NYU expansion halted, will require state lawmakers’ sign-off

John Sexton NYU Expansion
From left: NYU President John Sexton and a rendering of the university's expansion plan

New York University’s $6 billion controversial expansion plan took a serious blow yesterday when a Manhattan judge ruled that construction on the megaproject can only start if the state legislature agrees to sign off on the project because it will use three strips of city parkland.

The Bloomberg administration should not have given the three community parks to NYU without the state’s approval, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills ruled. City lawyers had previously argued that Albany’s consent wasn’t required as the gardens were represented on city maps as unused streets and had never been officially dedicated as parks.

“Land may become parkland by implication even … where the land remains mapped for another purpose, as here,” Mills said in her Tuesday decision seen by the New York Daily News.

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Randy Mastro, an attorney representing opponents of the expansion plan, told the newspaper that the decision was a “huge victory for the Greenwich Village community in preserving this historic neighborhood and protecting its precious parkland.”

A spokesperson for NYU said in a statement to The Real Deal that “the judgment is a very positive one for NYU: five of the six petitioners claims were dismissed, and most importantly the judge’s ruling allows us to move forward with our first planned project — the facility to provide new academic space on the site of our current gym.”

Indeed, Mills ruled that one strip of park space used as a dog run wasn’t actually a park, according to the News, and NYU officials told the newspaper that the ruling would allow them to build a 980,000-square-foot building next to the university’s gym. [NYDN]Hiten Samtani

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