Meatpacking District Residents Fight Against Plan for Taller Buildings

Over the last decade, the old Meatpacking District has become one of the city's hottest neighborhoods, making it a favorite of developers. But now, long-time residents who have seen new buildings go up at a rapid pace say enough is enough. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.

Gansevoort Street is known for its Belgian stone blocks and low-rise buildings that transport people back to another century. But now, this historic block between Washington and Greenwich streets is at the center of a big fight between developers who want to overhaul it and preservationists who fear changes will destroy it.

Zack Winestine and Elaine Young are on a mission to block a plan that would knock down some of the two-story buildings on the south side of the street and replace them with buildings as high as eight floors. Other buildings, including the Gansevoort Market, would remain as is, but opponents say that's not enough.

"The character of the market buildings is going to get lost. What currently exists, again, is classic market architecture.  

In 2003, the city created the Gansevoort Market Historic District, which makes construction here more difficult. But developers point out that prior to the 1930s, this block was home to taller buildings, and that their plan would restore it to the way it looked then.

At a community board meeting this week, that point was repeatedly stressed by the plan's architects.

"What this district, this historic district, is largely about is about change," said Cas Stachelberg of Higgins Quasebarth & Partners.

"I think we've taken a very sensitive building by building approach to this project," said Todd Poisson of BKSK Architects.

But the audience, which has seen the neighborhood transformed by new buildings and rents soar, wasn't buying it.

"This could be anywhere in the USA, except it could not be in the Gansevoort historic market the way they've conceived the buildings," Young said.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission must decide if the plan can move forward. A hearing is scheduled for later this month, and opponents say they will be there, trying to keep a beloved block just the way it is.

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