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NYU's Greenwich Village Expansion Plans, From the Ground Up

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This week NYU officials gave a show and tell to community members of the school's newly revised expansion plans for the superblocks south of Washington Square in Greenwich Village, but the details weren't always apparent, despite lots of lively questions from the opposition. To keep everyone informed NYU has posted the updated plan online [pdf], so folks can read up on Big Purple's wish list of zoning changes, de-mapping and program distribution. Fun for the whole family!

For those who like things three dimensional, architectural models of the proposed buildings can be seen at the NYU Open House at 532 LaGuardia Place. We were curious, so we popped in to take a look.

On view are models for the three segments of the NYU plan, 2.2 million new square feet in total. They are the so-called Boomerang Buildings and their mix of underground space and gardens smack in the middle of Washington Square Village, the Morton Williams supermarket replacing building on Bleecker Street that would include a public school and NYU student dorms, and the Zipper Building, running the full lenfth of Mercer Street from Bleecker to West Houston.

The Zipper, if NYU gets its way, would gobble up a popular dog run and take over a derelict playground (while adding new facilities elsewhere, eventually), and replace the existing low-rise Coles Athletic Center. The plan is for a 5-story base filling the entire lot, with six towers of various heights rising above, all off-set to maximize light into the new student housing. At the Mercer and West Houston corner, a 26-story, 275-foot tower would rise, a plan that requires a number of zoning variances. It would include a 190-room university-affiliated hotel and additional university housing. A new athletic center would go in below grade and a supermarket would go in along Mercer Street.

The time frame for NYU to accomplish all this expansion reaches 20 years into the future, hence the NYU 2031 moniker. The south superblock would get built up first, from 2012 to 2022, with the Zipper the likely place to begin. This would allow a new supermarket to be ready for the locals before the Morton Williams site is shut down and demolished for the Bleecker building. But to build the Zipper, the Coles Athletic Center would first have to go, so NYU's idea is to have a temporary athletic center in the Washington Square Village open space, making the Boomerang Buildings the last pieces to be completed.

None of this is a done deal, and NYU has a long public review period ahead. Hearings could begin in May (NYU is slated to file some official paperwork in April), and if all goes as Big Purple wants, the plan would be certified by the beginning of 2012 and construction would begin soon after. But the head of the Community Board has declared that Villagers are on the warpath, and warned that the superblock fight will be super serious.
· NYU 2031 Core: Update to Community Board #2 [NYU]
· Revised NYU Plans Face Strong Public Opposition [GVSHP]
· NYU Expansion coverage [Curbed]