Monday, November 29, 2010

NYU NIMBY musical chairs

While the West Village is hosting a town hall meeting on the future of NYU expansion at Our Lady of Pompeii, basement, Carmine & Bleecker, 6:30, East Villagers ought to be alarmed by NYU's decision not to build on its own campus. All voices at the town hall will ask NYU to build in the financial district, but NYU may be looking for closer locations more attractive to their students. That's would be our neighborhood.

Although the EV and the 3rd & 4th Avenue triangle have been recently rezoned to cap heights, there are still plenty of available development sites here. 3rd Avenue still allows the same bulk as prior to the rezoning, and it allows more bulk than the NYU dorm that already stands on 3rd Ave at 10th Street. (It's only 5.31 FAR. Under the new zoning, 3rd Ave allows 6.5 FAR for dormitories!) And they can build as high as 12 stories on 3rd Ave -- the current dorms there are only two stories taller than that.

And then there's El Bohio, the old P.S. 64. It's already standing, requiring minimal construction, and it is a huge lot. A dormitory there would end all hopes for a community center. So there's plenty to worry about.

When NYU unveiled its plans to build on its own campus, it seemed to me a great relief. The I.M.Pei site is already high-rise, full of wasted, unused, inhospitable concrete plaza space that feels like and looks like a wind tunnel. But NYU's ambition overreached with a plan of excessive height, including a hotel, that riled the locals.

The underlying problem for NYU is its limited endowment. Unlike universities with huge endowments, NYU depends on tuition. So it thrives more like a corporation than a university. It needs more students -- it needs expansion in a way that some other universities don't. So the problem of NYU expansion is not likely to go away. The question is, where will it go?


The Burner Lab said...

WHAT CAN WE DO? In addition to their horrible buildings and the lovely architecture they're knocking down to build those horrors, the students overrun all the bars (which now seem to ALL be sports bars) and contribute nothing. Transient and inconsiderate, they barf on our street corners, shriek on our blocks in the middle of the night and generally "dumb down" the neighborhood. NYU must be stopped...but how?
Ordinarily I'm a tolerant, live-and-let-live person and hate the haters, but my tolerance is shot!

rob said...

If NYU is prevented from building on its own high-rise campus, will NYU seek a satellite campus in Governor’s Island or Brooklyn? Or will NYU find every available opportunity in our neighborhoods? The GVHSP strategy is a gamble. NYU will eventually find satellite campuses as it builds in its new Brooklyn campus and elsewhere. Meanwhile, if the bubble of NYU expansion is suppressed on its own campus, that bubble will likely appear on our local lots.

Anonymous said...

NYU's campus is not in the 'West' Village.

Anonymous said...

NYU has not abandoned its plans to build on the Superblocks - they just moved the site of one of the four towers they wish to build to an adjacent site and changed its configuration but not square footage. They want to build on the Superblocks because they save on purchasing the land, so the East Village is not an option they're exploring (except to scare East Villagers into supporting them on the Superblocks!)

Their best option is the Financial District that welcomes them and wants tall development, and where they can get concessions from NYC to build - not any part of Greenwich Village - West, Central/NoHo or East.

rob said...

Good point, anon, and I hope you're right. But when NYU defined it's "neighborhood" they included only as far south as Canal Street (and, incidentally, all the way to the Hudson River from Canal to Christopher). And the only remote location not already owned was Governor's Island. So they don't seem to have included the financial district yet -- although they do include the EV as far as 1st Avenue in their "neighborhood."