Locals Triumph as Historical District in Greenwich Village Is Landmarked

December 17, 2013 Updated: December 17, 2013

NEW YORK—The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to landmark the South Village Historic District in Greenwich Tuesday.

The South Village is best known for its bohemian atmosphere, pubs, and jazz clubs. Buildings in the district are now prohibited from being altered or demolished without permission from the New York Landmark Preservation Commission.

In addition, any new developments in the area should fit with the historical character of Greenwich Village.

The South Village spans a 13-block section of Greenwich Village south of Washington Square Park and is comprised of 240 buildings.

It was a victorious day for residents like Susan Wittenberg, a filmmaker from SoHo who has lived in the area for 35 years and is passionate about preserving the village.

“There are many defeats, but this is a great success. I couldn’t be happier,” Wittenberg said.

Her happiness was shared by Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who worked to preserve the charm of the intimate neighborhood.

“It’s good to be on this side of the vote,” Berman said.

Supporters of the vote celebrated their long-fought success at a party Tuesday evening at Le Poisson Rouge, in the newly landmarked South Village.

Locals Judith Callet and her husband Jean-Luc Callet said the process was lengthy but important.

“I’ve been working with Andrew Berman for over 10 years to get the village landmarked,” Judith Callet said. “It’s emotional, because it’s a village, and it’s where we grew up.”

She felt that the high-rise buildings developed by New York University (NYU) have no place in the historic tapestry of the village, and are “disrespectful of the community” where the average building is just six floors tall. NYU declined to comment about the designation.

Berman agreed that the large buildings proposed by developers and institutions would be very out of character in the historic neighborhood.

“If they have their way, very little of the low-rise scale and historic character would remain,” Berman said.

Follow Jane on Twitter: @itsjanewriting