Imagine a young developer from a big New York real estate family wants to make a name for himself. He decides to do so by developing a luxury high-rise tower in the heart of Greenwich Village that will be one of the tallest, if not the tallest, structures ever erected in the historically low-rise neighborhood.
Now imagine that there were no landmark protections to prevent him from building this tower, and that the zoning actually encouraged this kind of development: There were no height limits, which made it easy to build a tall, narrow tower on a large plot of land, requiring no public approvals or review whatsoever.
Unfortunately, this awful scenario is no fantasy; this is exactly what is set to happen at 110 University Place at 12th St., where the Bowlmor Lanes has stood for decades. Billy Macklowe, scion of Harry Macklowe, is demolishing the existing structure and plans to erect a 23-story, 308-foot-tall residential tower in its place — about the height of the concrete-sheathed 30-story N.Y.U. Silver Towers.
Unlike most of Greenwich Village, this site has no landmark protections — much like almost all of University Place and the blocks extending east to Broadway, and west to Fifth Ave. along 12th St. and to the north. And the current zoning, which dates from 1961, encourages tall towers on large development sites, and grants zoning bonuses for including things like plazas and university facilities.