Manhattan Judge Blocks NYC’s $6 Billion Expansion Plan In Greenwich VillageBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
New York University's (NYU) expansion plans to accommodate its growing campus community has hit a roadblock.
On Tuesday, the Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Donna M. Mills cut down construction plans to less than half of a proposed 2 million-square-foot expansion project in Greenwich Village neighborhood saying that the office of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had given a green signal to the University to use three public parks without first obtaining consent from the State Legislature.
"The court concludes that the public trust doctrine applies to three of the four parcels of land involved," Mills said. If NYU is unable to obtain legislative approval, "it will, at the very least, have to develop alternative areas for construction staging that will not interfere with the use by the public," Bloomberg reports.
NYU said that the $6 billion-Sexton Plan involving the construction of four towers was necessary to accommodate its increasing student population. Opponents argued that the charm of the neighbourhood would be lost as a result of the project. They sued the city in September 2012 after it approved the expansion.
City lawyers claimed that the community gardens were never formally listed as parks; instead they were mentioned as unused streets on city maps. Matthew Broderick, Greenwich Village celebrity resident, said that the city has referred to them as official parks for decades and the parks department listed them as parks on city websites.
"This is a huge victory for the Greenwich Village community, preserving this historic neighborhood and protecting its precious parkland," said Randy Mastro, an attorney representing opponents of the project and a deputy mayor under former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
John Beckman, a spokesman for NYU, said that even though the ruling was not in their favor they can still proceed with the remaining part of the project. The construction of Zipper Building on 980,000 square feet of land, one of the towers with possible 26 stories, is planned to commence within 18 months.
Mastro said that NYU will now have to re-submit a revised plan. Beckman said that the school agrees with him.
"Any such piecemeal approach would constitute a new project materially different from that previously approved by the city and requiring its own separate environmental review process," he said. "So NYU has to go back to square one." Its massive project is now dead," New York Times reports.