By Roland Li
New York University will seek to designate two strips of land south of Washington Square Park as city parkland, as it moves forward with an expansion plan that would add four new buildings to the area.
The change, characterized by the school as a concession to neighborhood groups that had requested that the land be preserved, would also shift a new building 15 feet west. Previously, local residents and elected officials held a protest after N.Y.U. indicated that it sought to acquire the strips. However, the school will continue to seek ownership of other parcels, currently owned by the city’s Department of Transportation.
“By re-imagining the two superblocks, we are able to meet our academic space needs in our core Washington Square area over the next two decades and significantly reduce our need to expand our footprint within the neighborhood,” said Lynne Brown, senior vice president of N.Y.U., in a statement.
The school also released the results of a telephone poll showing that 70% of 600 surveyed New Yorkers were in favor of the overall expansion plan. But some community groups continue to denounce the plan.
“This area is already oversaturated with N.Y.U. facilities, and this will only make a bad situation worse,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
He said that shifting ownership of the land to the Department of Parks would make them responsible for upkeep costs, but N.Y.U. would still have easements that would allow for construction usage and excavation, rendering the strips unusable during construction.
Berman called for the school to expand in the Financial District, rather than in Greenwich Village, where most of its buildings are located.
“It is still amazing to many of us that a university that can set up campuses in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, and Paris, can’t come to terms with shifting some of its massive planned growth in New York just a mile to the south,” said Berman.
The school’s expansion requires approval from the Department of City Planning and City Council, and Community Board 2 and Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president, will have non-binding advisory opinions. The seven-month process, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, is expected to begin near the end of the year.