By Sabina Mollot, Town & Village
New York University, which has been planning a major expansion throughout Greenwich Village, is also in the early stages of opening a new building for its dental as well as nursing school students on First Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets.
Late last year, the university obtained various permits to demolish a five-story building it owns in that space, which was built in 1897, according to PropertyShark. Designs for the new building to be put in its place, at 433 First Avenue, are not yet available, as the school doesn’t even have an architect yet.
Reps from N.Y.U. shared what limited information it had on the plans last Wednesday at a meeting of Community Board 6’s Land Use and Waterfront Committee. No vote on any issue was held, and according to committee chair Ellen Imbimbo, the school doesn’t require any approvals from Board 6 to go ahead with its plans, but came to the meeting as a courtesy.
“We’d like to see the plans” once available, said Imbimbo. “We’d like to know what’s going on and we’d like for them to come back in three months or six months when they’ve chosen an architect and are more far along in the process.”
Unlike the university’s current forays expanding in Greenwich Village, which has been met with significant community opposition, it’s not likely N.Y.U. will face any resistance with the new school building.
For one thing, said Imbimbo, the school will be staying in its current “footprint,” and the area itself has been transitioning into a hub for medical and science facilities. The latest addition is the Alexandria complex at the East River Science Park, which was built to house labs for biotech research and development.
“NYU is a very important institution and with Alexandria there as well, who knows, it could be a very important corridor in the future,” said Imbimbo.
The actual property is located at the west side of First Avenue, across from Hunter College’s Brookdale Health Science Center, and would be situated between the NYC Public Health Laboratories building at 26th Street and another N.Y.U. school building, the N.Y.U. School of Medicine. Currently, many of the windows are boarded up and on the front door, there are signs noting recent asbestos cleanup work at the site.
There is already a building devoted to the N.Y.U. Rosenthal Institute for Aesthetic Dentistry, which is on First Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets, but according to Michael O’Connor, the vice dean of finance and administration at N.Y.U.’s College of Dentistry, it had become necessary to expand, mainly for the nursing students.
The nursing departments, he said, will actually occupy most of the academic building, taking 85,000 s/f compared to the dental students, who will occupy 50,000 s.f
“Our program is to try and join the two disciplines more closely,” said O’Connor, “and improve not only oral health but primary care. We’re very excited. We think this could be very special.”
The nursing program itself is being expanded to meet the need of a national nursing shortage, he explained.
As for why the school is putting up a new building instead of just fixing up the old one, O’Connor said several years ago the university had hired a firm to evaluate it and was told it would make more sense to tear the structure down and start over.
Still, he said, “A building is a building, but it’s what happens inside that’s the most important thing.” According to O’Connor, the College of Dentistry had 351,000 dental visits last year, with all patients being treated at low prices by students.
“That’s a safety net for all of New York City,” he said.
The new building is expected to be complete by the fall semester of 2013 or the spring semester of 2014, at a total cost of around $140 million.