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John Beckman (212) 998-6848

Principles developed with Community Task Force will guide further NYU expansion while helping preserve neighborhood character, protect local residents and businesses

January 30, 2008 (New York, NY) - Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and NYU President John Sexton today announced that NYU, elected officials, and local community groups had agreed to a set of principles to guide the University’s future expansion. As outlined, NYU, which projects a need for 6 million square feet of space over the coming decades, will pursue re-use of existing buildings before developing new facilities and will actively pursue academic and residential centers outside the Washington Square area. In addition, the principles are designed to emphasize contextual development, mitigate the effects of construction, enhance community consultation, and support community sustainability, such as preservation efforts aimed local retail businesses.

“These historic ‘town gown’ principles take into account long-standing neighborhood concerns and set out the surrounding community’s key role in the future expansion plans for NYU,” Stringer said. “They reflect months of hard work on the part of the Community Task Force on NYU Development, NYU and my office. Everyone came to the table with an agenda, but also with an open mind. That allowed us to hammer out a set of principles that will serve both the university’s need to expand to meet its academic needs, and local residents’ desire for real input into development that directly affects their lives and their neighborhood.”

NYU President John Sexton said, “New York’s future as a world capital depends largely on the strength of its intellectual, cultural, and educational sector, and robust research universities are indispensable to that. NYU’s growth must be accompanied by a respect for the neighborhood ‘ecosystem’ of which we are a part, and provide our neighbors with predictability and transparency. This set of principles creates a framework for that.

“I believe that today we are turning a corner towards a new, more harmonious relationship between NYU and its neighborhood. We appreciate the commitment and hard work of all the Task Force participants, and we especially thank Scott Stringer, who deserves great praise for bringing everyone together and exerting such constructive leadership.”

As embodied in the principles, NYU will also engage in extensive community outreach for new projects, work to minimize negative effects of construction including noise and dust, and develop a relocation policy for legal residential tenants displaced by University projects.

The principles announced today constitute a framework for detailed future discussions. They are the result of more than a year of meetings involving NYU’s leadership and planning team, the Borough President’s office, and the Community Task Force of elected officials and local community groups.

The group includes elected officials and community groups affected by their proximity to the NYU campus core. Besides Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and NYU, the Community Task Force on NYU Development includes: Congressman Jerrold Nadler; City Council Members Alan J. Gerson, Rosie Mendez and Christine C. Quinn; State Senators Martin Connor and Thomas K. Duane; State Assembly Members Deborah J. Glick and Brian P. Kavanagh; Manhattan Community Boards 2 and 3; The American Institute of Architects; the Carmine Street Block Association; the Coalition to Save the East Village; The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation; the NoHo Neighborhood Association; and The SoHo Alliance. Other endorsers of the agreement include The Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, the NoHo NY BID and the Village Alliance BID.

Congress Member Jerrold Nadler said, “As one of the largest land owners in the city, NYU must balance its needs and the needs of its surrounding communities, especially in its historic home of Greenwich Village. This agreement reflects months of hard work between community groups, the Community Task Force and the university, and will help guide any future development plans. I applaud Manhattan Borough President Stringer and NYU President Sexton for leading the efforts that led to this understanding. I also look forward to continuing to work with the task force and residents to ensure that NYU can continue to grow, but in a smart way that benefits this world class institution and the entire City.”

New York State Senator Tom Duane said, “Thanks to Borough President Stringer’s leadership in creating the Community Task Force on New York University Development and the University’s open and honest participation, we are at a point few in the community could have imagined even a year ago. I and my office have been working with the Task Force from its inception and I want to congratulate all its members for sticking with the process to hammer out planning principles that will be a guide for future discussions and decisions. I am encouraged by the ongoing dialogue between NYU and the community and will continue to work with NYU, my colleagues and the community to ensure these guidelines are followed.”

New York State Senator Martin Connor said, “I am very happy to join with community groups, Community Boards 2 and 3, other elected officials, and New York University in signing this historic development agreement. New York City is a vibrant and ever changing place with 8 million people who each have their own opinions about how to make our city work better. Often big institutions have ignored the opinions of individual citizens and used their power and influence to force their neighbors to accept large development projects no matter how adversely they might impact on the community. To their credit, NYU President Sexton and his staff have decided that bullying the community does not work. They have chosen instead to work with us to plan for the next 25 years in a creative, rational, and responsible way as NYU expands and moves into other areas of Lower Manhattan and across the East River into Brooklyn. I applaud President Sexton, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and all the members of the NYU Task Force for their leadership and forethought.”

