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NYU Releases Sham Parks Plan With No Other Changes to Massive Expansion Proposal

At the heart of NYU’s massive proposed expansion plan are zoning changes to allow adding 2.5 mil. Sq. ft. of space, the equivalent of the Empire State Building, south of Washington Square Park.

One of many problems with NYU’s massive proposed expansion plans is that they include requests to take possession of several pieces of publicly-owned green spaces along Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place.  These “green strips”, though owned by the City’s Department of Transportation, are used as public park space, and community groups including GVSHP have long called for them to be made into permanent park space. The pieces of public land are a vestige of the community’s victory over Robert Moses’ plans to connect Fifth Avenue to his planned Lower Manhattan Expressway, and were originally intended as parts of expanded roadways.  NYU has long opposed making this space permanent parkland.

Last week, NYU made the sudden announcement that they will drop their opposition to the call for permanent park status for two of the four “green strips” and seek to have them made parks as part of their expansion application (NYU will still seek possession of the other two strips, one of which, on Mercer Street between Houston and Bleecker Streets, they are also seeking permission to build a nearly 1 million square foot building on top of).  In their announcement, NYU said that this move “gives the community what it has sought for many years” (view details HERE).

At the heart of NYU’s massive proposed expansion plan are zoning changes to allow adding 2.5 mil. Sq. ft. of space, the equivalent of the Empire State Building, south of Washington Square Park.

But there’s a catch – NYU is supporting Park status for these two green strips on the condition that they be granted an ‘easement’ over the park space. This would allow NYU to build under the parks, dig through the parks to their space below at any time, use the parks as a staging area for their construction equipment for their adjacent new buildings, and close the parks to the public at any time.  By NYU’s own admission, these parks would be closed to the public for years at a time. Additionally, NYU will still be seeking permission to build enormous new buildings bordering and looming over the “parks,” encasing them in shadows for much of the year.

This is clearly NOT “what the community has sought for many years,” as the university claims.  Unfortunately, it is another attempt by the university to feign responsiveness to community concerns in their quest for public approvals for a massive expansion plan which would have an enormous impact upon the Village. NONE of what NYU is proposing to build is currently allowable, and can only be made possible if City officials overturn existing zoning protections, open space preservation requirements, and urban renewal deed restrictions, and give NYU the public land and easements they are seeking.

GVSHP has written to City officials who will be voting on the plans, making it clear that the proposed changes to NYU’s massive proposed expansion do not make them acceptable (read the letter HERE).  We continue to urge the City and the University to work together to find alternative locations for NYU’s massive proposed 2.5 million square foot Village expansion plan, the equivalent of the Empire State Building.  We instead urge the university to consider locations such as the Financial District, where community leaders have said NYU’s development would be welcomed, and where such development would be contextual.  NYU’s current plan will undergo public hearings and votes by the Community Board, Borough President, City Planning Commission, and City Council in the coming months.


Write to City officials letting them know that you too still find NYU’s proposed expansion plan UNACCEPTABLE, and that you urge them to reject it

You can read more about NYU’s announcement in GlobeStreet, Real Estate Weekly, Washington Square News, and the New York Times.

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Home : Preservation : NYU : Latest News : 09/19/11

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