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NYU's Neighbors Rally Against Expansion Plan

By Andrea Swalec | July 19, 2011 6:54am | Updated on July 19, 2011 11:31am

GREENWICH VILLAGE —Angry neighbors opposing NYU's expansion plans packed into a basement  at Judson Memorial Church Monday night to hear new estimates for the proposed 20-year project.

Sayar Lonial, NYU's director of community affairs, said the school is currently preparing an environmental impact study for the NYU 2031 plan, which would transform two large blocks bordered by Mercer St., West Houston St., LaGuardia Place and West 3rd Street.

Over 20 years, the project would shake up the "superblock" — as NYU calls it, to the chagrin of locals— and add 2 million square feet to the university's campus.

Jed Schwartz, a a 21-year resident and member of co-op board in the footprint of the proposed development, said the name NYU 2031 represents to him something different than the university likely wants. 

 "2031 basically means the time when an open construction site would close," he said. 

Community members grilled Lonial on what effects the massive construction plan could have on dozens of aspects of community life, including noise, accessibility to emergency vehicles, blocked sunlight and children's health.

 Lonial said the environmental impact study would identify and address these potential issues. 

 "We will have to mitigate anything we find to be a significant impact," he said. 

A temporary dog run, playground and seating would take nine months to one year to construct, Lonial said. Then, it would take nine months to a year to build a temporary gym. The 275-foot-tall Zipper Building, which would contain a supermarket, hotel and 1,000-bed dorm, would then take at least four years to build.

In the next phase, the school, underground garage and 218-foot-tall Mercer Building would take another three to four years, one-and-a-half to two years, and four-and-a-half to five years to complete, respectively. 

Lonial did not say where the third new building, the LaGuardia Building, fits into this loose timeframe.

Judith Chazen Walsh, a member of the Washington Square Village Tenants Association, received applause after her comments.

"We are David, you are Goliath, and you know how that worked out," Walsh said. 

To proceed, the project would have to be approved by the community board, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, the Department of City Planning and the City Council.