By Michael Soluri and Michael Markowitz, WVH tenant-shareholders and members of SPWVH
Jane Jacobs, the self-taught Greenwich Village activist mom who defeated Robert Moses’ plan for a Cross Bronx-like expressway through Greenwich Village in the early 1960’s, was the visionary behind the creation of West Village Houses (WVH) in the early 1970’s.
Now a free market co-op, WVH occupies forty-two 5-story walk-up buildings containing a mix of 1BR to 4BR apartments, on six sites bounded by Morton and Bank Streets, and Washington and West Streets. WVH reflects Jane Jacobs’ vision: basic and affordable housing, including walk-ups and gardens for reasons of economics and community.
In a fiercely contentious board election at the end of June, WVH shareholders voted overwhelmingly to support the Jacobs vision. They elected three practical-minded “Problem Solver” candidates to the seven-member board. Soundly defeated were a slate of three candidates who advocated tearing down some or all of WVH to “redevelop” the complex, eliminating spacious communal gardens in favor of high-rise structures with elevators. This issue harkens back to Jane Jacobs’ struggle with Robert Moses as depicted in her seminal book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
But the Jane Jacobs vs Robert Moses struggle at WVH is not over. (Stay tuned for more in a future edition of WestView.)