An Update on the Redevelopment of the Coles Sports and Recreation Center Site
Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014
To: THE NYU COMMUNITY
From: NYU President John Sexton and Exec. Vice President for Operations Alison Leary
We write to update you on the University's plans for the redevelopment of the Coles Sports and Recreation Center site.
Earlier this week, 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.
Just as NYU's pressing need for additional space was reaffirmed last year by the University Space Priorities Working Group, the Court's decision makes clear that NYU has the legal right to proceed with developing a building that fulfills the Working Group's recommendations, which call for a mixed-use building to include classrooms, student study and meeting spaces, a new athletic facility, academic spaces for the performing arts, student residences, and faculty housing.
Hopeful of this outcome and cognizant of the University's urgent need for space, we have been continuing to lay the necessary groundwork for the project. Before Coles closes, which will not take place before the end of this academic year, the University has begun to undertake a number of preparations:
Forming the Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee (SSAC): The SSAC, which began meeting in May and has met several times since then, was established to provide guidance on quality-of-life issues on the superblocks before, during, and after construction. The Committee has provided valuable advice during the architect selection process and its efforts have already resulted in many landscape and aesthetic enhancements on the superblocks.
Selecting an Architect: A critical first step to beginning the redevelopment project is the selection of an architect. The SSAC provided input on a set of guiding principles - including a strong record of design excellence, the ability to work effectively with multiple stakeholders, and demonstrated commitment to the highest standards of environmental sustainability. The SSAC is participating in the evaluation process, and we expect to announce a final decision later this fall. Once the architect is chosen, we will begin the process of hiring a construction management firm. A timeline for the project will be communicated once these two key partners are in place.
Meeting Sports and Recreation Needs: To maintain a high-quality fitness experience and a robust athletics program in the absence of the University's main sports and recreation center, NYU plans to create a temporary fitness center in or near our Washington Square core. Membership to this temporary fitness center will be complemented by access to both the Palladium Athletic Facility, with extended operating hours, and the newly enhanced fitness center at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering in Brooklyn. We are working to obtain favorably priced memberships at an expanded array of local fitness centers for purchase by eligible employees.
The needs of our student athletes, including the ability to hold practices and competitions for intercollegiate sports teams and intramural activities, will be met through arrangements with nearby colleges and universities, as well as by extending existing arrangements with other nearby facilities, all of which we are working to solidify. The Palladium will serve as the temporary hub for the community of student athletes. It is important to note that no intercollegiate club or varsity team will be eliminated due to the temporary closure of Coles.
This strategy has been developed in consultation with the Coles Advisory Committee, which was formed earlier this year and includes representatives - many of whom are Coles users - from the faculty, student body, Athletics Department, and administration. More information about the interim options will be sent to Coles users in the coming weeks.
Improving Community Spaces: Under the guidance of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and with input from the Open Space Oversight Organization - via meetings where design concepts were presented for comment and feedback - NYU plans to improve the quality and accessibility of public open spaces on certain sections of both Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place. These projects, as well as the relocation of the Mercer-Houston Dog Run, are expected to be completed next year.
Mitigating the Effects of Construction: NYU is replacing all single-paned windows in the Washington Square Village (WSV) and Silver Towers complexes with double-paned windows, which will provide heightened sound attenuation and make it easier for residents to keep their apartments comfortable during both the winter and summer. Window measurement is underway in WSV with installation scheduled to begin this fall, and the entire WSV project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2015. For Silver Towers, both measurements and the required NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission's review and approvals are expected this fall. We will complete the required window replacements before construction begins and, furthermore, aim to finish replacing all windows in both complexes by that time.
While issues of space, construction, and stewardship have been a challenge for our University community and for our relationship with our neighboring community, NYU has taken a number of steps to be responsive to our community's feedback and to increase transparency in our decision-making and communication. The Coles Redevelopment project website has been designed to serve as a central node of information about the project for all stakeholders.
When completed, the new building will provide modern, high-quality space designed specifically to meet our long-term academic and residential needs. This is a unique opportunity in our history to further the University's academic vision and mission. The importance of this building to the future of NYU cannot be overstated and we welcome our community's input as we move forward.