New York University Wins Dismissal of Development Suit

New York University won dismissal of a suit filed by tenants in nearby rent-stabilized apartments who oppose plans to expand the school’s Greenwich Village campus, after a judge said it’s too early to assess the project.

The New York City Council voted in July to allow New York University to add 1.9 million square feet to the 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.

Tenants of Washington Square Village, a group of high-rise apartment buildings in the area, sued the school in August, seeking a court order stopping the university from taking any action to eliminate a two-acre park in the center of the village as well as a commercial strip and a garden forming the park’s boundary.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Ellen M. Coin denied the tenants’ request for a preliminary injunction and dismissed the suit in a decision dated March 14 and posted today, saying that the plaintiffs first need to raise the matter with the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

“Considering that NYU’s construction project is currently in its infancy, with architectural and engineering plans not even drafted, much less finalized, this legal controversy has not fully matured and is subject to long-term gestational development and a long array of changes that may be made to the underlying plans,” Coin said.

$6 Billion

The $6 billion expansion plan is opposed by dozens of university departments and divisions and has sparked lawsuits from community residents and faculty members. Professors in the university’s largest school passed a vote of no-confidence in President John Sexton this weekend, saying he failed to consult with them on the plan.

Sexton has been at the helm since 2002. While he has raised the profile of the school, overseeing a record $3 billion in fundraising, he has alienated faculty and angered locals with the expansion plan. His proposal for construction in the neighborhood, called NYU 2031, is opposed by 39 of the university’s departments and divisions, according to NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, a teachers’ group.

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

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