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NYU's Expansion Plan Hits Snag, Project Opponents Say

By DNAinfo Staff on April 19, 2011 8:30pm

By Elizabeth Ladzinski

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

GREENWICH VILLAGE — A recent ruling deeming two apartment buildings in Washington Square Village eligible for the National Register of Historic Places could cause problems for NYU's 2031 expansion plan, an opponent of the project said Tuesday.

Usually the eligibility for classification as a "historic place" means that a developer cannot use state or federal funds to build or demolish structures on that site.

Now that Washington Square Village is eligible for inclusion in the register, NYU will have to convince the State Historic Preservation Office to allow them to use state funding to build two large curved towers there.

Andrew Berman, executive director of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and long-time opponent of NYU's 2031 expansion plans, said in an email that the university was unlikely to get approval to use the funds because the SHPO typically tries to preserve historically significant features.

"The university should instead consider other options like the Financial District, where their planned expansion would be contextual, beneficial, and wanted," said Berman.

But NYU said they don't see the possible inclusion of Washington Square Village in the historic register as an impediment to their plan.

"We are well aware of the SHPO determination; in fact, we had met and conducted a site tour with the SHPO to ensure that all of these matters were fully understood as we undertake the environmental impact study," said NYU's Vice President Alicia Hurley in a statement.

"It's inaccurate to claim that the determination by the State Historic Preservation Office means that the project will not be successful."

This isn't the first landmarking hurdle NYU has faced. A plan to build a 40-story fourth tower in I.M. Pei's designed and landmarked Silver Towers complex was eventually killed last year after Pei as well as members of the community expressed their disapproval for the tower.

The 2031 plan is slated to include a 14-story building on Mercer Street; an eight-story building off of LaGuardia Place; and a 100,000-square-foot New York City school to take the place of a Morton William's supermarket at Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place.

NYU expects to begin the public approval process in May.