(by Alissa Fleck)
NYU’s proposal encompasses 2.5 million square feet of land—the equivalent of the Empire State Building—just south of Washington Square Park, a press release details. The plan would “overturn neighborhood zoning protections, remove open space preservation requirements, end urban renewal deed restrictions, and take possession of public land.”
This expansion, which is currently prohibited under neighborhood zoning rules, would replace potential public park space with four large buildings, and take twenty years to build. This would turn the “park-starved” area into a longtime construction site.
Thus far the plan has been strongly opposed by NYU faculty, neighborhood residents and community members, according to the press release. The proposal’s approval also comes on the heels of NYU’s announcement of a 3.8% undergrad tuition hike.
“It’s unclear to me why NYU can locate whole campuses in Shanghai and Dubai, but can’t put a few more facilities a quick subway ride away in the Financial District or Downtown Brooklyn,” said Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) Andrew Berman.
“Given the Mayor’s outspoken support for his friend (NYU President) John Sexton’s grandiose expansion plans, we always knew the real fight would be at the City Council,” said Berman.
Borough President Scott Stringer announced his approval of the decision in a statement, commending allowances for playground space throughout construction and the elimination of commercial uses. Stringer expressed disappointment that other commitments, including preserving air and light for surrounding buildings, were not met.
“I expect the City Council to correct these mistakes,” said Stringer.
The City Council has sixty days to hold hearings and vote on the expansion. In the meantime, the GVSHP has compiled significant evidence of the drawbacks of the plan, all of which is available on its website.
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