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NYC approves NYU building plans

Undated rendering showing an overview of New York

Undated rendering showing an overview of New York University's proposal to expand its Greenwich Village campus. Credit: Handout

The City Council's land use committee approved a plan Tuesday that will let NYU construct four large buildings on its property in Greenwich Village despite opposition from residents.

City officials, led by council member Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan), brokered a last-minute deal with the university to reduce the size of its massive expansion proposal, clearing the way for the 19 to 1 vote to OK it. A final vote by the entire City Council is scheduled for July 25; it is expected to pass.

The agreement will reduce the university's 2.1 million square foot expansion by about 22 percent, mostly by creating more space between buildings and trimming building height. More public space will be added, including a building the city could use for a public school. Chin, who criticized NYU's proposal at a public hearing last month, called the updated plan a good compromise.

"I wholeheartedly believe that this proposal will allow NYU's growth in the Village to occur at a sustainable pace, and that it will not overwhelm the wider Village community," she said before the vote.

Councilman Charles Barron (D-East New York) slammed NYU and its proposal before entering the lone dissenting vote.

"These are neighborhoods. They are not university towns," he said. "We should send them back to the drawing board and make them respect the wishes of the community."

"We are going to regret this vote," Barron said.

Alicia Hurley, NYU's vice president for government affairs and community engagement, said the expansion followed its growth rate of 150,000 square feet each year, and said it allows the university to attract talented students and faculty. The new buildings will contain a mix of academic space and university housing.

"To the extent possible, what we're trying to do is to have that expansion that we need in Greenwich Village take place on our own property as opposed to expanding our footprint," Hurley said, adding that the new plan would cut some dorm and classroom space. "We think we struck the right balance."

But Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, called the proposal's cutbacks "a drop in the bucket" for NYU.

"Trimming the edges of this plan doesn't solve the problems," Berman said.

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