Posts tagged with "Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation":

Developer may tear down Jane Jacobs’ West Village Houses

A housing development in Manhattan that was designed with the help of noted urbanist Jane Jacobs is threatened with demolition. New York-based developer Madison Equities has offered to purchase the West Village Houses, a low-rise development in the West Village containing 420 coop apartments, and wants to tear down all or part of them and replace them with high-rise housing, according to residents and preservationists familiar with the proposal. Bounded by Bank, Morton, Washington and West streets, the development consists of 42 five-story walkup buildings connected by gardens and other common areas. It was planned with Jacobs’ help in the 1960s, and designed by Perkins + Will. The first residences were completed in 1974. Madison Equities made the unsolicited proposal to redevelop the community this fall, and residents have been holding meetings this month to decide how to respond to it. The community’s board of directors has surveyed residents about the proposal and indicated it will seek competing offers before making any decisions. “We find ourselves horrified that such a proposal would be put forward,” one group of residents said in a statement. “We wonder why anyone would want to destroy the fruits of Jane Jacobs’ dream. We know that we have the greatest luxury of all, right here, right now; the luxury of living in the world Jane Jacobs imagined.” Jeffrey Lydon, an architect who specializes in preservation and a former board member who has lived at the West Village Houses for 35 years, said, “This is an enormously successful community. It’s been a great incubator for families, a great investment for people, and a great demonstration of what Jane Jacobs was talking about.” Beyond the residents themselves, preservations are also sounding the alarm. According to Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, “It’s the only development that [Jacobs] had a hand in designing. That gives it significance that extends far beyond Greenwich Village.” What distinguishes the houses is their site planning, which was oriented towards “simple, low-scale buildings with communal space rather than the high-rise options that were considered de rigueur at the time.” The plain brown brick buildings were constructed under the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing subsidy program. In 2002, the owners of the complex announced they were opting out of the program, and many residents faced enormous rent increases. A conversion to cooperative housing was completed in 2006, enabling most of the residents to remain either as owners or renters. Building high-rises on that site would be the “greatest disgrace to what Jane Jacobs wanted,” said architectural historian Francis Morrone. Morrone acknowledged that the buildings themselves are not great architecture, due to a tight budget intended to keep costs down.  “It’s only a very pale reflection of what she had in mind.” What’s significant, Morrone said, is that Jacobs and the other planners were concerned about how the West Village Houses embody “a model for housing in the West Village.” He added, “The scale and color of the materials help that area of the Village keep the character it has.” Madison Equities’ offer comes one year after urbanists around the world celebrated the centennial of Jacob’s birth, on May 4, 1916. Despite their connection to Jacobs, the Houses are not protected by local landmark designation. The development was left out of the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension designated by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2006. Madison Equities declined to discuss the company’s offer. An overview of the proposal released by the community’s board of directors states that Madison Equities has promised guaranteed sale prices for those wishing to sell, and luxury amenities for those wishing to stay. It calls for the residents who wish to stay to move out of their residences while construction is underway, and then move into the new high-rise housing once it's completed. “The fact is, 1,000 people live there, roughly speaking, and 1,000 lives are at stake,” said Robert Kanigel, author of Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs, published last year. “It’s set against the pattern of Manhattan becoming unaffordable for the middle class, and that’s one of the things Jane Jacobs tried to address.” With the expiration of a community-wide tax abatement slated for March 2018, residents have been looking for solutions to keep the apartments affordable.  They say they fear they won’t be able to afford the high real estate taxes the now-sought-after neighborhood commandsResidents say they’ve tried to get help from the Mayor’s office and state legislators, but no solutions are forthcoming. They also referred to a 20-year plan suggested by the city’s Department of Housing, Preservation and Development that would limit sale options for owners, but many owners in their sixties and seventies expressed reservations about it. The Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, did not respond to a request for information. A plan to sell a parking garage the coop owns in order to preserve affordability, put forward by a previous board of directors, is currently still theoretically open for a vote by the owners. But that vote is now being discouraged by the current board members while they decide how to respond to the developer’s offer, say opponents of the demolition plan. Berman said the current “contextual zoning” for the community allows buildings to rise no more than 60 to 65 feet along the street wall and 80 feet within the block, so any proposal for high-rises would require rezoning approval from the city before construction could begin. He said his organization would prefer to see the existing buildings remain and the residents not displaced. Ultimately, he said, “it is our hope that we will be able to find a solution that preserves as much as possible of the original design and the affordability.”

