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NYU Is In an Alley Fight With An Upper East Side Condo

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It seems NYU's reputation as a property-guzzling entity has superseded its (to this point, rather earnest) expansion of its uptown presence. Since 1958, the university has operated its Institute of Fine Arts out of 1 East 78th Street, a French Classical limestone mansion off of Central Park East that was donated to the school by cigarette heiress Doris Duke. Now, says the Times, the nation's largest private university is hoping to adjoin the manse to another donated, neighboring property—a ground floor condominium in the C.P.H. Gilbert-designed building at 3 East 78th Street—by way of covered passage in the sunken alley between the two buildings.
Owners at the neighboring condo are resolute in their disapproval of the addition, siting that the passageway would damage the building and inciting fear that students in the building would decrease property values. The condo board at 3 East 78th Street is now asserting that the university never showed it its plans for the covered walkway—which the university would veneer in limestone to match with the buildings—until NYU took them in front of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to win approval for the tweak that falls within the Upper East Side Historic District.

Now a battle is ensuing over whether the condo board needs to approve the plans. While the passageway itself falls on the Institute's property, the connection would require an entrance punched into the side of 3 East 78th Street; which NYU is referring to as an exterior renovation, with the condo board pursuing it as a structural change. Both of the group's choices would give them preference in the building's by-laws.

The University is hoping to use the space at 3 East 78th Street as a classroom, a study center and offices for about a dozen professors. After the local community board's unanimous disapproval of the plan in May, NYU has temporarily suspended its application with the landmarks commission. "We're just as concerned about the safety, security and structural integrity of the building as they are," the director of the Institute told the Times, "It's our home now, too."
· Seeking to Expand An Uptown Site, N.Y.U. Finds Itself in an Alley Fight [NYT]
· After a Long War, Can NYU and the Village Ever Make Peace [Curbed]
· All NYU coverage [Curbed]