Sunday, May 13, 2012

Looking beyond the NYU deal: the failure to plan

This is late of course, but the 4/9/12 comment on New York University's expansion plan by GlobeSt.com's Jacqueline HlavenkaIN THE KNOW: What NYC Needs to Do About NYU 2031, contains some larger lessons:
Whether you agree or disagree with the project, there’s one huge flaw that sticks out in the city’s overall planning process here. For all its proposals, studies, special zoning districts and other tools available to the public, the New York City Department of Planning has no institutional master plan in place, as thoughtfully pointed out by Gary Hack, professor of urban design and former dean of PennDesign at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design at the Municipal Art Society’s recent debate about the project.
...I am not for or against the project in either way. NYU, a strong economic contributor to the Village economy and one of the city’s top employers, has a need to compete on a international level with other universities in the wake of global competition. The West Village, on the other hand, is one of the city’s most cherished historic neighborhoods that should be protected and valued for generations to come. Striking a deal between these two has – and always has been – a delicate balancing act.
What's missing

Compromise, the author suggests, would be a challenge. (Borough President Scott Stringer ultimately managed, to the frustration of those organizing against the plan.) But the author quotes a veteran of the Atlantic Yards battle and a former City Planning Commissioner:
But as Ronald Shiffman, a professor at Pratt’s Graduate Center for Planning, so eloquently put it, “it is important that we look at this in its full-dimension rather than just a real estate deal.”
That was true with Atlantic Yards, and it's true today.

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