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Testimony on the Certificate of Appropriateness by the Church of St. Luke in the Fields at 100 Barrow Street in the Greenwich Village Historic District
February 4, 2014
The Real Estate Board of New York, Inc. (REBNY) is a broadly based trade association of over 15,000 owners, developers, brokers and real estate professionals active throughout New York City. We support the proposed plans by the Church of St. Luke in the Fields to redevelop three sites on their historic block in the Greenwich Village Historic District and believe their application for a Certificate of Appropriateness merits approval from the Commission.
Greenwich Village is one of New York City’s most cherished neighborhoods, and REBNY supports the preservation of beautiful and distinguished buildings for future generations of New Yorkers.
The redevelopment proposal is a well-thought out plan that is architecturally and historically appropriate. It balances the historic character of Greenwich Village and the church’s mission which provides numerous public benefits to this community and to the city. The development plan will only utilize half of the allowable 200,000 square feet of development rights and will include:
1. A two-story addition to the St. Luke’s School that will add 138 seats, allowing the school to expand to more than 300 students;
2. A new mission space that will allow the Church to expand its work with LGBTQ youth and seniors, its tutoring program, and serve meals to those in need; and
3. A 15-story apartment building, with 20% set aside as affordable units.
This vitally important plan for the continuation of the Church’s mission will be constructed while preserving the existing historic buildings, the publicly-accessible garden and school playground. The new apartment building will be constructed on the parking lot, and in the process remove long-standing neighborhood blight while also providing a dedicated income stream that puts the church on more stable financial grounds and allows the school to expand. The proposed 75,000 square foot apartment building will be approximately 23 feet lower than the Archive Building across the street. These are important factors in considering its appropriateness.
The applicant’s plan also indicates that twenty percent of the units in the new apartment building will be for low-income households. This project represents the first new affordable housing development in this historic neighborhood in at least a decade. In a neighborhood where over 70% of the properties are landmarked, it is critical that we continue to find ways to appropriately accommodate new affordable housing developments in areas where opportunities are encumbered by numerous land use regulations.
Based on a review of the proposal and site surroundings, it is clear that the Church has taken special care to design a plan that is appropriate and satisfies several areas of concern. The church should be commended for their commitment to the community and we should all welcome the first new affordable housing development in years. We urge the Commission to grant the Church a Certificate of Appropriateness for the aforementioned proposal.