In particular the lawns on the north side of Houston Street should have people playing catch with their kids, throwing frisbees around, and sunbathing on a nice day.
Crikey, these people are such self-centered NIMBY twits.
NYU's plans are probably a net-plus for the city. These selfish buffoons should be demanding good architecture, rather than more "park" in the towers-in-the-park they are demanding from NYU.
Meanwhile, the greatest damage to the city's architecture is not coming from NYU (not by a long shot) but from Bloomberg's plans to re-zone Midtown, which will inevitably result in all of Midtown looking like 6th Avenue, the classic charm and grace forever lost from that part of the city.
Or they could focus on the real estate lobby's attempts to kill off the LPC. Either of these things are areas where the city needs help from loud, visible, rich and famous people (which is what these NYU zealots are; these are not exactly your Average Joes).
Instead, they claim that their own NIMBY concerns about the loss of some cruddy, awkward "green space" amount to the "destruction of New York," while caring not a whit about plans that actually would radically change beloved parts of the city for the worse. I'd say these morons should be ashamed of themselves, but it's clear that "shame" is a feeling they've long since lost.
There is a very appealing 'low density' (of both population & buildings) in the proposed 'build-out' area; so it is often relatively quiet, spacious, and full of open air/light compared to the much more 'densely populated/built' surrounding areas of Soho, Greenwich Villiage, East Village and the Down Town districts. The 'quality of life' for folks in that area is greatly improved by that so called "dead space".
As for the notion of advocating instead for "good architecture", that will happen too, and from the same group of NIMBYs. Demanding 'good architecture' often serves as an effective NIMBY tactic for blocking the approval process of new real estate development projects: so in regards to that typical ploy, you can be sure they will eventually demand 'good architecture' - 'contextual' or 'traditional' architecture will be DEMANDED by the new york nimbys.
People act in their 'self interest' - that to me is not 'surprising' or "shameful".
Last edited by infoshare; July 15th, 2012 at 03:09 PM.
That's the issue. These people, frankly, are a bunch of short-sighted a**holes who place the selfish interest they have in someone else's private property in terms of "the good" of the city. Ironically, they do this even though the greater good of the city, IMO, coincides with the selfish interests of NYU, which actually owns the rights to the property in question.
Stroika: Too bad you missed a great event this evening at McNally Jackson Books, where the shortsighted argument you present was eviscerated by a number of very talented folks with an understanding of New York and the complexities that make a city great.
And you should really stop it with the tired falsehoods that NYU owns all the land in question.
Looks like the deal is close to done. NYU giving up some more space, getting approved.
Purple People Eaten: NYU Reduces Greenwich Village Campus 20 Percent
By Matt Chaban 1:02pm
Update (1:46):The zoning subcommittee passed the modified proposal unanimously, while the full land-use committee supported it by a vote of 19-1, with Councilman Charles Barron the lone no-vote.
The land-use committee meeting is still going on, with a vote due at some point this afternoon, but NYU has just revealed their deal with the City Council and local rep Margaret Chin to reduce the size of its expanded campus on the two superblocks south of Washington Square park. The project will be downsized 20 percent overall, with a 26 percent reduction in above ground space.
The bulk of this is coming from the boomerang shaped building on the north block along Mercer Street, which is shrinking from 11 stories to 4 stories. Its foundation, or footprint, will shrink, along with the neighboring boomerang building on LaGuardia Place, to provide more open space between the towers. The former shrinks overall by about 74 percent while the latter shrinks 28 percent.
Meanwhile the so-called Zipper Building on the southern block has been reduced in size nearly 9 percent, abed the mass if the building has been shifted south, so it now looks more like a mountain range rising to the south. This is meant to move the bulk away from residential buildings across the street.
The school has also agreed that if a fourth building set aside for a school is not used for such by the university, a portion of it will be used to create a community center. A public atrium will be built inside the zipper building, and a corner of an existing apartment building on the first block will be dedicated to community space.
A special committee is also being created to oversee the design and maintenance of open space separate from the university.
“At last month’s public hearing, I made it clear that I did not support NYU’s expansion proposal as modified by the City Planning Commission,” Councilwoman Chin said.
