Monday, December 3, 2012

Report of the CB2 Arts & Institutions Committee

October 23, 2012

The Arts & Institutions Committee of Community Board #2, Manhattan, held a meeting on October 23rd, 2012, at 6:30 PM, at the Church of Our Lady of Pompeii, Father Demo Hall.

Board Members Present: Terri Cude, Chair; Robin Rothstein, Anne Hearn
Board Members Excused: Jo Hamilton, Arthur Kriemelman, Susan Wittenberg
Board Members Absent: none
Other CB2 Members attending:  David Gruber, CB2 Chair; Susanna Aaron, Lois Rakoff
Elected Officials attending: Katie Smith representing U.S. Congressman Nadler, Sarah Malloy-Good representing State Assemblymember Glick, Matthew Viggiano representing Councilmember Chin.

A presentation by New York University (NYU) was given by Dr. Alicia Hurley, reporting on what was included in the final approvals for the NYU 2031 Core Expansion Plan, as well as timing and phasing of the proposed construction on the Superblocks between Houston and W. 3rd Streets and Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place.
The presentation and handouts provided by NYU are online at: - these documents include a matrix of the Restrictive Declaration and NYU’s commitments, including open space and environmental concerns, as well as the full Restrictive Declaration.

Major points included:
·         Construction will not commence until 2014.
·         No two building exteriors can be under construction at the same time.
·         Deadine for SCA commitment/refusal for a school in the Bleecker Building is now 2014.
·         If the Bleecker Building does not become a school, 25,000 square feet will be available for a not-for-profit to occupy the space at “community facility” rent.  There will also be 7,500 square feet of public atrium in the Zipper building, and 6,000 square feet – also at “community facility” rent – in 4 WSV (approx. 1,500sf of that space in 4 WSV is currently occupied, rent free, by the WSV Tenants’ Association, which shares this space with a nursery school and children’s playgroup).
·         Either the Zipper or the Bleecker building can be built first starting in 2014, with construction on the North Block beginning in approximately 2022.
·         Changes will be made to the public land open space (“strips”) on LaGuardia and Mercer.
·         An “Open Space Oversight Organization” will be set up; comprised of one representative each from the Department of Parks, Borough President’s Office, Councilmember’s Office, NYU and CB2.
Community Response
Approximately 80 community members attended, with 18 speakers in addition to CB2 members – all spoke against NYU’s 2031 Core Expansion Plan.
Questions and comments to NYU and to CM Chin’s Land Use Director Matt Viggiano included:
·         Why was the timetable for a school needs decision moved up to 2014?  Needs may change over time. CB2 Chair David Gruber asked that NYU voluntarily push back the SCA decision window to at least 2020.
·         What environmental effects are anticipated and how can they be justified, and how will mature trees be protected and those lost be replaced?
·         How will the area’s need for a supermarket be handled if the Bleecker Building is constructed before replacement space for a supermarket is ready in the Zipper Building? When asked if NYU intended to abide by its promise of maintaining a continuously operating supermarket on the superblocks at all times, Dr. Hurley replied "No."
·         If the Bleecker Bldg’s 25,000 square feet of community facility space is not rented in a year, that space will permanently revert back to NYU. Mr. Viggiano said he was not aware this was part of the Restrictive Declaration. Further, the land for a school would be donated by NYU but the community space will be rented by NYU to an NFP at a “below market” or “Community Facility” rate. Alicia Hurley was asked to define this. She said that they will survey similar types of uses and what they pay in rent, and not exceed this.
·         The community is concerned that the Open Space Oversight Organization (OSOO) will not really have teeth and that this group meeting only twice a year would be insufficient.
·         Many questions were asked about open space and existing amenities, including the LaGuardia Corner Garden, Friends of LaGuardia, LMNO(P), Dog Run and the courtyard between the WSV buildings including the Sasaki Garden and much-used children’s Key Park. In addition, community members asked if the public land that will be purchased by NYU would be open to competing bids, including those from community organizations.  Mr. Viggiano said he would get back to the community on this.
·         The community was concerned that the “independent” monitor would not be truly independent, and could this monitor report back to the community board rather than NYU? Dr. Hurley said she would take that idea into consideration.
·         Questions were asked about the Zipper building uses and loading docks.  Reply was there will likely be two loading docks. The building will have 750 dorm beds on the top, retail, faculty housing, 4-5 stories for Tisch School of the Arts and classrooms and 7,500 sq feet of community space. Dr. Hurley promised to report on these and other issues directly to the co-op buildings across Mercer Street from proposed 2031 Plan construction sites.
·         Much concern was expressed about the quality of life and environment during and after construction both on and adjacent to the Superblocks as well as the surrounding neighborhood.  Dr. Hurley responded that NYU would do the work required in the Restrictive Declaration including modifying windows and air conditioners in apartments on the Superblocks deemed to be affected by construction.

Respectfully submitted,

Terri Cude, Chair

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