March was a productive month for our campaign to stop the God’s Love We Develop-Quinlan-Tavros scheme at 180 Sixth Avenue. Since our last update, the South Village Neighbors have:
• retained a prominent land-use attorney to begin our legal challenge. On March 29th the core group involved in the Stop 180 Sixth campaign met and voted unanimously to hire land-use attorney and zoning expert Stuart A. Klein to challenge the GLWD-QT scheme. Stuart comes to us highly recommended by SoHo Alliance, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and other neighborhood groups. A legal committee met with Stuart and one of his associates the following Wednesday to map out our approach, which will begin with a challenge to the legality of the air rights transfer. A research committee has been conducting the basic discovery/document retrieval to support our legal team’s work and keep our costs down. Last week they visited three archives and secured some obscure documents that support our efforts. Many thanks to these two committees!
• consulted with the Office of the Mayor/Department of Citywide Administrative Services on the status of the air rights transfer. We have been in bi-weekly communication with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, Division of Real Property, to follow the status of the proposed air rights transfer. As of this past Wednesday, there has been no progress on the sale of these air rights, which is, of course, great news for us. The fact that several members of our group testified eloquently on the inappropriateness of the air rights sale at the February 27th DCAS hearing seriously slowed down this process. Our contact at DCAS tells us that it could be several weeks until anything is resolved with regard to the air rights sale. Our legal challenge, which has only just begun, is expected to delay this matter even further; we hope, in perpetuity. So a huge thanks to the group who attended this meeting and/or testified! We also thank Andrew Berman, who alerted us to this hearing, and Stuart Klein, who encouraged us to have a strong presence there even before we had him officially onboard!
• secured additional news coverage of our legal challenge: the neighborhood news service dnainfo.com ran a favorable story about our work at the end of March. You can read that HERE. If you have press contacts who may be helpful to us in this challenge, please be in touch.
• set up a new list-serv/Google group for internal communication. At the March 29th meeting we identified the need for an internal communication mechanism to allow people to share information and ask questions of each other in a more horizontal way. Two folks on our team explored a number of options and arrived at the conclusion that a Google Group would be the best way to manage this. If you’re on our mailing list, later today or early tomorrow you’ll receive an invitation to join the group, and I encourage you to sign up. You will have the option of receiving news as it is posted, once a day, or once a week. If you sign up with a Gmail account, you will have the additional option of being able to be able to access the discussion board and its online archive directly. This is helpful if you prefer to not receive emailed updates, or want to look back at past discussions.
• witnessed the arrival of two unpleasant pieces of yellow equipment. Friday evening at 8pm a rather formidable looking piece of equipment (that appears to be a pile driver) arrived at 180 Sixth Avenue. And last night at midnight, QT treated us to midnight delivery of another Komatsu behemoth. Their rig blocked traffic on Sixth Avenue, with backed up cars honking for half an hour, waking up everyone. This is an unpleasant reminder of what our future could look like if we don’t continue our campaign to Stop 180 Sixth Avenue.
If you live in the neighborhood and have been alarmed by this development, please be aware that: (1) at this time no construction permits have been approved for the development (so nothing can be built at this time) and (2) the current unapproved plans for an 80,000 square foot building cannot be approved until the matter of the air rights transfer is resolved. The last time plans were filed (03/05/13) they were not approved. However QT does have an approved permit (filed 12/12/12) to demolish the single story structure at 178 Sixth Avenue (that used to be Sleepy’s). So they may begin pulling that building down. Tearing down this building has tax advantages for them as it will lower the property tax assessment on this lot. However this does not mean anything about the overall outcome of our challenge, which is – thanks to your support – stronger today than it has ever been. [Correction: After this posted, we learned that they have an approved application for demolition, but that no permits have yet been issued. Apologies for any confusion this may have caused. – The Editors.]
WHAT YOU CAN DO – UPCOMING EVENTS AND NEXT STEPS
ATTEND the Landmark Preservation Committee meeting on the South Village Historic District. On Monday, April 15th at 6:30pm there will be an important Landmark Preservation Committee informational meeting regarding the proposed South Village Historic District. The meeting will take place at the NYU Meyer Building, 4 Washington Place (at Broadway), Room 121. As this is an informational meeting, no testimony is heard, but questions can be asked. I strongly encourage you to attend. If you are a property owner in the neighborhood you will learn more about the implications of landmarking. And if you are not a property owner, you are still welcome to attend. Several of our group will attend, and we’ll hand out informational material about our Save the Sunshine/Stop 180 Sixth Avenue campaign. For additional information about this meeting, visit the GVSHP website HERE.
CONTRIBUTE to the South Village Legal Fund. Thanks to your generosity, and the gracious fiscal sponsorship of SoHo Alliance, the Valentine’s Day campaign for the South Village Legal Fund has raised more than enough to kick off our legal challenge. Ultimately, this fight will may cost a good bit more than what we currently have on hand. If you have already supported the legal fund, many thanks for your support. If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to contribute to the fund, we encourage you to do so today. It’s easy. You can find instructions on how to donate HERE.