Subject: NYU details latest expansion plans
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 19:14:35 -0400
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NYU details latest expansion plans
The blueprint once gain raised hackles among community leaders, who fear NYU is going back on promises to slow expansion around Washington Square.
April 24. 2008 5:56PMBy: Samantha Marshall
At a community open house Wednesday, New York University announced its latest expansion plans, which include the addition of 2.8 million to 3.6 million square feet of space in its core area near Washington Square.
But the blueprint is once again raising hackles among local community leaders, who fear the university is going back on promises to slow expansion in the West Village neighborhood and to consider more options for satellite campuses.
“This is incredibly disconcerting to us,” says Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
NYU says the plan, which is not final, was drawn up by their outside design consultants, SMWM. The university’s own preferred plan won’t be announced until the fall.
“It’s our job to take these recommendations and analyze them deeply over the coming months,” says an NYU spokesman.
Called “NYU Plans 2031,” the latest blueprint details ways six million square feet of space could be added to the university—both in its core area and in remote locations—over the next 23 years.
Towers concentrated within the perimeters of Houston and West Fourth streets could effectively double the rate of expansion over the past 42 years, according to Mr. Berman’s calculations. The plan includes as much as 1.5 million square feet of new space in the Washington Square area, with an approximately 300,000-square-foot residential tower.
“That’s the equivalent of 20 more 26-story dorms on East 12th Street,” says Mr. Berman, referring to NYU’s more recent and very controversial growth spurt into the East Village (Crain’s, Aug. 21, 2006). “This is a frightening and overwhelming amount,” he says.
But NYU lags far behind comparable universities in terms of space, with just 95 net square feet of space per student, compared with 194 square feet at Columbia University and 368 square feet of space at Harvard University.
“That suggests we are making far more efficient use of space than our peers,” says the NYU spokesman, adding that historical rate of growth comparison are moot because the school is “a far different university than it was 25 years ago with a much greater stature.”
To answer objections from community members around the West Village and Union Square, the university agreed to certain planning principles that would focus less on its core neighborhood. It said it would consider more options for expansion in places that include Long Island City, Kip’s Bay and Governor’s Island, as well as Brooklyn. But, “they don’t seem to be prioritizing finding new locations,” says Mr. Berman.
NYU says it has already committed to putting in a request for proposals for Brookdale in Kip’s Bay in May, and intends to do so for the Governor’s Island site when that opens up. The planned merger with Polytechnic University also shows NYU’s commitment to expand in downtown Brooklyn, says the spokesman.
The college, like Columbia University and other capacity-strapped learning institutions in the city, has long had a tense relationship with local residents, who tend to object to most plans for new buildings in their neighborhoods. Meanwhile, NYU has more than doubled undergraduate enrollment since the 1970’s and is under growing pressure to build or find more space.
NYU’s open house, its fifth in a series, is part of a recent move to be more transparent about its intentions with its neighbors. The evolution of its expansion plan, “has been to no small extent a consequence of what we heard back in past open houses,” says the NYU spokesman.