A plan to redevelop a block of Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District will continue to be tied up in court.
A coalition composed of preservation groups Save Gansevoort and the Historic Districts Council have filed for an emergency stay, appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit that aimed to stop the demolition of two landmarked buildings in the Gansevoort Market Historic District.
The lawsuit, which was filed last week, stands as the last legal hurdle for Aurora Capital Associates and William Gottlieb Real Estate. The developers, which submitted plans to redevelop the area of Gansevoort Street between Greenwich Street and Washington Street, gained approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission last June.
The first lawsuit opposing the Gansevoort project came in October. At the time, Michael Hiller, the counsel for Save Gansevoort, accused the LPC of straying from its mandate.
“The Landmarks Preservation Commission has ceased to be a commission that engages in landmark preservation and, instead, has become a city agency dedicated to justifying decisions favorable to real estate developers,” he said.
Save Gansevoort scored an early victory in the legal skirmish. After the first hearing on the case last February, Judge Joan Lobis issued a restraining order that halted the project for four days, according to a previous report from DNAInfo. Last month, Lobis dismissed the lawsuit, saying that the developers and the LPC did not sufficiently prove that LPC abused its mandate in approving the project. A temporary injunction remained in place five days after the verdict to give Save Gansevoort time to file an appeal.
In a statement, Save Gansevoort drew parallels between their lawsuit and other LPC approvals that have resulted in legal challenges. One of the most high-profile lawsuits against the LPC involved the Clock Tower at 346 Broadway. In 2014, the LPC approved a plan to convert the 116-year old structure into condos. Earlier this month, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled against the approval.
“The lawsuit is one of multiple litigations instituted against the LPC and other agencies and commissions over a series of unprecedented decisions by the City to grant permission to private real estate developers to develop and convert landmark properties,” the group said in a statement.
Save Gansevoort also criticized the involvement of a lobbyist in the process. “Not coincidentally, as with so many of the other controversial permits granted by the City in favor of real estate developers over the last two years, Capalino & Associates was one of the registered lobbyists for the developer on this project, hired for the ostensible purpose of facilitating the approval that the LPC issued,” the group said.
The company’s head, James Capalino, has ties to Mayor Bill de Blasio. Last August, Politico reported that the mayor has cut off contact with Capalino.
Aurora and William Gottlieb earlier announced plans to build five commercial buildings on the site. If the plan is not halted in court, Save Gansevoort warns that it “would forever change the historic streetscape of the Gansevoort Market Historic District.”