Drug Store

    By Elizabeth

    We’ll be the first to admit it: We have Edward Hopper fever. Those who were present at our recent lecture on the artist’s work know the extent of the research we have put into locating the subjects of Nighthawks at the Diner and Early Sunday Morning, two of Hopper’s most iconic Village paintings. But these are far from the only Hopper works that portray life in the neighborhood that the artist called home. Greenwich Village was a great muse of Hopper’s and is portrayed in a great number of his masterpieces, including his 1927 painting Drug Store.

    Edwards Hopper's Drug Store, 1927

    After the lecture I was approached by Bob Egan, a friend of GVSHP, who thought he might hold some clues as to the whereabouts of the storefront portrayed in this painting.

    Bob speculates that Drug Store may have been based on the building at 184 Waverly Place (aka 154 West 10th Street). The building is currently home to the bookstore Three Lives & Company, which GVSHP honored with a Village Award in 1991. Not only does the address (No. 184) match the numbers shown in the painting, but the cast-iron corner column also survives to this day.

    184 Waverly Place today

    Two more views:

    184 Waverly Place today, courtesy of Google

    At Bob’s request we did a little research into this building, which we found was constructed prior to 1828 (note the paneled Federal style lintels and Flemish Bond brickwork). The storefront is clearly a Victorian-era addition that was altered in the early to mid-20th century. The ca. 1940 tax photo (a very poor photocopy of which is below), indicates that a delicatessen was present in the building at that time. But this would have been 13 years after Hopper finished the painting.

    ca. 1940 tax photo, courtesy NYC Department of Records

    Now, for a few reasons we’re hesitant to say with absolute certainly that Hopper based Drug Store on 184 Waverly Place. For one, the storefront in the painting is of a very typical late 19th-century style, and there were likely many similar storefronts existing in Greenwich Village in 1927 that have since been demolished. And certain elements of 184 Waverly Place – such as the doorway to the left of the storefront and the number of window bays on the second floor – do not match those in the painting. Then again, our research on Nighthawks at the Diner and Early Sunday Morning shows that Hopper was known to alter his subjects, sometimes a great deal, using elements from a number of different scenes in and around the Village.

    That said, this does make us wonder. Could Drug Store have been based on 184 Waverly Place?

    Hopper experts: Leave us your thoughts!

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    What a lovely little building.

    Anderson Cooper Shows a Handsome Face on West 3rd

    by Pete Davies

    The last time we looked Anderson Cooper and crew had stripped off a century of paint from the upper floors of his little old firehouse in Greenwich Village. Back then everything down at street level was still painted over in shiny red and white. But now that's gone and the natural bricks are back. Over the arched entryway, a freshly-scrubbed terra cotta bust of Vulcan keeps an eye on passers-by. This is all part of the massive makeover that AC undertook after he bought the 1906 Fire Patrol No. 2 for a sizzling $4.3 million. Then he hired architect Cary Tamarkin to spruce it all up, and promised to keep lots of the historic old bits intact. Now, despite a hiccup along the way, the restorative renovation is nearly complete.

    The word on the street is that the 4-floor interior, with original spiral staircases and brass fire poles, has been fitted out in granite and assorted stone, with lots of wood exposed. Inside there's 8,997 square feet to play with, so no doubt Cary and Cooper have come up with some homey touches, too. Records on file with the Department of Buildings show that an elevator has been added, which required some boring work and soil tests, all documented with pages of hand-done drawings of the dirty work.

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    Greenwich Village Locals Continue Fight to Save 186 Spring Street Townhouse

    by Adel Manoukian

    A historic house at 186 Spring Street may be torn down by owner and Canadian developer Nordica, but not if the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) has anything to say about it.

    The GVSHP has recently discovered that the 1824 house, formerly owned by Beastie Boys member Adam Horovitz, has historic significance in early gay and AIDS activism. It served as a “gay commune” right after the 1969 Stonewall Riots—a series of violent demonstrations against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. Residents of the house in the early 1970s included Jim Owles, the first openly gay candidate for city public office and Dr. Bruce Voeller, the co-founder and director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. This organization was the first to advocate gay and lesbian rights and was able to remove “homosexuality” off the list of mental disorders among other accomplishments.

    The house is also located within GVSHP’s South Village Historic District, which the organization is trying to preserve as a whole.

