Some think that after the deed restriction expires in 2021, NYU could build their plan “as-of-right” on the superblocks (without any ULURP or other City actions). This is absolutely incorrect.
The existing residential buildings on the superblocks already exceed the allowable Open Space Ratio (OSR). Other than on the supermarket or stores on LaGuardia, which are separate zoning lots, NOTHING can be built as-of-right on the superblocks. Not in 2013, not in 2021 when the deed restriction expires, not in 2031.
Even “Community Facility” buildings, which do not require any open space, cannot be built as they would force the blocks further out of compliance. NYU’s requested zoning change is all about HALVING the requirement for open space.
If NYU could build as-of-right without upzoning, why are they spending millions of dollars (and garnering so much ill will) seeking it? Why all the lawyers and consultants if the deed restriction – which would have to be removed or expire in any case – is the only barrier to building?
And even with an R8/C1-7 upzoning, the currently designed buildings require multiple variances and zoning text changes. So NYU is designing buildings that do not even fit into a higher zoning allotment.
The existing R7 zoning on the superblocks is the highest in Greenwich Village other than on avenues or extra-wide commercial thoroughfares. Existing zoning in the nearby Financial District – within walking distance or a quick subway ride – allows, and welcomes, just the kind of development that NYU seeks. There it would benefit the City as well as the University.