For immediate release August 2, 2006
Contact: Andrew Berman (917) 533-1767 or (212) 475-9585 x38
VILLAGERS PROTEST NYU MEGA-DORM CONSTRUCTION,
CALLING IT TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE FOR NEIGHBORHOOD
and SLAM UNIVERSITY FOR BREAKING COMMITMENTS
TO MAKE CHANGES TO DESIGN
Manhattan – The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), State Senator Tom Duane, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and scores of neighbors held a press conference today in front of the construction site of NYU’s planned 260-ft. tall dormitory, which will be by far the tallest building in the East Village. Neighbors protested the gargantuan size and height of the dorm, as well as the fact that the dorm would be even larger than they had been told it would be, that the university had reneged on its commitment to make revisions to the plan to address community concerns about height and design, and that construction moved ahead without the university even sharing with the community what decisions they had made about the dormitory plan.
In late 2005, NYU announced they were planning to build a 26-story dormitory at this location, which met with huge protest. But the university promised to set up a working group to meet with community residents to hear what their concerns were and to try to address at least some of the concerns in the design. Revisions proposed by the community included bringing the dorm out to the street to eliminate the plaza, making the building lower and squatter, and reducing the size and bulk of the building. NYU promised to get back to the community with details on what the final design would look like.
After several months of no word from NYU, however, community groups saw that permits had been issued for construction of the 26-story building on the site, and construction began last week. When NYU refused to share information, community groups were able to attain copies of the plans for the NYU dorm through the Department of Buildings; those plans showed that no changes whatsoever were made to the design, and the planned building was somewhat taller than residents had been led to believe by NYU.
“In a long history of bad faith dealings that NYU has had with this community, this may be one of the worst,” said GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman. “Only in NYU’s mind could a 260-ft. tall dorm on a residential side street like this be considered appropriate. Only in NYU’s mind could a design as horrendous as this be considered a contribution to the neighborhood. We all entered negotiations with NYU in good faith, believing them when they said that they would try to integrate community suggestions into the design. We didn’t expect to get everything, but we thought we would get something. Instead, we got less than nothing – they moved ahead with plans without telling us, and apparently understated how tall the dorm would be. It’s outrageous,” added Berman.
NYU has built more than a dozen new high-rises in the area between 2nd and 6th avenues in the last 20 years, and now occupies all or part of about 100 buildings in the neighborhood. This, however, would be by far the tallest of any of NYU’s development in the last 40 years.
Community groups such as GVSHP and the St. Ann’s Committee have been calling upon NYU and the City to find alternative locations for their ongoing and enormous expansion outside of the Village. Both groups have also called upon the City to rezone this area to prevent further totally inappropriate development like this on these blocks; currently the City plans to rezone much of the East Village to reduce the height of allowable new development, but has excluded these blocks from the rezoning.
“If nothing else, I hope that NYU’s actions will make clear to the City that NYU is a bad neighbor, and does not respect its own commitments any more than it does the wishes of its neighbors. I hope that from this the City will cease to protect NYU as it has been and instead protect our neighborhood from their ceaseless overdevelopment,” stated GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman.
In addition to today’s demonstration, GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman sent a letter to NYU President John sexton condemning the university’s actions and calling upon NYU to go back to the drawing board with this plan.
Contact GVSHP for high-resolution images of the protest: