I have long been a critic of NYU’s growth plan, but the stop-growth-at-any-cost contingent was won a victory in State Supreme Court, which ruled that the city wrongly permitted NYU development on public park space. I cannot comment on the legalisms that drove this decision, but the ruling will not help either NYU’s cause or its opponents’.
No casual visitor would deem these spaces parks. They are leftovers from the 1950s urban renewal that created the so-called superblocks south of Washington Square where NYU wants to put most of its expansion square footage. They are the rather useless and empty green strips fronting Laguardia Place (above, where retail struggles setback by little-used greenery from the street) and Mercer Street, one area of which is padlocked cracked concrete. NYU wanted to build mainly under the strips and unite them with a reconfigured public garden in the middle of the Washington Square Village superblock. Done well, it would make these strips far more useful and amenable on the street. Left as they are, they’ll continue as a sad missed opportunity.
A school the community has long sought would also likely occupy part of the park strips. That would now be much more difficult to accommodate.
The judge said the state legislature needs to sign-off on the proposed property transfer. Do we really want Albany as urban designer and landscape architect in the middle of Greenwich Village? I think not. This one’s a lose-lose.