On April 11, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer gave NYU a show of measured support by detailing his recommendations for modifications to the university’s proposed Greenwich Village expansion, a 20-year plan currently slated for completion in 2031.
“N.Y.U. must coexist with Greenwich Village and not overwhelm the neighborhood,” Stringer said in an interview disclosing the deal. “This strikes an important balance.”
According to the New York Times, who originally reported Stringer’s plans on Apr. 10, NYU has agreed to President Stringer’s provisions, which include a scale back of the Mercer Building expansion (the location currently housing NYU’s athletic center) to 162 vertical feet, a number that is equal to other Washington Square Village buildings. Additionally, NYU will erect four new buildings in the area.
“The density of this project has come down almost 20 percent,” Stringer said. “We’ve saved playgrounds, we’ve preserved public strips as parkland, we’ve eliminated the temporary gym.”
Stringer’s recommendations come at the heels of a unanimous Feb. 23 rejection of the expansion by Community Board 2. Approval for the expansion must now pass on to the City Planning Commission and the full city council. Though a final verdict will not be rendered until Summer 2012, the New York Times has reported that Stringer will urge for “conditional approval” at a press conference.
With 370,000 square feet cut from the project, NYU feels it has made fair concessions to accommodate and quell residential concerns regarding the project. Indeed, as NYU Spokesperson John Beckerman noted, NYU’s plans for expansion “have gone through multiple changes over the years.” Stringer also preserved a beloved playground, with NYU agreeing not to destroy it until another has been built to replace it.
“From the beginning, our focus has been to achieve an outcome that will meet the University’s academic space needs in a way that will keep NYU strong — and we’re comfortable we’re still well on that path — while addressing the concerns of our neighbors.” said Beckman in a statement.
However, the New York Times is reporting that Stringer’s endorsement is “considered important because he is planning to run for mayor and has close ties to the liberal activist groups in and nearGreenwich Village.” In addition, they say, Stringer’s stance with NYU’s expansion is consistent with his existing track record (including expansions atColumbiaUniversity and Fordham University).
From an economic standpoint, Stringer estimates that the NYU construction will “create at least 9,500 jobs in the area.” And as for construction, the WNYC reports that NYU has promised to “limit construction to between8 a.m.and4:30 p.m.and that weekend construction would be “limited,” but did not elaborate further.”
UPDATE: By Wednesday Afternoon (4/11/12), The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and members of the NYU Faculty had made public their retention of international lawfirm Gibson Dunn to aid in their pursuit against the city’s land-use process.
Mark Crispin Miller, a member of NYUFASP, said “Although we have raised many good-faith and analytically based concerns about the Sexton Plan, it is clear that NYU will not engage us on the merits. It is also quite clear that – as a negotiating tactic in the land-use process – they have certified a plan that involves much more extensive, and far more concentrated, development than is necessary or rational. It is a shame that some elected officials have voiced support for the plan, or some modified version of it, without seriously considering the community’s concerns. We need to make sure our voices are heard and fairly represented, which is why we have now turned to Gibson Dunn. We did not authorize any elected official to ‘compromise’ on our behalf, which convinced us we need a powerful voice speaking for us.”
According to a statement, Gibson Dunn partners Randy Mastro and Jim Walden will be leading the matter, as they represented elected officials, historic-preservation organizations, and community groups in several other high-profile, land-use matters. They will be working with Alison Greenberg, a noted litigator and former member of Community Board 2 Manhattan.
UPDATE (4/19/12): Opponents of the NYU 2031 Expansion Plan re-doubled their efforts against the University when, on Apr. 19, they called for renewed awareness concerning NYU’s plans. Members of organizations, as well as residents of Greenwich Village are planning a march and rally for Apr. 20, where they aim to gain further support in their efforts against the NYU expansion. Over 15 organizations and leaders have pledged their support, including Community Board 2, SoHo Alliance, Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick, NYS Senator Tom Duane and NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan.
A public hearing, to be held by the City Planning Commission (CPC) is scheduled for Apr. 25 at the National Museum of the American Indian
Tags: Alison Greenberg, cb2, Columbia, Fordhman, Gibson Dunn, Greenwich Village, greenwich village society for historic preservation, Jim Walden, John Beckman, Mark Crispin Miller, NYU, NYU Expansion, Randy Mastro, Scott Stringer
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