City Council Committees Approve NYU's Expansion Plan; Many Remain Opposed
Three months after Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer approved New York University’s reduced plan to expand by over 2 million sq ft in Greenwich Village, two key City Council committees voted overwhelmingly in favor of the plan on July 17. Council Member Margaret Chin and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn also approved the university’s 30-year plan.
The university’s NYU 2031 plan goes to the full City Council for a vote on July 25.
The plan, known as NYU 2031, was given to the city council on June 7 from the City Planning Commission as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.
The approval, which will enable the university to add the academic space it says is needs, was based on an agreement that would scale back the university’s original proposal by over 26% above ground level density—down 352,000 sq ft from 1.4 million sq ft.
The revised plan also will create community-dedicated spaces, increase open space, and create a construction committee to liaise with the university on all construction-related issues. The university’s reduced expansion plan also includes decreasing the proposed Mercer building from its original 11 stories down to 4 stories and reducing the “Zipper” building from approximately 1 million sq ft to 980,000 sq ft.
“The changes approved in the NYU 2031 plan were made after we listened to the views and concerns of Council Member Chin, other members of the city council and representatives of the community and were made in collaboration with them so that we could arrive at a plan that balances the needs of NYU and the concerns of the community,” said Lynne Brown, senior vice president at NYU, in a statement.
The reduced plan has not met everyone’s approval, however, including the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) and NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan (NYU-FASP), an organization of NYU faculty.
They [NYU-FASP] refer to it as the “Sexton Plan,” because they feel it does not represent the ambitions of the NYU faculty, staff or students, just John Sexton, NYU president, says Andrew Berman, executive director of GVSHP. The two groups rallied outside of City Hall on July 17 in hopes of sending the plan back to the drawing board. Those opposed to the plan fear the expansion would take away from neighborhood esthetics.
“Throughout this process, I have tried to keep an open mind,” said Chin in a statement. “I have maintained that it is possible to strike a balance that upholds the integrity of Greenwich Village and meets NYU’s immediate academic needs. I am confident this proposal strikes that balance,” she added.
“We hope that the full council will reject this grossly inappropriate and wrong-headed plan,” Berman says. “There has been no true examination of viable alternatives and no real justification by NYU as to why this massive expansion of facilities must take place in the already oversaturated village.”