SoHo Residents Raise Funds to Fight God's Love We Deliver's Expansion Plan

By Andrea Swalec on March 27, 2013 1:35pm 

SOHO — Dozens of SoHo residents have contributed to a legal fund to try to thwart construction plans on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Spring Street.

The nonprofit God's Love We Deliver is planning to double the size of its building and sell its air rights to Quinlan Development Group so it can raise a 14-story building.

Because God's Love We Deliver bought its 18,000-square-foot 166 Sixth Ave. building from the city with a restriction that it be used only as a community facility, locals such as 22-year Sullivan Street resident Micki McGee say the nonprofit should not be permitted to sell its air rights to a developer.

"Why are our taxpayer dollars supporting luxury condominium construction? We're being steamrolled on this," she said. "What's happened here is such an egregious breach of the community's trust."

Using the name South Village Neighbors, McGee and other residents — many of whom live in rent-regulated buildings — have raised at least $3,400 to hire a land-use attorney, according to the group's website.

The City Planning Commission approved the request by God's Love We Deliver for a change to restrictions on uses of its building, a spokesman said Wednesday, meaning the group is allowed to sell its air rights to Quinlan.  

Residents fear construction of the planned 87,000-square-foot mixed-use condo building at 180 Sixth Ave. could destabilize old, adjacent buildings, and they say it would block their views and light. The 14-story building would cast shadows on Vesuvio Playground at Spring and Thompson streets, and Father Fagan Park and SoHo Square on Sixth Avenue, residents say.

"These are significant implications for the very limited public space we have in this neighborhood," said McGee, a sociology professor.

A spokeswoman for Quinlan declined to comment on the project, but said more details will be revealed in April.

South Village Neighbors argues that the expansion of God's Love We Deliver into a five-story, 41,000-square-foot building twice its current size will also inconvenience locals, sending more smog from its food-delivery vans into people's homes.

But God's Love We Deliver president and CEO Karen Pearl said the expansion of the building is necessary for the nonprofit to fulfill its mission to serve people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses.

"Without expanding our current facility, the crucial, life-sustaining — and unique — services we provide to a constantly growing segment of our society could become, for the first time ever, subject to waiting lists or other unwanted restrictions," she said in a statement. "We are therefore moving forward with our expansion plans."

McGee praised the mission of God's Love We Deliver as "good work," but questioned its location in a residential neighborhood.

"This is an industrial food production site now," she said about the group, which delivers roughly 4,500 meals daily.

God's Love We Deliver is currently fundraising for its expansion. Designer Michael Kors donated $5 million to the $25 million campaign. 

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