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/ April 10, 2012
NYU Announces It Will Scale Back 2031 Expansion Plans By More Than 16%

This morning we got news that Mayor Bloomberg had publicly defended NYU 2031, saying scaling back the expansion plan could “destroy NYU at the same time.

Now, the university has decided to shrink its plans in the Village by more than 16 percent, reports the New York Times.

The announcement came from Borough President Scott Stringer, who is set to announce his recommendations for the plan on Thursday. He is next in a line of approvals needed from different levels of city government to allow the university to change zoning restrictions in the area.

Stringer told the Times last month that NYU needed to “scale down its proposal substantially before he will endorse it.” Now he says he will.

The plans for the four new buildings on the superblocks are still in place, but they have been set back a bit from the street and scaled down. The most significant change is that instead of the original plans for a 14-story student dorm with a public school inside, NYU will simply build a 7-story public school on the same lot.

The details of the plan adjustments, laid out by the NYT, are below. 

“[…] whereas the original plan called for 2,275,000 square feet of new construction — roughly equivalent to the size of the Empire State Building, the university has agreed to reduce the size by 370,000 square feet, or about 16.3 percent. Because some of the remaining area would consist of space that would not technically belong to N.Y.U., like a new public school, and some small buildings are to be demolished, Mr. Stringer said, the overall reduction would be more than 19 percent.

Instead of a 14-story building on the southern block of the parcel, N.Y.U. is to build a seven-story school. On the northern block, two boomerang-shape academic buildings, one with 14 stories and another with 8, are to be slimmed down and shortened by 85,000 square feet. A so-called zipper-shape dormitory and academic building where N.Y.U. now has its main gymnasium would be set farther back from Mercer Street.”

Many in the community thought (despite local protest) no changes to the plan would take place, so this announcement will certainly change the tone of the debate.

But Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, says the reductions are barely enough to register.

“This is really just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Berman said in a press release. “It’s unfortunate that the Borough President was willing to give away his vote and get so little in exchange for it.”

We’ll keep you posted as the plan continues its crawl through the various levels of city review.