Chamber chief: N.Y.U plan will help Village keep its character

[media-credit name="Photo by Lincoln Anderson " align="aligncenter" width="600"][/media-credit]

Tony Juliano, G.V.C.C.C. president, speaking at Tuesday’s rally, with Gary LaBarbera, a construction union leader, by his side.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  Build, baby, build!

The Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and local construction unions wholeheartedly support the N.Y.U. 2031 Plan, and they held a news conference on City Hall’s steps Tuesday to say it loudly and clearly.

On Monday, Community Board 2 officially submitted to Borough President Scott Stringer its advisory resolution on New York University’s application for its large-scale plan to add 2.5 million square feet of space to its two South Village superblocks. In its segment of ULURP (the city’s uniform land-use review procedure), Board 2 voted an absolute, unanimous “No!” on N.Y.U.’s plan. In turn, Stringer now has 30 days to give his opinion on the university’s mega-development scheme.

Backed by 25 burly hard hats holding “Build It!” signs, Tony Juliano, the chamber’s president, said, “We’re here today asking Borough President Stringer to recognize that N.Y.U.’s growth strategy is an essential part of securing the financial future of small businesses in Greenwich Village. Of course, we want Mr. Stringer to be judicious, but we’d like to see a positive recommendation [on the ULURP application] come quickly.”

Also speaking was Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

“N.Y.U.’s plans for Greenwich Village will create thousands of good, unionized building and construction jobs and generate increased economic activity across the city,” said LaBarbera. “We urge Mr. Stringer to be thorough and fair in his review and then to act decisively to make it happen.”

Turning to his construction brethren, he asked, “What do we want?”

“Build it!” they shouted back.

“When do we want it?” he asked.

“Now!” they bellowed.

Asked about local residents’ strident opposition to the superblocks plan, Juliano answered, “Everybody’s afraid of change. N.Y.U. is building on their own property. No green space will be lost. No dog park will be harmed from it. All change isn’t bad. This really will help the Village maintain the character that it has. The Village is the heart of New York — a big reason for that is N.Y.U., the intellectual and cultural dynamism that they bring.”

Residents, many N.Y.U. faculty and preservationists charge the 2031 plan will destroy the Village’s character by grossly overbuilding the area, but Juliano sees it differently.

The university’s plan, he said, “will help by adding intellect, vibrancy and dynamism to the Village — and that’s what the Village is all about.”

The Chamber of Commerce also supports Rudin’s luxury condos plan for the former St. Vincent’s site, along with the 24-hour emergency department planned for the former hospital’s O’Toole building.

“We need that free-standing emergency department. It’s essential,” Juliano said. “It’s two years now with a big hole there — 30 businesses have closed. I, like everyone else, would like a hospital. But let’s do what we can now, and we’ll see if there can be a hospital there [later on].”

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