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NYU, Residents Clash Over New East Village Dorm

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East Village residents and preservation advocates are raising concerns about a new NYU dormitory currently under construction.

Residents say the 26-story dorm being built to house 700 students on 12th street between 3rd and 4th Avenue is too tall and will destroy the character of the neighborhood.

"The village is known as being a human scale, charming, accessible place," says preservationist Andrew Berman. A 260-foot dorm is just as inappropriate as you can imagine and it shows how out of touch NYU is that they think this is acceptable to this community."

NYU says the dorm will end up at 240 feet, well within zoning regulations for the neighborhood, adding that it will be just five stories taller than the building next to it, and is similar in height to a number of other nearby buildings.

And, while the school says it will incorporate the faade of the church that once sat on this lot, neighbors say that's not enough.

"It's going to be much taller than anything and it's going to tower over that building at Astor place," says resident Jordana Baldwin. "And I'm worried about it changing the physical character of the Village."

Neighbors say no one listened to their ideas about to make the building better fit this neighborhood. NYU says that's simply not true.

"We sat down with the neighbors and talked to them about our plans. We listened to their proposals and evaluated them," says NYU spokesman John Beckman. "These are the kind of things that don't happen normally in the case of developing a new building."

NYU maintains the new dorm is not an expansion of the university but a replacement for student housing it currently leases near South Street Seaport. Area residents aren't buying that either.

"My feeling is there's always been somewhat of a double standard when it comes to NYU down here in the Village and this is probably just the most pure example to date," says resident David Lerman.

Residents say they'll continue to fight although it's not clear what their options may be. Construction is already underway and is expected to be finished in 2008.

- Rebecca Spitz

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