Book Launch Party: “While We Were Sleeping: NYU and The Destruction of New York” Sunday July 15 McNally Jackson Bookstore


News from the NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan — they have written a book along with other notable authors, academics, artists and activists titled “While We Were Sleeping: NYU and the Destruction of New York.” (Not subtle at all but appropriate I’d say.) They are launching it this Sunday, July 15th with a book party at McNally Jackson bookstore on Prince Street (between Lafayette and Mulberry). Fran Lebowitz, Peter Carey, Joseph McElroy and more will be there! Come join them 7-9 p.m.!

p.s. Update on this site’s redesign if you didn’t see other post — Whereas this blog in the beginning seemed to just create itself, the redesign (of the site this time, not the park!) has been a tad more complicated. So! I took a two week break and new posts have now resumed (with this one). New site will appear in the near future. Thanks!

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Mike Bloomberg on people in the Village: “the value of their homes, the level of their quality of life is due to the proximity of N.Y.U.”

In case you missed this… In Scoopy’s Notebook, The Villager, May 24, 2012

Positive purple aura? Many people think that Greenwich Village’s cachet — and the value of its property — comes from its beautiful, landmarked, low-scale buildings, its artistic and intellectual ferment and its numerous attractions, from Washington Square to cafes and cultural spots. But Mayor Bloomberg says simply being close to New York University is a major factor driving property values. Responding to a reporter’s question last month about the university’s 2031 plan, Bloomberg said of the Village, “People there, the value of their homes, the level of their quality of life is due to the proximity of N.Y.U.” He furthermore accused the plan’s opponents of “playing politics with it,” adding that this is “not beneficial to anyone.”

Assemblymember Deborah Glick said, sadly, the mayor just doesn’t get it. “Spoken like a man who comes from Boston and lives on the Upper East Side,” she said. “I don’t think he particularly understands New York — he understands a very limited slice of New York. The neighborhood, day-to-day life of New Yorkers is not something that has value for him or his social set. People will be disappointed, but I don’t think they’ll be the least bit surprised,” Glick said of the mayor’s claims that it’s actually N.Y.U. that is elevating everyone’s quality of life.

NYU Super Expansion 2031: Still time to weigh in to City Planning Commission Today

If you missed the City Planning Commission meeting in late April on NYU’s expansion plan “2031,” there’s still a chance to weigh in!

Friday May 4th Monday, May 7 is the deadline for the submission of all written testimony addressed to the City Planning Commission in response to the NYU administration’s ULURP request for its proposed expansion. The 15 committee members are listed here.

If you need some context for the issues, check out the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation sample letters, then add to it. Do it today!

Letters can be sent either by fax (212-720-3219); by email, to the committee Chair (aburden@planning.nyc.gov); or by mail (maybe drop it off at this point or send asap):

Department of City Planning, Attn: Amanda Burden, Chair
22 Reade Street, 6th floor, New York, NY 10007

The Villager had an interesting recap of the meeting. Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden — who has not been overly discerning in her care of our city, and under Bloomberg’s authority, has overseen rezoning after rezoning of neighborhoods in our city (not with good effect) — asked in relation to the concept that the faculty needs to be located within the “super blocks” around Washington Square: “Why can’t they be anyplace else?”

Good question!

NYU Prez John Sexton has made the argument that the University faculty need to be a 10-15 minute walk from the “Washington Square campus” stating (as he always seems to do) that to stay competitive with other Universities, this is necessary. GVSHP has countered this with a document, “The MYTH of the ten minute walk from Washington Square”.

It states:

As becomes clear, most schools maintain campuses over distances the equivalent of those between Washington Square and the Financial District, and in many cases over considerably greater distances. Further, few if any of these campuses have the wealth of mass transit options that allow travel between Washington Square and a location like the Financial District to take as little as 5 to 10 minutes, and frequently require walking time of much more than 10-15 minutes, as NYU claims is essential.

NYU is also beyond resistant to moving further south and expanding more within the Financial District. We know that they overly market their connection to Washington Square – fine – but their flags are already everywhere. The institution is changing the neighborhood, no longer for the better, lending a transient quality, and, also as a landlord, raising rents and kicking out longstanding tenants.

So, write today!

* Previously at WSP Blog:

NYU’s “Marketing of Washington Square” Equals $$$

Worth Reading: Metropolis Mag — “The Shell Game” — on NYU Mega-Expansion Plan 2031

Via Metropolis Mag:
The Shell Game
By Martin C. Pedersen

Friday, April 13, 2012 9:30 am

New York University announced yesterday that it was scaling back its controversial plans for expansion by “almost a fifth.” Wow, now that’s a significant number, you might think, if you didn’t already know how these cynical games are played. The school had originally proposed adding 2.5-million-square feet of dorms, classrooms and commercial space to the two superblocks it owns south of Washington Square Park. A couple of new towers (designed by Toshiko Mori and Grimshaw Architects) were part of the plan.

