Your point raises a very interesting question. NYU fully backed LPC in 2008 when the Silver Towers plot (covering about 2/3 of the southern superblock bounded by Bleecker <> Mercer <> West Houston <> LaGuardia) was designated an official NYC Landmark.
Originally Posted by BBMW
Pei hey, N.Y.U. now backs Silver Towers landmarking
Less than two weeks after New York University made a major presentation of concept plans for developing new space on its two South Village superblocks, the iconic Silver Towers, located on the southern superblock, have been calendared for a landmark designation hearing.
... When G.V.S.H.P. first proposed landmarking Silver Towers three years ago, N.Y.U. strongly opposed the idea of designating the towers — located between Bleecker and Houston Sts. east of LaGuardia Pl. — as well as the rest of the superblock.
... But the university has since had a change of heart under President John Sexton and now backs landmarking Silver Towers. Two weeks ago, Sexton signed an agreement ** with Borough President Scott Stringer
, pledging to follow a new set of more community-friendly development principles. N.Y.U.’s turnaround on the Silver Towers issue is part of this “new N.Y.U.,” the university says. Plus, the supermarket is no longer part of the proposed landmark site that L.P.C.’s commissioners will consider next month.
In a statement released Monday, Sexton said, “The planning principles on which we collaborated
with local elected officials and community groups are the standards to which we expect to be held. We believe this step [supporting the Silver Towers designation] is an important one that demonstrates our respect for the ‘ecosystem’ in which our university exists. Both we and our partners took a major step in developing a relationship of trust last week; we think the action we are announcing today makes real our intention to continue building that trust.”
... N.Y.U. spokesperson Beckman downplayed the impact landmarking might have on the university’s future development plans on the superblock.
“The planning team was always aware of the special nature of the Silver Towers complex regardless of the landmarking designation, and the planning was done accordingly,” Beckman said. “If the Silver Towers site is landmarked, it would mean that there will be another step in the process for some of the plans, as they would have to go through a public review process with the L.P.C. Such a review is entirely consistent with the planning principles we agreed to
the week before last.”
** Makes one wonder if there was an unspoken / backroom deal between various players wherein the game was "Designate it now, allow a variance later".
Now NYU seems incredibly sure of themselves, proceeding as if their LPC application for the new tower will lead to a situation where NYU is allowed to build upon the protected plot (although their public statements are full of qualifying things like "We don't know how LPC will rule").
From the LPC Designation Report [pdf]; November 18, 2008:
UNIVERSITY VILLAGE, 100 and 110 Bleecker Street (aka Silver Towers I & II, 98-122 Bleecker Street and 40-58 West Houston Street) and 505 LaGuardia Place (aka 487-507 LaGuardia Place and 64-86 West Houston Street). Built 1964-67; I. M. Pei & Associates, architect; James Ingo Freed, chief designer.
University Village is one of the finest examples of a mid-20th century residential complex located in New York City. Designed by architect James Ingo Freed of I. M. Pei & Associates for New York University, construction began in 1964 and was completed by 1967 ... The buildings were thoughtfully arranged by Freed to maximize views and privacy, as well as to increase general visual interest. Cast in place, on site, using fiberglass molds, these buff-colored towers fall into the general stylistic category known as “Brutalism” and reflect the influence of the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, whom Pei admired ... University Village was a critical success and received awards from the American Institute of Architects, the City Club of New York, and the Concrete Industry Board. It was also selected as one of “Ten Buildings That Climax an Era” by Fortune Magazine in 1966. Both Pei and Freed have received significant recognition for their contributions to this project; when Pei was honored with the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1983 University Village was cited as one of his most notable works and at the time of Freed’s death in 2005 Museum of Modern Art architecture curator Terence Riley counted the complex as among “the most refined examples of modern architecture in Manhattan.”