Council member Christine Quinn said, “When all concerned parties come together and work to find common ground, the process of university expansion doesn’t have to be contentious. Even when people on different sides disagree, the end result of such collaboration can exceed everyone’s expectations. Thanks to the principles of the Community Task Force, there is now a roadmap for how to include community input throughout the development process that New York University has helped create and has agreed to follow. I commend Borough President Stringer for his leadership on this issue.”

Councilmember Rosie Mendez said, “I am pleased to have participated with many community leaders and elected officials in constructive discussions with NYU. We have made progress in developing an outline for how future development can happen more cooperatively.”

Chair of Community Board No. 2 Brad Hoylman said, “Thanks to the Borough President’s thoughtful leadership, we have today a set of principles that represents a real evolution in thinking on the part of NYU and the local community. These principles have tremendous potential to help preserve our local neighborhoods, given that NYU has agreed to support a wide range of forward-thinking community measures, such as sustaining affordable housing, generating tenant protections, improving the quality of open spaces and committing to a community-oriented public process for reviewing its proposed developments.”

Executive Director of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Andrew Berman said, “For years we have called for NYU to cap its seemingly endless growth in our neighborhoods, and to implement rational and transparent planning policies that include establishing satellite campus locations. With its agreement to these planning principles, NYU takes a very important step in that direction. With NYU projecting 6 million square feet of growth over the next 25 years, it’s critical that a commitment be made now to a very different approach to the university’s growth. We intend to continue to work very closely with the Borough President, the Task Force, and NYU to ensure that the promises in this roadmap are kept, and become fully fleshed out policies that ensure the preservation of our neighborhoods.”

President of the SoHo Alliance, Sean Sweeney said, “We applaud the efforts of the Borough President in getting the two sides together on this issue with principles that all can agree on.”

Founder of Zella Jones said, “The reaction from NoHo residents and property owners to these guidelines has been very positive. For the first time in anybody’s recollection the issues of neighborhood identity, built environment, commercial, institutional and residential compatibility are on the table. In recognizing that these must be addressed, in acknowledging that the community has a right to participate and affect NYU’s expansion and evolution, this road map gives credence and accountability to an economic and social diversity we all want, as well as an identity that sustains the character in which both the university and its home neighborhoods thrive.”

Leo Blackman from Coalition to Save the East Village said, “We are very pleased that NYU has recognized the benefits of a master plan, hired thoughtful staff and consultants, and listened to community representatives. After many years of conflict, we see this as enormous progress.”

Over the coming months, the Community Task Force will continue working with the University on developing each planning principle into a fully realized university policy that promotes respect for neighborhood character through an open, community based planning process.

The planning principles are attached.

Planning Principles:

Establish criteria for development within the existing NYU footprint in the University’s campus core and the surrounding neighborhoods that would prioritize

  • Identifying opportunities to decentralize facilities and actively pursuing these opportunities;
  • Contextual development that is sensitive to building heights, densities and materials;
  • Reuse before new development; and
  • Consider mixed use facilities that complement Manhattan’s mixed neighborhoods, particularly in regard to ground floor uses.

Identify solutions to maximize utilization of existing assets by consulting with the community on:

  • The types of facilities that can be decentralized from the Village campus core and surrounding neighborhoods and cultivating locations outside these areas;
  • Preferences for appropriate places for vertical additions;
  • Encouraging programmatic and scheduling efficiencies; and
  • Opening new and re-envisioning existing recreational spaces to better serve both the student population as well as the community at large.

Make thoughtful urban and architectural design a priority by:

  • Respecting the limitations of the urban environment, including the impact on New York City’s infrastructure;
  • Improving the quality of open spaces; and
  • Actively soliciting, utilizing and implementing input from the community in the design process.

Support community sustainability by:

  • Preserving existing diverse social and economic character through the support of community efforts to sustain affordable housing and local retail;
  • Exploring the utilization of ground floors of buildings for community-oriented uses such as local retail, gallery spaces for local artists, non-profit users and other providers of community services; and
  • Generating a tenant relocation policy for legal, residential tenants, in the event that construction or conversion necessitates the relocation of tenants.

Respect the community’s existing quality of life including but not limited to:

  • Taking measures to mitigate effects of construction such as: noise, dust, work hours; sound mitigation for mechanical equipment; and construction staging;
  • Reaching out early and often for community consultation related to major construction;
  • Creating a website for ongoing constructions; and
  • Committing to a community-oriented public process for reviewing NYU’s proposed projects and developments.

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