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Tots and Seniors: Creating Community Spaces on the Superblocks

June 28, 2013

Going beyond what was required in its agreement with the city for the approval of its development plans, NYU is creating space for not one, but two local nonprofit groups in the University’s Washington Square Village complex. We’ll soon be retrofitting spaces for a new childcare facility and a senior outreach group in ground floor locations.

Since summer 2012, when the University agreed to designate certain space within its properties for community use, we’ve been consulting with our nonprofit partners to better understand the neighborhood’s needs for social services such as childcare, education outreach, elderly services, and more. In Lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village—where the population of young children has increased over 40% since 2000—the message was loud and clear: Early childcare is the number one concern for a large number of families, including many of our own faculty.

So NYU is renovating 6,000 square feet on the ground floor of Washington Square Village 4 to be used as a new child care center run by a partnership between Creative Steps and University Settlement. Slated to open in January 2014, it will have five classrooms serving up to 75 children ages 1-5, and will offer expanded hours to help fulfill as many childcare needs as possible. It will be open to all neighborhood families, including those housed at NYU.

Creative Steps will be releasing application information with various scheduling options soon.

But childcare isn’t the only pressing need in the neighborhood. Councilmember Margaret Chin—our neighborhood’s representative on the New York City Council—has helped us understand the dearth of senior care options in the area. She then helped facilitate a working agreement between NYU and Visiting Neighbors, a long-time University partner that has provided crucial services to seniors in the Village and Lower East Side for 40 years. Two years ago, budget cuts at the Department for the Aging led to Visiting Neighbors' near-closure, and necessitated dramatic staffing cuts and a relocation to borrowed space far from the neighborhoods it serves.

So, the University is designating 900 square feet of office space in Washington Square Village 3, separate from the child care facility and beyond our ULURP agreement, for Visiting Neighbors to stage their daily operations. They’ll be closer to their senior populations, closer to a sizeable base of NYU volunteers, and will have a facility that lets them accomplish their mission.

“Our heart and soul is still the Village, because it’s where we started,” said Cynthia Maurer, Visiting Neighbors executive director.  “We’re grateful to NYU.”

Visiting Neighbors will relocate sometime next fall.

We know that relationships with our neighbors can be sensitive, but we’re committed—and always be will be—to serving and bettering our neighborhood. We’re proud of these developments, which let us support vital nonprofit partners as they further their mission to serve our broad community.

--Alicia Hurley, Josh Bisker, and John Beckman

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