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GREENWICH VILLAGE - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


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Alec Baldwin Drops By to Cheer Up Displaced NYU Students


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UntitledDaniel Maurer Baldwin leaves the building.

Displaced NYU students got an unexpected dinner guest today, as Alec Baldwin made a star appearance at the school’s student center.

The “30 Rock” star stopped into Kimmel Center, off of Washington Square Park, around 7 p.m. tonight. “I’m an alum and John Sexton asked me to come and talk to the students, thank them for their patience,” he told The Local as he left the building, politely breaking free from a dozen students that swarmed him at the elevator.

NYU relocated about 6,000 students earlier today after back-up power ran out at their dorms, according to an e-mail from Jules Martin, the school’s Vice President for Global Security and Crisis Management. Around midday, the generator at 3rd North residence ran out of fuel, creating a “temporary smoke condition,” but power was expected to be restored this evening, the e-mail said. Displaced students are currently showering at the school’s two sports complexes.

Mr. Baldwin, who lives near Kimmel on East 10th Street, has also been displaced by the storm: he told The Local that he and his wife had moved to a friend’s hotel because his elevator was out and taking their two dogs up and down several flights of stairs “wasn’t working.” He was also out of work for two days: “the show I do,” he said, referring modestly to “30 Rock,” suspended filming on Monday and Tuesday because team members couldn’t make it to Silvercup Studios in Queens.

As soon as Mr. Baldwin made his appearance alongside school president John Sexton in the cafeteria, students charging their phones, pecking at laptops, and dining at Kimmel sent out word via Twitter.

“Alec Baldwin just came to Kimmel and told us to stay safe #YesSir,” wrote @Glenneth_Coco.

“You know those weird moments when you’re temporarily living in Kimmel and you run into Alec Baldwin?” wrote @taylorsprow.

“Thats cool Alec Baldwin came to NYU to chill, but uhh.. can you take us home with you so we can shower n sleep in your probably fancy bed?” tweeted @CinemaBite.


Watch Violent Femmes Frontman ‘Save the Village’ With ‘Blister in the Sun’


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Have better quality photos or video? Send ’em to us!

An eclectic group of musicians – including Gordon Gano belting out his Violent Femmes classic “Blister in the Sun” – performed last night at a benefit to “put a stop to this destructive, environmentally calamitous process that’s destroying the city we all love.” At least, that’s how the evening’s M.C., Mark Crispin Miller of Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, put it shortly before announcing that Susan Sarandon and Matthew Broderick were among those who pledged money to a lawsuit against N.Y.U.’s expansion plans.

The idea behind the “Save the Village” concert at Le Poisson Rouge, Mr. Miller told an audience of about 200, was to show that the Village still rocks – even if “N.Y.U. does not rock. N.Y.U. rolls. It rolls its students; it rolls its faculty; it rolled the City Council. We’ve got to stop this.”

To that end, songstress Janine Nichols kicked off the night by cooing “This Land Is Your Land” with John Kruth on sitar. (It was that kind of evening: bongos, banjos, cowbells, canastas, and, yes, even scatting. At times the Greenwich Village club resembled a genuine Beat coffee shop.)

Noise rocker Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth got right into it with composer and saxophonist John Zorn. The duo launched into a cacophany of discordant free jazz that had all the abrasiveness of, well, jackhammering south of Washington Square Park. Read more…


All Krohn Up | Welcome to New York, Now Live


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krohn2Dana Varinsky It was either this or a shot of him spinning the cube.

The college kids are back – in droves. Maybe you remember what it was like to be an innocent in the East Village. If not, meet Jonathan Krohn, a member of N.Y.U.’s class of 2016. Actually, you may already know him: he was a “Time 100” finalist at the age of 14, and just two years later wrote his second book, “Defining Conservatism.” His thinking has evolved since then, but like any freshman he’s still got a lot to learn. And you, oh jaded Villager, could learn a thing or two from him. Hence, his weekly column about life as a neighborhood newbie.

