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NYU Space Planning: The Core Plan

In 2012 the New York City Council approved NYU’s Core Project, granting a zoning envelope within which the University is able to construct new facilities over the coming years.

Download the NYU Core Plan Fact Sheet to learn more about the plan and its execution, or explore the details below.


In 2007, five years after a Transition Team report identified NYU's critical lack of space, a first-of-its-kind strategic plan for growth determined a potential overall need of 6 million square feet over 25 years in three main locations: NYU’s “Core” near Washington Square Park; Downtown Brooklyn; and the First Avenue Health Corridor. In the Core, the plan identified space needs including classrooms, science and non-science research space, student dormitories, faculty offices, faculty housing and performing arts facilities.

Ultimately, NYU sought approval for its Core Project under the City’s land use approval process known as ULURP -- Uniform Land Use Review Procedure -- and sought, among other things, to amend the City map and modify existing restrictions applicable to the two superblocks owned by the University. During the strategic planning process and throughout the ULURP, NYU held hundreds of meetings with local elected officials, community groups, civic organizations, faculty and students groups, and other stakeholders.

Please visit this website for an overview of the original long-term strategic framework for growth.

Community Improvement Requirements

The City Council’s approval grants NYU permission to develop new facilities on the two superblocks bounded by West 3rd Street and West Houston Street to the north and south, and by Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place to the east and west.

It also provides for the creation of additional open space, new landscape improvements, and community facilities on the blocks.

Community Facility Space

The approvals require certain allocations of community facility space. Some of those commitments have already been implemented:

  • NYU renovated space in 4 Washington Square Village to create a home for the Creative Steps Early Child Care Center, part of University Settlement. The Center, which opened in January 2014, serves infant to preschool-aged children. The facility can serve as many as 75 children.
  • NYU renovated space in 3 Washington Square Village to create a home for Visiting Neighbors, a non-profit social service/outreach and advocacy organization catering to senior citizens in Greenwich Village and lower Manhattan. Visiting Neighbors moved into its space in February 2014.
  • NYU recently dedicated space to the Washington Square Village Tenants Association to conduct meetings and activities.
  • The new building on the site of the Coles Sports Center will contain a public atrium on the ground floor level accessible to pedestrians, as well as an independently-operated community facility oriented towards the local elderly population. Together these uses, which need not be adjacent or related, must provide a minimum of 7,500 square feet of community facility space.

Open Space

  • The approvals increase the amount of public open space on the North and South Blocks and secure commitments for maintenance.
  • NYU will construct four new playgrounds, which will be open to the public and accommodate a range of activities, including bicycle/tricycle riding, toddler play areas, and older child play areas.
  • NYU will create new public seating, gardens, and walking areas on both blocks.
  • NYU will fund the building and maintenance of these public open spaces.
  • The Plan approves the mapping of certain City-owned areas along Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets as parkland. They will remain mapped as parkland in perpetuity. NYU has committed to maintaining the newly created city-owned parks.
  • A separate 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization has been formed to monitor NYU’s compliance with open space maintenance agreements. The Open Space Oversight Organization (OSOO) is comprised of one member each from Community Board 2, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, the local City Council Member’s office, Department of Parks and Recreation, and NYU.

Public School

  • The ULURP approvals grant to the School Construction Authority the option to build a K-8 public school on the current site of the Morton Williams supermarket at the corner of LaGuardia Place and Bleecker Street. The University extended the time period during which the NYC School Construction Authority (SCA) has the option to decide on the Bleecker Street site from the original deadline of December 31, 2014 to December 31, 2018. If it does not select this option, then, if NYU elects to construct a building on the site, 25,000 sq. ft. of that building’s above-grade space must be dedicated to community uses.

What's Happening Now: The Process Moving Forward

University Space Priorities Working Group

Following the ULURP approvals, the University Space Priorities Working Group (“USPWG”) was established to review priorities and provide recommendations for the utilization of the zoning envelope defined by the City. The USPWG was comprised of NYU faculty, students, and administrative members.

