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The Villager, May 13, 2009

The Villager, May 13, 2009

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Print edition of The Villager newspaper as published for the week of May 13, 2009.
Print edition of The Villager newspaper as published for the week of May 13, 2009.

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Published by: COMMUNITYMEDIA on May 18, 2009
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The Department of Education lastweek addressed the lack of space forincoming students by proposing to elim-inate existing pre-kindergarten classesand devoting those seats to new kinder-garten students.It was a move that angered many par-ents, provoked at least two protest rallies,including one that attracted 300 peopleto the steps of City Hall, and fannedthe opposition to mayoral control of theschool system, which comes up for statelegislative renewal at the end of June.“It’s like stepping on a 4-year-oldto pick up a 5-year-old,” said RebeccaDaniels, a Village resident and presidentof the District 2 Community EducationCouncil, referring to the elimination of pre-K classes.Daniels was among the protesters thatcrowded the City Hall steps on May 6 alongwith elected officials, including CouncilSpeaker Christine Quinn, who repre-sents the Village, and CouncilmembersAlan Gerson, Rosie Mendez and JessicaLappin, as well as Manhattan BoroughPresident Scott Stringer.They criticized Mayor Bloombergand Schools Chancellor Joel Klein fornot listening to parents and failing toplan for more school space while theadministration has encouraged residen-tial development.D.O.E. last weekend promised electedofficials and parents in District 2, whichencompasses Greenwich Village, LowerManhattan, Chelsea and the Upper EastSide, that the department would present adetailed response to the problem at a 6:30p.m. meeting Thurs., May 14, at the LabSchool, 333 W. 17th St.Meanwhile, in breaking news, onTuesday, New York University PresidentJohn Sexton in a letter to local electedofficials, said N.Y.U. is willing to make5,500 square feet of space available toaccommodate four pre-K classes fromP.S. 41 and P.S. 3, opening up kindergar-
New York UniversityPresident John Sexton toldelected officials in a let-ter on Tuesday that he hadgood news for the parentsof pre-kindergarten stu-dents in the neighborhoodwhom the Department of Education wants to displacein September to make roomfor incoming kindergartenchildren.Sexton said the univer-
N.Y.U. says it can take four classes of pre-K children 
Overcrowding outrage erupts;Hundreds decry lack of seats
Villager photo by J.B. Nicholas
Lisa Donlan, president of the District 1 Community Education Council, took her turn speaking with the bullhorn infront of P.S. 63 last Wednesday morning at a rally to save pre-kindergarten classes.
The Meat Market prop-erty owners planning a12-story glass office toweron a site partially beneaththe High Line went to theBoard of Standards andAppeals on April 28 forapproval of a project largerthan currently permitted atthe location.But in a letter to theB.S.A., City PlanningCommissioner AmandaBurden asked the appealsagency to deny variancesto existing zoning soughtby the owner of 437 W.13th St. in the MeatpackingDistrict.The B.S.A. has rarelydisregarded direct requestsfrom the City PlanningCommission.Preservation advocates atthe April 28 B.S.A. meet-ing also testified against thevariances, saying the size of the proposed project is farout of scale with the sur-rounding area, and notingthat that the project callsfor demolition of an exist-ing Art Deco meatpackingbuilding listed on the Stateand National Register of Historic Places.The B.S.A. said it wouldcontinue hearings on theissue, and set June 16 as thenext date on the applicationby the Romanoffs, a fam-ily of property owners inthe Meat Market for threegenerations. The Romanoffsare seeking the variance ongrounds of hardship becausethe High Line, currently
Meat Market tower should be trimmed,Planning czar says 
Continued on page 31
Continued on page 8 Continued on page 3 
PAGES 13 - 24
Volume 78, Number 49 
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side,
Since 1933 
May 13 - 19, 2009 
Broderick and Webergo philanthro, p. 25
May 13 - 19, 2009
recently got his A-list foot firmly in the door withCouncil Speaker
Christine Quinn
at a power lunch on theHudson Square megagarage, as Scoopy first reported last week,the possibility that the embattled project could be downsizedis finally looking like a very real possibility. Gandolfini againled the charge on Tuesday at a meeting with Deputy Mayor
’s chief of staff,
Caswell Holloway
. This time Gandolfiniwas joined by
Richard Barrett
Phil Mouquinho
of theSanitation Steering Committee, which has been battling theoverly large project for two years. Also present were
, Department of Sanitation commissioner;
Dan Klein
,Sanitation’s real estate director; and
A.J. Pietrantone
, directorof Friends of Hudson River Park. Skyler had told Gandolfini hewanted a presentation of the committee’s Hudson Rise proposal.The community-alternative plan contains only two, instead of three, Sanitation districts’ trucks, and is thus a much lowerbuilding with less impact; plus it boasts a gorgeous rooftop park.“Today, I can tell you, I’ve seen the door open,” said an exuberantMouquinho, speaking afterward. “If we can get District 5’s trucksout of there…75 feet tall is a possibility. It’s the first time I can usethe words ‘ray of optimism.’ ” The activists recently presentedthe administration with five alternate sites for District 5’s garage;the city responded that three were feasible, and said it wouldextend by two weeks its search for alternative sites. Mouquinhoand Barrett said the city feels the five-building Extell RiversideSouth site may be the best possibility. The other two options are aSanitation vehicle-maintenance facility in Chelsea and a site in the West 50s owned by
Gary Spindler