“To be perfectly honest,” she continued, “no one got everything they wanted. This was a comprise, but it was arrived at rationally and in good faith.”
Councilman Leroy Comrie, chair of the committee, called it “a herculean effort.” But outspoken Councilman Charles Barron challenged his colleagues to vote no. “We should send them back to the drawing board and make them listen to the community on this.”
Applause is forbidden, but this line got it. Otherwise it has been all jazz hands and thumbs down from the two dozen or so project opponents in the room. No sign of Matthew Broderick.
Fran Lebowitz Goes to Town on NYU, NYU Students, and Bloomberg’s Micro-Apartments
New York City icon, author, and essayist Fran Lebowitz needs little in the way of introduction. Via ANIMAL New York, she recently made an appearance at SoHo bookstore McNally Jackson for the release of the book ’While We Were Sleeping: NYU and the Destruction of New York‘which was written by a group of NYU faculty members (but of course) who are in opposition to the university’s president, John Sexton. Ms. Lebowitz was her usual, fiery self, which is to say:
Utterly captivating and refreshingly impassioned.
BUILDINGS and CIGARETTES, by Eileen Myles read by Jefferson Mays ...
Debt and Growth, FIRE and ICE
Why are universities like NYU so committed to growth? Surely the business of spreading out and scaling up must run counter to their quest for prestige? Academic cachet, after all, is supposed to be a scarce commodity, available only to the select few, not an expanding student body, ever denser at its downtown Manhattan core and increasingly dispatched to campus locations all over the globe. In this respect, NYU’s upward mobility over the last two decades has been unconventional, to say the least. Its plans to build a globally operational university have been drawn from the corporate playbook of offshore outsourcing. And in New York itself, the NYU administration has been responding in kind to the open invitation of urban managers to help diversify the economy of city that relies too heavily on its FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) industries.
Not long after he came into office, John Sexton spoke publicly about how the intellectual, cultural, and educational industries now formed an ICE sector, large enough in its own right to stand alongside the city’s anchoring FIRE sector. Statistics were generated to show that ICE may be more resilient and profitable in the long run than FIRE. Of course, these are not altogether distinct sectors, and least of all in the case of NYU, which has a massive real estate presence in Manhattan (and now Brooklyn) and whose basic revenue depends on the student loan business--one of the most lucrative parts of the finance industry. For evidence of the interlocking of FIRE and ICE interests, look no further than NYU’s own Board of Trustees (which includes Catherine Reynolds, who owns a company--Educap--that makes high-interest, predatory loans to students who have maxed out of the federal loan market.) There you will find some of city’s biggest land developers, Wall Street’s wealthy financiers, and a bevy of corporate tycoons. Collectively speaking, they are members of the city’s “permanent government,” which calls the shots (especially on shaping land-use), and no elected politician can afford to alienate a body with that kind of clout. Practically speaking, they are the governors of the city’s growth machine, and urban universities are central to the “meds and eds” paradigm for turnaround urban growth.
Critics of the growth machine have long challenged the truism that growth pays for itself. It does not (taxpayers pick up the tab), though it is a relatively efficient way of transferring public monies to private pockets. Does NYU’s growth fit the bill? Certainly there are many streams of public funds that flow into this private university. Government grants from multiple federal agencies are a basic source of funding for its research operations. The New York State Dormitory Authority heavily subsidized the dormitory buildings NYU has erected as it made the transition from local commuter college to residential national university. NYU collects more than $50 million a year from New York State in grants. An even larger revenue stream comes from federal student loans. In 2010, NYU had $659 million in total student debt, a figure bigger than the gross domestic product of 12 countries, and it is a national leader in the debt carried by its graduates, at 40% more than the national average. The projected expansion plan is certain to increase student debt burden. Most of current students loans are federal money, so we can add these on to the public inputs received by this private university at a time when public universities are being put to the sword.
