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18 November 2013


Hudson River Park Air Rights Town Hall and Update


Progress at 43 MacDougal Street

Reaching Out to Mayor-elect de Blasio


Hudson River Park Air Rights Town Hall 11/13 and Update





More than 250 people attended last week's meeting sponsored by GVSHP and nearly twenty other Village, Chelsea, Tribeca, and SoHo groups.  The evening was an important opportunity to share information and ideas about the air rights sale provision of the recently-passed amendment to the Hudson River Park Act, which allows "development rights" from the park to be sold for use one block east of its boundaries.  Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried (co-sponsors of the legislation) attended the meeting, as did Councilmember-elect Corey Johnson and representatives of Borough President-elect Gale Brewer and State Senator Brad Hoylman (who voted for the legislation), as well as the President and trustees of the Hudson River Park Trust, which proposed the provision.  The bill has been signed into law by Governor Cuomo.


GVSHP has very serious concerns about the air rights provision and the impact it could have on development in our neighborhood.  The bill allows what is believed to be at least 1.6 million square feet of development rights from the park - the equivalent of about six and a half Trump Soho's -- to be used inland, thus potentially tremendously increasing the development we could see in the western part of our neighborhood. There remain a great deal of unanswered questions about the air rights provision and how it could be used, though according to the authors and proponents of the legislation, the air rights cannot yet be used until a second public review and approval process takes place, which has not yet been initiated.


Ensuring that the air rights provision is not abused and does not result in overdevelopment of our neighborhood will take a tremendous amount of work; the main reason for last week's Town Hall was to educate and organize the public around the issue, so we can prevent any proposed use of the air rights that would be detrimental to our neighborhood, and so we can advocate for measures that would limit their use.


As follow up to the meeting, GVSHP wrote to elected officials and the Trust with some important outstanding questions about the measure and suggestions about next steps to consider -- read the letter HERE You can view video from the Town Hall here or here, GVSHP's PowerPoint presentation here, and photos here.  You can also read more from coverage in the Daily News here and here, Chelsea Now, The Villager, and Crain's New York.  More info can be found here. 


Progress Fighting to Save 43 MacDougal Street


This landmarked 1846 rowhouse has set empty and deteriorating for over a decade.  GVSHP has been working with neighbors to get the house restored - to eliminate the blight to the neighborhood, to prevent damage to adjoining properties, and to have this wonderful historic house returned to its rightful condition. 


After many years, our efforts seem to finally be bearing some fruit.  In recent weeks, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has thoroughly inspected the building, and several concrete steps have been taken to stabilize the structure, including installing new supports and shoring in the interior.  Loads of debris, which were potentially harmful to the one-hundred sixty-seven year old  house, have been removed from the structure.  


While we are encouraged by this progress, the house still has a long way to go before it is fully repaired. GVSHP will continue to work with neighbors to closely monitor the situation and push the owner and the City to ensure that the building is restored to an appropriate condition. Read more here.

Reaching Out To Mayor-elect de Blasio


GVSHP immediately reached out to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio after his election in November to bring some important issues to his attention regarding the Landmarks Preservation Commission.  It has been some time since the Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, who has a great deal of control over the agency, has had a background in historic preservation, and we hope that as Mayor Mr. de Blasio will change that. 


We have also been increasingly concerned about the lack of expertise on the Landmarks Preservation Commission in relation to structural engineering issues (the Commission will typically defer to the Department of Buildings on such issues), especially as the number of requests for excavations underneath historic, landmarked properties has increased dramatically in recent years. Accidents related to digging under fragile, early 19th century structures have thus become an increasing concern.  We have therefore urged Mayor-elect de Blasio to ensure that at least one of his appointees to the Commission is a structural engineer who can help address these issues.


Read GVSHP's letter here.  We look forward to working with Mayor-elect de Blasio on preserving our city's rich history and heritage.

You help make it happen!




Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

232 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003 / (212) 475-9585