, who also owns a GreenwichSt. garage where Sanitation had wanted to dump a massive road-salt pile. Meanwhile, the Friends of Hudson River Park are nowon the same page on the megagarage. According to the HudsonSquare activists, the Friends are saying they will — under certainconditions — agree to waive huge fines being lodged against thecity for not getting its garbage trucks off Gansevoort Peninsulaafter 2012 in order to help the effort to find a better locationfor District 5’s garage. “They want to do what’s best — for thepark and the community,” Barrett said. The Friends, who fileda lawsuit to get the trucks off Gansevoort, have a settlementwith the city that hinges on using the UPS parking lot at Springand Washington Sts. for the megagarage. However, the HudsonSquare activists have their own pending lawsuit over the hatedproject. Adding to the momentum against the gargantuan garage,another star is about to go supernova on the issue. “This celebritything is really exploding,” Mouquinho marveled. “
Meryl Streep
 hit the roof — she didn’t even know about this.” Barrett andMouquinho said Pier 76 in Chelsea may also be a possibility forDistrict 5’s trucks, since the Friends are now amenable to it; ina best-case scenario, they said, Pier 76, which already has a towpound, would also be home to District 5’s trucks, as well asthe two marine-waste transfer stations planned for Gansevoortand W. 59th St., both in Hudson River Park. After Tuesday’smeeting at City Hall, everyone was smiling and in good spirits,Mouquinho said, except Klein, who looked “depressed.”
According to theEV Grieve blog, Bullet Space, an artists’ collective and galleryon Third St. between Avenues C and D, is the first of the 11former East Village squatter buildings to be turned over to its
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Continued on page 34
May 13 - 19, 2009
being converted into an elevated park, cov-ers about 27 percent of their property. Theyclaim the construction expense in that situa-tion prevents their realizing a fair return onthe property.Darryl Romanoff, one of the partners inthe 437 W. 13th St. project, said last week,“Having had a presence in the MeatpackingDistrict for 80 years, our family is commit-ted to making sure our community growsin the right way. After many hours meetingwith community stakeholders, we respondedby creating a world-class design that reducesthe number of floors, co-exists and remainssensitive to the High Line, and respects thecharacter of the Meatpacking District.”Romanoff said he and his brother, Stuart,look forward to the B.S.A. continued hear-ing on June 16 to present other positiveaspects of the project.The Romanoff proposal is for a215-foot-tall office tower designed byJames Carpenter, with retail spaces exceed-ing 10,000 square feet on the first threefloors. Currently, the M1-5 manufactur-ing zone in which the property is locatedallows a maximum floor area ratio (F.A.R.)of 5 and does not allow retail-use spaces of more than 10,000 square feet.F.A.R. is a multiple of ground-floor squarefootage and indicates how much floor spaceis allowed for a site. The Romanoff project asput forth would result in a 7.73 F.A.R. — a54.6 percent increase above the maximumF.A.R. allowed in the zone. The Romanoffsare seeking variances in setback and rear-yardregulations as well as retail space limits.The City Planning commissioner’s let-ter points out that new construction in theMeatpacking District has been developed atthe allowable 5 F.A.R., including the HotelGansevoort at 10 Ninth Ave. completed in2003; the Theory building at 831 GreenwichSt. built in 2005; the Standard Hotel, 848 Washington St., nearing completion; andthe High Line Building, 450 W. 14th St.,currently under construction and due forcompletion next year.The tallest building in the district wasbuilt to a 6.6 F.A.R. before the 1961 zoningregulations went into effect.However, Darryl Romanoff noted lastweek that their project, despite the higherF.A.R., is lower than the Standard Hotel andthe High Line Building.The Romanoff property is on the north-west corner of W. 13th and Washington Sts.and the High Line traverses the property’swestern edge. The bottom of the High Lineis about 20 feet above street level, permittingground-level and sub-ground-level devel-opment on the portion of the Romanoffs’property underneath it.The Romanoffs’ plan also calls for thebuilding to cantilever slightly over the HighLine, a feature that Commissioner Burdensaid should not be allowed. “The cantilevercurrently proposed adds very little squarefootage to the floor-plate size and adds noth-ing to the overall design of the building, yetsignificantly reduces the amount of light andair that reaches the High Line,” Burden’s let-ter said. “The building should set back fromthe High Line 5 feet and then rise to the maxi-mum height without setback or cantilever.”Regarding the Romanoffs’ High Linehardship issue, the City Planning letter notedthat other projects along the High Line rightof way “responded in creative ways to theunique opportunities afforded by the HighLine structure.”The letter also said the retail-use vari-ance of about 32,000 square feet on the site“would alter the essential character of theMeatpacking District neighborhood.” Thedistrict is known mostly for smaller bou-tiques of 2,000 to 3,000 square feet.“Larger stores in the neighborhoodinclude Jeffrey, which is a 12,000-square-footdepartment store on W. 14th St., and Theory,which is an approximately 10,000-square-foot clothing store on Ninth Ave. Both of these stores are on wide streets,” Burden’sletter said.Stuart Romanoff told people at aCommunity Board 2 meeting in January thatthe project would not have garish displays orbig-box retail.“It’s not going to be like Times Square,”he said then. “We’re going to have high-endretailers that are going to complement theneighborhood.”Asked if the economy could change theirplans, the Romanoffs said in January, “We’llbuild it when we find a tenant.”
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Planning chief: Meat Market tower should be trimmed
A rendering of the Romanoff family’s planned building for 437-451 W. 13th St.,with the new Standard Hotel in the left foreground.
Commissioner Burden saidthe building shouldn’t havean F.A.R. variance or acantilever, either.
Continued from page 1
Proud winner of 11 awardsin the New York PressAssociation’s 2008 BetterNewspaper Contest

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