Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
A State Supreme Court justice is letting New York University’s 1.9 million square foot expansion plan go forward, for now.
Justice Ellen Coin dismissed a request for a preliminary injunction filed by residents of the Washington Square Village apartments, many of whom work for the university, against the plans. Coin wrote residents haven't explored other avenues to stop the school's expansion. In her decision, she added the NYU project is "still in its infancy" and that building plans have yet to be finalized; “this legal controversy has not fully matured.”
Residents of the four, mostly rent controlled apartments, complained that new buildings would take away the green space in their courtyard, which they claimed is mandated under the current Rent Stabilization law. They also claimed that the two planned academic buildings to be built in the courtyard will enlarge the building’s footprint, taking away green space.
Jeffrey Reinke, who owns an apartment in the Greenwich Village on LaGuardia Place, was not part of the lawsuit. But he's been a vocal critic of the plans and is disappointed by the latest ruling.
“We really thought the city council and other local officials would be able to step in and at least modify the plans and unfortunately, its seems they moved against us and it seems we'll see a little more Upper East Side in Lower Manhattan,” Reinke said.
In a statement, NYU called this week’s ruling “an important legal victory.”
“NYU’s expansion proposal was approved by the City of New York after significant stakeholder engagement and after a thorough and rigorous public review process,” the statement read.
Wednesday morning, one faculty member who stays in the Washington Square Village apartments, Robert, who declined to give his last name for fear of upsetting his employer and colleagues, said he thinks school’s expansion is worthwhile. “I think it needs to grow to make more money to give more scholarships more financial helps, and that's probably the only way they can do it,” he said.
But Paul Zimet also lives nearby. He says the school should look to other neighborhoods for expanding. “I just don’t think NYU needs the space here, there are many other places to expand in the city, other than this neighborhood, which it'll transform the neighborhood a lot,” he said.