The protest against NYU's proposed 40-story "pinwheel" tower brought an incensed crowd of roughly 60 to the courtyard between the three I.M. Pei-designed buildings on Bleeker and Mercer Streets, where the building would go up. The tower, at roughly 400 feet, would be the tallest structure in Greenwich Village, and would house a university-run hotel and faculty housing.
Residents of the existing three buildings and the surrounding neighborhood gathered in a corner of the courtyard, chanting anti-NYU expansion slogans and bearing signs that read things like "NYUZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS," and "Stop NYU's Tower of Babel." Andrew Berman, the head of the Village preservation organization Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation, insisted that the Financial District was where NYU should put their tower, and any other buildings involved in the 2031 expansion plan. "That is contextual there, that is exactly the type of development that is needed down there, and is not needed here," Berman said.
Zach Schwartz-Weinstein, a graduate student and TA at NYU, was the most overtly impassioned speaker at the makeshift podium, probably because protests are kind of his thing. He's involved with GSOC-UAW, the union for graduate employees at NYU, which are known on campus to protest by the library from time to time. "We know what it's like to be ignored and exploited by this university," he said. "NYU's motto is 'A private university in the public service.' Who's service is a hotel in? To make NYU more money at our expense. It's long past time for NYU administrators to start treating New Yorkers with dignity and respect."
According to Schwartz-Weinstein, 37 of the 40 floors of the tower will be taken up by the hotel, rendering its contribution to faculty housing quite small. Brett Gary, a Media, Culture and Communications professor, has lived in the building complex for 15 years. He acknowledged that NYU is indeed in need of more faculty housing, but not there. "Every kid that lives in these buildings learns to ride their bike here. It's a real treasure. [The tower] will bring thousands of people into this small space," Gary said.
The dog run, the playground and the community garden within the complex are three of the strips of open space NYU would need to eliminate to build the tower. Residents we spoke to were uniformly furious at this possibility. Many brought their children, who carried hand-drawn signs of varying degrees of heartwrenching, complete with adorably misspelled pleadings for their playground."The plase will be crowdid weth pepol," read one young boy's posterboard.
Tonight's landmark committee meeting will determine the fate of the proposed tower, when NYU presents their landmark application for a committee vote.