Anyone who’s ever lived in or looked for a Greenwich Village apartment is well aware of New York University’s dominance in the area. So when NYU development talk heats up, people listen. For as long as I can remember, in fact, NYU has been listed as one of the Top 5 landowners in Manhattan, joining the likes of Columbia University (who exerts similar control over the Morningside Heights neighborhood), and the Catholic Church.
It wasn’t a surprise, then, when in the spring of 2010, NYU announced that, as part of their long-term strategic NYU 2031 plan, they were hoping to add a jaw-dropping 3 million square feet of dorms, classrooms, performance spaces, and student centers in NYC, 1.5 million of that in the immediate Washington Square Park vicinity, which students and the institution itself have long treated as “the Quad” of their campus.
Needless to say, the NYU 2031 initiative was met with resistance by some residents of Greenwich Village (not to be confused with the West Village), who feel like the last thing the community needs is more development, especially at the expense of, say, public spaces, and parks. So NYU revised their development plans a bit and, late last week, we got a glimpse of the new NYU 2031, in which the university attempts to placate its opponents by dropping their bid to take over two of neighborhood’s green spaces, a pair of 15-foot-wide, block-long plots just north of SoHo, one on LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street, the other between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets.
The strips of land currently have playgrounds and gardens on them and are frequented by local residents. Whether this will be enough to make everyone happy remains to seen. There are some who take the “what’s good for NYU is good for NYC” line (within reason), like Mayor Bloomberg, who has said that “it’s very hard to differentiate where New York University stops and New York City starts. That is one of the real keys to NYU— the city goes right through it. NYU benefits from the city, and the city benefits from NYU.”
Others, including Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, feel like NYU has too much already. “The changes NYU has made are literally, as well as figuratively, nothing more than tinkering with the edges,” says Berman. “Shifting one building fifteen feet to the west does not solve the much bigger problems of this plan.”
In other news of note to residents and seekers of both Greenwich Village and West Village rental apartments: that triangular patch of land at Sixth Avenue and West 10th Street, across from what used to be St. Vincent’s Hospital, got a revised design as well.
In 2009, community activists were not pleased when it was announced that the so-called St. Vincent’s Triangle would be turned into a 8,500 square-foot park, with the rest of the lot used for garbage facilities and a loading dock. Last week’s revision seems more on track with what area residents have in mind: a 15,102-square foot park, pictured above, designed by landscape architect Rick Parisi of M. Paul Friedberg. But while this latest vision for the St. Vincent’s Triangle seems headed in the right direction, some local residents are still unimpressed.
At the public presentation, the design was derided as being “extremely generic” by Village resident Janet Capron. “This could just as easily appear next to a high-rise on the Upper East Side,” she continued, to much applause.
So, stay tuned for the latest on both NYU development in Greenwich Village, and the new park to be built at the St. Vincent’s Triangle.
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