David Chipperfield-designed West Village condo finally gets Landmarks approval

It seems the third time's the charm for David Chipperfield. After twice declining to approve his firm's proposal for a West Village condo, pictured above, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has okayed the design, which has changed only slightly since its last hearing. The proposed structure, at 11-19 Jane Street, sits on a largely residential side street in the Greenwich Village Historic District. Chipperfield's work would replace a two-story parking structure with a six-story condominium building. The firm's first proposal, a white precast concrete building, was rejected by LPC in July of last year. A January proposal did not fare any better and was turned down mostly on the basis of its out-of-character entrances and sliding windows. The new design features casement windows divided by red brick mullions topped by stone lintels that echo the neighbors. A more subtle penthouse roofline responded to commissioners' concerns around the building's height. In a post-decision statement, preservation advocacy group the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) remained deeply unimpressed with Chipperfield's most recent round of revisions, suggesting the condo would look better beside a highway off-ramp:
It is deeply disappointing that the Landmarks Preservation Commission chose to approve a design which is so patently inappropriate for the Greenwich Village Historic District and for Jane Street. The design is barely changed from the one roundly criticized by the public and rejected in January. It still looks like a chain motel, it’s still too large, and it still sticks out like a sore thumb.  The changes made by the architect since January are the proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.  This design might look at home next to the off-ramp of I-95, but it does not make sense on this historic side street. We hoped for better from this architect, and from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Though the project received unanimous approval, the commission urged the architects to continue to refine the design, especially the windows at street level.

David Chipperfield’s West Village condo totally misses the mark, says LPC

This week David Chipperfield went back to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for a second time, hoping to get approval for his heavily revised design for a West Village condo.

The architects first went before the LPC in July with a white precast concrete residence at 11 Jane Street. This time they were hoping to get the commission’s blessings—but no such luck.

The new design swaps concrete for red brick, and knocks ten feet off the total height to better align with the block's townhouses. The residence, presented in collaboration with Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, would replace a one-story parking garage.

In an email to supporters last week, preservation advocacy group the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) said the design is not appropriate for the street or in keeping with the overall ethos of the Greenwich Village Historic District.

"[Unfortunately] the new design is not much better than the old one (and may even be worse in some respects)," the email said. "While the new design is slightly shorter and uses a more appropriate brick material, instead of looking like a corporate office building it now looks like a corporate chain motel."

The commission mostly agreed. Though it said the current design "plays better with the neighbors,” commissioners took issue with the sliding windows and door, especially the narrower vertical glass doors to a row of second-floor terraces. To many that spoke, the entrances that flank the sides of the building, closed off from the sidewalk by a low metal gate, lacked the egress signifier that a stoop, for example, would provide.

“I just don’t think this very capable architect has reached the mark," said Commissioner Michael Devonshire. “Articulation in the district is extremely rich and this building lacks it."

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan echoed Devonshire and added that the LPC must “work within the concept and not send it in another direction."

The LPC took no action and will review a revised design at a later date. Third time’s the charm, right?

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Just when we need it most, a new map charts social justice history in lower Manhattan

To ring in 2017 right, a New York–based preservation advocacy group has created a map that could change the way we see lower Manhattan. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) this week debuted its Civil Rights & Social Justice Map, an interactive tool that reveals key downtown sites where women, LGBT people, immigrants, Latinos, and African-Americans have fought for equity, dignity, and representation. Covering its home base, Greenwich Village, as well as the East Village and Noho, the map features places and short blurbs about homes of well-known activists, streets, gathering spaces, and houses of worship. The map draws on the success of the recently-declared Sullivan-Thompson Historic District, which the GVSHP advocated for vigorously. Preservationists are the first to say that the district, also referred to as South Village, is architecturally rich, but its cultural history is just as important. In its designation the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) noted that the rowhouses and tenements illuminate the Italian-American immigrant experience in New York, among other group. The new map, below, pins 100 locations and counting: In addition to famous sites like the National Register–listed Stonewall Inn, the map depicts some of the city's first African-American churches, anarchist Emma Goldman's house, and the Charas-El Bohio Community Center, which served Puerto Rican residents and which neighbors are trying to revive once again. GVSHP intends to update the map "regularly"—if an important site is not listed, readers can email info@gvshp.org with information and sources for consideration.

