As was widely expected, NYU cleared its next to last major hurdle yesterday when City Council approved the university's expansion plan. The only thing left to do is to obtain the assured signature of Mayor Bloomberg. Amidst cries of "Shame!" coming from the public seated in the balcony, the council passed a plan that was reduced in size by 26 percent from the original proposal after all the ULURP parties had weighed in.
Posts tagged with "NYU 2031":
The Zoning Committee of the New York City Council is holding a hearing today for NYU's proposed expansion. It is the last stop on the ULURP tour that has garnered some of the most contentious debate in a neighborhood that has seen more than its share of zoning upheaval over the past year. Usually the council votes in agreement with the council member representing the district. As such, all eyes were on Council Member Margaret Chin, whose Downtown district includes the Washington Square area where the expansion is being proposed. While Chin said that the plan is "unacceptable as it stands" she didn't outright reject the plan. According to The Wall Street Journal, Chin is casting a critical eye on the so-called Zipper Building on the southern super block. As the university agreed with City Planning to eliminate a hotel in that building, it seems likely that's where the ax will fall. Borough President Scott Stringer, whose role is advisory, said that he had already negotiated a reduction in the Zipper Building, but City Planning set aside his suggestion. This morning Chin added affordable housing to the list of her desires, opening up yet another round of arm twisting for NYU. Whether the housing would be included on the site or within the district is unclear and whether that agreement would be binding will probably be a sticking point for the ever-vigilant Villagers. Open space was also on the Council Member's radar, but her mention of preserving park space along the DOT strips along Mercer and Laguardia streets was already mapped out by Planning. However, Chin's mention of the "thousands" of jobs that the project will bring indicates another mildly altered version of the plan will move forward. For their part, NYU stuck to the script. As an example of a university busting at the seams, President John Sexton noted that the university's library should seat 8,000 but could only accommodate 3,000. He countered claims that expansion was an attempt to fill college coffers with cash from more students, saying the expansion was physical in nature and would not correspond with a substantial growth in the student body, which he predicted would only increase by half a percent annually. He also defended the contention that the university couldn't afford the project. "We wouldn't be taxing our budget any more than we have over the last then years," he said.
It was a busy archi-spring night last night. The Municipal Arts Society held their debate on NYU’s 2031 expansion plan, the AIDS Memorial exhibit opened at the Center for Architecture, and Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century opened at the newly re-dubbed Walker Tower on West 18th Street. Read on for highlights of the MAS debate and to view few photos from the Center and Walker Tower... The MAS debate was the most sober event of the evening with a panel packed with academic all stars. The NYU opponents applauding statements they found to their liking lent the debate the air of a souped-up community board meeting. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to hear ideas cleanly teased out by moderator John Alschuler, of HR&A, the real estate/economic advisory firm. The community had an informed voice on stage in CB2 Chair Brad Hoylman. His point of view was largely backed up by Pratt’s Ron Shiffman, while NYU’s Hilary Ballon and Penn’s Gary Hack tipped the balance back in favor of NYU. Alschuler got the ball rolling by stating “nobody loves the Coles Gymnasium,” the bland brick bunker on the corner of Houston and Mercer, and that “some level of change is going to come there,” partly in the form of a hotel in the so-called Zipper Building. This immediately spurred Schifman to respond that there is little need for a hotel on the campus as NYC has plenty already. “People can get on the subway, why are we protecting them,” he said of the NYU visitors. “That’s a formula for disaster.” Hack argued that at Penn they began their expansion with a hotel, because that’s what visiting academics need most—a place to stay on campus. While Ballon, who is based at NYU Abu Dhabi, said the university’s international franchises mean they need a hotel more than ever. In the end, the southern super block with its two towers was the source of less tension, as opposed to the proposed Boomerang Buildings on the northern superblock. Schiffman went so far as to say that he likes the Kimmelman plan, which would keep the below grade space but nix the above grade structures. But Hack said the new proposal, including the buildings, would open the superblock up and provide better circulation. He added that the additional space would give students a place to gather instead of meeting at “third place haunts” like Starbucks. Hoylman said the north block proposal would more likely become a student thoroughfare, not a neighborhood square. “This is about NYU solving an identity crisis; they get their quad,” he said.