Hudson Square On Hold: City Council Postpones Vote, Could a Landmarking Compromise Be In the Works?

Hudson Square,

A re-imagined Hudson Square.

Hudson Square has, by and large, been a largely uncontentious rezoning (despite being the largest private rezoning in the city’s history). In comparison to the bitter battles already being fought over Midtown East, the process looks positively kumbaya. But given the City Council’s decision to delay their vote on the rezoning  this morning, we suspect that approval will be contingent on at least a few concessions.

Could one of those compromises involve landmarking at least part of South Village? The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has argued that the adjacent neighborhood’s low-rise historic architecture will be the biggest casualty of a more vibrant Hudson Square (or as some of the neighborhood’s hip tech and media companies have taken to calling it—Soho West).

While many have rejected the notion that Speaker Christine Quinn would make landmarking a condition of the rezoning—that she even could make it a condition of the rezoning (Ms. Quinn’s office declined to comment)—the city’s own environmental impact study found that the proposed historic district would suffer a “significant adverse impact from the rezoning.”

Basically, once Hudson Square morphs from what is largely an office district into a mixed-use neighborhood with all the bells and whistles (dining/drinking/shopping/living), developers will flock not only to Hudson Square, but also to nearby neighborhoods.

Additionally, many of the other requests to come out of the public review process have already been incorporated into the plan. Borough president Scott Stringer extracted a promise for a school to serve the new residents that the rezoning is expected to bring (between 2,000 and 3,200 new housing units are expected). Mr. Stringer also knocked the height of the buildings down from 320 feet to 290 feet and required special permits for any hotels with more than 100 rooms (limiting the danger of another Trump Soho sprouting up).

Moreover, changes have been made to please some of the other major property owners in the neighborhood (not that there are a whole lot of them given that Trinity Church owns 40 percent of the neighborhood). Subdistrict B, which would have restricted building heights near the Holland Tunnel has been eliminated, leaving Edison Properties and other landowners to build their own (tunnel-side) towers.

We should know be able to see what shape the negotiations take next Wednesday, the day the council’s vote has been rescheduled for. In the meantime, in the words of GVSHP’s Andrew Berman and mid-century French socialists, ‘The fight continues!'”

kvelsey@observer.com