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Lawyer: Decision To Develop Historic Gansevoort Market Violates Landmarks Law

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A lawsuit has been filed in an attempt to save a historic area in the Meatpacking District.

The Gansevoort Market Historic District was created to preserve the character of existing squat one- and two-story buildings. But the Landmarks Preservation Commission signed off on a huge development project because the developer argued there were taller tenement buildings there back in the 19th century, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported.

Attorney Michael Hiller said the decision violates the landmarks law.

"They are shortcutting the system for the benefit of the developers and they just can't do that," said  Hiller, who is representing local advocates. "It's precedence setting and would be incredibly dangerous."

Hiller cautions if the courts don't step in, every landmarked building in the city could be at risk.

"I'm not only concerned by the Gansevoort Market Historic District, I am concerned for every historic district in the city and every designated building in the city because if the Landmarks Preservation Commission is going to shortcut the landmarks law on this project, they can do it on every other project," Hiller said.

Hiller, who specializes in preservation cases, said his workload has spiked since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office.

Landmarks Preservation Commission spokeswoman Damaris Olivo said in a statement:

"After an extensive public process, a review of the record demonstrates that the Commission made a rational and reasoned decision that allows for change and evolution while preserving the most significant aspects of the Gansevoort Market Historic District. Contrary to Mr. Hiller's allegations, the Commission proudly remains the strongest force and voice for preservation in New York City. Since 2014, we have designated more than 3,500 buildings and sites in New York City and addressed a massive backlog of sites that had languished on LPC's calendar for 50 years."

City Hall has not answered WCBS 880's request for a comment on the lawsuit.

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