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City Council Committees Approve NYU Expansion Plans

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The City Council's Land Use Committee and Zoning Subcommittee overwhelmingly approved New York University's proposal to add 2 million square feet to its Greenwich Village campus Tuesday.

The plan, which passed the Land Use Committee by a 19-1 vote, calls for four new high-rise buildings, classrooms and auditoriums. The affected area is bounded by West 3rd Street to the north, West Houston Street to the south, LaGuardia Place to the west and Mercer Street to the east.

City lawmakers previously reached a compromise deal with NYU officials, which shrinks the school's expansion plans by 20 percent, reduces the size of above-ground buildings by 25 percent and provides more open space.

NYU says it needs to expand to attract quality students and faculty and it is only building where high-rises already exist.

Manhattan Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the area, was initially opposed to the expansion, but now backs the scaled-back plan.

"Not everybody can get what they want, and I think it's a compromise that will preserve the community and at the same time allow the area to grow," said Chin. "It is important to find that balance and this compromise. We did strike a delicate balance."

Nevertheless, opponents say the reduced expansion will still damage the character of the Village and want the school to repurpose existing buildings.

"It's deeply disappointing. The council really ignored the thousands of New Yorkers who reached out to them. By far the majority of NYU faculty, NYU's own staff, said to vote this down," said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. "While we appreciate that they scaled this down very slightly, it's not enough to make this plan acceptable."

While Community Board 2 and 36 NYU departments and divisions have voted down the expansion plans, some NYU faculty members are in favor of the new development.

"Colleges and universities are one of the city's great engines of growth. This area is an industrial core area that's been converted to houses, studios and offices, and so we're building in an area that already has high-rise, dense buildings. It's near 10 different subway lines," said Mitchell Moss, an NYU professor of urban policy and planning. "This is about New York. Greenwich Village is not just for people who live there, it's for people who work there."

The full council is expected to approve the expansion on July 25.

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