CB2 Votes Down NYU Expansion Plan – “Not-for-Profit” Operates As For-Profit Real Estate Behemoth – Will The University Back Off?

A corridor of purple flags off the Park

There is lots of coverage this morning of last night’s Community Board 2 Meeting in which the full board voted “no” to NYU’s 2031 expansion plan around Washington Square.

Dissent Magazine, within their review this week of the documentary, “The Vanishing City,” had an apt description of the University’s behavior pattern:

NYU is “perhaps the most egregious example of a real-estate corporation (or a not-for-profit university acting like one) aiming to shoehorn new high-rise buildings—dorms, hotels, faculty offices—on every available piece of land within their realm with utter disregard for any residents that may stand in their way or for the nature of the historic neighborhood.”

Coverage includes:

The Epoch Times: NYU Expansion Plan Rejected by Community Board 2

The Real Deal: Community Board Turns Down NYU Expansion Plan; Now Faces Review by The Manhattan Beep

NY1: Community Board Votes Down NYU’s Greenwich Village Expansion Plan

DNAinfo.com: NYU Expansion Plan Unanimously Rejected by Village Community Board

Photo: Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times

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Just because… Bob Dylan with Cats

Here and there, now and again, I’ve written about Bob Dylan and his relationship to WSP. And I’ve certainly written about cats (that need help), including black and white cats, also how things could be better in NYC for (cast aside) cats.

However, separate from all that, for your enjoyment — mainly because this is such a great shot — here is Bob Dylan with cats!

This photo comes via music site, Reviler.

Skateboarding at WSP (Photos); With Garibaldi


Okay, technically, there is “no” skateboarding at Washington Square but, as you see, this sign has been, uh, altered a bit. Love this shot by Gathigi.

Then again, if you’ve never witnessed skateboarders using the Garibaldi statue as a ramp — something I’m sure the Parks Department did not have in mind when they moved the statue! — it’s something to see.

Photos (from early September)…

Building up speed from the east...

Success!

Top Photo: Gathigi
Photo #2 & #3: Cathryn

Additional Meetings on New York University’s Immense Expansion Plans ‘Til 2031 This Month

No more purple flags please...

If you’re looking for some background on where else New York University could possibly plant its purple flags south of Washington Square, visit the plethora of WSP Blog posts on NYU here.

Support is needed right now to stop this behemoth and its immense plans which have virtually no community support but which clearly have the support of the Bloomberg Administration. There are additional meetings hosted by Community Board 2 this month and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and local community groups are asking people to come out in force. From GVSHP:

  • Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 pm – CB2 NYU Working Group/ Architectural Presentation of NYU Plan – at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 151-155 Sullivan Street (below Houston Street), lower hall.
  • Monday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 pm – CB2 NYU Working Group – at Our Lady of Pompei Church, Bleecker and Carmine Streets (enter on Bleecker), basement hall. The NYU Working Group will decide upon its proposed language;
  • Thursday, Feb. 23 St. Anthony of Padua Church, 151-155 Sullivan Street (below Houston Street).  Community Board #2 Public Hearing and Final Vote on NYU Expansion Plan.
    5 pm – Join GVSHP, community groups, and NYU faculty and students opposed to the expansion plan for a press conference and rally to call upon the Community Board and City officials to REJECT the NYU plan. 6pm to 6:30 pm – Sign up to testify AGAINST the NYU plan, and urge Community Board #2 and elected officials to vote it down.

The Arch’s Roman Numerals

Roman Numerals on Eastern side of Arch

It’s funny when you notice something that you never have before. Walking from the Eastern side of the Park towards the Arch the other day, I noticed, for the first time, that there are Roman numerals up top on the eastern side of the structure. Having not thought about reading Roman numerals in a pretty long while, I did a bit of research to relearn how to decipher them (which was sort of fun).

The date there on the side of the Arch is not what I would have expected. The Arch was created to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration. It was first constructed in wood and unveiled to commemorate the centennial in 1889. It originally resided half a block away from its current location; the version we see today was later constructed in marble and made permanent.

The date on the side of the Arch is not 1889 to mark the centennial and when the first Arch was built nor the date when the current Arch was finished – 1890-1892 – but is 1789 – the actual year of Washington’s inauguration. (This is assuming I have read these Roman numerals correctly which I’m pretty sure I have.) We wouldn’t do it that way today – marking that date instead of the date of construction or some other significance.

It’s amazing reflecting on how old – and magnificent – the Arch is.

