The City Council approved New York University’s modified expansion plan last night by a 44-to-1 vote, meaning the school has cleared the final hurdle in its effort to develop 2 million square feet of classrooms, dorm rooms and office space on the Greenwich Village superblock south of Washington Square Park.
“I think this plan appropriately balances the need of an important university to grow and expand — which is good for our city — with the historic neighborhood it’s in,” Speaker Christine Quinn said before the vote. The size of the approved plan has been reduced by 26 percent since its initial proposal.
About 50 opponents of the expansion, who claim the development is out of scale with the neighborhood and fear the affects of 20 years of construction, filled the balcony overlooking the Council chamber. They held signs blasting the plan, shouted “shame” when the voting results were released and held a press conference denouncing the plan afterwards on the steps of City Hall.
The university has maintained that the expansion is necessary in order to remain competitive with other top schools, and that the only alternative is to buy other buildings in the area and knock them down. Construction on the new campus won’t begin until 2014 and will bring thousands of construction jobs and permanent new university positions. [NYT]