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West Village Condo Threatens Fig Tree, Light, Local Harmony

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The ghosts of the Seventh Avenue extension continue to haunt the West Village, yesterday in the form of a plan for a new condo building at the bustling intersection of West 10th Street that drew scorn from business owners and residents of the Greenwich Village historic district. Architect Peter Samton of Gruzen Samton worked hard to convince the crowd at the Community Board 2's Landmark Committee meeting that the new five-story building (plus a two-story glass penthouse) at 130 Seventh Avenue would bring "Seventh Avenue together with the streets of Greenwich Village" by incorporating modern design features (glass) with historic ones (masonry).

He was not helped by humid temperatures in the cramped basement cafeteria of St. Patrick's, and residents, feeling an impending sense of doom about the new building which would replace the one story building currently inhabited by restaurant / hookah lounge Veranda, did not bite on his plan. Those that braved the atmosphere critiqued the plan as nothing more than class warfare, adding five more fancy units to an ever-posh neighborhood, and stealing sunlight from an inner-courtyard shared by a many families. "You're going to build a lovely penthouse, at the benefit of one really wealthy person, that's going to take away sunlight in a beautiful courtyard that is used by many families; it's actually catastrophic," said one resident at the hour-long public session. And, of course, there was a decades-old fig tree?brought by an immigrant from Italy to the backyard of 239 West Fourth Street that could be in jeopardy from the new building. Business owners too, from nearby restaurants like Bobo and Agave, also criticized the plan, with Agave owner James O'Hanlon arguing his revenues from seating outside would be jeopardized by the construction process. A group of about eight families have already banded together and hired a lawyer.

The building, which would have retail on the ground floor, and four floor-through apartments above it capped by a two-story glass penthouse, would need no zoning changes or variances. Architects assured residents it was as-of-right, though they are required to seek approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission in a hearing scheduled for next week. The community board voted asked for several modifications for the building.
?Eli Rosenberg
· 130 Seventh Avenue coverage [Curbed]