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

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.

For Sale Around the Park: Manhattan Theatre Source Building on MacDougal and 23 Washington Square North

Manhattan Theatre Source MacDougal St

23 Washington Square North

Updated– I never got to write up Manhattan Theatre Source but I liked going in there (I never saw a show there I must confess but would have ultimately). The front space was billed as a “cafe” — although there was just bottled water and other assorted drinks in a fridge and a few tables — and they’d let you use their WiFi (whether you purchased a drink or not). There was a very nice vibe from the people there the few times I ventured in. I’d been thinking that maybe they should open a real cafe on the bottom floor (I have this little obsession with cafes and coffee shops and could actually see running one!).

So it saddens me – for more than a few reasons – to hear via Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York that the theater space is closing as of January 2012:

Said one of the board members to Broadway World, “Despite efforts to save it, we have finally reached a point where we can no longer sustain the running of our space at 177 MacDougal Street. Our deficits have grown too high, and the terrible economy has badly hurt small theater companies in NYC.”

Blogger Andrew Bellware at Pleasure for the Empire has a different take on the closure. He recently wrote on his blog, “The present Board is actually and actively destroying the theater. And they’re doing it willfully–not just from neglect… The theater is not going bankrupt… It’s just closing because this Board lacks the imagination, the will, and the backbone one needs to keep a small business running.”

I could see that being true. I think this required a bit of ingenuity – even sending out a plea announcing they might have to close would seem worth a try to garner support and ideas.

Manhattan Theatre Source describes itself as follows: “manhattantheatresource is a not-for-profit arts service organization with a groundbreaking purpose: to organize and link the disparate communities within New York’s vital off-off-Broadway movement, and to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ resource center for independent theatre artists and audiences across the nation.”

Bellware is right (as he also states) that, despite the group vowing to continue on, trying to run shows and festivals without a space is not the same. We see all the time that having a physical space makes a difference particularly in real estate-obsessed New York City (which is why it makes me a little nervous and curious wondering what will arrive there next).

The theater organization is at 177 MacDougal Street but I guess they owned 175-177 and 179 MacDougal because they are all for sale for $11,950,000.  ****

23 Washington Square North

Also for sale around the corner and right across from the Park: one of the few properties around Washington Square not owned by NYU!

Since the summer, 23 Washington Square North has featured a “for sale” sign but no takers yet although the price has been reduced from $25 Million to $19.5 Million!

At Leslie J. Garfield Real Estate, the property is still listed at $22 Million although Property Shark reports that it is now $19.5 Million.

There are six (or seven) “units” in the building and it is approximately 8500 square feet. Garfield’s site says: “This home hasn’t been available for sale for half a century.”

On Property Shark, it lists the “current owner” as AJ Clarke at 1881 Broadway which is a real estate/management company (which garnered terrible reviews via Google). (Perhaps they are managing the rentals in the building? Garfield states the longest running lease left ends September 2012.)

As so much around the park is owned by NYU, I’d imagine if the university was interested in this, they would have jumped for it by now. (Probably a little steep for them – they likely grabbed the real estate around the park when it was more “reasonable.”)

The first asking price was $25 Million when first listed on June 14th of this year. Was reduced to $22 Million and now $19.5 Million. What do you think? Worth it? I wonder how much lower the price will go.

The building was built in the 1830’s.

Squirrel Visits Next Door Wash Sq North

Update, A bit more info: Okay, I just read a bit more on Pleasure for the Empire blog and came to this post on “How to Take over 177 MacDougal Street” which revealed that AJ Clarke is landlord for 177 MacDougal – in addition to either owning or managing 23 Washington Square North! (What else does AJ Clarke own around the Square and are they selling?) How odd. I think that post was written before it was announced that the MacDougal buildings were being sold. So… AJ Clarke decided to sell the buildings once Manhattan Theatre Source decided they were leaving? Perhaps?

Photo, Manhattan Theatre Source: Wikipedia
All others: Cathryn

NYU Students: “Washington Square Park Really IS Our Quad” + How Much Property the University Owns Surrounding the Public Park

Purple = NYU owned

A juicy tidbit that almost got by — NYU Local reports muses:

It’s easy to forget just how much of the Washington Square Park neighborhood NYU actually owns. (WSP Blog ed. note: really??)

This is a great visualization of NYU’s core neighborhood. The purple areas are NYU owned, and most have been fully built upon.

The two blocks to the south are where NYU is looking to expand in the Village. You can read about their proposals (part of the 2031 plans) here.

Image via Local tipster.