But how do this public cash find its way into private pockets? Any analysis of payroll distribution would show a clear skewing of compensation towards two employee classes: senior administrators whose salaries have skyrocketed over the last 15 years, and key faculty who are conduits for top grant funding or who generate lucrative intellectual property for the university (NYU also tops the list of universities that extract revenue from IP licensing–another way in which public monies in the forms of research grants gets propertized as an excludable private good). But the most pervasive community rumor about NYU lies in its ties to real estate interests. Several graduates have described their alma mater to me as “a real estate company which also issues degrees.” As one of the city’s two or three largest landowners, the university has an extensive real estate portfolio, and it is perpetually buying, selling, and leasing buildings, or landbanking properties for future uses and returns. An administrator once remarked to me that he feels as if he is running a hotel and restaurant chain—given how many beds and cafeteria seats NYU caters to on a daily basis. It is difficult to operate at that kind of that volume without favoring a tidy list of clients and contractors.
It’s fair to conclude then that NYU is a non-profit institution which generates profits for others. Because its books are closed--and there is no pretense of fiscal transparency–not much can be said about the private profit structure, though there is little that would surprise long-serving employees. Nor is it a leap to observe that $6 billion worth of construction in the heart of downtown is a huge boost in general to the business climate of downtown development, and that it will enrich builders and contractors, amplify area rents, and add nothing to the city’s affordable housing stock. Yet the result is assumed to be in the public interest. Why? Because it is cloaked in the public goodness which is the stock-in-trade of any educational institution.
Perhaps the most important, and least understood, part of NYU’s expansion rests upon its debt-financing. The absence of a business plan on the administration’s part has attracted a good deal of disbelief, and rightfully so. What kind of entity is able to raise $6 billion in the current economic landscape? More telling yet was the response of one administrator to queries about the proposed funding of the plan: “NYU is not afraid of debt,” she assured her audience, in a tone more reminiscent of the freewheeling credit culture of 2004. But we miss the point if we don’t see how this kind of comment evokes an intimacy with debt and bond ratings that is essential to the capital funding of modern universities. The ability of universities to raise tuition fees at will (without any fear of institutional default) is the basic collateral requirement for securing a good credit rating, which makes it much cheaper to borrow money to service existing debts and finance large-scale construction. In turn, this capital-intensive construction generates more space per capita, which is a key metric in the US News and World Report’s college rankings. Indeed, the need for NYU to improve on this metric is the only rationale offered by President Sexton for the 2031 expansion. Invariably, however, universities need to increase enrollment, as NYU intends to do (an “overyield” this year alone brought 1600 additional students) in order to secure the tuition-backed bond issues, and so the rationale behind the enterprise falls apart. But the outcome, for the bond financiers, hedge funds, and institutional investors, not to mention the construction industry in general, is an ongoing bonanza.
It is too crude to conclude that the 2031 plan is designed to generate profits for FIRE interests. There is no servant-master relationship at work here, because the main actors are members of an interlocking elite, serving each other’s executive class interests. Senior administrators revolve between high positions in government, Wall Street, and the academy, and the capacity to draw on executive influence in each of these sectors is key to the new patterns of wealth transfer. Jacob Lew is a notable example. Recruited from the Clinton Administration, where he was director of the Office of Management and Budget, he served as Executive Vice President at NYU during the period of the graduate assistant union strike, moved to Citigroup as COO of the bank’s Alternative Investments unit, and is now back in the White House as President Obama’s Chief of Staff. John Sexton himself served (from 2003 to 2007) as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and as chair of the Federal Reserve System's Council of Chairs.
With mortgage and other credit markets still in the doldrums, universities have become a very attractive option for investors looking for high returns on debt-financed growth. Money capital has poured into construction bonds, student loans, and other financial instruments spun out of the tuition bubble. When FIRE gets hooked on ICE, the result (which writer could resist?) is a vast pool of melted water, in which the indebted are already half-drowning.
And in the process of doing this, they're going to create a lot of direct jobs and educate a lot of people who will be better positioned to get better jobs than they otherwise would be. A lot of the latter will be from out of the city and/or country, and will end up staying in NYC (which I consider a good thing.)
About the whole student debt thing. Each student has to make a rational decision about what a degree is worth, and what they're willing to pay for it. Anyone can easily find a cheaper school than NYU. If they decide an NYU degree is worth the debt service they'll have to shoulder, that's their prerogitive and their problem.
How much cheaper? Even the tuition of state schools, which given the competiton for value education are not easy to get into these days, has gone through the roof. Where do you suggest people go for a less-espensive education?