New York University’s proposal to develop two superblocks in Greenwich Village has received certification from the Department of City Planning, thus beginning a seven-month process of scrutinizing the project, including its impact on mass transit, pedestrians and the environment. But first, the University must convince the neighborhood that the project has a greater upside than downside. That won’t easy, judging by the tenor of the community board meeting, the first of many, held last Wednesday, January 9, at the Center for Architecture where a packed crowd estimated at 500 filled the room, many eager to weigh in.
For its part, NYU claims a major feature of its plan, which has been in the works for the past five years, has been vetting the project with the neighborhood. But the community does not agree, as evidenced by such impassioned statements as this one, from Andrew Berman, executive director of Greenwich Village Society for Preservation (GVSP), which opposes the project. “NYU is …asking for long-term neighborhood zoning protections to be lifted, for open space preservation requirements to be gutted, for public space to be given away, (and) for urban renewal deed restrictions to be taken off the books,” said Andrew Berman. “That can only happen if our city officials vote to give that to them, and we’re here tonight to say we’re not going to let you do that.”
Public meetings with the community will continue over the next two weeks, after which the Community Board will issue a written recommendation. Following that, Borough President Scoot Stringer will review the proposal. A majority of City Council is needed to approve the proposal.