NEW YORK CITY-New York University said Thursday it wouldeliminate a fourth tower, which would have been built in thelandmarked section of the superblock containing its Silver Towers,from its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application forexpansion plans near Washington Square Park. Instead, the ULURPapplication will include a building on the university-owned sitecurrently occupied by the Morton Williams supermarket.

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Newfound opposition by architect I.M. Pei, who designed theoriginal three-building Silver Towers complex in the 1960s, playeda strong role in NYU’s decision. “From the beginning, we sought adesign for the Silver Towers block that was most respectful of Mr.Pei’s vision,” says Lynne Brown, SVP at NYU, in a statement. “Somepeople disagreed with our proposed approach; others agreed. Webelieved that among those who agreed was Mr. Pei himself, whoexpressed no opposition to the concept of a tower on the landmarkedsite when we spoke with him directly in 2008.”

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Now, however, “Pei has now had a change of heart” as expressedin a letter written to NYU on his behalf, says Brown. “The clarityMr. Pei has now provided—that the Morton Williams site is‘preferable’—is helpful to us in understanding how to proceed withour ULURP proposal.”

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The announcement drew mixed reviews from the Greenwich VillageSociety for Historic Preservation, which has repeatedly expressedits oppostion to several aspects of the university’s NYU 2031expansion strategy. “That the university has decided to shelve thisplan is incredible news, and a fantastic victory for all of ourefforts,” the group says in a statement. “However, NYU is insistingthat they will move ahead with seeking permission to build on theadjacent non-landmarked supermarket site instead, and will alsocontinue seek to approvals for the rest of its massive,two-million-square-foot expansion plan around WashingtonSquare. GVSHP is also adamantly opposed to NYU’s plans forbuilding on the supermarket site (which they are currentlyprohibited from building on before 2021), as well as many othersaspects of their massive plans.”

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NYU says it expects to file a standardized Land Use ReviewApplication with the Department of City Planning under the ULURP inthe fall of 2011.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.