South Village is a must-save, says Preserve League | East Villager & Lower East Sider

South Village is a must-save, says Preserve League

Preservationists Andrew Berman, left, and Jay DiLorenzo at a press conference in support of the South Village Historic District on Wednesday.  Photo by Albert Amateau

BY ALBERT AMATEAU  |  The Preservation League of New York State announced on Wednesday that the proposed South Village Historic District was added to the league’s “Seven to Save” list of the state’s most threatened historic resources.

Jay DiLorenzo, league president, joined Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, in a Bleecker St. rally urging the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to act on the two-thirds of the proposed district that was not designated two years ago.

“The league believes that preservation of special and meaningful places is important for the South Village, the state and the nation,” DiLorenzo said.

He added that inappropriate development has threatened significant buildings in the unprotected area, pointing to the steel structure rising from the recently demolished 178 Bleecker St. at the site of the Wednesday rally.

The league lists the state’s most endangered historic resources on the “Seven to Save” register, DiLorenzo said, adding, “It’s time to designate the South Village.”

Berman said the proposed rezonings of Hudson Square, just west of the proposed South Village district, and New York University’s superblocks project, just east of the proposed district, make the designation especially crucial.

“With the Hudson Square and N.Y.U. rezonings moving forward while the South Village is unprotected, development pressure will increase,” Berman said.

Berman recalled that a year after the Preservation League put the Meatpacking District on its “Seven to Save” list in 2002, L.P.C. designated it as the Gansevoort Market Historic District.

“We’re looking forward to the same thing happening for the 35-block area of the South Village,” Berman said.

In 2010, L.P.C. added one-third of the proposed South Village district as an expansion of the original Greenwich Village Historic District.

“That was a first step but we can’t wait any longer for the second step. We need the designation now,” Berman said.

An L.P.C. spokesperson said later that the commission has not yet set a timeline for a vote on whether to hear the proposals to further expand the Greenwich Village Historic District.

Regarding development threats to proposed historic districts, the spokesperson said, “While alterations to buildings in a potential district are a cause for concern, our experience has shown that changes involving only one or a small number of buildings relative to the overall size of a large district do not diminish the integrity of the neighborhood as a whole or affect the district’s eligibility for designation.”

The original Greenwich Village Historic District, designated in 1969 — then and now, the  largest in the city — had 2,035 buildings and was extended by 45 buildings in 2006 and by 235 buildings in 2010 in the South Village.

L.P.C. is currently considering designation of three district expansions in Crown Heights and Park Slope, in Brooklyn, one in Ridgewood, Queens, and four in Manhattan, three of them on the Upper West Side and another with 300 buildings in the East Village/Lower East Side.