[UPDATE] Unclear future for proposed school
October 16, 2014
UPDATE Tuesday, Oct. 21, 9 p.m.:
NYU informed councilwoman Margaret Chin’s office today that they have extended the deadline to submit plans for the public school on Bleecker Street, which are now due by Dec. 31, 2018. The university also stipulated in the letter that the project must start construction by July 31, 2020.
After receiving the news, councilwoman Chin’s office sent a letter to the Community Board 2 education advocates, which applauded the university’s agreement to extend the deadline.
“This decision by NYU benefits the neighborhood by making sure there is adequate time to carefully consider the need for and to plan for a new public school,” the letter read.
Original story as follows:
NYU may no longer be responsible for the seven-story public school it promised to build on Bleecker Street as part of its 2031 expansion plan, as the Dec. 31 deadline is approaching and the Department of Education has yet to commit any funding for the project. After that date, NYU will be able to repurpose 145,000 square feet of the 170,000-square-foot site, possibly for its expansion.
The deadline was originally set by NYU for 2025, but councilwoman Margaret Chin worked to push it forward to the end of 2014. Sam Spokony, communications director of Chin’s office, said she initially pushed it forward to ensure the proper usage of the space as quickly as possible and to avoid any delays with development.
After the DOE’s School Construction Authority did not include funding for the school in its 2015-2019 capital plan, however, councilwoman Chin and Community Board 2 requested that NYU extend the deadline.
“Council member Chin’s office is currently engaged in discussions with NYU about extending this deadline for the City to commit to building a public school at the Bleecker Street site,” Spokony said. “We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with NYU to extend the deadline and give the city more time to take advantage of this as a public school site.”
NYU spokesman John Beckman pointed to a letter that senior vice president for university relations and public affairs Lynne Brown sent to councilwoman Chin’s office in May after she first requested an extended deadline. In the letter, Lynne explained that the university could not change their plans because of the ongoing lawsuit, which was decided in NYU’s favor on Oct.14.
“The Core Project is the subject of pending litigation and appeals,” the letter read. “In light of that fact, we feel that it is not an appropriate time to undertake to modify the Restrictive Declaration and, further, that it may be imprudent to do so.”
Beckman added that the university’s position has not changed since the letter was sent.
Lifelong Greenwich Village resident and CAS senior Sophie Tunney said she thinks the public school would be a step toward easing tensions between NYU and the Greenwich Village community.
“Working with the community by providing a school for its residents was a good opportunity to give a little back to the community we live with,” Tunney said. “2031 is clearly unwelcome, and if NYU decides to continue with the plan, creating a school for the community would have been a good way to show to the residents of the Village that NYU hears and understands their concerns.”
Tunney said the delayed response from the DOE is understandable, considering the heavy costs that come with opening a new school. She added that as the community continues to grow, however, the need for a new school is inevitable.
“Many schools in the city can barely afford the basic necessities for their students, so it is quite understandable that the DOE would be hesitant about opening a new school,” Tunney said. “The DOE should try and work with NYU and the city council to get the school open in the next couple years.”
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 16 print edition. Email Suebin Kim at [email protected]