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W. 13th St. Gazette 17

W. 13th St. Gazette 17

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Published by Alan J Jacobs
Newsletter of the W. 13th St. 100 Block Association
Newsletter of the W. 13th St. 100 Block Association

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Published by: Alan J Jacobs on Sep 05, 2013
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West 13th Street
Issue No. 17
Fall/Winter 2008
St. Vincents 'Hardship Case' Approved
Landmarks Commission Okays O'Toole Bldg. Destruction
President's Message
 By Gary Tomei
We Have Not YetBegun To Fight
The Landmarks Preservation Com-mission's vote approving St. Vin-cent's Hospital's “hardship” appli-cation, allows it to raze the O’Toole building, which has been acknow-ledged by the LPC itself to be anarchitecturally significant buildingwithin the confines of the GreenwichVillage Historic District.This building was already land-marked when it was acquired by StVincent’s in 1973. Authorities famil-iar with the Landmarks Law, say thecommissioners who voted in favor of St. Vincent’s apparently failed toapply the proper statutory standardsregarding the “hardship”application.
This decision, if allowed to stand,will ultimately mean the destruc-tion of the character of the Village.
Furthemore, it will render the Land-marks Law moot.“If a charity can acquire a buildingknowing that it is protected by theLandmarks Law and then turn around and demolish it by claiming hardship,the law is going to be followed morein the breach than in the observance,"said Delia Guazzo, Vice Chairpersonof Protect the Village HistoricDistrict.I ask, Where is the outrage?-
cont. P.2
 The city Landmarks Preservation Commission has votedto approve St. Vincents Hospital's "hardship" applicationfor permission to tear down the white O'Toole Bldg. at13th St. and 7th Ave., to make way for a huge newhospital tower on the site. The 6-4 vote on Oct. 28 was a setback for opponents of the St. Vincents plan, though far from a final defeat.If allowed to proceed, the project could mean
a decadeor more of major construction work immediately adjacentto our block
, with all the heavy truck traffic, dirt, noise,incidental damage and disruption that goes with it. The plan involves first building the nearly 300-foot-tallhospital tower, followed by demolition of the existinghospital complex on the east side of 7th Ave. and erectionof a huge new luxury apartment complex by the RudinOrganization on that site. These buildings would be a wrenching blow to the heartof the supposedly protected West Village, and set aprecedent that could undercut the laws that now protectnot only the Greenwich Village Historic District, but alsoother historic districts throughout the city.
For much more on this issue, see the President's Message.
Good food & conversation at the W 13 Block Party.
See P.5&6
President's Message
cont. from P.1
What has happened to our sense of duty to preserve the best of our culture for future generations?We in the Greenwich Village Historic District will not,must not, stand idly by, and let this decision go unchal-lenged. We will appeal this travesty of justice and makesure it is overturned.To do so we need your support. I urge you to go to theGVHD website at http://www.protectthevillage.org/ to seewhat you can do to help our cause.The LPC vote was supposed to be solely concerning theO’Toole building, and pursuant to the statute, O’Toole canonly be torn down if it can no longer be used for its present purposes. The building is now being used for physicians’offices and can continue to be so used.Therefore, the application should have been rejected;however, by mixing apples with oranges, those voting infavor of the application, in reaching their decision relied on the alleged financial problems of the Hospital, its professed difficulty in renovating the present hospital building, located across from O’Toole, and the questionwhether any alternative sites were available to St.Vincent’s. None of these considerations were relevant to thequestion before the Commission, yet the decision turned on just those issues. St. Vincent’s had not even applied for a financial hardship, nor had it opened its books to theCommission, which would have been necessary had itmade such an application.Furthermore, St.Vincent's has always contended that theHospital had to be one huge tower; however, prior to theOctober 28th meeting, the LPC had already decided thatthe size of the proposed hospital building wasinappropriate for the Village. St. Vincent's never reapplied for a Certificate of Appropriateness, so it would appear that the Commission has granted the Hospital the right totear down a historic building in order to erect an edificethat it has already deemed inappropriate.In view of those facts, this decision defies common sense.I have contended from the beginning of this process thatthe attempt by Rudin and St. Vincent’s to build twohumongous buildings in the Village was driven byeconomic and political expediency. If those are the solestandards that we are to employ, what is the sense of having a Landmarks Law? The builders and developerswould bury our historic, cultural and architectural pastunder a slew of undistinguished glass towers.
