Friday, September 5, 2008

CB9M PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE on theProposed Columbia University Educational Mixed Use Development Project (Manhattanville Expansion) and on the Neighbor

To: Board Members/Community Residents
From: Hon. Patricia Jones, Chair
Date: September 5, 2008

Manhattan Community Board No. 9 will be holding a Public Hearing on theProposed Columbia University Educational Mixed Use Development Project (Manhattanville Expansion) and on the Neighborhood Conditions Studies commissioned by ESDC...

Please find the following documents attached for your review.

1]. Public Hearing Notice;
2]. Community Board 9 Residents and Stakeholders Notice;
3]. Chair's Remarks to ESDC's Public Hearing;
All Community Board Members and Residents are encouraged to attend. Also written and oral testimony will be accepted.

Thank you,

Patricia Jones, Chair

To: Community Board 9 Residents and Stakeholders:

As you may be aware, the Columbia University proposed expansion plan is currently under review by New York State - specifically the Empire State Development Corporation (“ESDC”). ESDC conducted public hearings on September 2, 2008 and September 4, 2008.

Community Board No. 9 testified at these hearings. In addition, CB9 will be submitting written comments, which are due on October 10, 2008. In order to ensure that the Board’s written response reflects the breadth of CB9 residents and stakeholders, we are conducting a public hearing on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 beginning at 6:30 P.M. The transcript of this hearing will be included with CB9’s written comments.


What area is encompassed by the project?

The proposed Project is located in the Manhattanville neighborhood of West Harlem in northern Manhattan, on an approximately 17-acre site, the principal portion of which is bounded by West 125th Street on the south, West 133rd Street on the north, Broadway on the east and Twelfth Avenue on the west, as well as certain areas located beneath City streets within this area and beneath other City streets in the Project Site. The remaining portion of the Project Site consists of an area which is bounded by Broadway on the west, West 133rd and West 134th Streets on the south and north, respectively, and a line between West 133rd and West 134th Streets approximately 200 feet east of Broadway, along with an irregularly-shaped block enclosed by and including Broadway on the west, Old Broadway on the east, West 131st Street on the south and West 133rd Street on the north.

What is being proposed?

The Project consists of the development of an expanded campus for Columbia University. The new campus would comprise a total of approximately 6.8 million gross square feet of new, state-of-the-art facilities housed in up to 16 new buildings and in an adaptively reused existing building that would be used primarily for teaching facilities, academic research, Columbia housing, and recreational and open active ground floor uses. Approximately 2 million gross square feet of the Project total would be developed as a continuous, multi-level, below-grade facility of up to approximately 80 feet in depth which would be used for activities that support the academic, academic research, housing, recreation and teaching programs of Columbia and other occupants of the Project Site. The Below-Grade Facility would extend in part below City owned streets, and would connect most of the buildings on the principal portion of the Project Site. In addition, approximately two acres (94,000 square feet) of publicly accessible, grade-level, open space and a market zone along Twelfth Avenue would be created, and sidewalks would be widened. Build out of the Project is anticipated to occur in two phases over an approximately 25-year period.

What benefits will this bring to the area?

The Project would: (i) maintain and improve the status of the City and State of New York as centers for higher education and scientific research, (ii) eliminate an underutilized urban landscape in order to accommodate new educational facilities with open areas accessible to the local community, (iii) create new, permanent jobs in the community and thereby help preserve Columbia’s position as the seventh largest private employer in the City, (iv) further scientific research into neurological ailments and other diseases, (v) expand the number of affordable housing units in proximity to the Project Site; (vi) provide tangible community benefits in terms of new publicly accessible, park-like open spaces, recreational opportunities and other civic amenities; and (vii) improve connection from 125th Street to the West Harlem Piers Park.

What properties are subject to acquisition?

The General Project Plan contemplates that ESDC would assist Columbia in assembling the Project Site through exercise of its statutory powers under the UDC Act, including the power of eminent domain. If authorized by the Directors after this public hearing and their consideration of the comments on the General Project Plan and the proposed acquisitions, any acquisitions by ESDC would be considered in stages as necessary or appropriate in ESDC’s discretion to carry out the development of the Project. Initially, ESDC would acquire certain properties and property interests needed for the first ten-year phase of the Project’s development, including, subsurface interests underlying and adjacent to City streets within the Project Site which are needed for tie backs and supports and for the construction, maintenance and development of the Below-Grade Facility beneath West 130th, West 131st, and West 132nd Streets. Later, to facilitate the Project’s second phase of development, ESDC would consider the exercise of its power of eminent domain to acquire any remaining property interests on or in the Project Site as may be necessary.

Will residential properties be subject to acquisition?

ESDC would not use its eminent domain power to acquire the seven residential properties on the Project Site while they remain occupied by residential tenants.

The General Project Plan states “ESDC would not use its eminent domain power to acquire possession of any legal residential unit prior to 2018.”

Copies of the General Project Plan and the Neighborhood Conditions Studies are available at the ESDC web site at A copy of the General Project Plan can also be read at the offices of Community Board No. 9 located at 16-18 Old Broadway (between 125th and 126th Streets).

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