    The Canadian developer Nordica is planning to build a seven-story building that will have two floors of retail, three single-floor apartments and a duplex penthouse at 182 Spring Street, according to DNA Info.

    Because of these recent discoveries, GVSHP has been able to get letters of support from political representatives like State Senator Tom Duane and City Councilmember Danny Dromm. The organization also urges residents and people in support of the fight to write letters to the Landmarks Preservation Committee (LPC). Due to the continued support, the City has not yet issued demolition permits for the space and GVSHP is trying to keep it that way.

    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times A three-house row on Spring Street dates to the early 1800s.
    The house at left, No. 186, is to be demolished to make way for a seven-story apartment building at Spring and Thompson Streets.

    Demolition Awaits a Spring Street Row House With a Beastie Boy Connection

    Behind Those Old Bricks on Spring Street, Memories of a 1970s Gay Hub

  7. #7


    Interesting aside: 18 W 11th is where the Weather Underground blew themselves up in the spring of 1970. You can tell on the building on the right in the maps link, by the haphazard way it was put back together; as if a giant just shoved the new facade in place.

    Manhattan’s most historic district rediscovered

    By Adam Bonislawski

    July 23, 2014 | 7:25pm

    At 18 W. 11th Street an unrenovated townhouse is going for $13.5 million. Photo: Handout

    Gotham’s new Gold Coast: In the heart of Greenwich Village, developers rediscover Manhattan’s most historic district.
    Ah, Greenwich Village, a land of stately tree-lined streets, historic townhomes and scaffolding…lots and lots of scaffolding.
    There are few better-established New York City neighborhoods than the Gold Coast blocks off lower Fifth Avenue, but even here, in the heart of one of Manhattan’s first historic districts, time doesn’t stand still.

    Construction is “everywhere,” says Matthew Bremer, principal at architecture firm Architecture in Formation, which is currently at work on a number of projects in the area. “You go on your way to a job site and you can wave to three or four other sets of contractors on the same block.”

    Driving this activity, Bremer says, is a trend toward turning the neighborhood’s subdivided townhouses into single-family homes.
    While the area’s grand 19th-century residences were originally built for single families, many, notes Bremer, were converted to multi-unit dwellings during the Great Depression.
    “Around 1929, kind of en masse, they had their stoops chopped off and were [split into] about eight to 10 units each,” he says.

    But in recent years, and particularly as New Yorkers of the necessary means grow more inclined to raise their kids in the city, buyers have been snapping up these properties with an eye toward returning them to their former single-family glory.

    Modal TriggerA terrace at the nine-unit condo on 17 E. 12th St.Photo: Williams New York

    At 4 E. 10th St., Bremer’s firm is converting a formerly subdivided townhouse into an 8,100-square-foot home complete with a new rooftop terrace and pool.
    The plans also call for digging out the cellar by three feet to turn it into a fully legal space.

    “A lot of it is mechanicals and storage, but when you dig down, you can create a lot of new real estate,” Bremer says. “You can’t put living spaces down there, but wine cellars, dry saunas and fitness rooms — those are the new frontier in Greenwich Village cellars.”

    At 116 Waverly Place, Spruce Capital Partners has transformed a turn-of-the-century, multi-family building into a seven-bedroom, 11,000-square-foot, single-family townhouse featuring a rooftop pool and hot tub, a private garden and wine cellar.

    Designed by architect Dirk Denison, the property is on the market for $34 million.
    The Village townhouse market has benefited in recent years from uptown residents making the move downtown, says Peter McCuen & Associates agent Jim St. Andre, who represents the building.

    Modal TriggerPeter Armstrong is the brains behind brawny 17 E. 12th St.Photo: Zandy Mangold

    This shift is largely a matter of lifestyle, St. Andre says, with buyers drawn by the area’s restaurants and shopping and nightlife.
    A decade ago, buyers were also lured by the area’s relatively lower costs. Today, however, townhouses in central Greenwich Village are trading at prices comparable to those on the Upper East Side, he notes.

    “A beautifully renovated townhouse on a prime Village block today sells for $3,500 per square foot,” says Leonard Steinberg, president of brokerage Urban Compass — which is comparable to UES townhouses.
    Unrenovated townhouses can run around $2,000 per square foot, but, Bremer notes, buyers can spend between $500 and $1,000 per square foot renovating.

