E-BULLETIN: HDC Files Suit Against NYU Expansion Plan


September 2012, Volume 9, Number 6

Historic Districts Council Files Suit Against NYU Expansion Plan

Earlier this week, HDC joined with NYU faculty, neighbors and local community groups in a legal action challenging the recently-approved plan to expand New York University’s real estate into the designated open space of Washington Square Village. The development plan, sponsored by the university and adopted by the City Council, proposes to build almost 2 million square feet of mixed-use space in the planned courtyards of the mid-century apartment complex, which has been deemed eligible for the NYS and National Register of Historic Places.

In essence, the suit asks the Court to reverse the City’s approval by enjoining the City from removing parkland or making any other changes asked for by the Sexton Plan and by also enjoining NYU from starting any construction. The case challenges decisions by the City and the State to approve the massive Sexton Plan, a $6 billion, almost two million square foot construction plan in the heart of historic Greenwich Village, for the convenience of NYU.  The petition alleges that the plan illegally alienates parkland, illegally destroys historic resources, illegally ignores deed restrictions, and, as government decision-makers readily admit, is going to cause severe, unmitigated environmental impacts on NYU’s Village neighbors, including the several thousand who reside at the site and will now be forced to live in a construction zone for the next two decades.

The lawsuit alleges that government decision-makers, including both the City Planning Commission and the NYC Council, largely deferred to NYU’s wishes and even illegally turned over public land to facilitate NYU’s project, despite less intrusive alternatives and available mitigation measures that would have alleviated the inevitable hardships here.  The petition also claims that government decision-makers compounded their substantive errors by conducting a decision-making process with a preordained outcome that lacked the transparency required by law under ULURP and effectively denied the public meaningful input.  The government decision-makers refused even to consider the adverse impacts on the most affected group—the NYU faculty, 40 percent of whom reside at the site—rendering their ultimate decisions irrational, and arbitrary and capricious, as a matter of law.

Thirty-seven NYU departments and three NYU schools, including the Stern School of Business, have passed resolutions opposing the project.

The complete list of plaintiffs is  NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Historic Districts Council, Washington Square Village Tenants’ Association, East Village Community Coalition, Friends of Petrosino Square, LaGuardia Corner Gardens, Inc., Lower Manhattan Neighbors Organization, SoHo Alliance, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, NoHo Neighborhood Association, and 11 individuals. The suit was filed in New York County State Supreme Court.

“The City and State made a series of erroneous and irrational decisions to overhaul local zoning, alienate public parkland, and green-light NYU’s project, despite the unanimous objection of the local Community Board, the affected communities, historic preservationists, and much of NYU’s own faculty.  Indeed, in bending over backwards to accommodate NYU’s wishes, these government decision-makers have abrogated their legal responsibility to protect communities from the very harms being inflicted here. We hope that the Court will agree with us and put a stop to this project,” said Randy Mastro, partner in the international law firm Gibson Dunn and Crutcher, who are representing the petitioners on a pro bono basis.

“If NYU is allowed to build on the designed open space of Washington Square Village, it would set a damaging precedent for modern architectural development throughout New York City,” said Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council.  “Removing the park from the plan corrupts the progressive ideals of the complex and transforms an urban oasis into a concrete jungle,” he added.

For more information and coverage on this issue: see http://nyufasp.com/


Preservation Alert: West End Avenue at City Council

Please Attend the October 3 Public Hearing


Join HDC, West End Preservation Society, Landmark West! and other preservationists to urge the City Council Sub-Committee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses to support the designation of the Riverside-West End Historic District Extension I. We need everyone’s support at this hearing to show the Council that New Yorkers support preservation!


The hearing will take place:

Wednesday, October 3, at 11AM

250 Broadway, 16th Floor Committee Room, Manhattan


If you cannot attend the hearing, we urge you to contact the chair of the subcommittee Brad Lander (phone: 212-788-6969, fax: 718-499-1997, lander@council.nyc.gov) to express your support.



Coffee Talk: Understanding NYC’s Home Improvement Business Law

Monday, October 1 at 8:30 am-10:00 am

Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street, Between Second and Third Avenues, Manhattan

Contact: bzay@hdc.org

As many homeowners know, undertaking restoration or repair work can present a myriad of challenges that go beyond the work itself. The Department of Consumer Affairs, New York City’s watchdog for maintaining a fair marketplace, works to protect property owners from misleading trade practices through its Home Improvement Business Law.

Ricky Wong, Director of Community Relations, will give helpful hints on hiring home improvement contractors, explain the Department’s licensing requirements and address questions concerning property owners’ rights when undertaking construction projects.



Do You Have a Preservation Project That HDC Can Help With?

Apply now to Six To Celebrate 2013!   

HDC has begun the search for its 2013 Six to Celebrate neighborhoods! You can now apply to be one of the six by going online to http://hdc.org/program-events/six-to-celebrate/2013-application . You may also download the PDF of the application here: Six To Celebrate 2013 application form, or give us a call at 212-614-9107 if you would like one sent to you. To read more information about the Six To Celebrate program view our website http://hdc.org/program-events/six-to-celebrate.  We look forward to your submissions.

Among the many benefits of being chosen for the Six to Celebrate, a custom-written walking tour brochure and neighborhood guide will be provided to each area participating.  See here for sample neighborhood guides – would you like one of these for your district?


Fall 2012: Film Series

HDC presents “Across New York”, a film series that highlights stories from across the five boroughs on how our city came to be and all the people who helped shape it.  More details to follow but mark your calendars for November 1st, 8th and 14th!

~Donate to HDC~ 

If you’re receiving this, than you know that HDC is working hard throughout the city to protect and preserve the neighborhoods which make New York great.  Please consider contributing and becoming part of the movement to preserve our city’s irreplaceable architecture and history. There’s a lot of buildings to cover, and we can only do it with a lot of people



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