A replacement facility for Coles Sports Center during its rebuilding period has been chosen. The university announced on Oct. 27 that it has purchased connecting vacant buildings at 404 Lafayette St. and 708 Broadway, which will be used to accommodate the recreational needs of those displaced by the closing of Coles. The buildings cost $157 million.
NYU spokesman John Beckman detailed how the university views the space as a way of fulfilling the promise made to the NYU community to provide recreational space during the closing, which is a part of the broader NYU 2031 expansion plan.
“In both the near and long term, this building will be important for meeting NYU’s space needs,” Beckman said. “In the relatively short term, it will provide a convenient location during the period Coles is closed to NYU students, faculty, staff and administrators who currently use Coles for fitness and recreation.”
Beckman also reiterated that Coles would not be closed before the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. This point had been previously raised in a memorandum sent to the NYU community by President John Sexton regarding the status of the development of the Coles site.
CAS senior Vera Shulgina, head of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and an outside hitter on the women’s volleyball team, said the closing of Coles after the academic year is contingent upon securing interim facilities beyond 404 Lafayette St. for athletic practices and games, agreeing to third-party development contracts on the current Coles site, and getting feedback from all facets of NYU that utilize Coles.
Shulgina also explained how these plans were made over the past few months as the Coles 2031 Advisory Committee deliberated on what should be done.
“There were five meetings of the committee during the summer with representatives from faculty, the executive offices, athletics, student employment, intramurals and general Coles users,” Shulgina said.
Among the students, representatives and faculty included was athletic director Chris Bledsoe, who acted as the chairperson of the committee.
While the recreational needs of students and faculty who work out at Coles will purportedly be met by the acquisition of 404 Lafayette St., Palladium Athletic Facility and the recently improved Brooklyn Athletic Facility, questions have been raised about other groups that will be affected by the closure of Coles. Shulgina said the current plans would accommodate all intramural sports teams for their playing space and practice time.
Athletes were reportedly informed about the tentative plans in a meeting with Sexton on Sept. 23. Information was sparse at the time, due to the ongoing legal proceedings regarding the NYU 2031 expansion plan, which was settled on Oct 14. On Oct. 16, athletes had a follow-up meeting with Bledsoe, where more information about Coles’ contingency plans was made available. Comments from the athletics community were also accepted.
“We got student and coach feedback from both of those meetings, so we plan on it being a continuous process as we go forward,” Shulgina said.
Beyond athletes and coaches, Shulgina also enforced the idea that feedback on the plans will be welcomed by all parties within NYU.
“We are encouraging and welcoming feedback because the entire idea of going through so many growing pains to build this new facility is to make it the best it can possibly be and to accommodate as many student needs as possible,” she said.
As to what will happen to the new facility at 404 Lafayette St. after construction is completed on the Coles site, Beckman said it will be put to use to fill further capacity issues in Manhattan.
“In the long term, these buildings will help NYU address some of the space needs near our Washington Square Core that cannot be entirely addressed through construction on the superblocks, as has always been envisioned in the NYU’s planning,” he said.
It is undetermined for now if the requirements to close Coles will be met by the end of the academic year, and whether or not the current plans will be subject to any changes.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 28 print edition. Email Chris Marcotrigiano at [email protected]