Skip to main content

The NYU expansion plan provokes debate, as well as support for expansion in Downtown Brooklyn; NYU urged to set up a community advisory committee

There's another big land use plan/dispute out there: the expansion of New York University, with the main controversy regarding its plans for Greenwich Village, where 2.5 million square feet (of 6 million total in the city) are projected by 2031.

The Leonard Lopate Show yesterday featured a mostly critical (with no NYU rep) assessment of the plan. New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman on March 25 gave it a thumbs up-and-down treatment.

Here are some critical views from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (which thinks NYU should build a satellite campus elsewhere in the city), Mark Crispin Miller, and NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, and coverage in Capital New York.

The MAS angle

On the Lopate Show, two critics, NYU faculty member Miller and Community Board 2 Chairman Brad Hoylman were joined by Municipal Art Society President Vin Cipolla, whose organization takes a mixed view on the expansion.

(MAS is sponsoring a panel discussion tonight on the expansion plan, from 6-7:30 pm at Scholastic Auditorium, 557 Broadway at Prince Street. Miller will be at McNally Jackson Books tomorrow.)

Lopate twice mentioned the MAS's criticisms of the Atlantic Yards plan, as if not recognizing that the organization is no longer in the fray, as I commented.

But there is a lesson for the area, as Prospect Heights activist Danae Oratowski commented:
Residents of Greenwich Village who are concerned about the impact of years of construction on their quality of life need only look at the experience of Brooklynites who live around the Atlantic Yards project. Dust, noise late into the night, and compromised air quality are regularly documented by the community on a website started by residents.

Last year, community groups sued the State of New York and Forest City Ratner, arguing that the extension of the build-out from ten years to twenty five was never studied in an EIS. The plaintiff won their case last summer; the defendants have appealed and decision is expected this spring.
MAS testimony: Neighborhood Context
Principle: NYU must plan for growth in order to meet the challenges of a 21st century university, however new buildings should be designed in such a way as to be compatible with the existing built form, respecting the limitations of the neighborhood, its infrastructure and the existing community.
...MAS suggests that NYU reduce the proposed density by focusing more development outside of the core, in places where greater density would be desirable such as Downtown Brooklyn. The building stock in Downtown Brooklyn is far more compatible with what NYU is proposing to develop in Greenwich Village and is an area where the thoughtful integration of new academic buildings could dramatically improve the streetscape and increase the energy and vitality of that neighborhood.
NYU’s Polytechnic campus is currently located in Downtown Brooklyn and the University is in negotiation for the former NYC Transit Headquarters located at 370 Jay Street
How, per chance, did NYU get its Downtown Brooklyn campus? Through a merger/absorption of Polytechnic University in MetroTech that received little attention.

MAS testimony: Public Space
Principle: NYU should support and encourage community engagement and investment in public open spaces and seek to improve circulation through the superblocks as much as is feasible.
MAS believes that as a general rule, the City should only de-map portions of the public streets that improve circulation or provide an important community benefit.
Principle: Spaces should be designed in such a way as to welcome all members of the public, whether or not they are affiliated with the university.
...This interior space, controlled by NYU, will be open to the public, however “publicly-accessible” but privately owned open space often fails to be a meaningful public amenity due to physical barriers, inadequate programming and restricted hours of operation. 
MAS testimony: Public Process
Principle: NYU should fully disclose and explain their commitment to providing community amenities.
The City’s zoning regulations were designed to help regulate density in order to properly plan for community facilities such as public schools, so that the city’s infrastructure does not become overwhelmed by added density. In recent years deals have been struck to compensate for added density. The provision of schools is used as a trade-off or is mitigation for greater density. MAS believes that going forward schools should not be a part of a developer’s deal with the City; rather school sites should be carefully selected and located where there is the greatest need for such facilities.
The AY parallel

MAS suggests:
NYU should set-up a community advisory committee to serve as information channel for progress on the project and any significant changes that occur throughout the 20-year buildout.
NYU is a private university, but it needs a rezoning. Forest City Ratner not only got an override of zoning, it got significant subsidies and tax breaks. There's no community advisory committee in Brooklyn. And there's surely not, as MAS once suggested, a new governance entity.

MAS Position Statement on NYU 2031_2 28 12


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …