NYU today announced that it will seek parkland designation for green spaces at the edge of the Washington Square Superblocks, commonly known as the “DOT Strips,” located along LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street. The designation of these strips as parkland effectively ensures that they will remain as open space in perpetuity.
The parkland designation will be noted on maps associated with the University’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application, and the two new buildings proposed for the Washington Square Village block will be revised so that no portion of them will rest on the newly designated parkland. The maps are to be filed with the Department of City Planning in the coming days.
NYU also reaffirmed the University’s commitment to donate the site at the corner of Houston and Bleecker streets for the City to build and operate a K-8 public school. NYU purchased the grocery store in 2001 for more than $23 million and will offer the site for the school to the New York City School Construction Authority. It is anticipated that the phasing will allow the grocery store currently on that corner to be relocated elsewhere on the blocks, with the intention of maintaining a continually operating grocery store on the blocks.
“By reimagining the two superblocks, we are able meet our academic space needs in our core Washington Square area over the next two decades and significantly reduce our need to expand our footprint within the neighborhood,” said NYU Senior Vice President Lynne Brown. “In addition to addressing the University’s long range needs for academic space, our plan also enhances the local area through the addition of new public open space that will be programmed to serve a variety of constituencies.”
“New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P) has long been the city’s watchdog over parkland alienation issues, and we are pleased that NYU has been responsive to our concern that the land on which Mercer Playground has stood for years should continue to be publicly-accessible open space,” said Holly Leicht, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “Thanks to changes NYU has made to their master plan in consultation with NY4P, not only will this property remain in City ownership, it will be mapped as parkland.”
The maps which spell out the University’s plan for the two University-owned superblocks bounded by West 3rd and Houston Streets reflect significant refinements that have been made after an intensive dialogue with area stakeholders. In addition to mapping the parkland and offering the site for a school, NYU eliminated plans for a 40-story fourth tower, instead setting a height limit not to exceed the tallest buildings (Silver Towers) on the site.
Approvals obtained through the ULURP process will allow NYU to build almost entirely on its existing footprint with no up-zoning and no displacement of tenants:
On the Silver Towers block (Phase 1, from post-approvals through 2021):
o Building 1: An 800,000 sq. ft. “zipper” building (the height of which would not exceed the existing Silver Towers) -- on the site where the Coles Sports and Recreation Center currently sits -- that will include:
§ Below ground gym
§ Ground floor retail, including a supermarket
§ Several levels of academic space (classrooms, etc.)
§ Student housing
§ Faculty housing
§ A modestly-priced hotel principally to serve NYU’s needs (travelers from foreign campuses, academic conference attendees, families of students, and applicants)
§ And, in order to accommodate critical athletic programs during the construction of the new permanent gym, a temporary gym that would be sited on the eastern portion of the Washington Square Village block.
o Building 2: Donation of the Morton Williams supermarket to the City to build a public elementary school to service 800 local schoolchildren
§ NYU would build a 190-bed dormitory atop the school, with a completely separate entrance.
§ Creation of a new toddler playground
§ Replacement of the existing dog run
On the Washington Square Village block (Phase 2, from 2022 through 2031):
o Building 1: A 14-story, 250,000 sq. ft. academic building on Mercer St. (expected uses: faculty offices, departmental offices and group meeting and discussion spaces).
o Building 2: An eight-story, 160,000 sq. ft. academic building on LaGuardia Place (expected uses: faculty offices, departmental offices and group meeting and discussion spaces).
o Below-grade space: Nearly half of the space NYU is proposing for the superblocks is below grade; this would be used for teaching and class spaces such screening rooms, practice theatres, and similar uses).
o Landscape: NYU is proposing major landscape improvements:
§ Making the 60,000 sq. ft. interior courtyard a far more accessible public space, and creating a public garden area
§ Opening pathways to go east-west as well as north-south on the Washington Square Village block
§ Building a new playground on the corner of LaGuardia Place and Bleecker Street
§ Putting in a tricycle garden on the corner of West 3rd Street and Mercer
§ Increasing the existing public open space by over 130,000 sq. ft.
NYU anticipates entering into ULURP later this year when the Department of City Planning certifies the application as complete and ready for public review. Following certification, a seven-month-long review period will begin which includes suggested input from the Community Board and the Borough President, culminating in a vote by the City Planning Commission and then the City Council. There are also numerous opportunities for public input throughout the review process.
About NYU 2031: NYU in NYC
NYU 2031: NYU in NYC, is a strategic framework for growth, aiming to be a thoughtful, comprehensive, city-wide vision for thinking about how to keep the University moving forward academically while respecting the communities and the city in which we make our home.
About New York University
New York University is located in the heart of Greenwich Village. Founded in 1831, it is one of America’s foremost research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities. It is one of the largest private universities, it is a leader in attracting international students and scholars in the U.S, and it sends more students to study abroad than any other U.S. college or university. Through its 14 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and performing arts, music and studio arts, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.