The Truth About Open Space & The NYU Plan

The Truth About Open Space & The NYU Plan

Although NYU’s massive Village expansion plan was modestly reduced at this week’s City Council Land Use Committee meeting (the university would still get over 80% of what it proposed), if it is approved by the full City Council next week, the plan would still dramatically alter the physical character of the neighborhood. While much attention has been paid to the scale and design of the proposed buildings included in the plan, today we wanted to take a look at another troubling aspect of it – open space.

As part of GVSHP’s in-depth examination of NYU’s expansion plan, we commissioned a study earlier in the year into how the plan would affect open space in the area, titled The Truth About Open Space and The NYU 2031 Plan: Less Open Space Less Sunlight. Although the footprint of the proposed construction on the north superblock has been reduced slightly since, the study identified the loss in open space resulting from NYU’s original proposal — from 6.23 acres currently to 3.71 acres, a net loss of 2.52 acres, in what is the community district with the second lowest ratio of open space per resident in the city.

NYU’s claim that it would actually increase the amount of public open space is based upon an overly restrictive and technical definition of open space which would exclude much of Riverside and Central Parks, including the Great Lawn. NYU’s calculations of “open space” leaves out much of the true open space on these sites. According to NYU, there is less than an acre of open space on the Washington Square Village and Silver Towers superblocks, and when construction is complete the NYU 2031 plan will add 3.1 acres of open space. In reality, the NYU 2031 plan will eliminate more than one acre of open space, and with its new construction encase much of the remaining open space in permanent shadows.

Take a look at the following diagrams to see the difference (open space represented with solid green shading ):
NYU Open Space

Please read this report and the others we have produced. To learn more about GVSHP’s advocacy against the NYU 2031 Plan, visit, where you can sign an online petition and find contact information to write and call your local elected officials to tell them to Vote ‘No’ on NYU 2031. Next week the entire City Council will vote on the expansion plan (the final such public vote in the approval process). We hope that you’ll take the time to tell your representatives — particularly Council Member Chin and Speaker Quinn — that this plan is wrong for the Village, and that you join us at the Council meeting currently scheduled for July 25th at 1:30 P.M.

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Drew was GVSHP's Director of Administration until March 2015.

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