A rare win over developers in the Meatpacking District

Written by Our Town Downtown on . Posted in News Our Town Downtown.

The victory, a rare win for a preservation community long frustrated by the arcane world of New York City land variance, delayed approval of a glass office tower that would’ve been 34% larger than current law allows. Designs for the unique, angular building were first made public in 2012 but met with considerable blowback because of the size request.

William Gottlieb Real Estate formally withdrew its application Tuesday for the extra space at 40-56 Tenth Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets. The developer argued that adhering to existing law would force the business to endure economic hardship.

Among those rejoicing in the decision to reconsider was Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Preservation Society for Historic Preservation. “Other developers have built quite profitably under that zoning area and built very large buildings,” he said. “We think it’s very important to defend the integrity of the zoning law and not allow it to be skirted by variances that are not based on real hardships.”

Now a vacant lot, the site in question is the former home of several historic buildings that were paved away after being damaged by fire and years of neglect. Over two years ago the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals permitted another business to construct a new building across the street at a scale 24% larger than the law provided.

William Gottlieb Real Estate made it clear Tuesday it will submit a revised application that calls for height and setback waivers instead of the 34% size inflation.

That’s fine, says Berman, he will try to enjoy the “all too rare” favor from the BSA, and soak in the knowledge that the High Line will not be “hemmed in” by structures on all four sides in that area. At least for now.

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