* Previously at WSP Blog: History of the Washington Square Arch and “Exitus Acta Probat”

Photos: Cathryn.

NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick Will Hold Rally Against NYU 2031 Plan Saturday, February 11th at Judson Church; Where Will Council Member Margaret Chin Fall On The Matter?

At least one elected official is speaking up and organizing around New York University’s Proposed Expansion Plan. New York State Assembly Member Deborah Glick, whose district includes Greenwich Village, will be joining with community groups, including CAAN 2031, Friends of LaGuardia Place, Greenwich Village Block Associations, and Faculty Against the Sexton Plan (links to be added), to speak out against the NYU Plan 2031. Assembly Member Glick has called for a rally this weekend on Saturday, February 11th, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at Judson Church along Washington Square South across from the Park.

No word yet on where New York City Council Member Margaret Chin will fall. Ms. Chin was extraordinarily evasive at the community meeting in January when asked her position on the topic. Ms. Chin’s position is a potent vote in the matter — the project falls within her district; the City Council as a whole is inclined to follow the opinion of the local Council Member in their vote.

The case of 135 Bowery and its landmarking status should be background information for anyone concerned as to how this may play out.

Our Town Downtown looked at CM Chin’s decision to reverse her stand on landmarking 135 Bowery, as did WestView News in this illuminating piece on her vote, “Questions Abound in Chinatown.”

In addition, neither Margaret Chin nor her office has ever responded to this blog’s queries inquiring into the status of the construction or budget at Washington Square Park. Deborah Glick has.

From the press release from Deborah Glick’s office:

On January 3rd, 2012, the New York City Department of City Planning certified the Draft Environmental Impact Statement submitted by New York University (NYU) for the development of the ‘superblocks’ bordered by West 3rd Street, West Houston Street, Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place. The NYU Core Plan (aka NYU 2031) is now one month into a roughly 7 month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) which involves approvals and recommendations from the Community Board, Borough President, City Planning, City Council and the Mayor.

The application being reviewed through ULURP proposes changing the current residential zoning (R7-2) to commercial (C1-7), which effectively eliminates all open space requirements, allowing significantly greater density than currently allowed, or allowed under any residential zoning. The plan as proposed would add 2.5 million square feet of University owned space (equivalent to the Empire State Building) including a new gymnasium, classroom space, a dorm and a university affiliated hotel.

It would include 4 new buildings, up to 26 stories tall and develop underground space up to 5 floors. As planned, the construction is estimated to last 18 years. Furthermore, NYU wants to buy public park strips, currently owned by the NYC Department of Transportation and convert them to University controlled land in an area where there is only 0.4 acres of parkland per 1,000 people, while the benchmark for an area well-served by parkland is 2.5 acres per 1,000 people.

In January, Manhattan Community Board 2 held 5 public hearings and will hold an additional 7 hearings in February to garner input from the Community at large. Attendance at these meetings has been extremely high, with overwhelming opposition to the plan. Community Board 2 will vote on their resolution for this proposal at the next full board meeting, February 23rd.

When Margaret Chin does finally state her position, will she then flip flop? Community pressure will be of the utmost importance. The vast expansion of New York University and reconfiguration of Greenwich Village space is not equal to 135 Bowery. While in no way diminishing the importance of that vote (and her constituents will remember), this is big time. Will she be able to stand up to the Bloomberg Administration and real estate and corporate interests? This is a critical moment.

To contact Margaret Chin: Stop by her District Office 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or write her at: Chatham Green, 165 Park Row, suite #11, New York, NY 10038; District Office Phone 212-587-3159; email: chin@council.nyc.gov

-links to be added-

The Fountain Plaza On A Quiet Wintry Day


The Fountain Plaza in Winter via Proustdotcom.

NYU Buildings Cast Shadow on the Park — A Look Back at the building of NYU’s Kimmel Center

2012 - NYU Buildings cast shadows on WSP

Updated — I came across this photo on Twitter taken by Rebecca Stern who says it is the view from the NYU Stern Building but it feels more like it’s taken from the Kimmel Center. Nonetheless, this certainly shows how the NYU buildings cast a shadow on Washington Square reaching to the middle of the fountain.

