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NEW YORK CITY-Fordham University’s planned expansion of its Upper West Side campus will be reduced in scope under a compromise plan announced Wednesday by the university and Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. The compromise follows the three-million-square-foot expansion plan’s unanimous rejection last month by the largely residential neighborhood’s community board. Community board approval is the first step in the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Under the compromise plan, the expansion would be scaled back by 206,000 square feet. This would entail reducing or eliminating floor plates and redistributing floor area to below-grade cellar space, along with reducing floor-to-floor heights of the towers planned for Columbus Avenue. However, the university still expects to expand its Lincoln Center-area campus from three buildings to 10.

The “massiveness” of the Columbus Avenue towers was a factor in Manhattan Community Board 7′s longstanding objections to the expansion plan, dating back more than three years. “The result of Fordham’s desire to maximize everything would be a ‘superblock’ without through passage or even sight lines at grade level, with buildings grossly out of scale with the rest of the Upper West Side,” according to the board’s Jan. 21 resolution opposing the plan. “On four corners, Fordham would tower over its neighbors to the west, north and east, and would extend an inhospitable Midtown ambiance to Lincoln Center. Indeed, the absence of through passage or sight lines at grade level would multiply the fortress effect of Fordham’s campus.”

The compromise plan entails new design guidelines to prevent “slab-like towers” on Columbus Avenue, according to a release. Among other things, that means lowering the street walls of the Columbus Avenue buildings by seven or eight stories, and also brings in community input on the design of buildings that haven’t yet reached the architectural stage.

To address the through-passage issue, the plans also call for widened sidewalks on Columbus Avenue to bring more open space to the street and accommodate additional pedestrians, along with expanded entryways to staircases that lead to the publicly accessible open space at the center of the campus. The number of parking spaces in the expansion plan has been reduced by more than half.

Additionally, the plan calls for the highest possible standards to control pollution and noise while the expansion is under way. Fordham will expand its academically oriented, after-school programs in School District 3 under the compromise plan.

In a statement, university president Joseph McShane says the compromise plan “serves both our neighbors and the university.” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) gives plaudits to Stringer and the university “for their successful work in making serious changes to a plan that will now fundamentally alter Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus and make it more harmonious with the community, particularly along Columbus Avenue.” He adds, however, “I hope and expect that additional modifications will be made to the plan regarding Amsterdam Avenue, and to address other community concerns, before the City Planning Commission and City Council grant final approval.”

CB7 chair Helen Rosenthal says in a statement that the revised plan achieves “meaningful accomplishments on a number of important community priorities, including height, density, parking garages, open space and the staircase.” Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who represents the neighborhood, similarly praises the compromise plan but adds that “there is still much more that needs to be done.”

For Stringer, the Fordham compromise plan represents the third such initiative in the space of a year. Last year, he helped mediate disputes related to the planned expansions of Columbia University in West Harlem and New York University in Greenwich Village.

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