On September 10, 2001 Rudy Giuliani was approaching the end of his eight year tenure as Mayor of the City of New York. As he entered his final four months his popularity and approval ratings had ebbed to its low point.
In spite of his successes in starting to reverse the high crime rates in the city, the electorate had clearly had enough. Tired of his sullenness, tired of his tirades, divisiveness and his “my way or the highway” approach to governing, the polls indicated that had he been able to seek a third term as chief executive of the city, he would be rejected by the voters.
And then the world as we knew it came to an end on September 11. Two hijacked planes slammed into the Twin Towers causing them to crumble and crushing 2,800 innocent men and women. The war with terrorism had begun and New York City was ground zero.
During the aftermath Mayor Giuliani showed extraordinary leadership and an uncommon calm in the midst of that catastrophe. He earned the respect and praise of Republicans and Democrats alike. 9-11 changed the way people perceived the man.
But ultimately it was just a facade as the real Giuliani surfaced again last week.
The former Bowlmor building at the corner of East 12th Street and University Place is the location of a proposed 23-story residential tower, opposed by community residents. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
Community Board 2’s land use committee voted to support a contextual rezoning proposal from the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation that would impose height limits on new developments in the area directly south of Union Square at a meeting on January 14.
The attempt to rezone the area was spurred by a proposed development on the site of former bowling alley Bowlmor on University Place at East 12th Street and the rezoning would cover the area of the University Place and Broadway corridors between East 8th and 14th Streets.
The meeting in mid-January, held at Grace Church High School, was packed with about 50 area residents, primarily those living in the area for the proposed rezoning. Those in attendance were concerned about the impact a 23-story, 308-foot tall residential tower would have on the character of the neighborhood.
Developer William Macklowe filed plans for the tower last September and the GVSHP has been fighting the plans since, but considering the lengthy rezoning process, Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation executive director Andrew Berman noted at the meeting that it was unlikely that even if the rezoning is successful, it is unlikely to have an impact on this particular building.
“There are very rare cases that you get rezoning to happen, development stalls and then construction has to stop, but that’s unlikely,” Berman said.
“One thing we can do is make our rezoning move forward as quickly as possible. Maybe by some miracle it will capture this building. I don’t want people to count on that being the case but regardless, we should move ahead with this as quickly as humanly possible.”
Berman said that the boundaries for the proposed rezoning area were chosen for various reasons, primarily due to the surrounding areas already being protected by landmark status and other adjacent areas that already have contextual rezoning. He also noted that on adjacent blocks that weren’t included in the proposal area, there are a substantial number of buildings owned by NYU and while there are architecturally significant buildings that need protecting as well, the process would be different.