To film their latest production Inside Llewyn Davis—the story of a Dylan-esque 1960s folk singer—Joel and Ethan Coen were forced to travel far from Greenwich Village, to sites “scattered across four boroughs” in search of scenic authenticity, according to a recent article in the New York Times magazine. The Jones Street that appears on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is, in other words, no longer on Jones Street—despite a 2010 ruling by the Landmarks Preservation Commission that granted landmark status to the relevant portion of the South Village.
But the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation celebrated a victory today for filmmakers of the future who might look to approximate the Village in the year 2013, winning landmark status for a 13-block section south of Washington Square that contains 240 buildings.
In the Rezone
This afternoon, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold its first and only hearing on the second phase of the proposed South Village Historic District—the formerly working-class section of Greenwich Village that local activists and preservationists say is now under intense development pressure in the aftermath of the Hudson Square rezoning.
While many in the local community have long agitated for landmarking, and the first phase of the process was approved in 2010, the hearing for the second phase hearing remained unscheduled until the Landmarks Commission agreed to hold a vote before the end of this year as a condition of the Hudson Square rezoning, though only on the section north of Houston Street.
There is no doubt that the Hudson Square rezoning, if and when it is approved, will reshape what is arguably the last remaining swath of downtown Manhattan’s formerly industrial landscape. Preservationists, however, are not concerned with the fate of the neighborhood’s old printing plants, but rather, that of the quaint district that borders Hudson Square to the northeast.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation claims that development and demolition plans in the as-yet unlandmarked South Village—a chunk of Soho bounded by West 4th to the north, Sixth Avenue to the west, West Broadway to the east and Watts Street to the South—have been speeding up as the rezoning moves through the approval process.
It is a story that has been writ repeatedly on the landscape of New York: neighborhood transforms from working class haven to bohemian haunt to the place where every developer in the city wants to build a luxury condo with a bank of boutiques on the bottom floor.
And yet, there are few places that have been assaulted as mercilessly as Greenwich Village, Soho and the enclave nestled between their two historic districts—and thus highly attractive to developers— known as South Village. It is an area flush with building permits, preservation battles—activists have spent the last few months fighting to stop the historic townhouse at 186 Spring Street from being torn down to make way for a condo project—and a languishing landmarks proposal.
Seller beware! In April, Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz sold his SoHo townhouse to a Canadian developer, who claimed he wanted it for “personal use.”
Now The Village Voice is reporting that the new owner, Stephane Boivin, is seeking permission to demolish the property.Which doesn’t come as a huge surprise given that Mr. Boivin is planning a seven-story, mixed-use property adjacent to the Beastie abode, plus he already owns several other properties in the city.