For the first time since New York University announced its plans for a massive expansion of its Greenwich Village campus, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stepped into the debate on the side of the lower Manhattan school’s vision.
Explaining why the planned expansion is crucial, the Mayor said, “In the real world today, to have a world-class university, you’ve got to keep expanding and doing new things.”
And the consequences of not keeping up could be devastating, not only for the university, but for the neighborhood as well:
“NYU, and the area that surrounds it, people there – the value of their houses and the quality of their life is because of the proximity of NYU,” added the mayor.
NYU has formulated an ambitious plan to add over two million square-feet of space to its Greenwich Village campus. They would like to add more classrooms, offices for faculty, a sports center and housing into what detractors say is an already crowded neighborhood.
Neighborhood residents are up-in-arms about the expansion, unanimously nixing the project two months ago at a community board meeting.
Most residents of the Village seem to side with Andrew Berman, the head of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, about the NYU expansion plan:
“A 20-year massive construction project in the middle of a residential area would have a devastating impact,” said Berman.
Berman and others suggest either devising a less ambitious plan, or considering expanding into other city neighborhoods, like Downtown Brooklyn or the Financial District.
“An Empire State Building’s worth of space to be shoe-horned into the blocks south of Washington Square Park is just unimaginable. It would overwhelm the neighborhood,” said Berman.
NYU is lucky to have the strong support of the mayor, but it seems unlikely that his support will be enough to cool the protestations of the residents against the university’s plan as it stands now.