On Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg jumped into a heated battle over NYU's push to expand its Greenwich Village campus, dismissing critics who say the university cannot move its project further through the city land use process. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
New York University has an ambitious plan to add more than two-million-square-feet of space to its Greenwich Village campus. New classrooms, faculty offices, an athletic center and housing are all part of the proposal.
On Monday for the first time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg injected himself into the debate over the expansion plan, defending the university and displaying little patience for people who suggest that NYU scale back its vision.
"In the real world today, to have a world-class university, you've got to keep expanding and doing new things," said the mayor.
He said that while there is a way to scale back, but it would come at a cost.
"I certainly think there is a way. I think you can also destroy NYU at the same time," said Bloomberg.
Despite some strong support from the mayor, NYU's expansion plan has generated some fierce opposition from Greenwich Village residents. Two months ago, the local community board voted unanimously against the project.
"A 20-year massive construction project in the middle of a residential area would have a devastating impact," said Preservationist Andrew Berman.
Berman thinks NYU should be looking to grow in other city neighborhoods, like the Financial District or Downtown Brooklyn.
"An Empire State Building's worth of space to be shoe-horned into the blocks south of Washington Square Park is just unimaginable. It would overwhelm the neighborhood," said Berman.
Bloomberg said the university's neighbors have nothing to complain about.
"NYU, and the area that surrounds it, people there — the value of their houses and the quality of their life is because of the proximity of NYU," said the mayor.
Having the mayor on its side certainly helps NYU, but his support will hardly silence the heated debate about whether the school should be allowed to expand or hold back as some of its neighbors wish.