“Welcome to the East Village.” Something no one said to me when I first arrived here.

My first night in the East Village went a little something like this: About thirty minutes after I left my dorm on Third Avenue a balding, stocky middle-aged man attempted to get me to hold his keys, wallet, license, and wedding band in exchange for me paying him gas money. I ran off. An hour later I encountered a scantily clad woman (I was told she was a prostitute) who was very high. She rolled around on the ground, screaming that someone was coming for her, and threw her backpack into the little pond in the center of Washington Square Park. I left the park with some nice jazz musicians from Brooklyn who took me up MacDougal Street, where I was then hit on by a transsexual. I screamed at some point around there. We don’t have these things in the suburbs of Atlanta. Or at least, we don’t have all of them in one neat little area. Read more…


Lawsuit Against N.Y.U. 2031 Likely on the Horizon


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NYU Core Aerial Rendering July 24Courtesy of N.Y.U. A rendering of N.Y.U.’s plans for two blocks south of Washington Square Park that features the newly reduced buildings.

Opponents of N.Y.U.’s expansion are hinting that they will announce new legal maneuvers to derail the project should it be approved the City Council tomorrow as expected.

An e-mail from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation notes that lawyers representing faculty opposed to the plan will speak tomorrow after the vote at City Hill “regarding their next steps.” Those opponents have long spoken about the possibility of challenging the land-use review process in court.

NYU 2031 RevisionN.Y.U. A slide depicting the reduction of building’s in
the proposed project footprint.

The executive director of the Greenwich Village Society, Andrew Berman, would not comment on the organization’s specific legal plans until tomorrow, but added, “Should they vote to approve this plan, we and our partners on the N.Y.U. faculty will be working closely with our counsel, Gibson Dunn, to look at every remedy available to right this wrong.” Read more…


C.B. 2 to Mendez and Chin: City Council Too Soft on N.Y.U. 2031


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N.Y.U. 2031 reductionN.Y.U. Red lines indicate the reduction of the boomerang
buildings on the northern block.

At a meeting attended by Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin last night, members of Community Board 2 spoke out against the scaled-back version of N.Y.U.’s controversial expansion plan that the two City Council members supported earlier this week.

Ms. Chin said she wanted to explain the “compromise” she helped work out, which she said reduced above-ground space associated with N.Y.U. 2031 by an additional 17.4 percent, or 212,000 square feet.

The modified plan would cut the Mercer Street building from 11 stories to four, and shrink the height of towers in the Zipper Building. Over all, according to Ms. Chin’s newsletter for her district, it represents a reduction of 26 percent or 352,000 square feet from the original proposal that was certified in January.

Residents last night were clearly disappointed that the City Council’s land use committee had approved the plan by a vote of 19-1, with the Council’s subcommittee on zoning also voting in favor of it. “I know people aren’t happy,” Ms. Chin said, to sardonic laughter. “It’s a compromise. But I want you to look at what we’ve been able to achieve with density and open space, because the City Council will vote on this issue.” Read more…


Council Committee Approves N.Y.U. 2031, With More Concessions


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N.Y.U. 2031 reductionN.Y.U. Red lines indicate the reduction of the boomerang buildings on the northern block.

A City Council committee voted in favor of New York University’s expansion plan on Tuesday following last minute negotiations that yielded several significant reductions of the project.

The land use committee’s 19-1 vote sends the plan, dubbed N.Y.U. 2031, to the full City Council, which will vote on the plans later this month. Councilwoman Margaret Chin, a member of the committee who represents Greenwich Village, took the lead in negotiations with the university and strongly urged other council members to support the modified plan.

“I wholeheartedly believe that this proposal will allow N.Y.U.’s growth in the Village to occur at a sustainable pace, and that it will not overwhelm the wider Village community,” Ms. Chin said. “Over the past few months, I have heard a litany of N.Y.U.’s broken promises from Village residents. It is time to start a new chapter.” Read more…


Ferris Bueller and Other Villagers Take Day Off for Final N.Y.U. 2031 Hearing


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broderickSarah Darville Matthew Broderick, in glasses.

