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New York University Sued Over Village Development Plans

New York University faces a lawsuit in state court by tenants of rent-stabilized apartments at Washington Square Village over the school’s development plans for the area.

The New York City Council voted last month to allow New York University to add 1.9 million square feet to its Greenwich Village campus for classrooms, a gym and housing in the face of objections from residents and faculty who said it would change the character of the neighborhood.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan seeks a court order stopping the university from taking any action that would eliminate a two-acre park in the middle of Washington Square Village, as well as a commercial strip and a garden that form the boundary of the park. Washington Square Village is a group of high-rise apartment buildings bordered by West Third Street, Mercer Street, Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place.

“Subjecting plaintiffs and other rent-stabilized tenants to 20 years of major construction and the destruction of the WSV park and the destruction of the LaGuardia strip (which includes the one supermarket in the neighborhood that delivers) is clearly an attempt to forcibly evict the plaintiffs and other rent stabilized tents at WSV,” the tenants said in their complaint.

School Growth

The school, whose enrollment of 41,000 makes it the largest private, nonprofit university in the U.S., is seeking to accommodate plans to grow to 46,500 by 2031, President John Sexton told the city council in June.

“NYU’s proposal to build new academic facilities, student dormitories and faculty housing went through a five-year planning and consultation process,” the university said in a statement. “The City Planning Commission and City Council overwhelmingly approved NYU’s proposal after holding lengthy public hearings and engaging in a through and rigorous public review process as required by law. We are confident that we will prevail in court against any claims that were made.”

Greenwich Village, between Houston Street and 14th Street, has been home to artists, writers and musicians, including Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Henry James, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and Bob Dylan. Actor Matthew Broderick joined hundreds of neighbors at a council meeting in June to oppose the plan.

The case is WSV Green Neighbors Inc. v. New York University, 155507/2012, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

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