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|July 18, 2012||| Christine Lim||Tweet|
New York University won a huge victory at the City Council today, when it received approval for its somewhat less massive plan to expand its campus in Greenwich Village, from from 2.5 million square feet to 1.9 million. What does that look like? The university produced some handy visual aids that show exactly that.
Was it enough? Not according to the project’s opponents, two dozen or so of whom showed up at the council this morning to waggle their hands in the face of the assembled pols (cheers, boos and hisses were forbidden, so they were left with jazz hands, like an Occupy protest).
“I’m really disappointed,” Community Board 2 chair David Gruber said after the land use committee voted 19-1 in favor of the modified plan. “I really felt the plans was not modified enough. NYU, with the tacit backing of the mayor, felt they could do whatever they wanted.”
He said the community did not get a single major concession from NYU, among them a hope that the Mercer building on the north block would be eliminated entirely. It was something everyone from the board to council members to The Times‘ architecture critic had asked for, but NYU said it was impossible given the huge underground building it was building on the north blocks for classrooms and labs.
“In order to for it to work, we have to be able to access it, for ingress and egress,” Alicia Hurley, the NYU VP shepherding the project, told The Observer. “People have to be able to get in and out.”
University president John Sexton applauded the plan in a statement, of course, as well as Councilwoman Margaret Chin, in whose district the project lies. “The city’s land use review process is designed to take into account the views of many stake holders and today’s vote demonstrates that this process works,” he said.
Not everyone was in agreement on that count, including a number of the members of the land use committee, who said they did not like the deal that had been reached, but out of deference to Councilwoman Chin, they would support her compromise. Even she seemed to believe it was somewhat problematic. “To be perfectly honest,” she said, “no one got everything they wanted. This was a compromise, but it was arrived at rationally and in good faith.”
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