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Gansevoort Street Redevelopment Goes Before Landmarks Commission

By Danielle Tcholakian | November 9, 2015 10:25pm
 BKSK is designing four new buildings for the south side of Gansevoort Street betwee Ninth Avenue and Washington Street.
BKSK is designing four new buildings for the south side of Gansevoort Street betwee Ninth Avenue and Washington Street.
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BKSK Architects

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — The Gansevoort Street project that prompted a West Village resident to "flip the bird" at a developer at a neighborhood meeting faces a public hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday afternoon.

Aurora Capital Associates is redeveloping the entire south side of Gansevoort Street from Ninth Avenue to Washington Street, in a project that involves demolishing two buildings and will result in five buildings ranging in height from one story to eight stories.

The design, by BKSK Architects, has already been reviewed multiple times to praise by senior LPC staff, Aurora developer Jared Epstein said over the summer.

The presentation to the neighborhood in August had incorporated the feedback of those staffers, BKSK architect Harry Kendall said at the time.

But the plan's opponents are intent on galvanizing their base to show up to the hearing to fight the project.

They argue that this stretch of Gansevoort Street is the last "intact" block of one- and two-story buildings in the meat-market style typical of the Gansevoort Market Historic District.

And they are unmoved by the architects' attempts to pay homage to neighborhood history by restoring all the classic marquees on the buildings, or by making the top two stories of the tallest building a setback, circular penthouse made of wood panels inspired by the city’s iconic water towers.

Instead they insist the project will "obliterate" the "distinctly New York gem" that is the Meatpacking District.

And the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation said the project will "destroy" Gansevoort Street and the Meatpacking District's "unique sense of place."

Project foes say they have collected 1,800 signatures on a petition against the development, with Diane von Furstenberg among the signatories. (Incidentally, Furstenberg is one of the funding sources for the High Line and for the controversial new project in Hudson River Park, Pier55.)

GVSHP slammed the developers for collecting signatures for their own petition, however.

"The developer has hired petitioners, asking people on the street in the Meatpacking District to support their plan to 'Revitalize Gansevoort Street' with their oversized development," a GVSHP email blast to supporters read. "DON’T SIGN THE PETITION."

Ben Kleinbaum, a vice president at Capalino + Company and a spokesman for the developers, confirmed that they are collecting signatures.

"We wanted to give a voice to all our neighbors, not just the most vocal opposition," he said. "As of Sunday night, nearly 700 people signed a petition asking LPC to approve the project as presented and several local businesses hung posters and signed letters supporting the project."

Opposition group Save Gansevoort is arranging free bus transportation for their supporters, leaving from 73 Horatio St. at 2:30 p.m. They plan to hand out stickers so that even the people who choose not to speak will be counted as being against the plan.

And they urged their supporters to come even if they couldn't make it exactly at 3:30 p.m.

"The hearing will almost certainly continue until at least 5:30 PM or even 6:00 PM, and you will still be able to speak if you arrive late," they said on their website.

"We need your help to pack the hearing room," they added. "Nothing is more powerful than a strong turn-out of community members expressing their opposition to this project."

The LPC hearing will be held Tuesday, Nov. 10 on the 9th Floor of 1 Centre St. The public hearing is expected to begin at 3:30 p.m., but it is the last item on the commission's agenda so the timing is subject to change.