NYU 2031 expansion plan moves ahead, despite detractors


By Mike Adams , Contributing Writer

As students begin to return to NYU in earnest, the university and the surrounding Greenwich Village Community prepare for the reopening of one of the tenser chapters in their relationship. The Court of Appeals gave the all-clear for the NYU 2031 expansion plan, meaning NYU has all the approval and all the framework it needs in place to begin construction.

For years now, NYU has been trying to push through the expansion plan while irate Greenwich Village residents have thrown every conceivable legal roadblock in an attempt to keep their community from changing into something they no longer recognize. Residents argued that part of the land NYU intended to build on was used as parkland and therefore should be excluded from the university’s construction plans.

Supporters are excited about 1.9 million square feet of added space which will be used for academic services as well as affordable housing for first-year students among others, while the detractors are worried as to what form their community will have assumed once such a large-scale transformation is complete.

In a statement released following the Court of Appeals decision, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation conveyed their disappointment, despite various reductions in the scale of the project.

“The plan will be tremendously damaging to the Village, and the court’s ruling is particularly disturbing in its undermining of the Public Trust Doctrine, which protects land used as park space from alienation without State approval, as was done here,” the statement reads.

Now, the university is ready to move forward, and concrete progress is planned to begin with the demolition of Coles Sports Center. No dates have been officially set for this yet, but NYU Executive Vice President for Operations Alison Leary stated in a memo sent to the NYU community that the gym will remain open through at least Nov. 15, and that plans are in the works for other athletic facilities while Coles is under construction.

“Extensive planning has already been underway; this includes, as a first order of business, replacement facilities to meet the needs of those who currently use Coles for fitness and athletics,” the memo reads.

NYU spokesperson John Beckman said the newly constructed site will provide a variety of uses for the community.

“A new facility on the site of Coles will provide much needed new classroom space; specialized space for NYU’s performing arts programs; [and] new dorm space that will enable us to save money by getting out of costlier leased space elsewhere,” Beckman said.

A version of this article appeared in the Saturday, August 29, print edition. Email Mike Adams at [email protected]