NYU wants to polish its Silver Towers
School proposes a greening of the landmarked property where it had earlier wanted to erect another tower; small part of a bigger plan to redevelop two super blocks in West Village.
By Amanda Fung
New York University is preparing to present landscaping plans for the landmarked Silver Towers block in Greenwich Village to Community Board 2 on Monday. The improvements are part of the school's ambitious 2031 expansion plans. The school officially filed the plans with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on Thursday.
The school intends to spruce up the property between Houston and Bleecker streets, where NYU had originally planned to sprout a fourth new tower. Currently, the site consists of three towers designed by architect I.M. Pei. The school is proposing to expand a toddler playground and dog run, restore historic features such as lamps, and define the boundaries of the area with trees and shrubbery.
In order to proceed, the city Landmarks Commission needs to approve the plans. NYU expects to receive the green light as early as next month, according to Alicia Hurley, the school's vice president of government affairs and community engagement.
“We are trying to find ways to make the blocks work better for the public and residents of the buildings,” she said. “We are activating space and making them more user-friendly.”
The area-friendly landscaping plans, however, are a small part of a bigger design proposal that will be rolled out in the coming weeks and will likely be far more controversial. That plan will cover the two “super blocks,” bounded by Houston and Bleecker streets and La Guardia and Mercer streets, according to Ms. Hurley.
In November, NYU withdrew its plan to build a fourth tower when Mr. Pei said he opposed the plan that had already sparked sharp community opposition. Under the school's newest plan, NYU plans to build a tower for faculty housing and a hotel just north of Silver Towers, on the site of what is now a Morton Williams supermarket, which the school has owned since 2001.
NYU's plans to add 6 million square feet of space over the course of the next 25 years, half of which will be in Greenwich Village and areas surrounding Washington Square Park, has generated criticism from the Greenwich Village community, who believe that the school is altering the character of the neighborhood.
Separately, an NYU spokesman said the 17,000-square-foot former NYU bookstore building at 18 Washington Place will be converted to a new Academic Resource Center and an Argo Tea shop. The center is expected to open in the fall and will be a one-stop shop for students for academic support and counseling. The bookstore moved to bigger space on Broadway two years ago.