I wasn’t involved when the Greenwich Village community was dealing with New York University on the building of the Kimmel Center so I researched some of the history. This 2002 document, After the Kimmel Center: How Can we Better Plan to Protect Our Neighborhoods, Parks and View Corridors?(PDF), was prepared by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Here is an excerpt:

This report grew out of a panel discussion and forum held by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation on April 30, 2002…

The spark for the event was the capping out of New York University’s new Kimmel Student Center on Washington Square South. GVSHP and a host of local and citywide groups had opposed the plans for this building three years earlier, when NYU first announced its plans to tear down the Loeb Student, and replace it with this new, larger building.

It was clear that the new building would be too big, towering over Washington Square Park and the nearby South Village, which consists nearly exclusively of buildings of no more than 5 or 6 stories. It was also clear that the new building would cast a long shadow from the south side of the park, limiting the park’s sunlight and connection to the surrounding neighborhood.

Unfortunately, when the building reached its full height and bulk, it became clear that Kimmel
would have an even greater and unforeseen impact: the view down Fifth Avenue through Washington Square Arch, for years one of New York’s great vistas, had been nearly obliterated.

One used to be able to look down the Avenue through the arch and see downtown skyscrapers; now that is virtually impossible. In fact, from just a short distance to the north the Arch appears to be dwarfed and seemingly engulfed by the building; where arch and sky were previously dramatically framed by Lower Fifth Avenue, this view now looks more like a blind alley.

In spite of all of this, however, the proposed building, with the community facility bonus which nearly doubles the allowable floor area ratio, was considered “as of right” under existing law.

Many assumed that given the wealth of historic resources in close proximity to the proposed building (which is in fact across the street from the Greenwich Village Historic District, across the street from Washington Square Park, and less than half a block from the landmarked Judson Memorial Church) there would be some greater degree of regulation or control over such a large project. There was not.

Views, sightlines, and impacts on parks are rarely accounted for in zoning. Zoning often allows buildings of substantially greater height (sometimes with no height restrictions whatsoever) than what surrounds them, even in residential districts with a consistent built environment.

Some additional history:

From the New York Daily News, February 10, 2000: Nyu Bldg. Plan Faces Suit Group Sez Center Hurts Washington Sq. Park :

“We’re looking at a building that’s 162 feet high that’s going to cast, by their own admission, additional shadows over Washington Square Park of over 100 feet,” said Lawrence Goldberg, the other attorney. “They don’t seem to be terribly concerned about this.”

NYU’s proposed Kimmel Center for University Life would take the place of the already demolished Loeb Student Center. The 200,000-square-foot site is on LaGuardia Place.

The replacement of Loeb has been a topic of heated debate and criticism since it was announced in the fall of 1998 that the university would tear down the structure. …

Goldberg also contended that NYU broke several written commitments to the Village community to build structures that were consistent with the historic nature of the area and would not cast significant shadows over Washington Square Park.

“This lawsuit is baseless, and we expect to prevail,” said NYU spokesman John Beckman. “This building is being built out of right. The notion that this building will cast huge shadows over Washington Square Park is an exaggeration.

New York Times, March 14, 1999 12-Level, $70 Million Complex to Be Built; New Student Center for N.Y.U. (In this NY Times story, Community Board 2’s District Manager is quoted as saying that the CB doesn’t see much problem with the building after first viewing the plans.)

The Village Voice in Shadow of the Ivory Tower, NYU’S building frenzy blocks the sun and burns the community from September 7, 1999 gives a good overview and analysis:

Whereas the Loeb Center’s ground floor opened onto the street, welcoming passersby to look in and students to look out, and its second story consisted of a large terrace looking out toward the park, plans for Kimmel— with its soaring glass-and-granite facade— appear to send a different message: Keep off our lawn.

It’s possible that NYU genuinely believes this building is suitable to the neighborhood. And it’s possible, too, that the university doesn’t want to blend in but to stand out. Behold, NYU is rising from the ashes of commuter-college hell in its Windexed glass armor, waving its growing pile of applications from students with higher SAT scores, proclaiming the virtues of its steadily improving caliber of faculty.

The architect, of course, has to please his client, which in turn has to please its donor, who presumably approves of the white granite and excessive glass. The donors, Helen and Martin Kimmel, ponied up $15 million to have “meet me at Kimmel” echoing from the lips of generations of students to come.

Mrs. Kimmel is on the NYU board; Mr. Kimmel is the founder and chairman emeritus of the Kimco Realty Corporation of New Hyde Park, New York.

What grander toast to immortality for a realtor than to emblazon his name at the edge of Washington Square Park?

Likely so. And yet do most people know who Kimmel, who died in 2008, was?

