The city's Planning Commission held its only public hearing on the proposed New York University expansion plan on Wednesday, where more than 250 people over the course of more seven hours voiced their opposition to or support for the plan.
The proposal includes plans to build four new buildings, reduce green space in the Greenwich Village and rezone residential areas into commercial zones over the course of 19 years.
The plan has been met with hostility from neighborhood advocates who fear the Village will turn into a construction zone and will harm the character of the neighborhood.
Andrew Berman, of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said NYU should look into alternative locations. "If NYU can open new campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, why can't they locate some of their new facilities a few subway stops away in the Financial District, Downtown Brooklyn, or Long Island City?"
He said other city neighborhood will benefit more from the economic development the university says will come with expansion.
The auditorium was dominated by community advocates who opposed the expansion plan. NYU supporters, including NYU President John Sexton, argued that their existing campus is used to capacity. They argued the school needs more space, and expansion is necessary to ensure their competitiveness among other elite universities.
Earlier this week, NYU announced it would be expanding out of Manhattan, with the opening of the Center for Urban Science and Progress in downtown Brooklyn.
The city planning commission has until June 6 to approve the expansion plan. The City Council also has to approve the plan.