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Gansevoort Street Redevelopment Clears Landmarks Preservation Commission

 The LPC approved the new design for Gansevoort Street with one commissioner dissenting.
The LPC approved the new design for Gansevoort Street with one commissioner dissenting.
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BKSK Architects

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — The redevelopment of an entire block of low-rise buildings on Gansevoort Street won the approval of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday morning.

Aurora Capital Associates is redeveloping the south side of Gansevoort Street from Ninth Avenue to Washington Street into five buildings designed by BKSK Architects.

The commission previously rejected BKSK's plans on the grounds that their design was too "fussy" and some of the buildings were too tall.

READ MORE: Here's the architect's revamped design

The development project has faced vigorous community opposition from Day One. Although the public was not allowed to speak at Tuesday's hearing, opponents showed up armed with signs from preservationist group The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

BKSK's design has long referenced the block's pre-1930s architecture, when the buildings were five-story tenements. GVSHP originally argued that they were going too far back in history, but after the commission said architects should make the buildings no higher than five stories to be true to that history, the GVSHP changed course. 

They printed out signs saying Department of Buildings permits stipulate that tenements are between 50 and 55 feet tall.

While the architects did decrease the heights of the buildings in the new designs, they are still taller than that. The two tallest buildings are 61 and 81 feet respectively.

The commissioners quibbled over whether the height decrease was enough, and how it should be judged, but ultimately approved the design.

When LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinavasan asked if any were opposed, the commissioners' responses were drowned out by a man in the audience who shouted "opposed."

A spokeswoman for the LPC later confirmed that the vote was 8-2, with Commissioners Michael Devonshire and Michael Goldblum voting no.

Opponents trickled out of the hearing room after the vote with one woman shouting, "Shame on you" in the commissioners' direction.

Srinavasan said the commission received "around 900 emails in opposition as well as testimony in writing from Save Gansevoort and GVSHP."

Developer Jared Epstein, vice president of Aurora Capital Associates, expressed gratitude for the LPC's ruling after the hearing.

"We have always said this neighborhood has not one, but many histories, and today’s action ensures the complete story of its evolution over the past 130 years will continue to be told to future generations of New Yorkers," Epstein said in a statement. "Today is an important milestone, and we are grateful for the guidance and input of local residents, stakeholders and particularly the Landmarks Preservation Commission, whose thoughtful and sensitive approach to the process will preserve the integrity and character of this neighborhood while allowing for its continued growth."

The development requires no further city review. Epstein said the next phase in their process is "demolition, extensive restoration and rehabilitation" before new construction commences.

A restrictive declaration exists for the block, which limits the types of tenants Epstein can lease to — no housing or office space. He said a "significant amount of world class tenants" are interested, but declined to specify.