I remember the Loeb Student Center and how, at the time, you could just walk in unlike the Kimmel building which is much more off-putting as well as off-limits (of course, things are different, particularly post 9/11). The previous student center, built in 1959, had a college-vibe vs. corporate vibe.

The view of Washington Square Park from the Kimmel Center is lovely and expansive for those inside but the exterior pretty much does nothing for those outside to illuminate the neighborhood or the park.

Clearly, the process of getting the building built illustrates yet again NYU higher ups historical disdain for accommodating the community within which they co-exist. There are significant shadows far reaching into the Park as well as the monumental change in view through the Arch — two things that can’t be reclaimed until the next building is erected there in, say, another thirty years? Will NYU change its ways and work with the community then? Will NYU Plan 2031 have been passed and implemented? We shall see…

New Posts Return Wednesday, February 8th

Hi Blog Readers,

Took a little break, be back soon! Thanks for stopping by. Lots in the archives!

Cathryn.

Community Board 2 Letter to Parks Commissioner: Parks Department Rules at Washington Square “Overly Restrictive and Unnecessary”

At its recent full board meeting, Community Board 2 passed a resolution opposing the city Parks Department’s rules that instigated the recent performance crackdown at WSP. The letter below – which the entire board signed on to – was sent to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe on January 20th.

According to CB 2 Chair Brad Hoylman and District Manager Bob Gormley, no response from the Parks Commissioner has been received as of yet.

January 20, 2012

Adrian Benepe, Commissioner
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
The Arsenal/Central Park
830 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10021

Dear Commissioner Benepe:

At its Full Board Committee meeting on January 19, 2012, Community Board #2, Manhattan
adopted the following resolution:

A Resolution Opposing Enforcement Restricting Performances in Washington Square Park.
Whereas

1. Parks Enforcement has recently issued summonses to musicians and other performers in Washington Square Park; and
2. this new restrictive policy was initiated without discussion with CB2 or prior notice to
performers; and
3. the policy is contrary to park traditions and to promises made by Parks during the design period for reconstruction of the park; and

Whereas the summonses stifled activities that are popular among many park users and
community residents and were harmful to the artists; and
4. Community Board 2 had not received complaints regarding performances in the park; and
5. the summonses were issued as enforcement of new park rules pertaining to sales of expressive materials and other charges such as blocking paths and view of monuments;
and
6. when these rules were presented to Community Board 2 last year there was no mention of their potential use with regard to performers; and
7. CB2 passed a resolution against these rules as overly restrictive and unnecessary; and
8. in Washington Square, the required distances from monuments and benches, clearances on paths, and restrictions on lawns, appear to leave no legal locations for performances for sale of expressive materials; and
9. CB2 believes the application of the rules to performers are inappropriate in that performers are not vendors because anyone is free to watch the performances whether they contribute or not, and
10. 25 performers, park users, and residents spoke at a public Speak Out organized by CB2 in support of the performers; and

Therefore it is resolved that

1. CB2 expresses its consternation regarding the issuance of summonses to performers and
requests that all summonses that have been issued be dismissed;
and
2. CB2 requests a statement of Parks policy regarding future enforcement initiatives or any other restrictions related to performers or other expressive activities in CB2 be referred to CB2 prior to their enactment ; and
3. CB2 requests reconsideration and replacement of current rules pertaining to artists
selling their works and other expressive activities in Parks; and
4. CB2 requests the use of great care in the formulation of any rules, policies, and enforcement initiatives regulating First Amendment rights in Parks, with the broadest possible public discussion to assure that such regulation does not exceed what is required to provide for safe enjoyment of the parks.

Vote: Unanimous, with 39 Board members in favor.

Please advise us of any decision or action taken in response to this resolution.

Sincerely,
Brad Hoylman, Chair, Community Board #2, Manhattan
Tobi Bergman, Chair, Parks, Recreation & Open Space Committee Community Board #2, Manhattan
BH/gh

c: Hon. Jerrold L. Nadler, Congressman
Hon. Thomas K. Duane, NY State Senator
Hon. Daniel L. Squadron, NY State Senator
Hon. Sheldon Silver, Assembly Speaker
Hon. Deborah J. Glick, Assembly Member
Hon. Christine C. Quinn, Council Speaker
Hon. Margaret Chin, Council Member
Hon. Rosie Mendez, Council Member
Jessica Silver, Man. Borough President’s office
Pauline Yu, CAU
William T. Castro, Man. Boro. Commissioner, DPR