NYU Campus Expansion Plan Begins Public Review

Two-phased proposal includes four new buildings, expansion of open space, and below-grade academic and parking facilities. On January 3, 2012, the City Planning Commission certified New York University’s proposal to expand its academic core in Greenwich Village. The plan would impact two superblocks bounded by West 3rd Street, Houston Street, LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street near NYU’s main campus. The project would include four new academic and residential buildings, create 3.8 acres of public open space, and provide below-grade academic space and a parking garage. To the north, NYU requested that the City apply a C1-5 commercial overlay to six blocks generally bounded by Mercer Street, Washington Square Park East and University Place, East 8th Street, and West 4th Street to expand retail opportunities in buildings primarily owned by NYU. 

According to NYU, the expansion would take nineteen years to complete and would proceed in two phases. In the first phase of construction, NYU would replace the Morton Williams Associated supermarket at the corner of Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place with a fourteen-story dormitory building. NYU would give the building’s seven-story base to the School Construction Authority, who would be responsible for the development of a public school. NYU would also replace the existing Coles Sports and Recreation Center building along Mercer Street on the southern superblock with a new building featuring a four- to five-story plinth with staggered towers ranging in height from ten to 26 stories, known as the Zipper Building. The Zipper building would include faculty housing, an NYU-affiliated hotel, a supermarket, and a belowgrade gym to replace the Coles Center. A temporary gym would be built along Mercer Street on the northern superblock.

In the project’s second phase, NYU would build two curved academic towers on the northern superblock. An eight-story tower would replace a one-story building containing seven retail storefronts on LaGuardia Place. A fourteen-story tower would be built along Mercer Street, replacing the temporary gym. Approximately 3.2 acres of new parkland and publicly accessible open space would be created on the northern superblock.

To facilitate the project, NYU submitted multiple applications including requests to rezone the two superblocks from R7-2 to C1-7, to de-map portions of Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place, and for special permits to waive height and setback regulations to develop the new buildings. The City would convey the de-mapped portions of the streets to NYU without floor area.

Manhattan Community Board 2 has 60 days to review the project.

CPC: Certification of New York University Core (Jan. 3, 2012).

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