Scott Stringer’s College Try: Can the Borough President Thread the NYU Needle and Win City Hall Along the Way?

Just south of Washington Square Park, on the border between the Village and Soho, lie two apartment blocks, much larger than the now-tony townhouses that typify the neighborhood of Dylan, Ginsberg and Magnolia Bakery but not especially big by New York City standards.

The Silver Towers are three concrete, crenellated sentinels looming over Houston Street. Washington Square Village, the neighbor to the north, is two humongous slabs of balconies and windows, twice as long as a football field. Greenscapes of varying quality—a Picasso sculpture here, a viewing garden there, a beloved playground and dog run—encircle the modernist giants.

It is on these blocks that New York University’s future lies, the school insists. And so it has proposed adding five more buildings, a total of 2.5 million square feet, rivaling the Empire State Building in size.

By midnight Wednesday, Borough President Scott Stringer will release his recommendations for the NYU rezoning, part of the city’s uniform land-use review process. His vote, though advisory, will shape not only the Village for a generation but also the contours of the next mayoral race. The borough president has proved himself over the past six years to be remarkably canny at taking an office often seen to be powerless and using it to shape some of the most consequential developments in decades. Along the way, he has created a platform that could be a springboard to City Hall.

NYU is but the latest major rezoning that Scott Stringer has taken charge of, but by no means the first.