City Council Gives Preliminary Greenlight to New York University Expansion Plan

Categories: NYU Expansion
After a tense five years between Greenwich Village residents and NYU, it seems the battle over the university's 2031 expansion plan might be coming to an end.

Today, the City Council gave a preliminary thumbs up to the university's expansion plan, leading up to the decisive Council vote on the issue July 25.

It was a late start for one of the city's most hotly contested development issues -- the hearing began over two hours after its scheduled time.

"We're just dotting all of our 'i's' and crossing our 't's'," Mark Weprin, chair of subcommittee on zoning and franchises, said to the anxious crowd.

Council members have had an intense two weeks of discussion about the university's plan.

"It has been a lot of very late nights and early mornings," said Councilmember Margaret Chin, who represents the area of the proposed expansion.

Burning the midnight oil seems to have paid off for the university, as both the subcommittee of zoning and franchises -- as well as the committee on land use -- voted to approve the expansion plan (zoning and franchises voted 9-0; land use voted 19-1).

NYU's victory wasn't a complete cakewalk, however, as the school was asked to make several modifications to the plan they proposed at the 9-hour hearing held two weeks ago.

The new expansion plan contains three main revisions:

1) Reduction in building density-- NYU scaled down the density of several of its proposed buildings by 25 percent. The proposed "Zipper Building," which is to replace the current Coles Sports Center, has been reduced by 70,000 square feet.

2) Increase in open space -- this was a major source of contention for council members at the previous hearing. Under the new plan, NYU will create several more open spaces for public use and fund upkeep for existing spaces such as the Sasaki garden and parkland. The university also pledged to create a $150,000 endowment for grounds maintenance in addition to their upkeep costs.

3) Community consultation on NYU's open space -- NYU has pledged to create two committees that will serve to oversee the university's efforts towards making open space available to the general public and will also create a liason between the university and the community on construction progress. Each committee will be comprised of five members, chosen by the city council and with one NYU representative.

Chin supported the new plan and encouraged her fellow council members and Greenwich Village residents to get on board.

"Today I've heard NYU commit to major modification," Chin said. "To be honest, no one got everything they wanted but I hope this new plan will allow NYU to grow at a modest pace and keep the residents happy."

When Councilmembers cast their vote for the new plan, almost everyone cited Chin as their reason for giving the greenlight -- despite many lingering reservations.

Councilmember Charles Barron, never one to hold his tongue, was the only dissenting vote.

"This body cannot be a body that just asks 'can you keep a promise?'" Barron said. "These are neighborhoods, not university towns, and most of us voting on this issue don't even live in these areas. We're going to regret this vote if we don't send Community Board 2 back to the drawing board."

And Barron wasn't the only unhappy voice heard amongst the crowd. As the meeting came to a close, a disgruntled Greenwich Village resident shouted, "Shame on you Margaret Chin! You've destroyed the Village!"

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NYU with their fuzzy math claims to create more open green space by building massive towers on open space and playgrounds.  Even a kindergartener can tell you that does not add up.


NYU is not building solely on their own land, but was gifted public land by Councilmember Chin and Speaker Quinn in a blatant giveaway to NYU and corporate interests.  


These are just the most apparent lies of the NYU 2031 Expansion Plan.


If you want a mayoral candidate that.....allows overdevelopment in your away public land.....allows corporations to build on playgrounds, parks and gardens.....allows hospitals to be turned into luxury condos.....runs roughshod over democratic processes.....and serves corporate interests over the people of New York.....then vote for Christine Quinn for mayor and welcome to your new Facist government.


This comment is written for people years in the future reading old articles from the passing of this horrific plan.   


The Greenwich Village Community, NYU Faculty, Alumni and Many Students fought this plan with all our energy.   We warned President Sexton's administration of the financial risks of this plan that was created before the 2007 financial crisis and never adjusted for post financial crisis reality.   Student debt concerns in 2012 were already becoming big concerns but NYU administrators ignored the risks even with a student body that was the most indebted in the nation before this costs of this plan were borne on them. 


Now you are faced with the nightmare scenario that our groups forecasted and tried to get President Sexton's administration and City administrators to understand.   NYU in financial distress, half built buildings, greenspace already destroyed, the ugly, gigantic Zipper building that blocks sunlight throughout Silver Towers, and NYU degress that have much less status than  5+ years prior.  


The only thing I can tell you is that former President Sexton is primarily responsible for the pain of Greenwich Village and NYU's current condition.   Former Mayor Bloomberg, Christina Quinn and Margaret Chin are the Government representatives that were instrumental in this plan being approved.  Please make sure these people are held fully accountable for their actions.  



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