Thursday, June 7, 2012

Major Approval for NYU Campus Expansion

Despite widespread community opposition, New York University's plan to grow its Greenwich Village campus by roughly 2 million square feet moved one-step closer to becoming a reality. The Department of City Planning approved the plan Wednesday morning with some modifications. There was only one dissenting vote.
The thumbs up comes two months after Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer approved NYU's plan with some recommended modifications, which the school agreed to make.

Less than a month before, Community Board 2 had voted unanimously against the school's expansion. City Planning Commission's modifications to the NYU plan include a mix of changes, some of which reflect Mr. Stringer's recommendations and some, which are new.

The alterations include the elimination of the hotel that had been planned for the school's proposed zipper-shaped building on Mercer Street, the removal of some dormitory space, the elimination of a temporary gym and the rejecting NYU's request to be allowed to add more retail space east of Washington Square Park.

In addition, the commission called for the creation of an Open Space Oversight Organization to oversee and monitor the public spaces. In total, NYU will have to shave about 300,000 square feet off its original proposal.

"The commission's review of NYU's application has been careful and deliberative, and we have greatly benefitted from the thoughtful input from Manhattan Community Board 2, from the borough president of Manhattan, from residents of the area, and from community organizations," said City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden in a statement. "I am confident that the`ted into the neighborhood while meeting NYU's significant need for new and modern space."

As part of its ambitious expansion plan, NYU proposes to build four new buildings in Greenwich Village. While the hotel was eliminated from its planned zipper building, it will remain a 1 million-square-foot dormitory and academic building as well as home to a new 280,000-square-foot Tisch School performing arts center and athletic center. NYU will also have to forego 55,000 square feet of dormitory space that would have been added below the Bleecker Building, where the public school will go. On the north block in between Washington Square Village, the school will only be allowed to build on property it owns, therefore reducing its planned square footage by 24% to 585,000 square feet. Additionally, the height of its proposed Mercer Building is cut to 162,000 square foot from 218,000.

NYU's expansion has generated a slew of criticism from area residents and preservationists as well as several hundred faculty members. The university's expansion will be a 20-year effort that will take place in two phases. The revised plan will now move to the City Council and then mayor for final vote. Opponents of the plan are still hopeful that the expansion can be stopped.