    Steinberg currently represents two unrenovated townhomes in the area — 18 W. 11th St., a five-bedroom, 6,500-square-foot property on the market for $13.5 million; and 146 Waverly Place, a seven-bedroom, 6,800-square-foot property listed for $22 million. In the case of 18 W. 11th St., the owner has received approval for renovation plans.

    At the Waverly property, the owner — a developer — is willing to take things even further, offering “to build it to turnkey completion and allow a buyer right now to customize it to their specific needs,” Steinberg says.
    Of course, not everyone is in the market for a centuries-old townhouse. Happily for such buyers, there’s also no shortage of multi-unit new construction going up around the central Village.

    Modal TriggerArmstrong believes in the romance of townhouse living at 17. E. 12th St.Photo: Williams New York

    Developer Edward Minskof, for instance, is turning the former Kentshire Galleries building at 37 E. 12th St. into a six-unit condo featuring a ground-floor duplex, four 3,000-square-foot simplex units and a 6,000-square-foot penthouse duplex with a rooftop terrace.

    Douglas Elliman will begin selling in October with units going from around $8 million to the $30 million-plus range.
    At 12 E. 13th St., Continental Properties and DHA Capital are converting an old Hertz parking garage into an eight-unit condo with prices ranging from $7.5 million for 2,800-square-foot three-bedroom to $30.5 million for a four-bedroom, 5,700-square-foot triplex penthouse.

    Appropriately enough, given the building’s provenance, the units all come with private automated parking.
    Residents can drive their cars into a ground-level parking bay where a robotic lift will then carry the cars to parking on the second floor.

    Continental Properties principal Howard Rappaport says he sees the development as “combining the best of townhouse living with the convenience of living in a full-service building.”
    Developer Peter Armstrong makes a similar case for his new nine-unit condo at 17 E. 12th St., describing it as “townhouse living but in a [condo] building.”

    “There is a large segment of people who want to live downtown, and the romance is to buy a townhouse,” Armstrong says. “But once they think about it, it becomes a lot harder to get their hands around. Typically when they find something, they have to gut renovate, which not everyone wants to do.”

    Also set in a former garage, 17 E. 12th St. offers onsite parking as well.
    Douglas Elliman put three of the building’s units on the market last month, with prices running from $14.25 million for a four-bedroom to $25 million for a five-bedroom penthouse.

    Modal TriggerThe biggest condo project to hit the area is the 200-unit Greenwich Lane at the site of the old St. Vincent’s Hospital.Photo: Hayes Davidson

    Rudin Management and Global Holding’s Greenwich Lane project, a 200-unit development at the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site, likewise aims to blend townhouse charm with condo convenience.
    The complex features five condo buildings along with five townhouses with prices for available units ranging from $2.195 million for a one-bedroom to $19.15 million for a five-bedroom full-floor penthouse.

    “The market is exceptional.” says Massey Knakal’s James Nelson, calling the Village “unrivaled” in terms of downtown real estate. “I’ve been doing this for 16 years; I’ve never seen pricing quite like this,” he says.
    At the same time, adds agent St. Andre, while properties with “great views, great light, great outdoor space…will sell as quickly as you put them on the market…it’s not that anything in the Village will sell immediately above asking price.”

    Indeed, according to appraiser Jonathan Miller, prices for new-build Greenwich Village co-ops are now up to 80 percent higher than they were at the pre-2008 crash peak.

    Modal TriggerThe four-unit 61 Fifth Ave. was designed by Alta Indelman and just relaunched with units going from $12 to $30 million.Photo: Donna Dotan, staging: Cheryl Eisen of IMG

    As a result, says agent St. Andre, “people are thoughtful in the way they are purchasing real estate right now.”
    For instance, boutique condo 61 Fifth Ave. went on the market last July only to halt sales in January after failing to move any of its four units.

    The building recently relaunched sales after shifting marketing from Sotheby’s to Douglas Elliman’s Eklund Gomes Team.
    Prices for the units range from $12 million for a 4,300-square-foot three-bedroom to $30 million for the four-bedroom, 5,900-square-foot penthouse.

    Despite its now historically high prices, St. Andre notes that Greenwich Village still has “a lot of upside” — particularly thanks to an influx of foreign buyers.
    Or, as Steinberg puts it, “I think the Village is one of the extraordinary neighborhoods within an urban concrete jungle; you simply cannot replicate it.”