To which a student responds: “As someone who’s tried to plan many events (some for student clubs, some for brands) in the park, I really hate how difficult it is to table in the park similar to how other students can on their campuses. I’m not saying we should be allowed to take over a city park, I’m saying the city should create separate, simple (free) permits to allow students to actually use it as a quad.”

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Well, now that we’ve cleared that up.

Gee, all of the above is depressing.

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

Mayor Bloomberg "Dead End"

Mayor Bloomberg at a "Dead End"

As we watch Mayor Michael Bloomberg unfold his intricately orchestrated master plan to maintain his reign of power, there are more than a few reasons why New York will be quite finethank you very muchwithout our billionaire Mayor. You know, the one who seems to think we can’t manage without him, utilizing fear to push his agenda.

Our CEO Mayor has the media locked up and the existing City Council leadership (under Speaker Christine Quinn) willing to bow to his wish to overturn voted-in two term limits — with the, um, added benefit that they get to retain their positions also. (Who can take their actions seriously unless they take a principled stand?)

Mayor Mike got rid of the one guy who could match him in ad spending (see Ronald Lauder, former ambassador to Austria – who knew? – and Estee Lauder cosmetic empire heir) instructing him not to cause a fuss or he’d be ousted from their exclusive social and business circles — despite term limits being this billionaire’s issue for at least 15 years.

The City’s other billionaires, CEOs and corporate executives are advocating right and left for their friend Bloomie to linger at City Hall, no matter what it takes. Who cares if it’s a power grab, illegal and anti-democratic? Bloomberg figures he can listen to the people whine for a little while, ride that wave, and then buy them off with another $100 million worth of advertising.

Memo to Mayor Mike: I think you may at last have overreached.

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Why I think our city will more than thrive without Mayor Bloomberg…

The International Herald Tribune reported in June that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg “has rezoned vast swaths of the city to accommodate bigger, more densely populated buildings, encouraging the construction of millions of square feet of office space, hotel rooms and housing. Over all, the number of construction permits for new buildings or major renovations issued by the Department of Buildings has soared 23.3 percent over the past five years.”

The result of all this is a construction boom. The developers also get tax breaks making it oh so easy for them to put up large signs on virtually every block on their glossy glass buildings with the same two words: “luxury housing.” Existing tenants in smaller, quaint buildings get displaced, the buildings are torn down, diversity and any resemblance to the ‘past’ is bulldozed over. Neighborhood after neighborhood starts to look the same. (One other repercussion? Oh right. Monstrous cranes have toppled over. People die and are injured. With all this building, you want oversight?)

As these changes go on around them, long-time landlords with long-time small business tenants start to raise rents, doubling, tripling the figures and those tenants are soon gone and replaced.

As if they’re expendable. As if they never existed. The fabric of one too many neighborhoods is frayed, coming apart at the seams.

Yet, this is the climate Mayor Bloomberg’s New York promotes and encourages.

Juan Gonzalez wrote “Lower East Side rezone plan another Mike Bloomberg boondoggle” in the July 17th New York Daily News:

“Theirs [Chinatown/Lower East Side residents] is a story that has become all-too familiar during the Bloomberg era: another stable neighborhood turned upside down by a massive rezoning. The sheer number of these rezonings – from Columbia University to Hudson Yards to Greenpoint-Williamsburg (Brooklyn) to Willets Point – boggles the mind. City officials routinely claim it’s for the good of the neighborhoods, but in the end a handful of well-connected developers and Big Box stores end up the big winners.”

The fact is – it’s no coincidence that the city is vanishing at such a quick pace. While there’s no real funding for schools or libraries or park maintenance in our neighborhoods, there is always money for Wall Street and developers and corporate executives. Since the media rarely reports on this and, if they do, avoids linking this to Mayor Bloomberg and his policies, the public remains largely unaware.

The blanding of our city continues on, in neighborhood after neighborhood, public space after public space, to create the bland yet affluent City that Mayor Bloomberg, a billionaire, envisions. It’s a less interesting one but the billionaires and their friends are happy. That’s what matters, right?

No. It’s time for the city to catch its breath. To attempt to make up for this blatant, expanded, accelerated loss of its character over seven years.

As we’ve seen, what works for Wall Street and Corporate America doesn’t really work for the rest of us. They want to maintain a certain lifestyle and will do whatever it takes to do so. Michael Bloomberg’s decision to stay on as Mayor of New York City in defiance of democracy has nothing to do with New York City and everything to do with Michael Bloomberg and his ego.

It is time for Mayor Mike to go.

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Photo: RS Eanes

(Part of this post appeared on July 17th, 2008. This is a different and expanded version.)

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.