NYU Faculty Group Pushes for New Classrooms and Theater at Coles Gym Site
GREENWICH VILLAGE — A proposed version of New York University's expansion plan will dramatically expand the number of class and dorm rooms at the school, as well as add the Tisch School's first ever performance space, but will pave over a beloved neighborhood dog run.
A working group comprised of NYU faculty with some student and administration representatives released a report Tuesday recommending building 80 classrooms and 500 freshman dorms, in addition to a new gym and theater, at the site of the current Coles Sports Center at Houston Street and Mercer Street.
The plan is what's left of the university's $6 billion four-site development proposal after Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Donna Mills ruled against the parts of the project that would use public land without the required review process. But the judge's decision did not spare the Mercer-Houston Dog Run, which is set to be demolished and moved.
Even this scaled-down version of the school's development project has received heated opposition from the community and other faculty members.
After the report was released on Tuesday, Andrew Berman at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a major opponent of the development plan, said "the NYU administration just doesn’t get it."
"They continue to fail to listen to their own faculty and students, to their neighbors, and now to the legal system," Berman said. "This is the wrong way for NYU to go; it’s a shame they would not willingly join us to come up with real solutions to their space needs and concerns about the impact upon the Village and NYU’s own faculty and students."
The plan contains clear gestures to the community: The new gym would also function as a meeting and relief area in emergencies like Hurricane Sandy, not just for the university but for the neighborhood at large.
Opponents believe the high-rise structure will ruin the character of the neighborhood and suggest the school expand by purchasing real estate in Brooklyn and putting classrooms and dormitories there.
The working group said it considered that option, but it's financially untenable and logistically impractical for students — the clear best option is to build on property the University already owns, the group's chair, Professor Ted Magder said on Tuesday.
And while the new structure would be built over the current dog park, NYU plans to build a new dog park on the west side of the site, before demolition of the Coles building begins, officials said.
A faculty group against the project did not respond to requests for comment.