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!

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.)

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.

Nearby In the Media …

Recent stories of interest:

* If you were looking for a primer on NYU’s proposed expansion, check out this NYU Local piece: How NYU Plans to Expand in the Village: The Struggle for the SuperBlocks

* Corruption behind the scenes of the High Line — From The New York World: High Line builder showered city officials with forbidden gifts – and pays no price

* This Crain’s NY Business title isn’t 100% accurate; the Rudin/St. Vincent’s plan still needs to be approved by the City CouncilSt. Vincent’s redevelopment gets green light

* Washington Square Hotel on Waverly Turns 110 via PR Newswire

* Remembering the Tiffany Diner on Sixth Avenue; now a Bank of America Vanishing New York

* City Council Holding Hearing Monday January 30th on Safety in NYC Parks (public participation invited) from A Walk in the Park Blog

WSP Performance Crackdown; NYU Expansion on CB2 Parks Committee Agenda Tonight, Thurs. Jan. 12th

Updated

The WSP performance crackdown is on the agenda at tonight’s Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting, 6:30 p.m. Our Lady of Pompeii Church, 25 Carmine Street, Father Demo Hall (enter on Bleecker) [venue has been changed from what was previously announced].

The addressing of the controversial new rules (on hold temporarily) is now scheduled for an “executive session.” Previously announced as an opportunity for public comment; it was stated that this topic was being moved to February’s meeting in order “to allow more time for public comment.”

Now, the CB2 website states, that, during the closed session, the committee “will consider a resolution reiterating a prior position opposing a Parks Department rule regarding public expression in parks and including its recent use to restrict un-amplified performances in Washington Square.”

Update from CB2 Chair Brad Hoylman: It was decided that there had been “enough public comment” and that “It’s not fair to ask people to come out again (and again, and…).” He is hoping that a resolution will be drafted by the committee.

The main part of the meeting which is open for public comment focuses on the “NYU 2031 Campus Expansion Plan.” I’d be curious to see how (Parks Committee Chair) Tobi Bergman handles this group since he dodges a bit on issues related to WSP (and gets away with it).

This is certain to recruit a large crowd. There will be a presentation of the plan and discussion of how NYU’s plans affect “open space and related issues” as well as NYC Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). It is noted that “Public input at this hearing will inform the Community Board 2 recommendation.