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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Baby Red-Tailed Hawk at Washington Square Leg Entangled – For Now, Intervention Pending

Rosie and Baby Hawks

Majorly adorable

First Mama Hawk Violet’s troubles with her leg band, now new baby hawk above Washington Square is having issues with her leg being entangled in a plastic bag in the nest …

The story from the New York Times(May 5):

For the last three days, one of the baby red-tailed hawks in Washington Square Park has had one leg tangled in a white plastic bag, causing panic among Hawk Cam fans about her well-being.

A team of wildlife experts, including the executive director of NYC Audubon, Glenn Phillips, has been closely monitoring the situation and working out how best to reach the baby hawk should it become necessary to intervene. The plan, for now, is to wait until next week before taking action on the nest.

“We all agree that the chick is not in any immediate danger, and that there is a good chance that the chick will free itself from the bag,” Mr. Phillips said in an e-mail.

But, he added, if by next week the eyas has not freed itself from the disposable bag, then a Long Island-based wildlife rehabilitator, Bobby Horvath, will attempt a rescue with a long-poled net.

It seems like some lessons were learned from last time.

Commenters at the Times‘ story had valid suggestions –

from mricle from the Bronx: “If we can ban smoking in public parks and beaches, we can ban disposable plastic bags. Even though paper bags kill trees, they certainly cause less pollution and wildlife issues, and are mostly biodegradable.”

from Sarah from Brooklyn: “Maybe this will be a wake up call to people about the evils of plastic bags!”

I haven’t written about this year’s hawks’ nest or the now growing baby hawks partly because I’m still sad over Violet’s death. For certain, new mom (and Bobby’s new mate) Rosie is really interesting and fun to watch but there was something very special about Violet. I felt for many of the hawk watchers whether there were new baby hawks this year was paramount, and, as long as there was a replacement mate, that was what mattered. I’m sure that’s not how it was – but that’s how it at times appeared. (Not targeting any specific person by any means…)

I never quite realized how intrusive the camera is in the nest. With all sophisticated technology available today, I wonder — could it be a bit less ‘in their faces?’

Photo: D. Bruce Yolton/Urban Hawks Blog

Archive at WSP Blog on Violet, Bobby and Pip

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.)

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

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…

NYU And Washington Square “Core” Area Expansion

Continued… Some refreshers on NYU’s Expansion Plan 2031 — Recycled Entry * Originally Published March 11, 2011

From Crain’s NY Business, March 4th, NYU Wants to Polish Its Silver Towers:

New York University is preparing to present landscaping plans for the landmarked Silver Towers block in Greenwich Village to Community Board 2 on Monday [3/7]. The improvements are part of the school’s ambitious 2031 expansion plans. The school officially filed the plans with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on Thursday [3/3].  …

NYU’s plans to add 6 million square feet of space over the course of the next 25 years, half of which will be in Greenwich Village and areas surrounding Washington Square Park, has generated criticism from the Greenwich Village community, who believe that the school is altering the character of the neighborhood.

NYU on Washington Square (the area it considers its “core”) from its 2031 Plan website:

At its heart, NYU 2031 recognizes the primacy of the University’s central location at Washington Square. It’s home there is fundamental to NYU’s identity and mission.

(I couldn’t help but notice this really simple grammatical error in the University’s second sentence.)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg from NYU site:

It’s very hard to differentiate where New York University stops and New York City starts.

Well, that’s certainly true. No wonder NYU President John Sexton was so quick to advocate for Bloomberg’s third term.

March 11, 2011
___________________________________________________________

Previous WSP Blog Post: NYU’s “Marketing of Washington Square” Equals $$

Photo: Buck Ennis

NYU Proposed Expansion Plan 2031 — Is the Fix ‘In’ With the Bloomberg Administration?

I’m posting previous WSP Blog entries as refreshers on NYU and President John Sexton’s “vision” for the University’s Expansion Plan 2031. It’s a very critical time right now.

It raises the question — is the ‘fix’ in with the Bloomberg Administration? Given this Admin’s history over the last seemingly gazillion years (will his term ever end?), that would not be much of a surprise.

If so, how to stop it?

If her statements at the Community Meeting on NYU Plan 2031 earlier this month were any indication, Council Member Margaret Chin likely does not have the strength to stand up to Bloomberg and Council Member Quinn who will put pressure on her to go along with it.

More at WSP Blog on NYU here.

On NYU’s Proposed Continued Expansion Throughout the Village

* Series On NYU’s Proposed Expansion Plan 2031 * 

Recycled Entry * Originally Published March 26, 2010 (edited version)

With news of N.Y.U.’s proposed plan to expand their New York City campus by 40%, this photo shows us what the view through the Arch would be like if there was no building at 58 Washington Square South (which NYU acquired and plans to make 6-7 stories – it was previously two – next to Kimmel Center) – right now, you can actually see through to West 3rd Street!

Speaking to the New York Times about the proposed expansion, New York University President John Sexton (reached in Qatar, near N.Y.U.’s new Abu Dhabi campus) responds as if he is new to the scene. He states, “It’s clear that N.Y.U. had a history of moving forward without listening.”

Just how long has John Sexton been President of N.Y.U.? Since 2001. Though a lot happened in previous years, still, a lot of that “moving forward without listening” occurred on his watch.

The paper informs us:

Between 1991 and 2001, the number of students living in N.Y.U. housing tripled to 12,000, from 4,000, as the university raised its national profile. (In the early ’90s, 50 percent of its students came from the metropolitan area; now that figure has declined to 10 to 15 percent.) By 2031, N.Y.U. expects its total student body to grow to 46,500 students, up from the current 41,000.

Further, The Times reports: “In its Washington Square neighborhood, the university will be creating the equivalent in square footage of a little more than the total floor area of the Empire State Building.”

Mr. Sexton, who alarmed me when I heard his perplexing speech in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s quest to overturn voted-in term limits (as I wrote at the time: “More Bloomberg. More NYU.”), stated: “For New York to be a great city, we need N.Y.U. to be a great university.”

Actually, I’m sure many would argue in order for New York to be a “great city,” we need a bit less N.Y.U., at least less N.Y.U., in the fashion it currently operates.

Fewer N.Y.U. flags planted amidst every inch of our communities and neighborhoods. And historic spaces like the Edgar Allen Poe House and Provincetown Playhouse as well as cultural spots which added to the vibrancy of the neighborhood like The Bottom Line preserved – not demolished – by the overreaching arm of N.Y.U. expansion.

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, stated: “N.Y.U. seems to have worked on their P.R. machine quite a bit, but the reality of what they’re doing — which is taking over more and more of the neighborhood — doesn’t seem like it’s changed very much. They’ve given everybody the opportunity to say what they think and then they’ve largely ignored that feedback.

March 26, 2010 (edited)

Previous WSP Blog Posts:

* Isn’t there anyone who can outbid or outmaneuver NYU? 58 Washington Sq South Goes to the Dark Side

* NYU: “Thanks for your patience”; the University Continues Its Unregulated Building, Ignoring Community Agreements on Provincetown Playhouse

Photos: Cathryn