Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
New York University has agreed to scale back massive downtown expansion plan, following requests from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
The plan would still expand the density of two Greenwich Village’s so called “superblocks” around Washington Square Park. But Stringer said it was have less impact on the neighborhood.
“The density of this project has come down almost 20 percent,” Stringer said. “We’ve saved playgrounds, we’ve preserved public strips as parkland, we’ve eliminated the temporary gym.”
The modified plan would eliminate more than 370,000 square feet of construction of the proposed 2 million new square feet the university wishes to expand.
A proposed temporary gym is gone, and seven floors of a dorm slated above the proposed public school that NYU would build has been eliminated. The university also committed to lower the height of the Mercer Building to 162 feet, to equal the height of the existing Washington Square Village buildings.
In a statement, NYU spokesman John Beckman said the university’s proposals have gone through multiple changes over the years. “From the beginning, our focus has been to achieve an outcome that will meet the University's academic space needs in a way that will keep NYU strong — and we're comfortable we're still well on that path — while addressing the concerns of our neighbors."
NYU also said it would limit construction to between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and that weekend construction would be "liminted," but did not elaborate further.
Many of Stringer’s constituents oppose the NYU build out. The local Community Board voted against the plan in February. But dozens of prominent business leaders — some of them potential campaign contributors — welcome the expansion plans. “It will bring at least 9,500 jobs to the area,” Stringer said.
The plan now heads to the City Planning commission and then the City Council will vote on whether to approve the plan later this summer.
Stringer, who is raising funds for a possible mayoral run in 2013, is expected to make a recommendation on the amended proposal, which is required as part of the city’s land use rules.