After an 18-month process of consultation and deliberation, the Working Group recommended that NYU construct a mixed-use building on the current site of the Coles Sports and Recreation Center. Redeveloping the Coles site will provide classrooms, spaces for the performing arts, dedicated student study and student life spaces, a new recreational and athletic center with emergency assembly space, student residences, and faculty housing.

With respect to the north block, where no construction can take place until 2022 at the earliest, the Working Group recommended that the University undertake a similar consultative process before proceeding. The University supported these recommendations in March 2014.

Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee

The Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee was formed in May 2014 at the recommendation of the Space Priorities Working Group. It is comprised of NYU faculty, students, and administrators, as well as representatives from the Washington Square Village and Silver Towers tenants’ associations. The Committee will provide ongoing input regarding quality-of-life issues on the Superblocks before, during, and after construction, including pre-construction protocols, the design process, construction mitigation efforts, ongoing stewardship, and communication between the University and its neighbors. The Committee maintains a public website.

Coles Advisory Committee

Construction on the Coles site means that NYU will be without its main sports and recreational facility until the new building is completed. A Coles Advisory Committee has been formed to provide guidance on NYU’s efforts to continue providing fitness options and a robust athletics program during the period that Coles in unavailable. The Committee is comprised of students from various athletic programs, members of Coles from the Faculty Senators Council and Administrative Management Council, Athletics Department employees, and alumni members of Coles.

Open Space Enhancement

To advance the creation and enhancement of public open space in relation to the Core project, NYU has retained a landscape architect to prepare design concepts for certain new public open spaces along sections of LaGuardia Place and Bleecker Street. In spring 2014, the Open Space Oversight Organization provided comment and feedback on the concepts. The designs are currently under review at the Parks Department in preparation for submission to the Public Design Commission. The OSOO will remain involved throughout the process.

The Legal Process

Two lawsuits were commenced following the issuance of the ULURP approvals. In the first, certain rent-stabilized tenants residing in Washington Square Village alleged that changes proposed to the interior courtyard between the two Washington Square Village buildings would deprive them of services required by the Rent Stabilization Law. This lawsuit was dismissed in March 2013. The plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal but the time by which they were required to perfect their appeal has expired. Accordingly this matter is now effectively closed.

The second lawsuit was an Article 78 proceeding initiated by various community groups and certain NYU faculty members. It sought, among other things, to overturn the City Council's approval of NYU’s Core Plan on grounds including that NYU’s Environmental Impact Statement was deficient and that portions of the Superblocks were parkland and therefore could not be repurposed without approval of the State Legislature.  The State Supreme Court dismissed five of the petitioner's six claims, including the claim that the ULURP review was "arbitrary and capricious." The sixth claim involved whether five City-owned strips of land included in the project constituted “implied parkland”.  On the claim of “implied parkland”, the Court held in favor of NYU with respect to two parcels and found for the petitioners with respect to three parcels.  The Court also issued an injunction enjoining NYU from beginning any construction that would result in alienation of any of the three parcels that it found to be parkland unless and until the State legislature authorized their alienation. The opinion did not preclude NYU from otherwise moving forward with the Core Plan. NYU and the City appealed the Court’s decision with respect to the three parcels found to be parkland and the petitioners cross-appealed.

On October 14, 2014, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court issued a decision regarding the legal proceeding that sought to overturn the City Council approvals related to NYU's Core Space Plan. The Court affirmed the validity of the approvals process for our project and overturned the lower court's ruling that some parcels of land abutting proposed new facilities constituted implied parkland.

View the memorandum regarding the judge’s decision on the lawsuit involving NYU’s plan for new facilities.

Contact Us

Contact the Office of Government and Community Affairs (OGCA), NYU's primary liaison to the community. OGCA fields questions, addresses concerns, and disseminates information on a variety of University topics, ranging from free and public events to updates on construction projects.

25 W 4th Street, New York, NY 10012
212-998-2400 |

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