Statement of Chris Ward
Executive Vice President
Before the New York City Planning Commission
For the Public Hearing on the New York University Core Project
April 25, 2012
Chair Amanda Burden and Members of the Commission,
I am here in support of New York University's development plan. As a private citizen now, but one who has thought and worked on New York City Issues for most of my career, I think it is important to recognize the vital role educational institutions have played, and must continue to play, in the City's future. New York's fundamental strength has always been its ability to reimagine itself in the face of enormous economic changes, both nationally and internationally. To remain static in the face of change will leave the City stuck in its past, unable to meet new and emerging challenges.
One of the clear new strands of urban development is the notion of creative cities; that is, cities that amalgamate intellectual creativity across all sorts of sectors have demonstrated real economic expansion. In a sense, as manufacturing has left cities, and the financial services industry has diversified worldwide, the new urban economy is driven more and more by dynamic exchange of ideas and innovation. Much of this innovation is found in small startup businesses. But not all.
That is why New York University's development plans are so important. For this creativity and growth to continue we must begin to recognize that it is space that incubates this opportunity. We have seen this over the past years in Brooklyn and the Bronx as older industrial space is transformed and new neighborhoods are created. For New York University this has meant new opportunities in other parts of the City besides their home in Greenwich village. Nonetheless it must now look to take advantage of its location and provide for the next level of growth for the University. If the City is going to continue to attract the top students, professors and researchers from around the world we must continue to find new labs, housing and classrooms.
In its planning, New York University has sought to balance its long term needs -and they are competing with other major national universities-with the concerns of its neighbors. By building on its existing footprint and increasing three acres of open space that will offer both passive and active uses, and significantly, adding a much needed public school the University has sought a fair balance. New York University has its roots in Greenwich Village, in some sense they have defined each other and they should continue to do so. For this reason I urge the Commission to support the plan. New York’s economic strength is dynamic future, not a static past.