Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Coming Thursday To West Harlem: Columbia’s Eminent Domain Fight

Coming Thursday To West Harlem: Columbia’s Eminent Domain Fight
by Eliot Brown July 15, 2008


Just when news started to slow for the summer on the development front, New York's Empire State Development Corporation dropped this bombshell in the agenda for its monthly meeting [PDF]: Columbia University "Land Use Improvement Project and Civic Project Findings."

Translation: the state will unveil the blight study, the first step in the use of eminent domain for Columbia's 17-acre West Harlem site.

The one major holdout left in the footprint is Nick Sprayregen, owner of Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage, which has numerous properties in the area. Mr. Sprayregen has bankrolled much of the opposition to the project, particularly on the legal front, and has previously vowed to challenge the use of eminent domain.

"Columbia had numerous opportunities to amicably resolve this, but they chose not to, and the battle lines are drawn," said Norman Siegel, Mr. Sprayregen's attorney. "This controversy has been brewing for at least five years."

We're waiting on a statement from Columbia.

The eminent domain issue is the second of two major legal hurdles to the expansion, which comes as the university says it needs to build new facilities to remain competitive. Last December, it passed the first obstacle: approval by the city and City Council of a rezoning for the area.

[Update: Columbia declined to comment].


Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options
Submit this as a letter to the editor?
By checking this box you are giving permission for Observer staff to contact you to obtain contact information and permissions required for publication.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Perhaps more important is a decision handed down just today that ruled in favor of Mr. Sprayregen. It upholds a lower court's decision to release documents that the state refused to hand over plus the court raises the real issue of conflict of interest between Columbia and the state in their hiring, at the same time, the same consultant. Stay tuned for more. July 15, 2008 3:48 PM

Claude Blanchet (not verified) says:
For the past six years Columbia have tried their best to get me out of my apartment on Riverside so they could use it for students..a much more lucrative prospect since I am under rent control.I have been disable for the past 18 years and yet Columbia does not show any sign of relenquishing their claim eventhough I have been residing in my home for the past 44 years.It is very doubtfull that Columbia will ever maintain their claim of fairness toward the residents of Harlem for in my case, since I live in a prime location in front of the Park they will do anything to side track the law and evict me without an afterthough
Claude Blanchet July 17, 2008 11:06 AM

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Columbia University's plan is racist and classist, and they have been courting the elected officials, who are supposed to represent the people of Harlem, via campaign contributions and public relations tactics. Particularly, Councilman Robert Jackson has completely misrepresented his constituents in an effort to maintain a positive relationship with Columbia's deep pockets. Columbia has claimed that it will not invoke Eminent Domain for the acquisitions of residential properties in West Harlem, but yet, hasn't offered any acceptable offers to the tenants in the area. Columbia would be better off buying out each tenant one-by-one; Instead, they're using electeds, PR and the government rights to displace good hard-working people. July 17, 2008 11:37 AM

Columbia Renounces (Some) Eminent Domain
Manhattanville Sues for Information
ESDC Upstate Gets a New (Acting) Leader
Paterson Installs Buffalo-Based Bank Chief as ESDC Chair [UPDATED]
Yet Another ESDC Principal Out: Upstate Chair Gundersen Resigns [UPDATED]

No comments: