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Thread: Columbia University Campus Expansion - Manhattanville

  1. #241

    Default city council hearing today on columbia

    Not that I can tell what really happenned here:

    The interesting question here is eminent domain, but its not obvious what took place in the city council hearing with regards to it. I think 1 curiosity about the opponents to the project is there counterproductive behavior - waving "Bollinger dollars" in the air just makes them seem like weirdos and cranks, which they may be - but the eminent domain question deserves a serious analysis so I hope it got one. (I favor eminent domain for the public purpose of higher education if its necessary though).

  2. #242
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    Good news for the Cotton Club but what's with all this fascination nowadays to turn everything into parkland and open space?

    Like everything else in life, too much of a good thing can actually turn into a bad thing.

  3. #243


    Quote Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
    Good news for the Cotton Club but what's with all this fascination nowadays to turn everything into parkland and open space?
    Hope they at least build them a new and better looking building with several stories on top.

  4. #244

    Default columbia deal looks imminent

    It looks to me like they are going to strike a bargain and avoid eminent domain. I'm puzzled about why the number of affordable apartments the landowner wants to build after the swap is any of their business though - sounds like something he can subsequently work out with the city without Columbia's involvement.

  5. #245


    Hope they at least build them a new and better looking building with several stories on top.
    I think this was the previous offer that the Cotton Club rejected, on the grounds that a temporary removal might become a permanent one.

  6. #246


    ^ They could build them a new and better building somewhere else. No interruption in business.

  7. #247
    Forum Veteran Tectonic's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    New York City


    Its sad Dinosaur Barbecue gotta move though

  8. #248
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    I can see Stuy Town


    From the NY Observor.........

    by Matthew Schuerman | December 18, 2007
    In light of tomorrow’s expected City Council vote on Columbia University’s expansion plan, the Harlem group that is negotiating a community benefits agreement is trying to finalize beforehand a set of pledges for the school to make on issues such as affordable housing, education and job training.
    The agreement, according to a source familiar with the negotiations, is all set except for one crucial element: the numbers were left blank. The source said that the group, the West Harlem Local Development Corporation, has gone into these negotiations asking for a total of $247 million in benefits. Columbia has not offered much more than the $32.5 million pact it made with Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer in September, according to the source.
    One new element that apparently both sides agree on: a public laboratory school, for pre-K through 8th grade, that would be affiliated with Teachers College, which is separate from, yet related to, Columbia, and supported by the university. This would come in addition to the high school for which Columbia will donate land that has already opened in temporary space.
    Oh, and one other thing: the name has changed from a “community benefits agreement” to a “community partnership agreement.”

  9. #249
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Far West Village, NYC


    Pure extortion.

  10. #250
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    December 19, 2007, 5:57 pm

    City Council Approves Columbia Expansion Plan

    By Sewell Chan

    After an unusually lengthy debate, the New York City Council cleared the way this afternoon for a 17-acre campus expansion by Columbia University, the largest in its history. The 35 to 5 vote, with 6 members abstaining, followed a hectic day of committee meetings, was the final significant step in a rezoning process that pitted the university and its supporters against a coalition that included the local community board and some property owners and residents.

    The expansion, encompassing the area between 125th and 133rd Streets, from Broadway west to the Hudson River, would mark the greatest change in Columbia’s footprint since the 1890s, when it moved from Midtown to Morningside Heights. The university intends to build new academic and residential buildings, including space for its arts and business schools and advanced scientific research labs.

    The $7 billion expansion, which will occur over the next 25 years, will be the largest development project in Manhattan in recent memory. Columbia has said it intends to extend its campus onto only 17 acres, which are bounded roughly by Broadway on the east, the Hudson River on the west, West 125 th Street on the south and West 133rd Street on the north.

    While the rezoning of the area from light manufacturing to mixed-use removes the university’s last hurdle to expand, some elements of the plan remain to be settled - including whether the university will seek to use eminent domain to remove commercial property owners who have so far refused to sell their land to Columbia. The university owns about 75 percent of the property in the area. The expansion has been bitterly opposed by many in West Harlem, who have objected to the potential use of eminent domain, and out of fear that the residents of some of the last working class neighborhoods in Manhattan, which lie to the north of the expansion area, will be displaced by students and administrators who earn far more than the typical neighborhood resident.

    But Columbia officials said the expansion was necessary if the institution, cramped for space, was to remain competitive with its Ivy League peers, several of which are either in the midst of expanding or are considering expanding.

    ”Columbia has only a fraction of the space enjoyed by our leading peers across the country,” said Lee C. Bollinger, president of the university.

    Columbia completed a draft environmental impact statement for the project in June, but the criticism had begun much earlier.

    The expansion plan was sharply criticized at a public hearing in October and was one focus of a student hunger strike in November. As part of the real estate boom, colleges and universities have been erecting new buildings around the city, straining town-gown relations.

    The City Planning Commission endorsed the expansion on Nov. 26 after a contentious debate.

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times

  11. #251

    Default What's really behind "neighborhood" opposition to Columbia

    As the NY Times reports today, most of this battle is being pitched by a sleazy storage-facility kingpin. So much for "neighborhood" opposition. I'll take education over cheap warehouses, thanks.

