Wild, Wild West

Today, the Department of City Planning is meeting to review a proposal to rezone the Far West Village, from roughly west of Greenwich and Washington streets to the Hudson River, between 14th and Morton Streets. The D.C.P. will be considering a down-zoning, which would decrease the bulk and maximum height of new buildings in the area.

According to people at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the Superior Ink Factory, at 70 Bethune Street at the West Side Highway, might fall victim to the rezoning, allowing Related Companies to build a Gwathmey Siegel Associates-designed 20-story, 270-foot glass tower on the factory’s site (the same team that built Astor Place’s monstrous “Sculpture for Living”; when that undulating behemoth pops into our view upon emerging from Astor Place, it in fact induces a death wish).

But the rezoning also sets the stage for landmarking the entire district, something the Landmarks Preservation Commission is slated to calendar later this year. In the tit-for-tat world of Manhattan commercial real estate, it might require the sacrifice of the Superior Ink Factory–a building that evokes the bygone era of the West Side’s industrial roots–to protect other buildings in the highly desirable, and profitable, nabe.

This is only the beginning of the process, though. The city allows seven months for the public-review process to wend its way around the various city agencies and public hearings. The rezoning proposal will land on Community Board 2’s lap next week before moving on to the Borough President’s office. If all goes well, it’ll go back to the D.C.P. before finally being voted on by the City Council. No dates are set, but Rachaelle Raynoff, the D.C.P. spokesperson, says the agency is trying to expedite the process, hopefully resolving it before year’s end.

– Matthew Grace Wild, Wild West