The City Council hearing on New York University’s controversial expansion plan got a star cameo today, as Greenwich Village native Matthew Broderick argued that N.Y.U. 2031 would further strip the neighborhood of of its character. He was one of about 250 people who spoke out during the packed nine-hour meeting, with about 60 percent opposing the plan and 40 percent voicing their support.

Six hours before the actor testified, N.Y.U.’s president, John Sexton, started the hearing (which The Local liveblogged earlier today) by vigorously defending the project and the university’s need to expand. “This is not a development project. This is an academic project,” he said, explaining that more space was needed to recruit top-quality faculty and students.

Asked why N.Y.U. couldn’t look to other parts of the city, Mr. Sexton told council member Leroy Comrie that further dissipation of N.Y.U.’s activities across the city would amplify the perception that it doesn’t have a traditional campus “or a big football stadium where we gather,” turning off potential students.

“This is the most enlightened way to do this,” said Mr. Sexton, who also used his presentation to announce that a “huge initiative” for financial aid would be coming soon. Read more…


LIVE: City Council Hearing On N.Y.U. 2031


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photo(241)Sarah DarvilleProtesters on the steps of City Hall this morning.

The protesters have arrived in full force at City Hall, and so has Mayor Bloomberg and Matthew Broderick: it’s time to settle in for the City Council hearing on N.Y.U. 2031 – the final one before council members vote on the fate of the school’s expansion plan in Greenwich Village. Follow us on Twitter or stay parked right here as we update in real-time from what is sure to be a marathon meeting. If there’s a lull in the action and you want to brush up on what all this hoopla is about, you can review our Expansion Explainers. Otherwise, without further ado…


At ‘Memorial Service,’ Residents Mourn Garden Bound to Be Uprooted by N.Y.U.


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garden - donna shaperSarah Darville Donna Schaper, Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church, at left.

Local residents and N.Y.U. faculty members gathered this evening in a garden that will be demolished if the university’s expansion plan is approved. During a mock funeral scheduled a day before a critical City Council hearing about N.Y.U. 2031, they lamented the loss of trees and the displacement of wildlife due to construction, and shared memories of a leafy retreat where they had meditated and played with their children.

Tucked between the two towers of the Washington Square Village superblock, Sasaki Garden has a low profile in the neighborhood. That lends itself to peace and quiet, neighbors said — but it also makes their fight to save the park more difficult.

Jan Blustein, professor of health policy and medicine at N.Y.U., was saddened at the prospect of the destruction of what she said had been a “beloved resource” for her and her family. “I had such a great experience living here and being a young faculty member here, and I’d hate for faculty to not have that opportunity in the future,” she said. Read more…


State Senate Candidate Brad Hoylman On Nightlife, Landmarking, Bad Landlords, and NYU


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hoylman 2Courtesy Brad Hoylman

Soon after Thomas K. Duane announced he wouldn’t run for re-election, the state senator all but endorsed Community Board 2 Chair Brad Hoylman, who has worked with him on many East Village issues. Over a plate of eggs over-easy, Mr. Hoylman told The Local the senator’s is “a huge legacy to live up to,” and that he considers it a “solemn responsibility to do so.” He also got specific on how he’ll carry the torch should he win in November, talking tenants’ rights, transgender equality and the new ideas that are at the top of his to-do list.

Q.

What parts of the Duane legacy do you plan to carry forward?

A.

Tom’s advocacy on tenant rights is something that I feel very strongly about. I have some background myself, in the area, not only working with Senator Duane over the years in that realm, but also as a former board member of Tenants & Neighbors, the tenants rights group. And I, as Community Board 2 chair, just launched an initiative where the board will now have a tenants clinic for the first time in cooperation with MFY Legal Services: tenants who meet income level requirements in the CB 2 area will be able to come to our tenants’ clinic and get free legal representation from MFY.  So that’s the kind of tenant outreach that I want to do, and continue to do to build on Tom’s legacy.

