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Gansevoort Street Redevelopment Sparks Lawsuit Against Landmarks Commission

 The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the new design (right) on Tuesday, June 7.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the new design (right) on Tuesday, June 7.
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BKSK Architects

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — Local advocacy group Save Gansevoort is suing the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission and the developers behind the massive redevelopment of a block of Gansevoort Street.

Aurora Capital Associates and William Gottlieb Real Estate are redeveloping the south side of Gansevoort Street between Ninth Avenue and Washington Street. Their project, designed by BKSK Architects, will convert the block of low-rise industrial buildings into taller structures with luxury retail on the ground floors.

READ MORE: Gansevoort Street Developers Get Rude Greeting From Neighbors

Because it lies in the landmark-protected historic Meatpacking District, its design required approval by the commission, which approved the project in June after some misgivings.

READ MORE: 'Fussy' Gansevoort Street Redevelopment Plan Sent Back to Drawing Board

READ MORE: Gansevoort Street Redevelopment Clears Landmarks Preservation Commission

"The City’s grant of permission to the Gansevoort developers is part of a larger trend, as revealed by the unprecedented line of decisions by City agencies under the current mayoral administration to authorize the privatization of landmark properties and other public assets," said Michael Hiller, the attorney who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court on behalf of Save Gansevoort.

Hiller, who specializes in cases involving preservation of landmarks and public assets, said his caseload has more than tripled under Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration.

Hiller said the LPC under de Blasio "has ceased to be a commission that engages in landmark preservation and, instead, has become a city agency dedicated to justifying decisions favorable to real estate developers — even if it means that the LPC violates its own prior rulings and the language and history of the Landmarks Law."

The justification the LPC used to approve the developer's project sets "a new and dangerous precedent that would pave the way for wholesale demolition and conversion of every landmark district in New York," Hiller explained.

"The fight to save the Gansevoort Market Historic District thus represents a line in the sand," he added. "If the LPC’s decision in this case is not reversed, it would set back decades of progress made by public officials and New Yorkers throughout the City dedicated to preservation.”

LPC spokeswoman Damaris Olivo objected to Hiller's characterization of the agency under de Blasio, noting that under his mayoralty, they have "designated more than 3,500 buildings and sites in New York City and addressed a massive backlog of sites that had languished on LPC’s calendar for 50 years.”

"Contrary to Mr. Hiller’s allegations, the Commission proudly remains the strongest force and voice for preservation in New York City," Olivo said in a statement. "After an extensive public process, a review of the record demonstrates that the Commission made a rational and reasoned decision that allows for change and evolution while preserving the most significant aspects of the Gansevoort Market Historic District."

Aurora Capital Associates did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Save Gansevoort secured the same public relations firm that represented the people who lost several lawsuits attempting to block New York University's expansion plan in Greenwich Village.

Here is the petition Hiller filed in New York Supreme Court:

Save Gansevoort LPC Article 78 Verified Petition by DNAinfoNewYork on Scribd