Today in Greenwich Village NYU History
Three years ago today, GVSHP and the Village won an important early victory in the ongoing battle against the NYU 2031 expansion plan. On February 23, 2012, Community Board #2 voted unanimously to reject the overly ambitious and out of scale development proposal. This was the first official vote on NYU’s massive proposed expansion plan during the public review and approval process, and it gave our side considerable momentum when it went in our favor. You can view photos of the rally and vote here, and read GVSHP’s statement before Community Board #2 here.
Unfortunately,then-Borough President Stringer, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council did not see things the same way.
The day after the Community Board vote, we wrote to Borough President Stringer urging him to hold a public hearing on the proposal before voting on the plan. And we delivered thousands of signatures via an on-line petition to him, urging him to vote against the plan.
Unfortunately, he did neither. Similarly the City Council and the City Planning Commission voted overwhelmingly in favor of NYU’s plan, in spite of nearly unanimous opposition to the proposal from the public at multiple public hearings. As a result, in late 2012, GVSHP, NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, and a broad coalition of opponents filed a lawsuit against the plan.
We won at the State Supreme Court level and urged NYU and the City to join us in going back to the drawing board in working out a plan which the university and the neighborhood could both live with. But NYU and the de Blasio administration both refused.
Through two administrations, the City has relentlessly supported NYU’s plan as the case winds its way through the legal system. There has been no recognition by the City or NYU that the Village is unable to accommodate 2,000,000 more square feet of NYU facilities without seriously damaging the character of this vibrant community. This development is slated to destroy public parkland and the delicate balance of open space and buildings, large structures and small ones, in the landmarked Silver Towers complex and Washington Square Village. Even after NYU scaled down their plans in order to gain the support of local elected officials, the proposed development remains completely out of character with the neighborhood.
NYU claims their plan to force unwelcome development into the neighborhood is necessary because “existing zoning and historic districts significantly limit expansion“. Zoning and historic districts protections exist in order to preserve and enhance the special character of New York’s historic neighborhoods.
A decision by the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany — the final word in this case — may come down any day. Hopefully it will echo last year’s State Supreme Court decision, as well as the vote which took place three years ago today.