If New York is to retain its leadership in the 21st-century economy, it needs a steady supply of smart, creative young people with the energy to re-create, reignite and re-imagine the city of yesterday and today.
That’s why New York University’s bold plan to expand its presence in the Village and elsewhere is a welcome sign. The university could not make a greater statement about its commitment to the city. And the city should respond in kind as the university moves forward with an extraordinary plan to create 6 million square feet of new space by 2031.
Like any other big plan, N.Y.U.’s almost certainly will come under attack from the not-in-my-backyard crowd. Some complaints may be legitimate; others will be tiresome and merely obstructive. The university clearly realizes that it should, and will, reach out to its neighbors, treating them as partners rather than abstractions. N.Y.U. has said it will donate space in a new building to allow for the construction of a new primary school in the Village, where schools are badly overcrowded.
N.Y.U.’s president, John Sexton, a child of the streets of New York and no stranger to hardship, could not have demonstrated a more heartfelt commitment to the city of his birth. His sensitivity to the concerns of his neighbors and his overarching commitment to academic excellence ensure that this plan will balance the needs of both the community and the university.
N.Y.U. is one of the city’s treasures. The expansion plan will make the university all the more invaluable.