City Officials to Vote on NYU Expansion Today
Greenwich Village may be getting even more purple.
City officials will vote Tuesday on a proposal to let NYU build four large buildings on property it owns in the village, expanding its footprint by more than two million square feet over the next two decades.
The plan, called "NYU 2031" by President John Sexton, has been slammed by local residents and neighborhood advocates in addition to scores of NYU professors, many of whom live in nearby apartment buildings subsidized by the university. They argue that the construction would cut down on public spaces and irreparably harm the feel of Greenwich Village.
City council members and NYU officials were still meeting last night to try to work on a slightly modified version of the plan, sources said, though they still expected it to pass the council's zoning subcommittee and land use committees and be sent to the full council for a vote on July 25. Spokesmen for the council members involved would not comment on those discussions Monday.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said the university is a "welcome presence in the neighborhood as a piece of the neighborhood, but not as the overwhelming, dominating presence it is becoming."
"Once it's done, it will mean that the village will become more and more like a company town where a single entity controls everything," Berman said of the possible construction.
He suggested that NYU look for space a few subway stops away from its Washington Square Park campus, possibly as close as the Financial District. "The university really has not demonstrated in any way that the facilities that they want to build need to be built here as opposed to elsewhere," Berman said.
NYU's plan calls for the added space to be used for teaching and performance space, housing for students and faculty, a gym, some retail space, and the possibility of a new public school. About 65% of the room will be used for academic purposes, public documents show.
"From the beginning, our proposals have sought to strike a balance, allowing NYU to use the superblocks it owns to meet its academic space needs over the next 20 years while addressing community concerns, such as reducing the expansion of its footprint in the neighborhood and creating and making accessible open space that is not publicly accessible today," university spokesman John Beckman said in an email Monday.
NYU professor Andrew Ross, who has been critical of the construction plan, said he worries it would "bankrupt" the university, and expects the pricey budget to be paid for by students.
"NYU can increase the tuition bill every year" he said. "That's how they will finance this plan."
Mark Crispin Miller, an NYU professor and member of a group called "NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan," says 36 academic departments have joined in opposition to the construction. He said he expected local pols to come up with some small changes to the plan by this morning.
"Were braced for the announcement that they've got a compromise in hand," Miller said, adding that "if this plan proceeds in any form that's intolerable to faculty here, dozens of people are going to leave."
Lizzy Ott, a rising NYU junior who lives in the West Village said she disagreed with the university's plan as she sat in Washington Square Park Tuesday.
"Personally I think NYU has more than enough space already, and they should stop," said Ott, 19.
"I think its admirable that NYU is trying to increase their reputation and do good things for the school," she added, "But I think it's getting a bit abrasive and it's made the city hate them."