New York City to remove 96 sites from landmark consideration

In an effort to supposedly streamline New York City’s landmarking process, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will drop 96 buildings and sites from consideration for historic preservation. These sites span all five boroughs and include Union Square, Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, and the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City (above). Of the nearly 96 sites (94 structures and two historic districts), 80 have been calendared for more than 20 years.“The buildings considered for this action were placed on the Commission's calendar, public hearings were held, and they currently remain inactive,” explained the LPC in a statement. While being calendared is kind of like landmarks limbo, it comes with significant protections. “Calendaring means that no demolition, construction, or alteration permits can be granted for a site without first notifying the LPC and allowing them up to forty days to designate the structure or negotiate a change or withdrawal of the permit applications,” explained Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), in a statement. The Society has called upon the LPC to drop its so-called "mass de-calendaring." Landmarks West!, a committee to promote historic preservation on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, has also slammed the LPC’s planned action, saying the commission is “essentially sentencing [the buildings and sites]to death by bulldozer.” The LPC contends that removing the sites will make the landmarks process smoother. "Cleaning up that backlog will ensure the LPC can much more effectively fulfill its mission of responding to the landmarking issues of today in real time," de Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell told DNAinfo. The Commission adds that this action would not stop it from reconsidering landmark status for any of these sites or buildings. After some pressure from DNAinfo and the Manhattan Borough President's office, the LPC has made the list of sites available to the public. The Commission will vote on its "administrative action," this upcoming Monday.

BKSK-Designed Topper for the Meatpacking District Gets Landmarks’ Blessing

And another glass and metal addition is set to rise atop a low-rise building in the Meatpacking District. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has voted to approve the BKSK-designed topper to the two-story building at 9–19 9th Avenue, which is best known for housing Keith McNally's famous French bistro, Pastis. An alternate proposal by the firm was shot down by the LPC in May, in what Curbed described as a heated, and very, very crowded, hearing. According to the blog, local residents called the addition “garish,” “a disoriented layer cake,” and “an obliteration of a historic district.” BKSK has a positive track record of working with Landmarks, however, and the firm came back with a revised plan, which has just won the LPC’s blessing. Harry Kendall, a principal at the firm, told AN that the while the structure has largely stayed the same,  the “architectural language of the design” has changed. Essentially, BKSK is using less glass. “The metal frame has taken a more central role as an element of the facade and glass panels are clipped between the frames as a secondary element,” Kendall said. He explained that at the hearing in May, the commission suggested BKSK work harder to do less. “We did that,” Kendall said. “We applied ourselves diligently to doing less.” But, according to Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, less is not enough. “We are extremely disappointed with this vote, the last to take place under outgoing LPC Chair Tierney,” Berman said in a statement. “Once more the Commission approved a design in direct contradiction to their own prior recommendations, in which they told the applicant to substantially change the design, and that it was too large (the size of the addition is relatively unchanged).” [beforeafter] BKSK-pastis-01 BKSK-pastis-02 [/beforeafter]   To understand the changes that lead up to the approval, AN overlaid the original (below) design with the approved plan in this before and after. Due to the varying angles of each rendering, the before may appear slightly skewed.

