The Museum of Natural History has filed building permits for its new education center, but that doesn’t mean shovels are about to hit the ground. The museum still hasn’t completed the public review process, and is simply getting a head start on the permit review process, according to a museum spokesman. Typically, construction starts shortly after building permits are issued, but not in this case.
The New York City Parks Department is still finalizing its environmental review of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, which is expected to be 245,000 square feet and include a new entrance to the museum off of Columbus Avenue. Local residents packed a June meeting about the review, registering complaints about the loss of parkland, likely traffic problems, and several other issues.
The city has already pledged millions to the project — with some of that coming at the discretion of City Council member Helen Rosenthal and Borough President Gale Brewer — but it hasn’t yet gotten a full public review or vote. It’s not clear when those votes will be finalized, so the museum wanted to start the process now. The timeline on the museum website indicates it hopes to start construction at some point this year, and open the new addition in 2020.
“Many projects begin code review with DOB while other approvals are being sought, because DOB review takes many months to complete and DOB’s determinations may have implications for design,” the spokesman wrote.