NYU Expansion Plan Draws Opponents to Town Hall

NYU says it's modernization, but residents fear quality of life will suffer

By Ida Siegal
|  Thursday, Jan 5, 2012  |  Updated 12:06 PM EDT
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NYU Expansion Opponents at Town Hall

NBC New York

Opponents of NYU's expansion plan crowd into a community town hall meeting Wednesday to vocalize their opposition

New York University’s massive plan to tear down and rebuild major chunks of its Greenwich Village campus has drawn harsh criticism from people who live in the neighborhood.

At a town hall meeting organized by a half-dozen community groups, more than 100 concerned residents turned out to ask questions and attend a rally ahead of public hearings scheduled for Monday.

“We’re here to say it is not a done deal,” said Andrew Berman, president of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “It’s not going to move forward. That plan cannot happen.”

Berman and others are trying to block a petition from the university to change the zoning laws in the neighborhood to accommodate larger commercial buildings.

“NYU is seeking to change the super blocks from mid-level residential zoning to midtown-level commercial zoning,” said Terri Cude of Community Action Alliance.

People attending the meeting said they had many concerns, but density was at the top of the list.  They said Greenwich Village, Noho and Soho are already overpopulated and cannot accommodate more people.  

They also fear the neighborhood will lose its distinctive, historic character, and that quality of life will suffer from decades of construction.

NYU says it needs more space and its modernization plan will uplift the neighborhood. It also points out that it has planned to move some major facilities outside the Greenwich Village campus to the east side of Manhattan and to downtown Brooklyn.

Alicia Hurley, NYU’s vice president for government relations and community engagement, said in a statement: “A candid and lively exchange with our neighbors and stakeholders has been a major feature of the five-year planning process that brought us to this point, and we look forward to continuing to engage in constructive dialogue.”
 
The City Planning Commission and the full City Council will ultimately decide whether the plan can go through. There will be a series of public hearings and community board meetings before that happens. 

Anita Brandt has living in the Village for decades and says she’ll attend as many meetings as she can to get her views heard. She fears her neighborhood will become something she doesn’t recognize.

“Greenwich Village is something very unique and special, “ said Brandt. “It’s up to all the residents to protect our neighborhood, the eccentricities and the eclectic nature of Greenwich Village.”
 

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