City officials approve NYU expansion after some reductions made
Greenwich Village's Goliath easily beat David Tuesday.
The City Council's land use committee overwhelmingly approved a modified plan Tuesday that will let NYU construct four large buildings on its property in the Village for housing and academic space despite opposition from local residents and scores of university professors, many of whom live nearby the future construction sites.
City officials, led by council member Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan), brokered a last-minute deal with the university to reduce the size of its massive expansion proposal, clearing the way for the 19-1 vote to OK it. A final vote by the entire City Council is scheduled for July 25, when it is expected to pass.
The agreement will reduce the university's 2.1 million square foot expansion by about 22%, mostly by creating more space between buildings and trimming down an 11-story building to only four floors above ground. More public space will be added, as as a building the city could use for a public school.
Chin, who criticizedNYU's proposal at a public hearing last month, called the updated plan a good compromise.
"I wholeheartedly believe that this proposal will allow NYU's growth in the Village to occur at a sustainable pace, and that it will not overwhelm the wider Village community," she said before the vote.
Council member Charles Barron (D-East New York) slammed NYU and its proposal before entering the lone dissenting vote.
"These are neighborhoods. They are not university towns," he said. "We should send them back to the drawing board and make them respect the wishes of the community."
"We are going to regret this vote," Barron said.
After the plan passed, one angry resident shouted, "Shame on you, Margaret Chin! You have abandoned your constituents! You have destroyed the village," as he walked out of the City Hall chambers.
Alicia Hurley, NYU's vice president for government affairs and community engagement, said NYU's "2031" expansion followed its trend of growing by 150,000 square feet each year, and said it the plan allows the university to attract talented students and faculty.
"To the extent possible, what we're trying to do is to have that expansion that we need in Greenwich Village take place on our own property as opposed to expanding our footprint," Hurley said, adding that the concessions offered in the new plan would cut some dorm and classroom space. "We think we struck the right balance."
But Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, called the proposal's cutbacks "a drop in the bucket" for NYU.
"Trimming the edges of this plan doesn't solve the problems," Berman said. "The changes ... made it less bad, but not less-bad enough to make it even remotely acceptable."
Local residents said they were devastated by the vote.
"NYU has been taking more and more and more of the Village," said Terri Cude, who lives near NYU's Washington Square Campus and is a co-chair of the Community Action Alliance on NYU 2031. "This may very well be the end of Greenwich Village for all that live here, for all that visit here."