NYU Taking Over a Little Less of Lower Manhattan

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Photo: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

Notoriously hug-happy New York University president John Sexton reportedly gave a not-entirely-reciprocated embrace yesterday to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, his ostensible opponent, as the pair announced an expansion compromise. The school's NYU 2031 plan has been fiercely rejected by Greenwich Village residents and the community board, which voted unanimously against it, and even Sexton's recent concessions are not going to be enough to please the locals. 

The university has agreed to trim the project by 16 percent of the proposed 2-million-square-feet plan. The Observer reports:

A temporary gym will be eliminated from the plan, which community groups saw as a sixth construction element, meaning more time and headaches. Two strips of land will not be ceded to NYU, ostensibly increasing public space and eliminating some amount of underground facilities, though critic charge the land is not NYU’s to cede. A number of the buildings will be reduced in size and scale, in the hope of creating a more open plan that blocks less light and sky from the surrounding buildings and neighborhood.

But according to critics like Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, NYU's sacrifices were built into the plan "to give the appearance that they are responding to community outrage." Also against the expansion are some local businesses, the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation, and even some NYU employees. "So what did Stringer do for us?" asked a professor from the group NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan. "It's like we went to see the people who've been promising to cut off all your fingers, and persuaded them to leave you half a pinky and a thumb."

Stringer, an underdog candidate for mayor in 2013, said through a spokesperson that his plan "addressed each and every" priority of the community. "The idea that our agreement does not go far enough is a false premise."