Tensions ran high at City Hall today as residents of Greenwich Village squared off with New York University administrators and city construction workers over NYU’s 2031 expansion project.
The project calls for the construction of four new buildings, three of
which would be constructed on land already owned by the institution, as well as
additional academic facilities and housing for incoming freshmen and
The four new sites will comprise an area called “the superblock”, which will take six currently existing city blocks and turn them into two “superblocks.” New buildings will replace single-story structures and the total area will equal 1.8 million square feet.
The “superblock” is the most contentious part of the plan due to residents fear that it will not fit in with the rest of the neighborhood, take away community space, and attract too many restaurants and bars.
The hearing began with NYU President John Sexton and members of his administration testifying before the city council on their expansion plans for the university. When pressed for hard numbers about the cost of total expansion, Sexton estimated the 20 year project will range from $3-$4 billion dollars.
Many City Council members seemed wary of NYU’s expansion efforts.
“I strongly believe this plan is unacceptable in its current form,” Chin said. “NYU’s academic and housing needs should be
prioritized, but not at the expense of this community and its
Chin received raucous cheers and applause from the audience, which included actor Matthew Broderick. Mark Weprin, the zoning and franchises chair, served as both moderator and emcee during the hearing as he often cracked jokes to ease the tension between the crowd comprised of NYU administration, Greenwich Village residents and construction workers who see the expansion as an opportunity for job creation.
“Everyone here acknowledges that you’ve done great work with NYU,” said Weprin to President Sexton. “Whether or not you’re a great neighbor is another story.”
State Sen. Tom Duane and Assembly Member Deborah Glick spoke in opposition of the expansion. Both argued that despite NYU’s assertions to the contrary, the university had done very little to compromise with the community.
“Greenwich village is a tough community, but we’re fair,” said Duane who has represented the area for over 21 years. “I have fought and worked with NYU for many years, but it feels as though they have walked away from this discussion.”
Following the university’s testimony and remarks from council members, the floor was opened to the public — 200 of which had signed up to speak on the issue. Most of that figure was comprised of Greenwich Village residents who strongly oppose the expansion.
The City Council’s vote is the last step in NYU’s 2031 expansion plans. Many members of the council expressed either major concerns or outright disapproval of the university’s current expansion efforts. President Sexton said that the school does not have a Plan B if the current proposal were to be denied. The City Council currently has not set a date to vote on this issue.
Before the hearing those opposed to the expansion held a rally on the steps of City Hall.
Check out some of the pics from the rally and the hearing below.