Tenants of the NYU owned high-rise complex Washington Square Village appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit to block a portion of NYU’s 2031 expansion plan yesterday.
The high-rise residents’ lawsuit aimed to stop NYU from eliminating any part of a park located in the center of the group of high-rises. It was dismissed by a New York State Supreme Court judge on March 14.
NYU plans to remove the park and replace it with a smaller one in a different location, as part of its 2031 expansion plan.
Justice Ellen Coin dismissed the suit on grounds that the case did not yet warrant the attention of the State Supreme Court since the construction project is still in its early stages. NYU has not yet finalized plans or secured construction permits.
Coin said the suit is currently more of a community than a State Supreme Court case.
“Such oversight is more akin to an administrative function rather than determination of a justiciable controversy,” Coin said in a statement.
NYU professor of history Barbara Weinstein, a member of the Faculty Against the Sexton Plan group, said she had hoped the judge would pass down a stronger decision.
“I do wish the judge had been more proactive and said that building on those spaces would be a problem,” Weinstein said. “I don’t see this as a victory for the Sexton plan.”
Coin advised the tenants to refer their suit to the Department of Housing and Community Renewal.
With the appeal, however, it appears as though the residents will continue their battle in court.
NYU spokesman Philip Lentz said the university is confident the court’s original decision to dismiss the case will stand if future appeals are allowed.
“We argued before the judge that the case should be thrown out and it was. We are confident we will win the case,” Lentz said.
The lawsuit filed by the tenants is one of two lawsuits against the 2031 plan. The other suit was an Article 78 suit filed in the the State Supreme Court last September. The Article 78 suit, filed by an 11-group coalition including community and city organizers, has not been decided.
Lynne Brown, NYU senior vice president for university relations and public affairs, said NYU is also confident the court will side with them in the Article 78 suit.
“We are very pleased with today’s ruling and also look forward to prevailing in the Article 78 case,” she said.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is one of the groups challenging NYU with the Article 78 suit. Andrew Berman, the executive director at the preservation society said that though GVSHP is not affiliated with the tenants, they support the cause.
“We are hopeful that between our lawsuit and any other effort the 2031 plan will ultimately not move forward,” Berman said.
Additional reporting by Su Sie Park. Kevin Burns is a deputy university editor. Su Sie Park is a contributing writer. Email them at [email protected]