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City Planning Hears from Both Sides on NYU Expansion

nyu city planning commission

MAS, along with over 200 individuals and organizations, testified at Wednesday’s City Planning Commission hearing regarding NYU’s application to expand in Greenwich Village. MAS spoke out against the proposal, recognizing the Manhattan Borough President for his success in negotiating changes to the plan, but continuing to argue that the project needs to benefit NYU, the neighborhood and the city as a whole. MAS specifically suggested further reductions in overall density and building height and assurance that public space will be redesigned to be welcoming to all members of the public and in consultation with community groups.

Throughout the day, Commissioners heard from alternate groups speaking for and against the project beginning with NYU President, John Sexton who explained NYU’s need to expand in order to accommodate a student body that has grown more quickly than its campus. Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, whose institution has undertaken a similarly ambitious plan for expansion, provided another perspective on the need for institutions to expand to remain competitive and viable.

Commissioners acknowledged NYU’s need for more space, however questioned why so much of the University’s growth needed to take place in the Village. Sexton answered that 25% of their 20 year growth plan had already begun outside the core in places like the former M.T.A. building at 370 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, where NYU recently announced plans for a new Urban Science Center. MAS believes that further investment and co-location of additional development in Downtown Brooklyn would achieve NYU’s goal of fostering interdepartmental collaboration and would inject much needed energy and activity into Downtown Brooklyn.

Other speakers against the project included Senator Tom Duane, who opposed the amount of proposed density on what are now primarily residential blocks and several members of Community Board 2, who submitted a decisive no against all aspects of the plan last month. CB2 chair Brad Hoylman reaffirmed the Board’s decision and the need for NYU to make further reductions in the scale of the project.

The City Planning Commission will continue to review the proposal and will accept written testimony until May 7th. If the Commission recommends approval, NYU’s application will move ahead to the City Council, the next step in the city’s land use review process.