MEATPACKING DISTRICT — The developers of a controversial project on Gansevoort Street say a survey of 300 registered voters in the West Village and Chelsea area found strong support for their blocklong redevelopment — a poll that critics dismissed as being biased in favor of the development.
Market research firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates said it found that 58 percent of residents west of 6th Avenue between Charlton and West 25th Streets support the development project planned for 46-74 Gansevoort Street by Aurora Capital Associates and William Gottlieb Real Estate, the co-owners.
But Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which opposes the project, told The Villager that the calls asked leading questions, including, "Would you prefer to see a series of decrepit, partly demolished buildings, or a historically sensitive restoration of what Gansevoort Street looked like until the 1930s?"
The market research firm denied they used loaded questions.
"That is not even close to any of the questions we asked," said David Lee, a partner at the firm who conducted the study.
"There's nothing useful that would come of that in a research study," Lee continued. "What am I going to tell the client? 'Hey, guess what, they like buildings that aren't caving in on themselves.'
"Ours is a scientific study that took a representative sample of the people we were studying," Lee added, saying that they used a mix of questions that were open-ended ("what's the most important issue to you") and dual options ("favor or oppose, less likely or more likely").
A spokesman for the developer said they could not provide any of the actual questions because they are "proprietary."
The survey is the latest flashpoint in the ongoing battle over a plan to demolish some buildings and restore others, ultimately ending up with five distinct structures.
GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman said he heard from "dozens of people" who described the calls as "misleading, inaccurate, not a true poll but a thinly-disguised attempt to try to influence public opinion with misinformation and false statements."
The plan, designed by BKSK Architects, is currently under review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and has come under fire from many locals.
The study also found that 64 percent of those surveyed favored "restoring and updating the buildings on Gansevoort Street to reflect their most historically significant period." Only 14 percent of those polled said they opposed the project, researchers said.
The architects have been criticized for going too far back in their efforts to design with an eye to the block's history — with many of their references predating the 1930s.
The researchers said people supported the project because it includes a space for a non-profit or arts organization, and because none of the buildings will be taller than six stories.