In an editorial published in today’s paper, the New York Times throws its weight behind NYU’s controversial expansion plan, saying that the project’s opponents have “mostly overreacted.” Although the paper does honor some criticisms of the plan, their ultimate point is broad. “N.Y.U., along with other great educational institutions in New York, like Columbia, needs to expand,” the Times wrote. “It’s good for the entire city, and it’s inevitable.” Runnin’ Scared reached out to Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which has fought against the plan. Berman said that the editorial “ignores some of the basic facts.”
As for the advice the paper doles out to the university, the Times suggests that NYU should heed concerns that two large triangular buildings will “create walls to the streets on either side of the construction area.” Furthermore, they should “make sure that space is truly public and does not become an internal courtyard walled off by four towers,” and should steer clear of their tendency to have “famous architects to produce famously unattractive buildings.”
The Times contends in its conclusion:
Change never comes easy to New York. We understand Village residents’ anxiety (although that would have more credibility if the alternative were not that N.Y.U. should just build in other people’s backyards). But this important New York institution should be able to expand in its core area. It is one of the nation’s elite universities; it adds high-paying jobs and intellectual allure to the city and to the Village. It is just the sort of thing New Yorkers should encourage.
But, to Berman, the editorial misses a lot of points and other approaches that the university could take, like building a satellite campus in a location like the Financial District, Long Island City or Downtown Brooklyn. The Village, he said, has “very very limited room” for growth. Furthermore, the space that some of the proposed plans would occupy is public.
“They are not building exclusively on their own land,” he said. “They are taking park space in what is statistically one of the most park starved communities in New York City.”
Berman added that land which the university does own was obtained through urban renewal had comes with stipulations against the proposed development.
Community Board 2 unanimously opposed the plan in February. As the editorial notes, the plan is now in Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s hands, from there it heads to the city planners and, following that, to the City Council.