If you’re dreaming of finding a rental apartment anywhere near Washington Square Park–and, especially, if you’re planning on sticking around for awhile–you should know this: that whole area, from the park to Houston street, is going to change, thanks to NYU 2031, aka The Sexton Plan.
Here’s the thing: New York University, one of the city’s largest landowners, wants to greatly expand their Greenwich Village campus, and for a couple of years now has been proposing and revising and counter-proposing their vision on how it’s going happen.
In late July the City Council approved, by a 44 - 1 margin, the most recent installment of NYU 2031, seemingly paving the way (so to speak) for construction to begin. And there will be a LOT of that. As Councilman (and sole dissenting vote) Charles Barron said about the community: “They’re going to have construction in their neighborhood for the next 20 years!”
Not so fast!, say Greenwich Village residents, who are currently filing an “Article 78″ which is some sort of complicated legal device to challenge the administration’s decision. And late last week residents of Washington Square Village rental apartments sued the University on the grounds that the proposal would destroy their park, a “necessary service” to the community.
So although the story of what NYU 2031, or the Sexton Plan, will eventually look like, it seems clear that it will exist, which is either good or bad news for downtown apartment residents, depending upon your perspective.
Anyway, NYU’s new, right-now-approved proposal differs from the previous round thusly: the two towers near Mercer and Bleecker streets have been reduced, there will no longer be a hotel involved, and NYU will NOT seek to rezone the area, which would have allowed the University to put retail in some of those great old industrial buildings. Here’s an excellent, quick-swipe look at the two plans, before and after, via Curbed.
If you’re familiar with that part of the Village, you can see from these renderings what all of the fuss is about: NYU 2031, the Sexton Plan, will mean a massive overhaul of the entire look and feel of the neighborhood, many feel for the much worse. In fact, there’s an entire book, While We Were Sleeping, of writers and educators ripping into the plan as a community-destroyer.
For example, here’s an excerpt from novelist Kevin Baker’s rather poetic piece: “Better it would be that NYU should vanish tomorrow than it be allowed to tear down everything around it and go on multiplying in its own, remarkably unimaginative fashion. We would miss it, of course, much as Brooklyn misses the Dodgers…but if you’ll notice, Brooklyn is doing pretty well these days, while the Dodgers are just another baseball team, playing somewhere off a highway in California. It is the Village that lends enchantment to the university, not the other way around. You would think that, after nearly two hundred years, the university might have figured this out.” As always, stay tuned.
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