Volume 80, Number 3 | June 16 - 22, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Grimshaw architects, courtesy of N.Y.U.

Rendering of the proposed 38 story "fourth" tower that N.Y.U. plans to build on the landmarked Silver Tower site. This view of the tower, center, is north from Wooster Street.

N.Y.U. agrees to meet agencies on tower option

By John Bayles

Agreeing to discuss more formally the possibility of New York University taking space in the Financial District, last Friday Lynne Browne, N.Y.U. senior vice president, penned a letter to the Port Authority and to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. In the past couple of months, the university was approached by outside parties, primarily Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin and the office of Borough President Scott Stringer, in hopes to entice a move to the neighborhood, specifically to Tower 5, the site of the old Deutsche Bank Building.

In her letter, Brown explained the conditions of N.Y.U.'s 20-year growth scenario, an addition of what now stands at 5.3 million square feet of space, with up to one-third of the expansion happening in the university’s current “campus core” in Greenwich Village. The letter also mentioned the expansion plan’s incorporation of “remote sites,” which are necessary to develop half of the needed space.

N.Y.U. has already identified three possible remote sites, including Governors Island, the First Ave. “Hospital Corridor” and Downtown Brooklyn.

In the letter, Brown points out that C.B. 1 as well as a community task force led by the borough president’s office had brought Lower Manhattan and specifically Tower 5 to the university’s attention as another possible remote site. Brown asked to meet with both the Port Authority and L.M.D.C. to determine “whether there is some role the university can play to help revitalize and diversify the area.”

N.Y.U. is proposing to add a 38-story tower — half for faculty residences and half for hotel use for visiting faculty and university guests — to the three-building, landmarked Silver Towers complex, at Bleecker St. and LaGuardia Place. But neighbors and preservationists oppose the plan, charging that the new tower will block cherished light and views, and crowd the acclaimed I.M.-Pei-designed complex’s grounds. Given the opposition in Greenwich Village, Menin has been strongly lobbying N.Y.U. instead to site the tower in the Financial District, where she says, new development is sorely needed, and an academic institution’s presence would be a welcome change from merely more business tenants.

Alicia Hurley, N.Y.U. vice president for government affairs and community engagement, said on Tuesday the purpose of the letter was twofold: to “cut through personal agendas” so the university doesn’t get caught up in politics, and to make sure “the conversation is happening on N.Y.U.’s terms.”

“The remote sites we have identified are areas where we can build incrementally, in small chunks, over time,” said Hurley. “We’re not sure if Lower Manhattan can fit into that type of strategy.”

Hurley met with Menin in late April, but said there was simply a lack of clarity when it came to the specifics of the Tower 5 site. She said the letter was meant to start a discussion between the “decision makers” so N.Y.U. could look at all of the options available in Lower Manhattan.

Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesperson, said the agency had no comment on the letter beyond the prepared statement it released, which read: “We’re certainly willing to meet with N.Y.U. and pleased that there is so much continuing interest in the site during its building.”

The Deutsche Bank Building is currently in the demolition phase. Its replacement is slated for completion by the end of the year, and is expected to contain roughly 1.3 million square feet of space.


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