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West Side ‘Stories’

West Side ‘Stories’

NEIGHBORS’ HIGH-RISING ANGER AT FORDHAM U.

New York Post 3/22/2009

By ANGELA MONTEFINISE

Take a look at what some are calling the “Fordham Fortress.”

In an effort to keep up with its growing enrollment, Fordham University is proposing this hulking high-rise development between 60th and 62nd streets on the west side of Manhattan.

The project slated for completion in 2032 increases the number of buildings from three to 10 and calls for more than 2 million square feet of space, including two 50-plus story residential towers on Amsterdam Avenue.

Opponents believe the controversial plan “walls off” the community and creates no “meaningful” public space.

“Placing all the buildings along the perimeter of the campus just doesn’t make any sense,” said Michael Groll, a member of Fordham Neighborhood United. “The entire block is in a circle and completely walled off.”

Groll whose group is hosting a rally today protesting the plan added that the neighborhood supports Fordham expanding but said, “This is not Sixth Avenue. We should not have, in the middle of a residential area, 60-story buildings . . . This plan is so overwhelming that it will completely take over the community, the quality of life.”

Last month, Fordham came to a compromise with Borough President Scott Stringer, agreeing to decrease the size of the project and work with the community.

Opponents were pleased with the tweaks, which include a 50 percent reduction in parking spaces, wider sidewalks and the shrinking of some buildings, but want more from the university.

“I think more needs to be done,” said Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who says she believes the two Amsterdam Avenue towers are too tall.

Fordham spokesman Robert Howe said negotiations with the community were continuing.

He also said the new campus would “absolutely” have “all kinds of entrances” for the public and retail operations at street level and would be “a very active, vibrant place.”

“The last thing we want to have is a fortress,” he said of the nickname detractors have given the project. “That’s a convenient alliterative label that’s been applied, but it’s simply untrue.”

Fordham is going through the land-review process to get approval for its plan. The City Planning Commission is expected to vote on April 22. If the plan’s approved, the City Council will vote on the initiative.

Fordham Neighbors United

Fordham Neighbors United, a coalition of residents in the vicinity of the Fordham University Lincoln Center, held a rally on Sunday, March 22nd with its local elected officials and community leaders to urge Fordham to downsize its 3 million square feet campus expansion plan.