GREENWICH VILLAGE — A proposed public school in Greenwich Village is back on the table, after New York University agreed on Tuesday to give the city more time to decide whether to build it.
NYU had offered the 130 Bleecker St. site to the city as part of the university's $6 billion expansion plan, on the condition that the Department of Education commit to building a school there before the end of 2014.
With that deadline rapidly approaching and the DOE showing no sign of claiming the site for a public school, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and residents pushed NYU to extend the year-end deadline so that the city would not risk losing the space for a future school.
On Tuesday, NYU agreed to extend the deadline to the end of 2018, according to a letter NYU senior vice president Lynne Browne sent to Chin's office.
"I know how important the matter of an extension for the School Construction Authority (SCA) to decide on the Bleecker Street site has been for you, and you know how much we respect your role as an elected official," Browne said in the letter.
"So I am glad to be able to convey that NYU will extend the time period during which the SCA may decide if they need the site."
Browne had previously said NYU would not extend the deadline because the university was embroiled in litigation over its Greenwich Village expansion plan. But an appellate court ruled in NYU's favor last week, overturning a lower court decision and allowing the project to move forward.
NYU had originally offered the Bleecker Street school site, which is currently a Morton Williams grocery store, to the city free of charge, as long as the DOE put funding for the school in its five-year capital plan before the end of 2025.
But during the City Council’s negotiations over NYU's expansion plan in 2012, Chin moved the deadline up to the end of 2014 in the hopes of getting the school built sooner.
That plan backfired, though, as the DOE chose not to commit funding to the school, and Chin soon began negotiating for the deadline to be pushed back to 2025, to ensure that the city would not lose the school site.
Under the extension NYU announced on Tuesday, the DOE will now have until Dec. 31, 2018 to fund the Bleecker Street school and until July 31, 2020 to start construction on it.
"I have also spoken about this four-year extension with an SCA official, who made it clear to me that they feel this is enough time for them to make a decision about the site," Chin wrote in a letter to Community Board 2 on Tuesday.
"We appreciate Councilwoman Chin's efforts in extending the deadline, and believe it will help us more fully consider a building in the location," said DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Councilwoman and the community on any potential project going forward."
CB2 chairman David Gruber told DNAinfo New York that the community board is pleased with the deal.
"This is a great victory for the community," Gruber said. "All parties and stakeholders came together for a single purpose — the community board, our schools and education committee, Councilwoman Chin, and NYU. I think this will be, at the end, great for all concerned."