Just read the article: glad you spotted that - good lookin' out BBMW.
By the way, my brother has a BMW: he parks it on the viaduct here in west harlem (I mean Manhattanville) whenever he comes to visit. The running joke now is BMW stands for "Break My Window". (LOL)
Last edited by infoshare; June 24th, 2010 at 02:46 PM.
“New York State’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law lacks transparency, accountability, and a set of explicitly defined terms, according to Perkins. He has argued that it is a system rigged in favor of condemnors, who use the system’s ill-defined language and numerous loopholes to unlawfully seize private property.”
I agree the law is not explicit and lacks transparancy wherever decisions regarding blight are concerned, but I am glad to see how the final ruling turned out, a contiguous campus setting was crucial here; and the only way to get the entire parcel was with the use of Eminent Domain.
NEWS FEED from NY1 - http://manhattan.ny1.com/content/top...mbia-expansion
Last edited by infoshare; June 24th, 2010 at 06:51 PM.
In all honesty, if theres any neighborhood in NYC that can be considered "blighted" its Manhattanville. Granted, Ive never been in some of the outer reaches of the Bronx, but I cant imagine it being any worse than that.
Longer article from the NYT:
Court Upholds Columbia Campus Expansion Plan
By CHARLES V. BAGLI
New York’s highest court handed Columbia University a major victory on Thursday for its $6.3 billion plan to build a satellite campus in Harlem, ruling that the state could seize private property for the project.
In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that prohibited the state from using eminent domain to take property in the 17-acre expansion zone west of Broadway, known as Manhattanville, without the owners’ consent. The ruling held that the courts must give deference to the state’s determination that the area was “blighted” and that condemnation on behalf of a university served a public purpose, two ways that the project could qualify for eminent domain under state law.
“This is an extremely important moment in the history of Columbia,” said Lee C. Bollinger, the university’s president. “We look forward to moving ahead with the long-term revitalization of these blocks in Manhattanville that will create thousands of good jobs for New Yorkers and help our city and state remain a global center for pioneering academic research.”
Eminent domain has been a touchy issue nationwide since a 2005 United States Supreme Court ruling that states could permit private property to be seized and turned over to another private owner for redevelopment. Since then, lawmakers in 43 states have tightened the requirements for eminent domain use, but New York has not.
Columbia hopes to build a series of 16 buildings for science, business and the arts over several decades on the site near the Hudson River, where the streets are lined with warehouses, factories and auto repair shops.
The university has already acquired the bulk of the land it needs, but the owners of four warehouses and two gas stations refused to sell and sued. There are also seven tenements in the area, which are not subject to condemnation, but Columbia hopes to move the tenants to comparable apartments elsewhere.
Norman Siegel, who represented the losing owners, said he was “extremely disappointed” in the decision and would appeal to the Supreme Court. Although state law allows eminent domain to be used for educational purposes, he argued that it did not explicitly permit a private institution to benefit from it.
“The decision sets a terrible precedent regarding the use of eminent domain,” he said.
Still, the decision was not unexpected, said Michael Rikon, a lawyer who specializes in condemnation law and real estate litigation.
“It is virtually impossible to stop a condemnation in New York because of the courts’ deference to agencies’ determination,” Mr. Rikon said. “Even though the courts say they won’t be a rubber stamp, that’s in essence what they’ve become.”
The ruling cited a decision in a similar eminent-domain case last year involving the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, where the state was condemning property on behalf of a developer who planned to build a basketball arena for the Nets and roughly 6,000 apartments. “We ruled for Atlantic Yards, and if we could rule in favor of a basketball arena, surely we could rule for a nonprofit university,” the court said Thursday in its decision, which was written by Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick.
One of the most contested issues was whether the area was blighted and in need of redevelopment, which would make it a candidate for eminent domain. The lower court had agreed with the property owners that there was “no evidence whatsoever that Manhattanville was blighted prior to Columbia gaining control over the vast majority of property therein.”
But the Court of Appeals rejected the notion that Columbia had created the blighted conditions out of self-interest, saying the lower courts had ignored a 2003 city study that found “ample evidence of deterioration of the building stock in the study area.” A subsequent study by the state found a dearth of construction and “longstanding lack of investor interest in the neighborhood” and determined that the buildings of one of the property owners in the suit, Nicholas Sprayregen, had three times the average number of building violations compared with those on parcels acquired by Columbia.
Mr. Sprayregen, the owner of the four warehouses who had refused to sell to Columbia, said he intended to carry on the battle. “If not overturned, the ruling now will allow any private school to be the beneficiary of eminent domain to take their neighbor’s property,” he said. “Further, it telegraphs to every large developer that they merely need to purchase a majority of land in an area and then intentionally allow their property to worsen in physical condition, which could then trigger a blight designation which would allow them to forcibly take adjacent property.”
Mr. Sprayregen and the gas station owners can still go to state court for more compensation if they believe they are not being offered a fair price.
The ruling does not bode well for property owners in Willets Point, Queens, a neglected neighborhood near Citi Field, who oppose the city’s effort to take their land for a redevelopment plan, Mr. Rikon said.
Those owners, who are considering a lawsuit against condemnation, contend that the area is blighted only because the city has refused to pave the streets properly and install sewers. But their current lawsuit challenging the city’s plan on environmental grounds is unaffected by the ruling.
“It’s time for the State of New York to do something about this,” Mr. Rikon said. “They should create a commission on eminent domain to revise the law.”