New York Affordable Housing Experts Weigh In on De Blasio’s Pending Housing Plan

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been promising to “preserve or construct” nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing since his days as the most unlikely of mayoral contenders. Since stepping into City Hall, the mayor has repeated that pledge nearly every chance he gets. But while the affordable housing plan is one of his central policy issues, it’s still not clear how the city can hit the mayor’s magic number. That should change this week when de Blasio’s housing team releases their detailed plan of action. Before that plan is released, however, AN asked some of the city’s leading architects, advocates, and planners what they hope to see in the team’s path forward. David Burney Former Commissioner Department of Design and Construction “While we all expect the mayor to focus on mandatory inclusionary zoning as a means of increasing the supply of affordable housing, I am hopeful that other possibilities will not be overlooked. We need affordable housing, but in the right places—in the neighborhoods that need it. We also need to develop that housing near to transit. One unfortunate policy of the Bloomberg administration was the down zoning of neighborhoods close to public transit—where we need more density not less. Hopefully the new administration will take a fresh look at that downzoning. Another proposal that deserves attention is the one from Michael Lappin and Mark Willis to help small builder/developers build affordable rental housing on small lots, using a participatory loan program.” Karen Kubey Executive Director Institute for Public Architecture “Affordable housing is at the core of a livable city and design in the public interest. New Yorkers need an ambitious, achievable housing plan, one that provides not only more affordable apartments, but also a wide range of housing models and an investment in quality, lasting architecture. In line with this, the Institute for Public Architecture recently launched ‘Total Reset,’ a long-term initiative supporting efforts to improve public and affordable housing in New York. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for making affordable housing a priority again for New York City.” Bill Stein Principal Dattner Architects “From a design point of view—while maintaining all the regulations and requirements—any way that the approval and review process by various agencies can be simplified and streamlined would go a long way toward developing more affordable housing more quickly. From a broader perspective, I hope the plan encourages some degree of innovation and experimentation in building types and housing types. … Finding sites is a key challenge for affordable housing in New York City. Sites that are available tend to be more difficult and expensive to develop: irregular dimensions, significant topography, other environmental factors, etc. The administration’s housing plan can help address this challenge by the creative use of underutilized land, whether through a program for NYCHA sites, rezoning where appropriate or enhanced incentives for mixed use/mixed income developments.” Adam Friedman Director Pratt Center for Community Development “There are three things that we are particularly focused on: First of all, mandatory inclusionary housing, which we would argue should be citywide above a certain density. Second, a strategy for legalizing what are now accessory dwelling units. Third, something we would not want to see is more rezoning of manufacturing to residential. A lot of that has already been done under the Bloomberg Administration and we want to understand why so much of that hasn’t been developed. And we would want to make sure the prospect of those zoning changes includes a strategy for retaining those jobs.” Andrew Berman Executive Director Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation “The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation strongly supports efforts to keep our neighborhoods and New York City a diverse and affordable place to live. We hope that the Mayor’s plan will do that while respecting the scale and character of our communities and those qualities, which draw people to our neighborhoods and make them wonderful places to live.  We hope that the Mayor will not buy into the REBNY canard that unfettered development and a weakening of historic preservation and zoning protections will somehow make New York City more affordable, as opposed to simply lining developers’ pockets and destroying some of our city’s most beloved landmarks and neighborhoods.” Jaron Benjamin Executive Director Metropolitan Council on Housing "We're hoping the mayor targets, one, preserving our existing affordable housing. Two, he’s looking looking at responsible ways to involve the NYCHA communities in what happens. And three, we’re hoping that Mayor de Blasio, unlike his predecessor, really looks at responsible ways to build affordable housing. And finally, we’re going to look at how he plans to reduce the ranks of the homeless."

New York City Zoning Board Burns Studio Gang’s “Solar Carve” Tower Along the High Line

Chicago’s Studio Gang Architects announced plans for their New York debut in late 2012. The proposed building, located near the High Line along 10th Avenue between 13th and 14th streets, features a serrated edge that maximizes daylight on the elevated park next door—Jeanne Gang called it “solar carving.” But the legal path to realizing that faceted glass facade had some unexpected kinks of its own. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) was “thrilled to report” that the building’s developer withdrew their application for a zoning variance for the building. At 213 feet tall, the tower would have been 34 percent larger than current zoning allows. After a few appearances before the Board of Standards and Appeals, the project's land use attorney told the New York Observer that the zoning request had fallen flat. The developer, William Gottlieb Real Estate, is apparently moving forward with a modified application, but for now the project remains blocked. The High Line intersects the site, which is currently an empty meatpacking plant. Gang’s design placed the tower near the Hudson River, abutting the High Line. GVSHP contested the developer’s position that sandy soils and the High Line’s proximity constituted a “hardship” worthy of a zoning variance. The 186,700-square-foot office tower was planned to open in 2015. If a revised application seeks different setbacks, the “Solar Carve” tower might meet less resistance from neighborhood groups. “We have no objections to the proposed development setting back differently than the zoning requires, as this would have no negative impact upon the surrounding neighborhood,” wrote GVSHP’s executive director, Andrew Berman. “Increasing the bulk of the proposed development, however, would have such a negative impact.”