Read more…


N.Y.U. 2031, Now Hotel-Free, Clears Another Hurdle


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IMG_0086Sarah Darville The City Planning Commission.

New York University reined in its expansion plans further today by eliminating a controversial hotel and accommodations for retail, paving the way for an easy approval from the City Planning Commission.

“The N.Y.U. proposal for the superblocks will provide important new and needed space to one of the city’s most important institutions of higher learning,” said commission chair Amanda Burden, referring to the two blocks south of Washington Square Park that will be the sites of construction.

The green light from the commission did not come as a surprise — Ms. Burden had praised the plan just last week. Only one of the 13 members of the commission voted against the proposal. Read more…


N.Y.U. 2031 Bashed, Cooper Union Petitioned


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The conflicts over the future of two of the city’s most revered academic institutions rage on. Over in Greenwich Village, add Bloomberg’s architecture critic to the list of people not fond of N.Y.U.’s expansion plans. “For a while I thought these expressionless shapes were simply cartoon placeholders for real buildings that could be developed with a great deal more sensitivity,” reads the hard-hitting review. And over at Cooper Union, students have begun a petition drive in support of an alternative plan, dubbed “The Way Forward,” that suggests ways to raise revenue without charging students tuition.


N.Y.U. 2031’s Booers and Boosters Face Off Before Planning Commission


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museumNatalie Rinn

Critics and supporters of N.Y.U.’s planned expansion in Greenwich Village pleaded their cases before the New York City Planning Commission yesterday. The exchange was a critical one, since the controversial project must be approved by the Commission and then by the City Council before construction can begin.

For more than seven hours at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, speakers gave three-minute testimonies in response to the university’s pending build-out of the school’s core campus south of Washington Square Park. With the museum’s stadium-style seating filled to capacity, President John Sexton faced hissing and intentional coughing as he explained why the university was in “desperate” need of additional space, and why so much of it needed to be located in Greenwich Village. Read more…


Survey Says: N.Y.U. Should Expand Elsewhere


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Proposed Aerial

A study commissioned by opponents of N.Y.U.’s expansion finds that the city’s economy would be better served if it were built outside of Greenwich Village. The report, released today by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, states that the Financial District, Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City could all better accommodate the amount of construction required for N.Y.U. 2031 while also reaping the benefits of the influx of students and scholars. The analysis comes only weeks after the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber Commerce released its own study highlighting the economic benefits of the expansion in Greenwich Village, as well as its support among local merchants.


The Skinny on the Slimming of N.Y.U. 2031


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Proposed AerialN.Y.U. A rendering of the original plan.

N.Y.U. announced today that, after negotiations with Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, it had agreed to reduce its ambitious expansion plans on two blocks south of Washington Square Park by nearly a fifth.

The revised plan includes significant changes for all four proposed buildings and the elimination of 377,000 square feet in the project, which originally called for 2,474,000 square feet of new space.

The new plan “strikes a balance between a great university’s need to grow and the importance of preserving Greenwich Village’s distinctive, historic character,” Mr. Stringer said in a press release. “There was nothing easy about this: Everyone had to give up something. No one got everything they wanted.”

The project, dubbed N.Y.U. 2031, will now go before the City Planning Commission and then the City Council. Community Board 2 voted unanimously to oppose the plan in February. Read more…


N.Y.U. Reduces Expansion Plan


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Proposed Aerial

The Times reports that N.Y.U. has agreed to scale back its proposed expansion on two blocks south of Washington Square Park by roughly 16 percent after negotiations with the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer. The original plan called for 2,275,000 square feet of construction; the revised one reduces that number by 370,000 square feet. According to The Times, a 14-story building planned for the southern block will now be seven stories. The two buildings on the northern block will be “slimmed and shortened,” and the Zipper building will be further set back from Mercer Street. The plan must still be approved by the City Planning Commission and the City Council.


