The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s plans to add 10 additional blocks to the South Village Historic District are at the top of the agenda for city preservationist groups. As Crains reports, the addition of the historic district is also a condition for a City Council vote in support of the St. John’s Center development, a 1.7 million-square-foot, mixed-use project proposed for 550 Washington Street across the street from Pier 40 in Hudson River Park. That project requires the council’s approval, and City Councilman Corey Johnson said in August that he’d vote for the project, proposed by developers Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital Group, if the addition of the third and final phase of the historic district, currently bordered by Sixth Avenue, West Fourth Street, LaGuardia Place and Houston Street, goes forward. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), among others, has pushed for the landmarking of what would be the city’s first tenement-based historic district.
Renderings of St. John’s Center development courtesy of COOKFOX Architects
The proposed project in its current form has the support of the Hudson River Park Trust and the de Blasio administration, mainly because the primarily residential development would include affordable housing and the sale of $100 million worth of air rights to the project’s developers will be instrumental in funding much-needed maintenance at Pier 40, which hosts public athletic fields.
Though just this week the City Planning Commission voted to approve the development on the three-block site of the St. John’s Terminal located at Houston and West Street, changes requested by GVSHP and other community groups were not included. Those groups have been working closely with Johnson, the area’s local representative, and are counting on the City Council to secure the desired changes that they feel are necessary to protect the surrounding neighborhood. If the City Council doesn’t approve the proposed project, the developers can still build a large commercial project at the site, though it would likely be lacking the affordable housing and funding for Pier 40 repairs.
Construction at 54 MacDougal Street in the South Village Historic District
The movement to designate the 35-block stretch of Downtown Manhattan as an historic district began in 2006. Andrew Berman, Executive Director of GVSHP told 6sqft, “We’ve been fighting for over ten years to secure landmark protections for the entire South Village, and with the announcement by the city that they will consider the final phase of our proposed South Village Historic District, we are one very big step closer to that coming to reality. Working closely with Councilmember Corey Johnson, we made clear to the City that it was unacceptable to this community to even consider rezoning the St. John’s Terminal site without moving ahead with the South Village landmarking. That strategy appears to have borne fruit.”
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- INTERVIEW: Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Renderings of redeveloped St. John’s Terminal courtesy of COOKFOX Architects