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

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A View Through the Arch — On NYU’s Proposed Continued Expansion Throughout the Village & NYC

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! 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.”

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 less N.Y.U. 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, states: “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.

To learn more: Wednesday, April 14th 5:30-8 p.m. N.Y.U. will present its 2031 Expansion Plan, Kimmel Center, 10th floor, 60 Washington Square South (at LaGuardia Place)

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

*** Coming Next Week: Photos of New Construction at Washington Square Park! ***

NYU: “Thanks for your patience” (Former Provincetown Playhouse Site); the University Continues Its Unregulated Building, Ignoring Community Agreements

Former site of Provincetown Playhouse

On looking at this site on Sunday (6/28), when these photos were taken, it sure didn’t look like much had been preserved despite New York University ultimately agreeing to a mere pittance of preservation at this historic site.  This agreement was “to preserve the four walls and entry facade of the theater portion of the building.” Why does this University not care about architecture and historical preservation?

I asked Andrew Berman from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation why these buildings aren’t protected by Landmarks regulations.  He informed me that they currently fall outside of the designated Greenwich Village historic district outlined by the Landmarks Preservation Commission(LPC).  There is work being done by GVSHP and others to include the South Village – and the LPC recently made strides to “calendar” serious consideration of expanding the district – however, currently it is not protected.  (You can read more about it at GVSHP’s site.)  This accounts for NYU’s plans being largely unregulated despite all their talk about wanting to be a “good neighbor.”  

Neither the former Provincetown Playhouse or the other building NYU recently got its hands on, 58 Washington Square South (directly across from the Park between Judson Church and NYU’s Kimmel Center – another architectural blunder), are protected in any way and the University has shown that they do not stick to their word.  

Mr. Berman stated:

 “While the 58 Washington Square South site is not in a designated historic district, it is within GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic District, which NYU begrudgingly, after flip-flopping several times, agreed to support.  In spite of that pledge of support, however, they demolished the building on the site, much as they have with the Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments building at 133 MacDougal Street, also within the proposed South Village Historic District.  So while these sites do not yet fall under LPC regulation, one might have thought that NYU’s pledge to support landmark designation would mean buildings within it were at least safe from demolition by them, but one would be wrong.”

Previous WSP Blog Posts:

* What’s Up With Community Board 2? Approves NYU’s Demolitions Plans for 133-139 MacDougal Street / Provincetown Playhouse Despite Widespread Community Disapproval

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

Curbed Highlights of ’08, featuring the Mounds, Waterfalls, NYU destruction of Provincetown Playhouse and more!

Some days Curbed just makes all the difference.

Check out the “Curbed Awards’ 08: The Neighborhoods in Glorious Detail!”  I, for one, miss being entertained reading about the “public art” of the Waterfalls and their (or despite their) arborcidal ways. Curbed is a bit concerned about the Mounds’ longevity at Washington Square Park in the next phase (II) of the Parks Department’s redesign plan … and tells us what’s going on with Provincetown Playhouse now that NYU has its way.

NYU: If someone is going to eat up and destroy neighborhoods, it might as well be us

Downtown Manhattan, NYU Flags Abound

Downtown Manhattan, NYU Flags Abound

New York magazine covers NYU in their Real Estate section this week with a piece entitled “NYU’s Olive Branch.” Subtitled: “The school wants to expand – and says it’ll be a better neighbor. Good luck, guys.” With no mention of the pending destruction of the Provincetown Playhouse or any outline of NYU’s history of disregard for its West and East Village neighbors as it plants its flags seemingly everywhere, the article feels incomplete.

Yet the writer, S. Jhoanna Robledo, does get some choice quotes and information from Alicia Hurley, NYU’s vice president of government affairs and community engagement. (Gotta love that title.) She says, “We finally realized we were on an unsustainable track. We decided we [had] to restructure and invite the community to the table.”

In February, NYU “unveiled its plan for 6 million square feet of new space, half of it housing” for their 23 year plan, Plan 2031.

The university’s plan is to add of much of this in downtown Manhattan – for the convenience of its students and faculty. A faculty member is quoted: “It’s a huge lure – Greenwich Village, subsidized rental. If I wasn’t employed by them, I’d feel like NYU is a huge monster eating up the best neighborhood.”

As recently as June, NYU announced plans to destroy basically all of the Provincetown Playhouse and adjoining buildings, except for four walls and the theater entry facade, despite overwhelming community opposition. So where’s the sustainability?

Ultimately revealed is NYU‘s true position on the subject: If someone is going to gobble up the neighborhood, why shouldn’t it be them? Hurley says, “What would be around Washington Square Park if it wasn’t NYU? Do you think it would be a soft, gentle area of brownstones? Or high-end condos?”

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New York Magazine article here.

NYU’s Plan 2031.

Previous coverage of Provincetown Playhouse (including its history) and Community Board 2 vote in support of NYU’s plans despite overwhelming community opposition.

What is up with Community Board 2? Approves NYU’s demolition plans for 133-139 MacDougal Street / Provincetown Playhouse despite widespread community disapproval

Manhattan Community Board 2 voted 37-1 (with 2 abstentions) to approve NYU’s proposal to demolish 133-139 MacDougal Street, the Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments.

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation(GVSHP) noted, at last week’s general meeting(June 19), speaker after speaker spoke out against NYU’s demolition plans and ONLY NYU and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer‘s office spoke in favor of demolishing the Provincetown Playhouse and yet the Community Board voted with them.

Who exactly does the Community Board represent?

After NYU’s initial plans to totally demolish the historic Playhouse were revealed, heated protest caused the University to back down – somewhat. According to GVSHP, NYU “did agree to preserve the four walls and entry facade of the theater portion of the building, although NYU originally claimed there was nothing worth preserving about the theater.”

The Real Deal, a real estate blog, wrote about the history of the building:

“The building, originally four separate townhouses, was combined in the early 1940s. In 1916, the Provincetown Players, including playwright Eugene O’Neill, called 139 Macdougal Street home, and two years later moved three houses down to its current home at 133 Macdougal. The Players, famous for experimental theater, book-ended the four houses with fellow radicals living in between them.

In the early 1900s, the Washington Square Bookshop promoted modern literature at 135 Macdougal. Next door at 137 Macdougal stood the Liberal Club, the self-proclaimed ‘Meeting Place for Those Interested in New Ideas,’ whose famous members included Theodore Dreiser, Upton Sinclair and Margaret Sanger.”

The article notes that, “… the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation deemed [the location] eligible for historic preservation this week.” NYU’s plans include a new building “with two extra floors to be used by its School of Law.”

Andrew Berman, head of GVSHP, commented: “Unfortunately there seem to be a little too much eagerness [by the Community Board] to accommodate NYU at the expense of our neighborhood’s history and character.”

Then, if you look at their track record on Washington Square Park, Community Board 2 voted twice in favor of the “renovation” of Washington Square Park again despite widespread community disapproval.

The Board eventually rescinded their approval when the New York City Parks Department’s lack of transparency and withholding of information became impossible to ignore.

That being said, neither Community Board Chair Brad Hoylman, nor NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, seem to remember that the “approval” was rescinded. The Community Board chairs are often seen featured in photos with Commissioner Benepe and the BID (Business Improvement District) members holding checks towards the Park’s redesign.

So, who exactly does the Community Board represent?