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Bus Terminal Dispute Revives Plans for Hell's Kitchen Historic District

By Maya Rajamani | September 16, 2016 4:46pm

HELL’S KITCHEN — Local officials are dusting off plans for a historic district in Hell’s Kitchen amid concerns that the Port Authority’s plans for a new bus terminal could wipe out part of the neighborhood.

Community Board 4 first proposed the historic district, informally known as the “Hell’s Kitchen South Historic District,” more than five years ago, CB4 Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Land Use committee member Dale Corvino said.

It “reactivated” the plans as fears grew that the Port Authority’s widely criticized plans to build a new bus terminal in Manhattan could involve using eminent domain to raze buildings in Hell’s Kitchen, he said.

The Port Authority has rebuffed elected officials' calls for the agency to end its competition seeking designs for the new terminal.

“There’s a stock of early 20th century industrial buildings — several of which we lost [already] — that are in danger of being lost to development,” Corvino said at a committee meeting Wednesday. “It would help us to preserve existing buildings."

The district would tentatively include buildings between West 34th and 40th streets from Eighth to Ninth avenues, a map from a study carried out back in 2010 shows.


A map of the proposed historic district drawn up in 2010. (Courtesy of Manhattan Community Board 4)

Buildings including the Metro Baptist Church on West 40th Street and a row of tenements on Ninth Avenue — all of which could be affected by construction of a new terminal — would likely fall under the district’s umbrella, Corvino said.

The committee plans to file a Request for Evaluation (RFE) of the proposed district with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in the near future, he said.

“Individually, [the buildings may not be] Landmarks quality, but as a cluster of industrial buildings, they give us a sense of the industrial history of the area," Corvino explained.

For years, developers have been buying out old buildings in the neighborhood, knocking them down and building inferior quality structures and "vanilla boxes" as replacements, he added.

It will be up to the board to show that the buildings in that area have architectural and historic significance, committee chairman Jean-Daniel Noland noted Wednesday.

“It takes time," he said. "But I think it would please a lot of people."