    Pushing Back as Columbia Moves to Spread Out
    New York Times
    Published: January 11, 2008
    NICHOLAS SPRAYREGEN, the Upper Manhattan property owner who has dueled to a standoff with an acquisition-minded Columbia University in the real estate version of a “whoever has the most toys, wins” competition, knows better than to ask for a sympathy vote.
    “Don’t feel sorry for me,” he says, crouched behind a desk in his windowless office at 3261 Broadway. Photographs of Bruce Springsteen, whom the lean and hirsute Mr. Sprayregen marginally resembles, dominate the decorating scheme. Don’t worry, Mr. Sprayregen, no pity for you.
    This is true even before you mention that you have scored seventh-row seats to the Boss’s summer concert at Giants Stadium, sat next to Mr. Springsteen’s mom at one of his Seeger sessions gigs, and attended six shows during his 10-night stand at Madison Square Garden for “The Rising” tour. Do you really have to drag out that photograph of you and the Boss posing at a Bridgehampton ice cream shop, the shot used as a screen saver on all your electronic gadgets? Did you really name two of your companies, Rising Development Company and Rising Publications, in honor of Mr. Springsteen? Does the final line on your one-page résumé read: “Number one Bruce Springsteen fan in Harlem,” even though you and your wife, Jaynee, live on the Upper East Side? Yes, yes and yes.
    “I am very obsessive in general, and I tend to do things to an extreme,” he admits. In him, this somehow manages to be an endearing quality.
    Mr. Sprayregen, 44, is a multimillionaire thanks to Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage, the family business he took over in 1990. What was once a hulking orange-and-black brick building on an unattractive stretch of Broadway at 131st Street (it now bears a banner with the message “Stop Eminent Domain Abuse”) has morphed into five storage warehouses. It’s hard to work up a tear for a fellow who owns one million square feet of commercial properties in New York and New Jersey, has acquired 18 choice parcels in the heart of Yonkers, and last year diversified himself further by purchasing Westchester’s largest chain of weekly newspapers.
    Hard to proffer condolences to a guy who drives, proudly, “a gas-guzzling Chevy Suburban,” an act of political incorrectness he attributes to being the father of four busy children from his first marriage. Conveniently, he has his own oversize parking spot in this hulking warehouse, the building that was the genesis of his family’s self-storage business in 1980 and that Columbia is now bent on bulldozing to make room for a complex designed by Renzo Piano.
    GIRDED by the recent City Council-stamped rezoning of the Manhattanville neighborhood, and contingent upon the result of a blight study conducted by the Empire State Development Corporation, Columbia is poised to acquire four properties owned by Mr. Sprayregen that are in the path and plans of the university’s 17-acre expansion.
    Mr. Sprayregen, a businessman so obsessed with fitness that he has raced and finished 20 marathons and so obsessive about gaining a pound that he has not weighed himself since college (no need to), is relishing the tangle with his Ivy League neighbor over the precious asset that constitutes, he says, “ the bread and butter for 15 members of my family.”
    Columbia may covet his property, but surrender is not in his repertoire. He’s given up running marathons to devote himself to winning, or at least finishing, what will inevitably be a bruising and expensive legal marathon. (He estimates he will spend more than $2 million in court fees.)
    “I’m a mere mortal and they’re an institution,” he says, “but when they started buying up this neighborhood three years ago, it bothered me, and now it infuriates me.” He is likely to stay mad for years.
    “I would have never thought four years ago that I would get involved in a civil rights issue; I had never before considered myself as part of a minority that was being stamped upon.” He does now. “This is about the powerful growing more powerful at the expense of those who have less. Columbia is not a public university; what they’re doing by threatening to use eminent domain is as unethical from a business perspective as anything I’ve ever come across. Property rights abuse is running rampant, but what’s unique in this instance is that eminent domain always seems to be used against the down-and-out, people who can’t afford to fight back in a meaningful way. I can. But I think it’s anti-American that I’m probably on the losing side.”
    Mr. Sprayregen, with help from the civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel, vows to take Columbia all the way to the Supreme Court to prevent it from seizing his property.
    Mr. Sprayregen, who grew up in New Rochelle and has an M.B.A. from New York University, actually applied to and was accepted by Columbia’s Graduate School of International Studies while working in management and acquisitions for a Chase Manhattan subsidiary from 1987 to 1989. He wound up running the family business instead.
    “People like to say this is just about money, that Columbia is the future and me and my business are so yesterday, but this is about right and wrong. Why should Columbia get to take my property? And why, now that there has been a change of zoning, shouldn’t I be able to stay here side-by-side with Columbia and develop my own properties?”
    So one way or another, Tuck-It-Away is history? Mr. Sprayregen nods. No tears here.

  12. #252
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Quote Originally Posted by Stroika View Post

    I'll take education over cheap warehouses, thanks.
    Then pay the gentleman the price that makes him want to sell the property he owns.

    Or perhaps you'd like to donate your property at a cut -rate price for for the cause of higher education?

  13. #253


    he's been offered the market rate, hasn't he? a guy like that would be more than happy to extort $200 million from columbia for his crappy storage facility.

  14. #254
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    But it's his. If he doesn't want to sell he shouldn't have to. It's the American way.

    And it's not as if his properties are right in the middle of the Columbia plan and thereby make it completely unworkable ...

    He owns two parcels for his Storage business in the Columbia area:

    1) 3261 Broadway (at 131st Street) is on the western edge of Phase 2

    2) 655 West 125th Street (north side of 125th west of St. Clair) is on the southern edge of of Phase 1

  15. #255

    Default agreed

    Columbia should build the parts it owns. They won't finish this project until 2030. If the guy really hasn't sold by then, I think the city should contemplate eminent domain as I think its pretty obvious the founding fathers considered universities one of the more obvious uses for which eminent domain was allowed - and there is clearly a public benefit to building an contiguous college campus especially if they are willing to swap space with him across the street.

    I'm skeptical they won't reach a settlement.

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