On Tuesday, 11 groups and 11 individuals banded together and filed a lawsuit against New York City for its approval of the NYU 2031 expansion plan.
NYU 2031, dubbed the Sexton Plan after NYU president John Sexton, is the university’s plan to expand the campus by 6 million square feet by 2031.
The City Council voted last month in a 44-1 decision to allow the university to proceed with its expansion plan.
However, opponents have alleged that several government agencies, including the City Planning Commission and City Council, yielded to NYU demands and illegally granted public land to facilitate the project.
“We are asking the courts to do what the university administration and city officials refused to do: listen to the public and the broader NYU community, consider alternatives and serious environmental impacts and not allow the plan in its current form to move ahead,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which is one of the 11 groups litigating.
The NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan is another member of the plaintiff party. Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media, culture and communications and member of the NYUFASP said the group was duped about the university’s intentions.
“The CPC and the City Council bought NYU’s premise that they needed to expand in its core in the Village community in order to become a so-called world class university,” Miller said. “The Sexton Plan has nothing to do with education. It’s a land grab and nothing more, and the city failed to hold NYU accountable.”
According to a press release issued by the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm, 37 NYU departments and three NYU schools have passed resolutions opposing the project.
However, the New York City Law Department continues to defend the legality of the council’s decision.
“The expansion plan, which enables NYU to add much-needed academic facilities and housing, is lawful and followed all applicable processes,” the department said in a statement. “It was approved by both the City Council and the City Planning Commission after substantial and thorough public review.”
The university was still adamant in defending its construction plans.
“NYU’s proposal to build new academic facilities, student dormitories and faculty housing went through a five-year planning and consultation process,” the university said in a statement responding to the lawsuit.
NYU brushed aside any idea that the lawsuit would be an obstacle for its expansion plan.
“We are confident that we will prevail in court against any claims that are made,” the university said in the same statement.
The plaintiffs, however, are also hopeful that they can block the controversial project.
“Given how flagrant the violations of appropriate process was in this case, we are very optimistic about our chances,” Berman said.
A court hearing date has yet to be announced.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 27 print edition. Tony Chau is city/state editor. Email him at [email protected]