NYU land grab?

Stephen Brown

First they got their sciences, now they’re coming for the arts!

New York University is plotting a huge, long-term expansion that goes far beyond the merger that brought the Polytechnic University engineering program under its wing — and may now look to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to collaborate for its next venture in Downtown’s growing collegiate community.

Two NYU officials confirmed that they’d look at performing arts as an option for one of the new sites, and will also likely focus on beefing up its science offerings, due to Polytech’s proximity.

BAM representatives said they hadn’t heard of any plan to collaborate with NYU, but said the two entities have worked together on music education programs and that a more formal agreement is not out of the question.

Until that time comes, NYU will look at growing its Downtown empire.

“We’ll probably look at a combination of academic, administrative buildings, and student housing [in Downtown Brooklyn],” said Alicia Hurley, an NYU spokeswoman.

But first, the acquisition — and renovation — of Polytech’s current facilities on Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue. Once NYU fully takes over the 150-year-old engineering program by 2013, it’ll have the option of using Polytech’s “air rights” for the rehabilitation, meaning developers can build vertically or even transfer those rights to an adjacent building.

It’s all part of NYU’s long-term plan to expand by a whopping one million square feet by 2031.

Beyond plans for expansion, specifics are unclear — Hurley said new sites haven’t even been determined yet. She noted, however, that developers have been coming to the university with proposals since the news broke last week.

“There certainly have been a lot of sites brought to us!” she said, though the developer details were not released by our anything-but-academic deadlines.

Hurley added that despite being concentrated in Greenwich Village, NYU’s purple tentacles stretch well into other parts of Manhattan. (Full disclosure: Stephen Brown, a reporter on this story, attended grad school at NYU.)

“[Therefore], the university would be very flexible in our growth in Brooklyn,” she said.

It’s not the first time planners have looked to Downtown as the new college hub of New York City — indeed, 35,000 students attend classes in the neighborhood — but it’s certainly the first formal step in that direction.

NYU has sought to portray the major expansion in facilities as an effort to give proper space to its student body. NYU’s “square feet per student” lags far behind when compared to other major universities.

Still, a major change in the demographics of Downtown may be in store. While NYU’s student body is estimated to only increase by roughly 4,000 through 2031 — Polytech’s student body has grown by 66 percent since 2005, bringing it close to 4,000. A Polytech spokeswoman said the school’s growth is “stabilizing,” but that it is still working “to determine optimal enrollment for the long term.”