Rendering

On the face of it, the announcement was in response to local opposition. But this is really a move straight from the developer’s playbook. In honor of the client here, let’s call it “Gamesmanship 101.” 

Here is how it works: 1) propose a humongous, X-million-square foot project; 2) get predictably hammered by outraged community groups who claim it will ruin the neighborhood; 3) appear to re-group or “go back to the drawing board”; 4) allow a decent interval of time to elapse (you’re busy processing all of the “neighborhood concerns”); and 5) roll out a slightly modified new plan (still too damn big, of course, but not quite as bloated as the original) that appears to be in response to local “input,” but is in fact very close to the internal number you were aiming for all along.

Think of it as a high stakes poker game, with numbers and renderings and zoning variances as the chips. You want 2-million square feet of new construction approved in the Village? First ask for 2 and a half million. (Oh, it also doesn’t hurt to have most of the elected officials in your back pocket.)

Next Up for NYU Expansion “2031” —

Next steps on NYU 2031 (yes, Borough President Scott Stringer announced today a modest reduction in the plan which means little) —

From Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation:

Come to the City Planning Commission public hearing on the NYU plan Wednesday, April 25th at 10 am at the Museum of the American Indian, at 1 Bowling Green (Broadway at Battery Place/State Street near Battery Park; 4/5 to Bowling Green or N/R to Whitehall Street)

More in the news:

Capital NY: Faculty Steps up Opposition (Extensive piece.)

Washington Square News: University curtails expansion plans in Village
(From NYU’s daily student newspaper. Title is misleading but they included good and informative quotes from those in ‘opposition’ to the plan.)

Surprise! Mayor Michael Bloomberg Expresses Support for NYU Massive Expansion in the Village – Will this Help or Hurt the University?

(Updated)

NY1 reports: Mayor Bloomberg Stands By NYU’s Greenwich Village Expansion Plans

Why does this feel like term limits all over again? The daily papers all supporting an unsustainable and undesired position completely opposite the wishes of most New Yorkers. The billionaire Mayor on the wrong side. Again. And then, all his city agencies – in this case, the Planning Commission and City Council – will inevitably just fall in line. It’s clear that Bloomberg had already expressed behind the scenes his support of the plan. Mike is always in favor of anything that benefits the developers and corporations. And we know that NYU President John Sexton jumped down to City Hall to support granting no limit of Bloomberg’s term in his up-is-down testimony. As I wrote at the time, “More Bloomberg. More NYU.”

It’s sort of horrifying – if it wasn’t so real.

Hopefully, things can be learned by those issues on which Bloomberg has not “won.” Can someone remind me what those are? I know there have been a few. Westside Stadium, for one. Others? (And when I say “won,” Bloomberg hasn’t really “won” on any of these issues, as much as subverted the democratic process and bought influence somehow – it’s never a “fair” fight.)

Previously at WSP Blog:

* The Blanding of New York City: Why It’s Time for Mayor Mike to Go

* Why Mayor Bloomberg Wants Redesign of Washington Square Park

Substantive Letters’ Response in Rebuttal to Times’ Endorsement of NYU Massive Expansion

Four letters appeared in response to the March 31st-April 1st Editorial by the New York Times which supported NYU’s massive expansion plan “2031”; all in rebuttal to the editorial and against the plan (the first two letters written by NYU professors):

The Fight Over N.Y.U.’s Expansion Plan
Published: April 6, 2012

To the Editor:

In your April 1 editorial “Let N.Y.U. Expand in Its Backyard,” you claim that New York University “needs to expand” and has “mostly made its case for the extra room.” But surely that is only relevant if the means used to create the “extra room” don’t interfere with the university’s ability to fulfill its educational mission. Bigger is not always better for what a university does.

Fearing the effect that the prospect of living 20 years on a construction site is likely to have on its ability to retain and attract top faculty, the university’s politics department, at a March 27 meeting, indicated its opposition to N.Y.U.’s expansion plan by a vote of 27 to 2. Several other departments will be holding similar meetings.

When it comes to fulfilling the educational mission of a university, it is not the board of trustees, or the president it appoints, but the faculty who are the best judges of what is needed and what is downright harmful. That makes it doubly unfortunate that most of the media have ignored or trivialized our views.

BERTELL OLLMAN
New York, April 1, 2012

The writer is a professor of politics at New York University.

To the Editor:

Many, many N.Y.U. faculty members oppose this plan, but not because we’re reactive Nimbys. Instead, we’re worried about the financial and academic health of our university, which we believe will be negatively affected by this oversized plan.

We’re worried about the health of the tenants who live in the superblocks and who will endure 20 years of nonstop construction noise, dust and the army of rats expected to be unsettled by the big dig. Finally, we’re worried about the architectural and environmental health of a beloved neighborhood.

