The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on Tuesday voted to calendar seven buildings on Broadway in Union Square, marking the first step to designating them as landmarks. The buildings sit adjacent to the tech hub, a 21-story tech training center planned for 124 East 14th Street and approved by the City Council last month. With the hub’s approval, the area was upzoned without landmark protections, allowing for about 85,000 square feet of office space and 16,500 more square feet between Civic Hall, step-up space and the workforce development hub.
Fearing more large-scale development and the creation of a “Silicon Alley,” following the tech hub’s opening, preservationists and local groups pushed the LPC to calendar 193 buildings in the area near the project.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a group that has led the charge for protecting the neighborhood, said the LPC’s decision to calendar seven buildings “begins the process of landmarking a fraction of a fraction of the 193 historic buildings.”
“While we are glad the LPC is moving ahead, this action is not nearly enough to adequately protect this historic area, which faces tremendous development pressure, especially after the recent upzoning for the Tech Hub,” Berman told 6sqft in an email.
The buildings calendared include 817, 826, 830, 832, 836, 840 and 841 Broadway, all between East 12th and 14th Streets. These seven buildings were chosen because they are “architecturally distinctive and highly intact representations of an important era in the development of Broadway in the area south of Union Square,” the commission said in a statement.
Former St. Denis hotel via Wikimedia
But, according to Berman, six of the seven buildings calendared are larger than zoning allows and would likely not have been demolished. Berman, along with GVSHP and other groups, is fighting to protect the former St. Denis Hotel at 11th and Broadway.
Developers plan to demolish the 165-year-old building (President Abraham Lincoln once stayed there; Alexander Graham Bell tested his telephone at the St. Denis) and replace it with a new 12-story office tower.
The city expects the tech center, estimated to cost $250 million, will create 600 jobs. Developed by RAL Development services, the center will feature a co-working space, an affordable digital skills training center, office space for startups, retail space and office space on the upper levels.
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Neighborhoods : Union Square