Washington Square photo via Shutterstock
After two weeks of hot debate between NYU and the New York City Council regarding the university’s plans to expand its Greenwich Village campus (see our earlier post on this), a decision has been reached. The Council Land Use Committee and Subcommittee on Zoning have voted to approve the modified version of NYU’s original plan, reducing overall expansion by 20%—bringing the gross square footage of new development down from 2,130,000 to 1,918,000 square feet. The plan will go before the full Council on July 25th for a final vote.
The bulk of the changes to NYU’s original plan are to its proposed block-long Zipper Building, whose 5-story base will run along Mercer Street from Bleecker Street south to Houston Street, with multiple towers rising from it at various points along the block. The original plan featured a 168-foot tower at the corner of Mercer and Bleecker, but the modified plan has lopped it off to only 85 feet, leaving the bulk of the building at the southern corner of Mercer and Houston. Other towers were shortened somewhat as well, and top of one was changed to have a stepped-back roofline, lowering its visible height when seen from the sidewalk, and reducing the amount of sunlight it will block from the street.
The other big reduction is at the planned Mercer Boomerang building, one of two freeform-shaped buildings which will stand at either end of the large green space between NYU’s existing graduate student residence towers known as Washington Square Village buildings 1 through 4. What NYU was hoping would be an eleven-story tower rising over Mercer Street, replacing replacing a playground and a popular dog run, has been sheared down to a less light-blocking four stories. In addition, the footprints of both Boomerang buildings (the other is over by LaGuardia Place, replacing the much-needed Morton Williams supermarket) were reduced to create more generous openings to the remaining green space between them, which will be open to the public.
Other modifications to the plan include the creation of more community-dedicated spaces, more financing for those spaces, more open space, and the creation of oversight committees to make sure NYU sticks to its word regarding the changes to its plans. But despite ongoing community-based protest to the planned expansion (even with the modifications), it looks as if the plan will pass the final vote on the 25th. Read more about NYU’s expansion plan here.