More than eight months after a redevelopment of several buildings in the Gansevoort Market Historic District was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, a group of preservationists got their day in court to oppose the decision. Save Gansevoort, which was represented by attorney Michael Hiller, filed a lawsuit in October that was heard before Hon. Joan A. Lobis in state Supreme Court last Wednesday, March 8. Hiller defended his argument that, if the approved commercial buildings are constructed on the south side of Gansevoort Street between Ninth Avenue and Washington Street, the neighborhood would “cease to be a market district.”
Save Gansevoort has been fighting Aurora Capital Associates and William Gottlieb Real Estate since the proposal to redesign an entire block at 46-74 Gansevoort Street first came to light in 2015. Zack Winestine, a co-organizer of the group, called the four buildings “unique and iconic,” citing their long, low-lying structures as exemplary of the district.
In front of a few dozen supporters last week, Hiller presented his case that the Landmarks Preservation Commission had violated a section of landmarks law by designating one of the buildings involved in the project as having “no style” and thus no historical relevance. “A building can have no architectural style but still be historically significant,” he said.
Representatives for the commision and the developers argued that they would preserve the character and history of the neighborhood. They clarified that the building at 60-68 Gansevoort Street would not be demolished, though three stories will be added to it. To heighten these buildings, they said, would return the block to its tenement-style roots, which populated the district before it became known for the one- and two-story market structures that later defined it.
Of particular concern, Hiller said, was the precedent this development could set for demolishing or significantly altering buildings in historic areas that are determined to have no style. Judge Lobis, however, took a narrow view of the issue and said she did not feel that was part of her purview to consider.
The judge will issue a decision within the next few months, according to Winestine. Because of injunction granted to Save Gansevoort in January, no exterior construction can take place until a ruling is made.
Madeleine Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org