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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against NYU Expansion

By Andrea Swalec | March 19, 2013 1:04pm | Updated on March 19, 2013 3:36pm

MANHATTAN — A lawsuit that claimed NYU's plan to transform a Greenwich Village block during 20 years of construction violated residents' rights has been dismissed by a judge.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Ellen M. Coin determined it's too early to fully measure the impact of the NYU 2031 plan, she said in a decision dated Thursday and published online Monday.

“Considering that NYU’s construction project is currently in its infancy, with architectural and engineering plans not even drafted, much less finalized, this legal controversy has not fully matured and is subject to … a long array of changes that may be made to the underlying plans,” Coin said.

The judge advised residents to take their claim before the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

Using the name WSV Green Neighbors, rent-stabilized residents of the four Washington Square Village residential towers on the block bordered by West Third Street, Mercer Street, Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place filed a lawsuit against NYU in Aug. 2012.

They argued the planned development would eliminate the private park-grounds of the apartment complex, removing a legally required service to its approximately 350 rent-stabilized tenants.

NYU senior vice president Lynne Brown said Tuesday the university was pleased with the ruling.

“NYU’s expansion proposal was approved by the City of New York after significant stakeholder engagement and after a thorough and rigorous public review process," she said in a statement. "We have long maintained that the courts will rule in our favor in both these cases.”

The City Council approved a scaled-down version of NYU's expansion plan in July 2012 after a seven-month public review process and years of discussions between the university, elected officials and residents. NYU's plan will create four new buildings to meet a need for additional academic space.

NYU still faces another lawsuit related to the expansion. Eleven community groups, plus actor Matthew Broderick, argue the city and state illegally approved the university's use of publicly owned parkland on the block.

NYU and city lawyers argue that though the land in question has been used for recreation, it was never officially part of a city or state park.