Testimony to Landmark 11 Jane Street

Testimony before the Landmarks Preservation Commission

June 7, 2016

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today regarding the proposed redevelopment of 11 Jane Street, within the Greenwich Village Historic District. This proposal includes the demolition of the existing garage structure and the new construction of a 95 foot tall residential building. The proposed project would drastically alter the mid-block height of a narrow street in the Greenwich Village Historic District. Additionally, this taller structure would block out light and air from the surrounding street and community. I have deep reservations regarding this project and the negative impact it will have on the character of Jane Street. 

Under the current proposal for 11 Jane Street, the new massive structure would rise above neighboring residential walk-ups and townhouses along the block. The structure extends 100 feet in continuous frontage along Jane Street, which is significantly longer than the existing context of the block. The makeup of the façade, consisting largely of steel and glass, is not characteristic of homes, townhouses, or apartment buildings in Greenwich Village, and any new construction regardless of approval should reflect the general feel of the Greenwich Village Historic District. The proposed materials are entirely discordant with surrounding buildings and would be an unwelcome and unwarranted precedent on a small side street. The construction of this building would drastically change the makeup of Jane Street, and be counter to the existing Greenwich Village Historic District.

All too often, we see proposals for the demolition of buildings within historic districts. Greenwich Village and the greater Greenwich Village Historic District has been bombarded with requests to demolish low rise buildings on narrow Village streets in favor of construction of taller luxury residences that block out light and air from the rest of the neighborhood. Furthermore, the demolition of an existing structure completely overlooks any opportunity for adaptive reuse. It should be noted that historic districts are established with the primary goal to preserve what currently exists while allowing for repairs as needed. I understand that change is also a part of historic districts but LPC is tasked with ensuring that responsible, community-driven, and sustainable long-term growth is encouraged as part of changes to historic neighborhoods. When possible, adaptive re-use should be considered and encouraged in historic districts.

This proposal is out of context with the surrounding buildings and qualities seen in the Greenwich Village Historic District. The mass and scale of this proposal is an unwanted intrusion for current residents and their access to light and air. I urge the Commission to deny this proposal, and uphold the commitment to preservation and the continuation of a low-rise neighborhood as originally defined by the Greenwich Village Historic District.