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Greenwich Village Groups Sue City to Stop NYU Expansion

By Andrea Swalec | September 26, 2012 1:30pm

MANHATTAN — Eleven groups that oppose NYU's plan to expand its Greenwich Village campus over the next 20 years filed a lawsuit against the city Monday to try to cease construction and get the city to reverse its approval of the project. 

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan State Supreme Court, accuses the city of illegally granting public land to NYU while ignoring the impact construction will have on residents. The lawsuit also accuses the city of conducting a decision process that lacked transparency. 

“The city and state made a series of erroneous and irrational decisions to overhaul local zoning, alienate public parkland, and green-light NYU’s project, despite the unanimous objection of the local community board, the affected communities, historic preservationists and much of NYU’s own faculty," the groups' pro bono lawyer, Randy Mastro, said in a statement. 

After seven months of public hearings, City Council approved a scaled-down version of the NYU 2031 plan in July. The plan calls for four new buildings on the two large blocks bordered by LaGuardia Place, Mercer Street, West Houston Street and West 3rd Street. 

The plaintiffs in the case include the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, the Washington Square Village Tenants' Association and the SoHo Alliance. 

The city's Law Department is reviewing the claim, a spokeswoman said. 

"The expansion plan, which enables NYU to add much-needed academic facilities and housing, is lawful and followed all applicable processes," the Law Department said in a statement. "It was approved by both the City Council and the City Planning Commission after substantial and thorough public review."

NYU spokesman John Beckman also defended the legality of the approval procedures.  

"The City Planning Commission and City Council overwhelmingly approved NYU's proposal after holding extensive public hearings and engaging in a thorough and rigorous public review process as required by law," he said in a statement.

"We are confident that we will prevail in court against any claims that are made."