Ironically, N.Y.U.’s building plan would do devastating harm to the very neighborhood that is part of its sales pitch to prospective students. N.Y.U. is a vital part of Greenwich Village. But it cannot be allowed to tower over it — literally or figuratively.

ANN PELLEGRINI
New York, April 2, 2012

The writer is a professor of performance studies and religious studies at New York University.

To the Editor:

I was shocked and disappointed to see the position you took in favor of N.Y.U.’s proposed expansion in Greenwich Village.

I know of no one living in the community who supports this plan. It would have an absolutely disastrous effect on the immediate neighborhood and indeed on the wider Village community. I lived for 38 years near the two superblocks where N.Y.U. proposes to expand and know how devastating these changes would be.

Community Board 1 has invited N.Y.U. to expand in the financial district. This is a perfect solution, building in a neighborhood that could use more activity and more people, and protecting a neighborhood that cannot sustain the kind of onslaught that the expansion would entail.

EVE STUART

New York, April 2, 2012

To the Editor:

I agree that N.Y.U. has to expand. But so far it has refused to discuss options that would reduce the plan’s overwhelming impact on our neighborhood. I hope that N.Y.U. takes to heart your point that the current design should be a negotiating position.

More than 40 businesses have joined together to raise concerns about this proposal because while we see many benefits of a significantly scaled-down expansion, we also recognize that the current Midtown-like plans would overwhelm the community.

N.Y.U. should, in good faith, negotiate with our elected officials to find a common-sense solution that significantly reduces the proposed density, expands opportunities for local businesses, creates accessible open space and adds infrastructure improvements.

JUDY PAUL

(Note: Judy Paul is the proprietress of the Washington Square Hotel.)

NY Observer: Washington Square Park Champion Deborah Glick Squares Off Against NYU’s Expansion Plans (Also A Look at the Lorax)

Today’s NY Observer covers NYU 2031 Expansion Plan and NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick with this piece, Washington Square Park Champion Deborah Glick Squares Off Against NYU’s Expansion Plans:

NYU has a plan – a big plan to establish an even greater presence in and around Washington Square Park. And while there is no Lorax in Greenwich Village to protect the parks, gardens, and playgrounds from these expansive construction plans, or NYU 2031 as it has come to be known, there is a woman fighting to keep the towering buildings from casting their gloomy shadows over Washington Square Park. She is Deborah Glick. And while she may not speak for the trees, she is doing her darndest to speak for the community.

Deborah Glick‘s district includes the Village, and the NYS Assembly Member has a history of being a “champion” for WSP — she was the only government official to speak up in a substantive way against the dramatic redesign of the Park.

And, for those (like me) who knew the film “The Lorax” came out recently (you couldn’t really miss it; it was also accused of greenwashing), didn’t see it, and didn’t recall the premise of the original Dr. Seuss story; here’s the overview from Wikipedia:

The Lorax is a children’s book written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1971. It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. As in most Dr. Seuss works, most of the creatures mentioned are original to the book.

The book is commonly recognized as a fable concerning the danger corporate greed poses to nature, using the literary element of personification to give life to industry as the Once-ler (whose face is never shown in any of the story’s illustrations or in the television special) and the environment as The Lorax.

(The trees at WSP could certainly use a Lorax speaking up for them.)

NY Daily News Publishes Op-Ed by Ed Koch in Favor of NYU “2031” Expansion As Former Mayor Admits He’s been Retained by the University to Get Plan Pushed Through — ?

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch (and Village resident) writes an Op-Ed in today’s New York Daily News advocating for NYU’s mega-expansion plan “2031” in which he starts off by admitting to being a partner in the law firm retained to push the plan through.

What was the Daily News thinking? Perhaps they couldn’t find anyone else.

See here: NYU, Spread Your Wings

An excerpt:

Every time I do that and see NYU students of every imaginable racial and religious group walking and talking together, I say to whomever I’m with, “These students make the Village what it is. They keep us at the center of thought; they keep us young, and keep the Village an interesting place in which to live. They keep New York competitive with the rest of the U.S. — and, indeed, the world.”

Really? Students are fabulous but the sheer number of them, as it is, means they’ve overtaken large swaths of the Village – particularly around Washington Square (already the University’s “core”)- and contributed to a more transient quality by their very large numbers.

The Village was “interesting” – prior to NYU being such a behemoth.

Ed Koch continues:

First, you should know that I am a partner in Bryan Cave LLP. We are attorneys for NYU in its efforts to develop land in the Village owned by the university. That plan, called NYU 2031, calls for four buildings to be built just north of Houston St., amid existing residential high-rises. Those buildings, perhaps as high as 25 floors, would house the facilities of a university with global aspirations.

He also states: “I have lived here for decades.” (Two.) “I am very conscious of the need to retain the Village’s special identity, from its rowhouse blocks to the bustling coffee shops near Washington Square Park. I know NYU’s leadership has the same concern.”
All evidence to the contrary.
*********************************************************************************

More on NYU at this blog.

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