Expansion Explainer: The Shadows Cast by N.Y.U. 2031


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expansionexplainer

To conclude our week-long look at the impacts of N.Y.U.’s expansion plans, The Local examines the concerns surrounding loss of light under the proposed development.

Q.

How will the new buildings proposed on the two superblocks south of Washington Square Park affect sunlight in the area?

A.

There’s no getting around it, the new buildings mean less light. The LaGuardia and Mercer buildings planned for the north block will cast shadows on the two Washington Square Village buildings. More controversially, the proposed Bleecker building on the south block will cast a shadow that likely means an end to the LaGuardia Corner Gardens, located in front of the Morton Williams supermarket on a strip of property that belongs to the Transportation Department. The university notes that the alignment of the LaGuardia and Mercer buildings would make the block resemble the dimensions of the city’s grid pattern – “not an unusual New York City condition,” per William Haas, the university’s director of planning. Read more…


Expansion Explainer: Why Dogs Are Always at N.Y.U. 2031 Protests


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expansionexplainer

As Village residents await Borough President Scott Stringer’s recommendation early next month regarding N.Y.U.’s expansion plans, The Local is taking a look at the impacts of the project. Today, we’re examining the concerns surrounding the replacement of a dog run under the proposed development. Yesterday, we looked at the impact the proposal would have on three playgrounds in Greenwich Village. Check back for our coverage of concerns surrounding loss of light and the LaGuardia Community Garden.

Q.

So what does the future hold for the dog run at the corner of Houston and Mercer Streets should N.Y.U.’s expansion be approved?

A.
11-Dog Run-PN.Y.U. The proposed dog run.

The dogs and their roughly 300 owners at the Mercer-Houston Dog Run will have to be relocated to make way for the Zipper building, which will be 26 stories at its highest point. The building would extend almost the entire length of the south block along Mercer Street between Houston and Bleecker Streets. In addition to housing, academic, retail space and a hotel, the new structure would also hold the replacement for the Morton Williams Supermarket at the northwest corner of the south block. The university says the replacement grocery store would be fully operational before Morton Williams is demolished in 2018. Read more…


Expansion Explainer: The Playgrounds in N.Y.U. 2031’s Footprint


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expansionexplainer

As Village residents await Borough President Scott Stringer’s recommendation early next month regarding N.Y.U.’s expansion plans, The Local is taking a look at the impacts of the project. Today, we’re examining the concerns surrounding the replacement of four playgrounds under the proposed development. Yesterday, we looked at the impact the proposal would have on parking in Greenwich Village. Check back for our coverage of concerns surrounding loss of light, the dog run, and the LaGuardia Community Garden.

Q.

If N.Y.U.’s expansion is approved, what will happen to the playgrounds in its footprint?

A.

There are three playgrounds on the two blocks where N.Y.U. is seeking to build. They are Mercer Playground, located along Mercer Street on the north block; Key Park, which is just west of Mercer Playground between the two buildings in Washington Square Village; and Rocket Ship Park on the south block. Each one will be demolished and eventually replaced. N.Y.U. says that at a minimum, a temporary playground will always be open during the proposed 20-year buildout. Key Park and Rocket Ship Park are not open to the public — the replacement parks will be public. Read more…


Coen Brothers Make It Rain on Bleecker Street


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Photos: Daniel Maurer, Stephen Rex Brown

Yesterday The Local spotted a fake throwback subway entrance being built on the corner of Bleecker and Mott Streets and today the Coen Brothers are using it as a prop for their film “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Moments ago, they were filming a scene in which the movie’s titular folk singer, played by a bearded Oscar Davis, ducks into a vintage car. Sprinklers were used to simulate rain, and ice on the ground simulated melted snow.

As in previous scenes, Llewyn was clutching a fake cat and a guitar case. During one take, the car only drove forward a few feet (not quite as impressive as a checkered cab coasting down Ninth Street), but there should be plenty more chances for action – the Coens are filming in the neighborhood through Friday.