 Let me be clear: I support St. Vincent’s need tomodernize, but I see no inherent conflict between thatneed and the preservation of our beloved Village.
The St. Vincent’s catchment area is now the Westsidefrom the Battery to 59th street. There is no valid reasonthat the Hospital remain here, in our limited communalarea. Let St. Vincent’s build, without constraints,
 the Historic District where it can truly best serve the entireWestside community.
Finally, a personal note:
Congratulations to our newPresident-Elect, Barack Obama!
We have been privileged to witness, and participate in, ahistoric moment in American history. By electing Sen.Obama as president we have overcome hate and racism,restored our honor as a nation, and have again become aninspiration and a beacon of hope to the entire world.After eight years of having lost our moral compass and wandering in the desert, we have finally returned to the promised land. Frankly, I was despairing that this momentwould ever come, but it has.It's our our country, and it's good to have it back!
Facelift Planned for Blighted Mid-Block Bldgs.
Block residents have long complained about theunsightly façade of 133-135 W. 13th St. This has been the location of a series of restaurantsover the years (La Champignon, Mandarin House,Covent Garden, New Deal, MariaElena). Mostrecently, it was La Nonna, which closed early thisdecade, leaving the building's exterior uncared-for.Graffiti was not removed, and the front walldeveloped a bulge on an upper floor.Ownership of the building has changed hands a fewtimes in recent years. The latest owners have hiredWilliam W. Suk, AIA, of the Truisi Suk Design Group.At a hearing Oct. 14 before the LandmarksCommittee of Community Board 2, Suk presented aplan to restore the façade in a manner consistentwith our historic district and with the original design of the buildings. The buildings apparently were constructed in the1840's in a style one committee membercharacterized as "transitional Greek Revival toItalianate." One major change to be made in thebuildings is to even out the top row of windows of 133and 135, which currently do not align. The owners will not include a restaurant in therestored building, and the wisteria now climbing itsfront will be removed. The architects claim thewisteria has gotten behind some of the brick work,causing structural problems.Suk would not reveal the owner of the building. Theowner of record is "135 West 13 LLC," managed bytwo brokers at the Corcoran Group based on E. 10thSt.
- Alan Jacobs
Ga ette
Tree Box Damage
 On the night of Oct. 9 or morning of Oct. 10,during the Dept. of Transportation re-paving of our block, several of our recently installed tree-box fenceswere dam-aged. Thetree boxeswere paidfor by theW13BAand someindividualblock resi-dents, at acost of some$26,000.BA boardmemberNaomiUsher is overseeing repair efforts for most of theblock (the 105 bldg. went ahead with repairs tothe damaged box there on its own). Whether theDOT or the city will help pay for it remains to beseen.
Parking Regs Changed
 After considerable pressure from the W13BA,the city finally altered parking regulations on ourblock. On July14 (BastilleDay!), daytimeparking ceasedon the southside of thestreet. Peacereturned. Birds,if not angels,could be heardlifting their little hearts in song. Well, it was a littlequieter, anyway.
W. 13
Ga ette
Pa e 3
Fall/Winter 2008
Real Estate Report
By Kitty Sorrel. W13BA& Corcoran Real Estate
 The profound slump in our economy hasled the way to a depreciating real estatemarket with overpriced listings flooding allareas of Manhattan.As in previous years in a falling market,home prices went down and interest rateswere lowered. Sellers with basic needs tosell now will continue to place their homeson the market.Many financial experts say buy low nowand sell high when the market comes back. Just as the price of gold always fluctuates,so do real estate values.
The brighter side: so far, sales andrentals on our block from June '08to now are doing fine.
At least so far, our block of W. 13th St.(along with much of the Village) is buckingthe national trend.A multi-unit townhouse on our block soldfor $5,500,000, another single familytownhouse is in contract. Available now, asingle family townhouse is asking in thehigh $7,900,000 range. Two-bedroom apartment sales in our full-service bldgs. ranged in price from$1,165,000 to $1,100,000.Sold one-bedrooms ranged from $795,000to $670,000. Studios for sale ranged in pricefrom $569,000 to $395,000. Townhouse rentals on our block rangefrom two full floors for $15,000 to two-bedrooms for $8,000. One-bedrooms inmulti-residence bldgs. ranged from $4,400to $3,695.
For more information: Kitty Sorell,
VP/Assoc.Broker, Corcoran Real Estate
The West 13
Published by the W. 13
St. 100 Block Assn.Bruce Meyer, editor 

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