Villagers Protest NYU’s Plan To Shut Down Dog Run

Hundreds of Greenwich Village residents and their dogs marched through campus on Saturday, to protest the university’s plan to remove a dog run as part of its much-beleaguered vision for the “superblocks” just south of campus.

The run, located on the southeast side of Coles Gym at the corner of Mercer and West Houston Streets, recently underwent a complete renovation after years of dilapidation. When it reopened in 2009, the real estate site Curbed wrote, “A bit of normalcy has returned to this edge of NYUville, but perhaps only for a bit.”

Indeed, if NYU’s plan for the superblocks is given the go-ahead in the next few months by the City Planning Commission and City Council, “normalcy” will give way to 19 consecutive years of construction. The first order of business would be to tear down Coles Gym as soon as 2013, placing the adjacent dog run out of commission. The “zipper building,” to be completed by 2018, would rise in its place. 

But according to John Beckman, NYU’s vice president of public affairs, the neighborhood would not be without a dog run at any point, despite the construction. A replacement run would be placed farther within the southern superblock, immediately to the west of the new building’s footprint on West Houston Street, before the original one is taken offline. “Our construction phasing calls for it to be established before the existing dog run comes under construction as part of the new “zipper” building,” Beckman said.

This phasing consideration appears to be an entirely overlooked aspect of NYU’s plan. Still, it seems improbable that opening a replacement dog run near the 5-year construction site for the zipper building would be without complications. There is a toddler playground planned for that adjacent space as well, but if the diagrams provided by NYU are an accurate representation of their proximity to the proposed building, it is logical to question the utility of either amenity in the midst of construction.

According to CAAN2031, a neighborhood group formed to oppose the 2031 plan, the turnout at Saturday’s protest drew at least 500 people, and the NY Daily News counted 200 dogs. NY State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Deborah Glick were in attendance, as well as representatives from the recently-formed NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, who are going by ‘NYUFASP’ according to their Facebook page.

NYU’s layout of proposed replacement dog run and playground, with zipper building

Current dog run at Mercer and West Houston Streets

NYU’s rendering of replacement dog run


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  1. ollie sam says

    I guess you have to give NYU kudos for being the 1% in disguise.
    The NYU spokesperson neglected to mention that the property that the dog run is presently on is NYC City owned property, NOT NYU property. NYU wants to take the 1.5 acres of current public park land bordering 3rd street, houston, mercer and laguardia for its own private use. Can you imagine NYU wants tax payer public land so they can build a hotel on it. Cole gym will not be accessable to the student body and faculty for 20 years. NYU claims NYU is ESSENTIAL for the future of NYC. Seems to me that open space, trees, air, people, tax payers are essential. A hotel is not essential. NYU is big enough. It does not have to spend 6 Billion dollars of your student money to build a 2.5 million square feet complex the likes that NYC has never seen. The financial district has asked NYU to build there, but NYU declined. They claim it would be inconvenient for students to walk a downtown, but they are totally fine having their students walk 14 blocks to use a gym. Seems like the only goal of NYU is to destroy the little green space left in Greenwich Village at all costs. It’s a sad day in the neighborhood!!!! And a rude awakening to learn that a University would use bad math to manipulate the public, the student body, the local governments into believing the are going to be giving back open space. It defies logic you cant build 2.5 million square feet on open land and say you are creating open land.
    How wonderful if NYU paid attention to education, and left city owned park land to the public. If instead of spending 6 billion dollars on massive buildings the size of the empire state building, they would help fix the parks, protect the environment, give back to the community and the public, how nice would that be!!!!

  2. David Capal says

    I agree NYU expects students for the next 10 years to walk to the small Palladium Gym on 14th street. Yet, NYU can’t build dorms in the Financial District, which is a 30-minute walk, 2 subway stops AND they can easily have a bus route.

    NYU does what it wants. Good luck future students paying record amount of tuition for basically no service…..