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NYU Growth Blocked by Condo Board

By: Hiten Samtani

June 3rd, 2014

New York University’s plans to connect its Upper East Side fine arts institute with a donated space in a neighboring building appear to have been quashed by that building’s condo board, which claims the university’s plans require the board’s consent. The institute operates from a 40,000-square-foot space at 1 E. 78th St. NYU hoped to gain more room by connecting the building to a neighboring six-story, 13-unit building at 3 E. 78th St. via a 10-foot-long breezeway. Billionaire Sheldon Solow donated the ground floor commercial condominium in the building to NYU in the late 1990s. Building the breezeway would require NYU to punch a hole in the French Gothic property, designed in 1899 by renowned American architect C.P.H. Gilbert.

But Adam Leitman Bailey, the lawyer for the condo board at 3 E. 78th, wrote to the LPC last month, stating that the wall in question is owned by the condo board, and represents a structural change to the building. That would require approval by the condo board president, per the building’s bylaws.

NYU maintains the bylaws allow the owner of the commercial ground floor condominium to make alterations without the board’s consent, according to The New York Times.

Bailey claims NYU falsely represented itself in the application as owners of 3 E. 78th St. to secure approval of the work. “In light of NYU’s knowing and deceptive submission of this unauthorized application, the Board respectfully requests that the application be rejected in all respects,” he wrote to the LPC.

As part of the landmarks process, university The university has ruffl ed some feathers with its expansion plans. / CITYREALTY representatives initially appeared before the area’s Community Board 8 in May to present the plans.

The community board voted 41-1 against NYU’s proposal. “The presentation information did not fully illustrate the proposed changes,” the board stated in a letter to the LPC dated May 22. The letter notes “the materials are not appropriate to the existing buildings” and the construction would disturb “the original fabric” of the two buildings.

The Times stated that NYU temporarily suspended its application after it was rejected by the board. But it was the Landmarks commission that withdrew the application, until NYU and the condo board agree about the right person to sign the application, according to correspondence between the LPC and the condo board.

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