Fordham University is set to receive Borough President Scott Stringer’s approval of the plan to expand its Lincoln Center campus, now that a compromise plan is has been negotiated between the two camps.
Stringer’s approval, albeit advisory, is a crucial victory for Fordham, whose proposal was soundly rejected by Community Board 7 last month.
The newly brokered plan will reduce the proposal by 206,000 square feet, increase public space and access, and cut parking in half.
Father Joseph McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, said in a statement that the new plan will serve the community without compromising the university’s development goals.
“Pending its approval by the City Planning Commission and City Council, this plan will enable Fordham to educate greater numbers of first-generation New Yorkers in the arts, government service, education, social service and business,” McShane said.
To reduce the bulk and density of the expansion, which runs from West 60th Street to 62nd streets between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, some of the floor space was moved below ground and floor-to-ceiling heights were reduced. The building envelopes—general parameters for new buildings, a sticking point for local opposition to the plan—were tightened and codified.
Groups who opposed to the original plan cited the difficult access to the proposed public space in the campus quad. The staircase and other entryways will now be expanded. Public sidewalk space will also be widened on Columbus Avenue to accommodate the extra foot traffic from the two luxury apartment towers that would be sold or leased to fund Fordham’s endowment.
Fordham also agreed to develop an academically oriented after-school program for at least five middle and high schools within the school district.
“The compromise we have reached will help Fordham reach its goal of becoming an ever greater center of learning while preserving and improving the best aspects of its neighborhood,” said Stringer, who announced the compromise plan on Feb. 25.
Though Community Board 7 members rejected the plan and removed language from the final resolution that would allow Fordham to return with a revised proposal, Helen Rosenthal, the board chair, applauded Stringer for negotiating this deal.
“He definitely made progress on bulk, density, and open space,” Rosenthal said. “It was very clever to find space underground to bring down some additional height.”
With Stringer onboard, the City Planning Commission will now review the plan and hold a vote. Rosenthal said the community board will push to have community input on the buildings to be developed within these newly defined “envelopes.”
“Once the buildings are designed, the community wants to see them. That’s what we want to sign off on,” Rosenthal said. “City Planning should give an opportunity for the community to review buildings Fordham is planning, but have not designed.”
Council Member Gale Brewer, whose support will likely be key for the plan to get full Council approval, hailed the compromise as a positive step toward a successful public land use process. Brewer, noting improvements to the Columbus Avenue portion of the plan, said the bulk of the two luxury towers on Amsterdam Avenue will be examined and addressed.
“We’re still going to look at the Amsterdam side. The issue is, are the buildings the right height or not,” Brewer said. “A lot has been accomplished but there’s a little bit more to go.”
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