New York City Council Approves Mega Expansion at Chelsea Market

In spite of angry protests from neighborhood advocates and preservation groups, New York City Council unanimously approved plans Tuesday afternoon to upzone Chelsea Market. The developer, Jamestown Properties, intends on building 300,000-square-feet of office space designed by Studios Architecture that will sit right on top of current Chelsea Market. To move things along in their favor, Jamestown had agreed to give around $12 million to the High Line and $5 million to a fund to build affordable housing, in addition to another $1 million to help launch an internship program at the nearby Fulton Houses. Jamestown called this decision a win for the city’s economy: “As approved today by the New York City Council, the expansion of Chelsea Market will provide an important economic boost to New York City, creating more than 1,200 long-term jobs and 600 construction jobs.” Several local organizations, however, are upset with the outcome.  In an email sent to Chelsea Now, Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, released this statement: “It’s deeply disappointing that they are allowing a beloved New York City landmark to be disfigured and one of the city’s most congested neighborhoods to be further overdeveloped. In spite of the pleas of the vast majority of this neighborhood’s residents, once again the interests of real estate developers have won out.”

NYU 2031 Plan Get’s A Flattop Chop

After two weeks of negotiations between the New York City Council and NYU, the Council Land Use Committee and Subcommittee on Zoning voted today to approve the modified version of NYU's 2031 plan. The plan will move before the full Council on June 25th for a final vote to give the univeristy the go-ahead to begin constuction in Greenwich Village. The nine member Zoning Subcomitee voted unanimously to approve the plan, while Land Use approved it 19-to-1. Though many expressed reservations, Council member Charles Barron cast the single “nay” vote, arguing that NYU’s development plan and the opinion of Greenwich Village’s Community Board 2 are “diametrically opposed.” While Barron said that his fellow council members would regret their votes, his colleagues seemed more hopeful. Council member Margaret Chin, who represents the neighborhoods in which the expansion will take place, said that the modified plan “will not overwhelm the community,” and that it is an appropriate balance between the integrity of Greenwich Village and the needs of NYU. Changes to the development plan include a 20 percent overall reduction of expansion, bringing the gross square footage from 2,130,000 to 1,918,000. This cutback will be concentrated in two locations: on the northern section of the Zipper Building, the bulk of which has been shifted from the corner of Mercer and Bleecker streets towards Houston, and at the Mercer street Boomerang building, which has been reduced in height from eleven-stories to a squat four. Additional modifications include increased open space, more community-dedicated spaces, financial commitments towards these spaces, and the creation of open space and construction oversight committees to help ensure that NYU follows up on its promises. As expected, Greenwich Village community activists were present to express their dissatisfaction with the approval of the modified plan. Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation stated that the modified plan was “hardly a compromise,” and that the proposed expansion was still “grossly over-sized.” While it now looks as if NYU will surely get the go-ahead at the vote next Wednesday, council member Vincent Ignizio reminded those in attendance that the challenges that face NYU and Greenwich Village are far from over. Speaking directly to the representative of the Univeristy, Ignizio stated that “now the real work begins for the community and for you, NYU. This community clearly has an issue with you, and now is your opportunity to begin a new day, wipe the slate clean and say we are going to be responsive to them.” For additional information on the NYU 2031 plan, click here.

