The battle over NYU 2031 heats up starting tonight ... The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), the Community Action Alliance on NYU 2031, Greenwich Village Block Associations, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors and more than a dozen community groups from the area are sponsoring a Town Hall tonight on the NYU expansion plan.
The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the AIA Center for Architecture, 536 Laguardia Place (Bleecker/West 3rd Street).
Anyway, as NYU is moving ahead with certifications and approvals for its NYU 2031 expansion plan, Community Board 2 is holding five public hearings on NYU 2031-related topics on Jan. 9, 10, 12, 17 and 18. (Find out more details on these meetings here; The Villager has an article on all this here.)
NYU is seeking zoning approvals for two superblocks south of Washington Square Park that will create four new buildings in order to add more academic space. You can read about NYU's plans via its NYU 2031 site here.
GVSHP released these renderings that offer comparative views of NYU's proposed new buildings in relation to the existing structures between West Third Street and Houston Street.
"NYU is asking for an unprecedented package of city approvals to undo long-standing neighborhood zoning protections, remove open space preservation requirements, lift urban renewal deed restrictions and take public land used as parks," Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, told us via email. "This would allow them to add 2.5 million square feet of space — the equivalent of the Empire State Building — to the blocks south of Washington Square Park."
We asked Berman why this should be of concern to East Village residents.
"NYU's ever-growing presence in the Village has long had a disproportionate impact on the East Village; it's where NYU students go to live off campus, to party on weekends (and weeknights) and grab some fast food. The type of growth NYU is projecting, even if it were only limited to the blocks south of Washington Square, would still greatly accelerate the transformation of the East Village we've seen in recent years.
"But there is no reason to believe that NYU's growth will be limited to these blocks if they get the approvals they seek. Nothing in the requested approvals limits NYU's ability to acquire property, build, or demolish anywhere else, and as long as they are growing in the Central Village, they will likely seek other locations nearby for additional facilities, just as they have for the past several decades.
The way Berman sees it, the impact of the precedents set by these approvals is much more likely to be felt in the East Village.
"If NYU convinces the City that the zoning protections, open space requirements and urban renewal deed restrictions under which these superblocks were developed are ripe for the undoing ... then it is neighborhoods like the East Village and Lower East Side which present the most opportunities for the kind of overbuilding and overdevelopment which could follow from that profound change in city planning and philosophy," he said.