In a statement, the Empire State Development Corporation, the agency that would take the land on behalf of Columbia, said the ruling “confirms that the project complies with New York State law in all respects and that the acquisition of the holdout properties is essential to realizing the vision for the Manhattanville campus as it was approved by the state.”
“The expansion of one of New York’s oldest educational institutions will enhance the vitality of both the university and its neighboring west Harlem community, while meeting the long-term needs of its residents,” the agency added.
In a concurring opinion, Judge Robert S. Smith agreed that the state had the power to decide what constituted blight, although he himself considered the blight designation “strained and pretextual.”
He also wrote that since the court had already approved the blight designation, thereby allowing the seizure of property, the court should not have also brought up the issue of what constitutes a “civic purpose,” because it opened the door to any purported “school,” even a tennis academy, to have land assembled for it through eminent domain.
Next thing you know they'll want us to spend $Gazillions to tear down and bury the elevated roadway to the west -- just like those entitled-feeling folks down at Riverside South.
You mean the people who use the park? Think how much nicer that park would be without the highway looming over it.
Actually, the part of the park west of the highway is fine. The hight just has the effect of forming the eastern barrier. But without it, they park could be extended very nicely to the retaining wall for Trumpville.
Columbia Needs More Waterfront Property for Inwood Sports Complex Project
Columbia needs the land to meet city waterfront building laws.
By Carla Zanoni
INWOOD — Columbia University is already under fire in the Harlem community for its vast campus-expansion plan. Now, the Ivy League school wants to acquire even more land along the Harlem River so that it can legally construct a new sports complex in Inwood.
A city law requires property owners on the Manhattan shoreline to set aside a predetermined percentage of the land for public use when building a new structure along the water. But Columbia officials said it does not have the amount of workable waterfront land it needs at Broadway and 218th Street, the site of the new complex, to meet the city's square footage requirement.
So, instead, it is asking the city to allow it to acquire and develop more of the city’s waterfront land to meet that requirement.
londonlawyer must have penned that first rendering.
Columbia Demolishes Brownstone Block
(click to enlarge)
There was a lot of news in the past year on trying to rescue the row of brownstones at 408, 410 and 412 West 115th Street (just east of Amsterdam) from demolition by Columbia University and the follow-up to the story doesn't end well.
Those brownstones were under netting for a very very long time. I hope Columbia builds something nice and contextual with the beautiful apartments on Morningside Drive or the prewars across the street. I bet it'll end up looking like the hospital building though. It'll be faculty or student housing no doubt. It's a shame, those blocks between Amsterdam and Morningside are real jewels.
Bowing for Columbia: West Harlem Gets the Protection It's Been Waiting For
By Matt Chaban
The goal is to maintain the character of streets like 135th Street.
When Columbia announced its plans to create a new 17-acre campus in the Manhattanville neighborhood of West Harlem, those living just next door were understandably worried. The university has had a fractious relationship with Morningside Heights, from the controversial 1960s gymnasium that sparked riots to its imposing campus that is seen as off-limits to outsiders. While the promise of jobs and development in a moribund industrial neighborhood was appealing, the cost of living with Columbia seemed greater than the reward.
It is not even Columbia per se that had people most worried, but the gentrification a university expansion could stoke when construction gets underway. Developers flocked to Central and East Harlem during the boom, but West Harlem saw less development in part because Manhattanville served as a buffer. With that area redeveloped, new towers and speculative development could run rampant.
Now West Harlem is winning the protections it has long sought, as a rezoning orchestrated by the Department of City Planning and Borough President Scott Stringer is taking shape.
"We had to create a balance between helping a university that will have such a positive impact for New York City, in terms of jobs and economic opportunities; at the same time we have to make sure we return the favor to West Harlem and protect the people who have always been there," Stringer told The Observer.
Back when Columbia got Manhattanville rezoned in 2008—the area was dedicated to manufacturing, historically a hub of meatpacking—the community, including Stringer, hoped more of the neighborhood would be included than just the 17 acres Columbia had its eye on. At the time, the city said it would consider doing so in a later rezoning, which has been quietly in the works ever since. Initially proposed to cover 125th Street to 145th Street, the current plans call for pushing the protections an additional 10 blocks north, to 155th Street. The area is bounded by Riverside Drive on the west and roughly St. Nicholas Avenue on the east.
The rezoning encompasses nearly 100 blocks, making it the largest in northern Manhattan.
The rezoning will not reduce the density of the district so much as ensure it remains consistent with its surroundings vis-a-vis contextual zoning, which places certain height and massing restrictions on buildings. This helps prevent sliver buildings and other out-of-scale development, such as the Aerial towers by Extell that frustrated Upper West Siders a few years ago. There will still be some upzonings, such as along 145th Street and possibly some of the avenues, which, when coupled with the city's inclusionary housing program, are meant to spur affordable housing.
Beyond housing, the plan will help allow for City College's future growth, as well as setting aside some land for manufacturing or other economic development opportunities.
Ground-floor retail will also be encouraged in the district. City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden and Stringer will be on hand at a community board meeting tomorrow night to explain more.
Stringer noted that the university was entirely supportive of the new plan. "The goal for me, as it relates to the Columbia expansion, is to make sure it doesn't overrun West Harlem, but to coexist with West Harlem," he said.
Columbia's Expansion Allowed by U.S. Supreme Court in Eminent Domain Case
olumbia University can move ahead with plans for a $6.3 billion expansion of its Manhattan campus after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by neighboring businesses whose property may be taken over by eminent domain. The justices today refused to question findings by a state development agency, Empire State Development Corp., that the area is blighted and that the Columbia expansion has a legitimate public purpose. The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, upheld the plan in June.