NYU Takes a Shave; Locals Still Not Pleased

As was largely expected following comments from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office leaked to the press last month, officials from NYU announced that the university has agreed to shave off 370,000 square feet from their 2,275,000 square foot expansion plan, The New York Times reported. In a telephone interview with AN, Andrew Berman, of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said that even with those changes the project is still out of scale for the neighborhood. Berman added that he was disappointed that the Borough President (BP) didn't hold public meetings for the ULURP, as was done for the Columbia University expansion in Morningside Heights. "If there was ever a ULURP to hold a public hearing for, it was this," he said. For the past few months, several NYU watchers have been speculating that the university was hedging its bets with a plan that included more space than needed so as to reach the Goldilocks-just-right moment negotiated by the BP's office today. The breakdown doesn't change the overall character of the design. The comparison of plan being the "size of the Empire State Building" still somewhat applies, though less 17 percent (NYU documents put it closer to minus 14%). The changes leave the underground complex on the north block fairly intact. The so-called Kimmelman Plan, which called for the elimination of the Grimshaw/Toshiko Mori Boomerang buildings, was ignored. Instead, the university proposes to take 85,000 square feet off the top, but the 770,000 square feet below grade will remain. On the southern superblock the new plan proposes moving the Zipper Building farther back from Mercer Street, to allow more light for neighbors across the street. But the original plan, refined by Michael Van Valkenburg, would have in any case opened up a dreary alleyway between the Zipper Building and I.M. Pei's Silver Towers, thus creating a more generous approach from Houston Street to the courtyard featuring Picasso's sculpture Portrait of Sylvette. Finally, the proposed 14-story building set to replace the supermarket on the northwest corner will be cut in half.  Whether this makes much of a difference in the overall pedestrian influx is doubtful, as that building included a proposed public school that the Department of Education never agreed to use. A controversial hotel is still in the mix, for now. The revised plan will be presented to City Planning today, but the big brouhaha public hearing will take place on April 25 at 10:00 A.M. Territorial ironies aside, the commission has wisely relocated the public meeting to the more spacious environs of the Museum of the American Indian at Bowling Green.

@MikeBloomberg: #SocialMedia is Complicated! SMH

Mayor Bloomberg was in Singapore last Wednesday to accept the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize for sustainable planning, but it was the mayor's comments on social media got the most play in The New York Times and the New York Post. “I think this whole world has become a culture of 'me now,' rather than for my kids later on," he was quoted as saying. "Social media is going to make it even more difficult to make long-term investments. We are basically having a referendum on every single thing that we do every day, and it’s very hard for people to stand up and say, ‘No, no. This is what we’re going to do’ when there’s constant criticism and an election process.” Indeed. Two of the projects that Lee Kuan judges called out were conceived in a pre-social-media atmosphere: the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park.  The third example, "re-purposing the right of way" (i.e. bike lanes and pedestrian plazas), evolved under the glare of social media. But as the mayor said in the speech, the High Line was just one court decision from being torn down when his administration took over in 2002.  One can't help but wonder how much easier activist mobilization might have been if social media were around. Instead, activists relied on community outreach and coverage in print media to save the endangered rail bed. Though Brooklyn Bridge Park began with traditional community mobilization, by the time park officials got around to proposing a hotel and residential towers within the park's boundaries,  opponents had found plenty of friends on Facebook. But among the three initiatives/projects cited in Singapore, none played out in social media more than the bike lanes. Interestingly enough, it's here that the mayor got the most support. If you can find the wordy "No Bike Lane on Prospect Park West Neighbors For Better Bike Lanes" Facebook page, compare its closed group of 288 members to the 3,397 'likes' on Transportation Alternatives public page.  Transportation Alternatives has another 4,081 following them on Twitter under the handle @TransAlt. Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes isn't on Twitter. It’s not difficult to understand the mayor’s concern. In the last month alone, social media has had a profound effect at the city’s pubic hearings and meetings. The young bucks from the AIDS Memorial Competition nearly upended the land use process for the Rudin’s plan for St. Vincent’s when they tapped into Architizer’s 450,000 Facebook fans to hold the competition mid-ULURP.  Normally quiet sub-committee meetings of Community Board 2 had to scramble to find more room for the NYU 2030 Expansion Plan after Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) digitally got the word out.  And the very staid—and sometimes dull—Design Commission meeting turned into a sideshow when Save Coney Island informed their 5,300 Facebook friends of the time and place of the meeting. Regardless of how the mayor (with his own 240,000 followers on Twitter) feels about social media, it's here to stay. Even though the city closed down Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street continues to make its presence felt online, where they plan flash demonstrations held all over town. The question is: how does the city integrate this vital new participation into the process? There are platforms on NYC.gov that allow citizens to see what's going on, but few to interact. Researchers at NYU's Polytechnic Institute have been developing Betaville, an online, open-source platform where residents can do a 3-D fly-through of proposed projects and make comments. At the GVSHP kickoff meeting to oppose the NYU2030 expansion plan, one gray-haired woman said to another gray-haired woman that there was just too much gray hair in the room. As the various CB2 subcommittee meetings progressed through the month of February, more and more students who opposed the plan began to show up, as did their NYU professors. How did they get the younger turnout? Word of mouth, flyers, and, of course, social media.