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    Rejoice, Stonewall Inn Is Officially a New York City Landmark

    June 23, 2015

    Photo via Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    With more than 20 testimonies in favor of landmarking Stonewall Inn coming from LGBT activists, preservationists, local politicians, and Stonewall riot survivors—and none in opposition—a "no" from the Landmarks Preservation Commission would probably have incited another protest of historic proportions. Thankfully, no such thing happened, as the Commission unanimously voted to bestow upon the gay bar—notably, the site of an epic 1969 police raid and, according to almost every speaker at the hearing, the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement—landmark status. The room erupted in applause, with audience members embracing one another in celebration of the news, which has coincided with the start of New York City's Pride Week.

    This recognition took about a year to come to fruition. Although the Inn falls within the Greenwich Village Historic District, designated mere months before the riots took place, and has been a National Historic Landmark since 2000, preservationists argued that, without a city landmark designation, the building would still be vulnerable to real estate development.

    Several testifiers, including New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, compared Stonewall to other important sites in American civil rights movements, including Seneca Falls and Selma, Alabama. Like these other historic locations, Stonewall carries importance "for every community in the city of New York," James said. "Everyone needs to know this story of rebellion," she added. David Saltonstall, assistant comptroller for policy, who also spoke on behalf of Comptroller Scott Stringer, called Stonewall a "national symbol of dignity and defiance," proving that "things can get better" and "a small group of people can change the world."

    The building is the first to be designated for its significance to the LGBT community—but it's also the rare building to be deemed "culturally significant" enough (rather than aesthetically so) to merit landmark status.

    The speakers at today's public hearing implored commissioners to continue looking beyond architectural features in order to determine a building's worth. Many testimonies made mention of other LGBT-relevant locations proposed by the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation as potential landmarks: Julius's Bar, the site of the first planned civil disobedience for the LGBT movement; the LGBT Community Center, where Act Up was founded; and the Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street, the headquarters of the Gay Activists Alliance. Some speakers suggested finding a way to commemorate Christopher Street and Christopher Park.

    Andrew Dolkart, director of Columbia's Historic Preservation Program, said the LPC should look into landmarking sites that were pertinent to other groups, such as women, as well as Chinese and Hispanic populations, to name a few. "New York has to catch up," he said.

    Many speakers shared stories of how Stonewall played a role in their own lives as LGBT youth in the city. Openly gay Council Member Corey Johnson, whose district contains Stonewall, said that when he first visited New York at the age of 17, Stonewall was his first destination. Council Member Rosie Mendez, who identified herself as an out lesbian when she took the floor, recalled how the community has returned to the bar multiple times since the riots, usually after major events concerning LGBT rights and marriage equality. "It continues to be the place that people from all over the world come to... to see the birthplace of our movement," she said. David Ehrich, an activist with, spoke about the recent tragedy of Tyler Clementi's suicide, comparing his own upbringing to that of Clementi's. "My only salvation... was going to Stonewall," he said.

    A couple speakers had suggestions for further preservation of Stonewall. Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City asked if there was any way to recreate the neon sign that once marked Stonewall's location. Barbara Zay of the Historic Districts Council proposed finding a way to preserve not just the physical space of the inn, but also its function; in a perfect world, she said hopes Stonewall can be maintained as a public gathering space.

    The only speaker who shared qualms over the landmarking proposal was a Stonewall survivor who said he still remembers the bar as a "symbol of oppression," not a "symbol of liberation." The historical event, he noted, took place not in the bar, but out in the streets. He supports the landmarking inasmuch as it commemorates the history that transpired, but cautioned against failing to contextualize the incident.

    Following the testimonies, Commissioner Michael Devonshire agreed that the building is culturally crucial if not architecturally significant. "It ain't a pretty building," he said, eliciting laughs from the audience. Still, he echoed support for the movement at this particular moment, not just because of its relevance to Pride Week, but in light of the recent shootings in Charleston. Devonshire expressed a desire for more tolerance and a move toward being "more human." Commissioner Michael Goldblum added that this landmarking would raise a challenge for the LPC to develop a broader definition of landmark. Reminding everyone that this year marks 50 years of New York's landmarks law, he called this a "great step for the next 50 years."

    —Wesley Yiin

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