NoHo News Join our email list Jefferson Library GVSHP Mission East Village

Home : Preservation : Silver Towers : Silver Towers Latest News : 12/17/08

Site Map/Search

Reset Text Size Smaller Font Larger Font

Information about Silver Towers superblock zoning

We wanted to share with you some information we have recently received regarding NYU and the possibility of development on the Silver Towers and Washington Square Village superblocks.

NYU has been proposing to add a significant amount of new development to the superblocks as part of its “NYU 2031” plan. GVSHP (and many others) have said that much of this proposed development would be completely inappropriate, and in violation of zoning restrictions. We have been asking NYU for months for clarification of their understanding of what the zoning for these sites would allow (see here). We have also worked very hard to secure landmark designation of much of the Silver Towers superblock in November, which will prevent any as-of-right development on the landmarked areas, and would require an additional layer of public review and approval if NYU were to seek to build there.

Earlier this month, NYU FINALLY gave their first written response to questions about their understanding of restrictions on development on the superblocks, which we have posted here so you can review it (NYU apparently shared this information with the Community Board almost two weeks ago, but did not share this information publicly, or with us, until yesterday).

In summary, the document says the following:

  • None of NYU’s proposed developments are allowable under current zoning restrictions

  • While the urban renewal provisions expired in 1994, deed restrictions on the property require that NYU abide by the urban renewal provisions regardless (see here); none of NYU’s proposed developments for the superblocks are allowed under the deed restrictions

  • NYU cannot build on the landmarked area of Silver Towers without the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which would require public hearings and a public vote of the Commission

  • To change the current zoning or deed restrictions for the site, NYU must go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and get approvals from the City Council and the City Planning Commission; public hearings would have to be held; and the Community Board and Borough President would get to vote on the changes (though their approval is not required)

Please note that:

  • The urban renewal restrictions which the deed restrictions are based upon appear to limit the height of development

    • on the Coles Gym site (“Educational,” as per map on final page) to “a maximum height of twenty-three (23) feet above grade except for a mechanical penthouse, fences and similar minor intrusions”;

    • on the Morton Williams site and the Washington Square Village LaGuardia Place retail strip (“Retail,” as per map on final page) to “One story or 20 feet, whichever is less.”

  • The Landmarks Preservation Commission, whose approval would be needed for any new construction on the open spaces in the landmarked areas, noted in their designation report for the complex that the existing buildings are “carefully arranged” around the open space and frequently note how intentional the relationship in siting between the three buildings is and between the buildings and the open space (see here) which would seem to imply that adding a fourth tower, as proposed by NYU, would run contrary to the rationale for designation

GVSHP will continue to push for further information regarding NYU’s plans and restrictions which would affect them, as well as to advocate against inappropriate development on the superblocks and elsewhere in our neighborhood, and for NYU to seek locations OUTSIDE of our neighborhood for their growth, as promised in the “Planning Principles” to which they agreed at the beginning of this year.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss, don’t hesitate to contact us via e-mail or at (212) 475-9585.

Next: 02/19/09
Previous: 11/18/08

Home : Preservation : Silver Towers : Silver Towers Latest News : 12/17/08

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation : 232 East 11 Street, New York, NY 10003 : 212 475 9585 :


Credits, Copyright, Terms of Service, and Privacy Statements