Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Manhattan BP, NYU Laud Scaled Back Campus Expansion Plan

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New York University's massive expansion got the green light from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer on Wednesday.

The BP has issued conditional approval of the plan, informally dubbed NYU 2031.

The project would build on the university's core campus in Greenwich Village and provide new space in Midtown.

Stringer says his office negotiated alterations to the original plan for a large piece of property NYU owns just south of Washington Square Park. NYU originally proposed adding two-million-square-feet in four new buildings.

Now the school will trim some buildings' height and shapes, preserve some public land while creating new parkland, get rid of a temporary gym and include a K-8 school.

NYU denied it originally went for more than it needed, knowing it would likely have to scale back.

"What I asked our staff here was to make an honest assessment of what our space needs were and we have made that honest assessment," said NYU President John Sexton. "I'm not going to say it's got the precision of a moonshot, but it is the best that we can do in estimating as the community asked us to, what are needs are for space if we are to remain academically competitive over the next 20 years."

"There was nothing easy about this. Everyone had to give up something and no one got everything they wanted. But we came to a resolution in the best interest of this city," Stringer said.

The local councilwoman, Margaret Chin, said she is also on board, conditionally. Chairman Brad Hoylman of Community Board 2, the leader of the body that unanimously rejected the previous plan, said it is now time to move on.

"We don't want to sit in the corner and sulk that this plan hasn't been sent back to the drawing board. We want to get something achieved," said Hoylman.

Even with a growing coalition of officials backing the modified plan, there remains a strong and vocal group of opponents who insist the plan is still completely out of context with this neighborhood.

"The best thing would be to match the scale of the buildings that we currently have that surround the university. That's what I think they should use as a blueprint for this," said Judy Paul of Villagers For A Sustainable Neighborhood

State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick also rejected the new plan, saying it does little to negate the impact it will have on the community.

The modified expansion plan still needs to be passed by the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

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