That is why a strong compromise, with the borough president’s full backing, is all the more tantalizing. It would allow Mr. Stringer to claim a victory for the community, the university and the city as a whole without risking much ire from any of those institutions, particularly the construction and real estate industries, which have given generously to the Stringer campaign in both funds and support.
There is still a portion of the Village community that has looked down on NYU, some as far back as when Robert Moses built the two superblocks, and even this kind of negotiation will probably not win them over. There is the risk, if Mr. Stringer’s consent is seen as too favorable to the university, it could anger community groups citywide. “There are certainly elements on the Upper East and Upper West sides, in Scott’s traditional territory, that could side with the Village on this,” Mr. Arzt said. “If he is seen as promoting the wrong kind of development, they could fear for their own neighborhoods.”
While the editorial boards may not support tampering with the project, Mr. Stringer has cover to come out against it, or at least to leverage NYU into a strong agreement. The Villager newspaper, Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman and the Municipal Art Society are among those in favor of removing the two towers on the Washington Square Village block—essentially give the university half of what it wants and call it a day, a position the Times’s pre-editorial report indicates Mr. Stringer had been hoping for.
He also has the tacit support of Councilwoman Chin. “The public review process has several steps to go before it comes to the City Council, however, the Council Member has communicated her concerns to NYU and she will continue to do so,” Kelly Magee, her spokeswoman, said in a statement. A compromise would make her job easier, but a no vote could also strengthen her hand in the negotiations, providing a stronger bargaining position.
By the end of the week, this chapter in the saga will have played out, but it will be at least a year until its full repercussions are felt on the political landscape. At least one person thinks no one should get in the way. “It could destroy NYU,” Mayor Bloomberg said at a press conference on Monday, when The Observer asked him if it was possible to reduce the size and scope of the plan.
“Playing politics with it is not good for anybody,” he concluded.