Worth Reading: Metropolis Mag — "The Shell Game" — on NYU Mega-Expansion Plan 2031

by cathryn on April 15, 2012

Via Metropolis Mag:
The Shell Game
By Martin C. Pedersen

Friday, April 13, 2012 9:30 am

New York University announced yesterday that it was scaling back its controversial plans for expansion by “almost a fifth.” Wow, now that’s a significant number, you might think, if you didn’t already know how these cynical games are played. The school had originally proposed adding 2.5-million-square feet of dorms, classrooms and commercial space to the two superblocks it owns south of Washington Square Park. A couple of new towers (designed by Toshiko Mori and Grimshaw Architects) were part of the plan.

Rendering

On the face of it, the announcement was in response to local opposition. But this is really a move straight from the developer’s playbook. In honor of the client here, let’s call it “Gamesmanship 101.” 

Here is how it works: 1) propose a humongous, X-million-square foot project; 2) get predictably hammered by outraged community groups who claim it will ruin the neighborhood; 3) appear to re-group or “go back to the drawing board”; 4) allow a decent interval of time to elapse (you’re busy processing all of the “neighborhood concerns”); and 5) roll out a slightly modified new plan (still too damn big, of course, but not quite as bloated as the original) that appears to be in response to local “input,” but is in fact very close to the internal number you were aiming for all along.

Think of it as a high stakes poker game, with numbers and renderings and zoning variances as the chips. You want 2-million square feet of new construction approved in the Village? First ask for 2 and a half million. (Oh, it also doesn’t hurt to have most of the elected officials in your back pocket.)

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Monica McLaughlin April 15, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I am so disgusted. I wish I was not aware of this kind of stuff. All I can say is that if you are aware, and you are not part of the top 10% of the wealthy, you need to join some sort of group and protest this kind of stuff. Don’t like OWS? Find another group. Do not sit idly by while the wealthy destroy our environments and our lives.

Reply

cathryn May 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Definitely agree, Monica! (delayed response, sorry.)
Cathryn.

Reply

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