The Real Deal New York

Will history repeat itself with NYU expansion?

March 22, 2012 02:00PM

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Founders Hall, built behind the front wall of the St. Ann's Church

While much of the opposition to New York University’s Greenwich Village expansion plan has centered on how new structures would affect neighbors in the future, a recent City Limits article shows the historical basis for the concerns.

In general, NYU touts how its presence has helped local businesses, but the owner of La Lanterna Caffe, a bar on MacDougal and West 3rd streets that’s down the block from NYU’s Wilf Hall at 133 MacDougal Street, told City Limits that he’s experienced the opposite. During the 2008-2010 construction period he reports a series of broken promises that ultimately caused him to lose nearly a quarter of his business.

“I found myself slowly saying, ‘It’s all lip service,’” he said. “They’re actually not willing to do anything.”

Further, residents note to City Limits that the influx of college students has benefited certain business — bars, internet cafes and chain restaurants — at the expense of neighborhood institutions that gave the Village its charm.

NYU also claims it works to preserve and enhance the community with its expansion, but neighbors of Founders Hall, a 26-story dorm that opened in 2009 on the East 12th Street site of the St. Ann’s Curch, say otherwise. The school left just a single facade of the church standing and then built to unprecedented Village heights behind it. One neighbor said it “serves only as a reminder of what was lost.”

An NYU spokesperson even acknowledged in the City Limits article the school did not work with the community as much as it should have on Founders Hall, but said that it is a lesson the school has learned for its current proposal. [City Limits]

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