Plan for extended South Village Historic District gets mixed reception at hearing

Council member Corey Johnson has made designation a bartering chip in St. John’s redevelopment

Landmarks Preservation Commission's Meenakshi Srinivasan and Sullivan Street
Landmarks Preservation Commission's Meenakshi Srinivasan and Sullivan Street

The Landmarks Preservation Commission got a spirited debate Tuesday on a proposal to complete the third phase of the South Village Historic District.

Dozens of community members on both sides of the issue showed up to the commission’s meeting to voice their opinions on the proposal to landmark what would be a 157-building district running south from West Houston Street a little more than three blocks to Watts Street, and from Thompson Street on its eastern edge to Sixth Avenue on the west.

It would be the third and final component of the proposal started in the mid-2000s to preserve tenement buildings and historic storefronts in a neighborhood that advocates say was central in the late 19th century and early 20th century for Italian immigrants.

The commission had previously approved the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II and a truncated South Village Historic District.

Preservationists said they were concerned about the potential of new development in the neighborhood, particularly by Jared Kushner, who’s an active buyer in the area, Curbed reported. They also pointed to Donald Trump’s [TRDataCustom] long-troubled Trump Soho condo and hotel, which is out of character with the neighborhood.

Supporters included Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, state Assembly member Deborah Glick, City Council member Corey Johnson, the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Historic Districts Council.

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But not everyone in attendance was in favor.

Joseph Rosenberg of the Catholic Community Relations Council said the designation would place an “onerous burden” on St. Anthony of Padua buildings, pointing out that the church is doing work in the 21st century to help the immigrant community.

Resident Steve Hamilton said that maintaining his 200-year-old building is already a struggle, and landmarking designation would force him to sell.

“You will have created a museum but destroyed a community,” he said.

Council member Johnson has been using the designation as a bartering tool in exchange for his support of the St. John’s Terminal redevelopment[Curbed]Rich Bockmann