(sort of) BREAKING NEWS: No eminent domain for M-ville residents

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sdfsWell, it seems like Columbia’s made at least one concession to the “Not for Sale” crowd–in a press release dated yesterday, the University said it will not ask the Empire State Development Corporation to use its power of eminent domain to evict anybody living in the new campus’ footprint.

As with all Office of Public Affairs emissions, we’re skeptical. Robert Kasdin (whom Bwog can only think of as having the face of Karl Rove) notes at the bottom that they may still use ED against the few business holding out for who knows what. These are the people who sued the ESDC to release secret documents related to Columbia’s expansion, and won.

Besides, with this kind of backing, did Columbia ever need eminent domain anyway? And now that residents don’t have eminent domain to rally around, what will they yell about?

About the image: We’re pretty sure that’s Anne Whitman, owner of Hudson Moving and Storage, who’s quoted in pretty much every news article on the subject. Expect her to not be happy.

Press release reprinted (almost) in full after the jump.  


New York, July 11, 2007 Columbia University has announced that it would not ask the Empire State Development Corp. to use its condemnation authority as a way of evicting residential tenants now living in the 132 apartment units in residential buildings on the 17 acres of the proposed expansion area.

“Columbia University will not ask the state to invoke eminent domain to evict tenants living in these 132 residential units in the proposed expansion zone in Manhattanville,” said Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin, reaffirming comments made on Monday before the City Planning Commission. “We are absolutely committed to ensuring that these community members will have equal or better affordable housing in the area, and we are working to achieve this result.”

Kasdin also made it clear that this includes a commitment to work with New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to provide cooperative units to those occupants eligible to purchase units through the city’s Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) Program. As a result, the TIL participants would not lose any of their rights under the program because of relocation.

On Monday, July 9, Columbia University presented its rezoning proposal for the old manufacturing area of Manhattanville in West Harlem in a special meeting of the New York City Planning Commission. Kasdin explained to commissioners that the University’s continued goal is to acquire all commercial and residential property through the kind of win-win negotiated agreements it has already reached with the great majority of private owners, including a number of business owners who originally said they would not sell to Columbia.

“The residents of West Harlem have been extremely concerned about the impact of Columbia University’s plans to expand its campus in the West Harlem area over the next 25 years,” said City Councilmember Robert Jackson. “I have facilitated discussion between the University and the community in order to address concerns ranging from secondary displacement, to traffic patterns and the bulk of buildings, to the environmental impact of proposed scientific research facilities, among others. No potential problem has been more threatening for the residents of West Harlem than the use of eminent domain. I am pleased today that Columbia University is exhibiting a level of respect and awareness by choosing not to seek the application of eminent domain against the 132 residents living the area of the proposed expansion. I look forward to continuing to work with the University and the community to address the myriad of other challenges associated with Columbia’s proposed expansion.”

Kasdin did not remove the possibility of requesting that the state invoke eminent domain to assemble the few commercial properties that remain in the proposed 17-acre expansion area. Columbia’s ownership of these acres would not only allow for the creation of publicly accessible open spaces, but also for the construction of new buildings that will be serviced by a large contiguous underground space that houses such essential services as parking, loading and energy facilities. This approach allows a proposed urban design for the area that is environmentally friendly, that meets the University’s academic programming needs with a building scale lower than existing neighboring buildings, and that is focused on creating vibrant urban street life instead of driveways, loading docks and other functions that inhibit openness and civic interaction on sidewalks. This will also allow the University to construct the kind of academic research buildings with the floor space needed for the type of research and study that confronts some of the most critical health issues facing the community and world such as strokes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.



  1. AMP

    News, but old news. From a Feb. '07 Spectator article:

    "I will not take eminent domain off the table because it would be irresponsible of me to do this," Bollinger said. "Private property is a potential interference to public purposes ... I'm going to reserve the right of eminent domain against those people who have a strictly commercial interest."

    But he clarified that he had no intention to pursue the use of eminent domain against any residential tenants. "It's the people that live there that I care about," he said. "We're just not going to do that."

  2. Bollinger...  

    socialist extraoridnaire

  3. Well,  

    In all fairness, those movers are doing nothing good for the most polluted neighborhood in the city.

  4. Is it

    really the most polluted neighborhood in the city? There's no small amount of competition out there for that title...

  5. I smell  

    more urine the second I get to 125th street. Just one opinion.

  6. Haaaa


  7. How is this

    bigger news than some columbia alum trying to screw over future generations of inept columbia males from getting any action in the city below the gates at 116th?

    here's the story

    here's the columbia connection

    get an interview bwog!

  8. Rove : Kasdin  

    Great analogy.

  9. Onward!

    With the Expansion! Bring on the Bulldozers!

    When we're sending our legacy sons and daughters to Columbia, they will be able to bask in the academic glow of Manhattanville!

  10. meh

    Talk about slant. Rove:Kasdin? That's just too easy but not really legitimate at all.

    And seriously people, are those fighting for social justice and all that really just fighting for fighting's sake? I understand the compassion and need to fight for residents of the neighborhood and fighting to make sure they don't get screwed. But are we now fighting for social justice for private commercial interest?

    Companies live and die everyday. Welcome to the marketplace.

  11. hmm

    Smart move on Columbia's part. Takes the wind out of the opposition's sails...and in the end Columbia is going to get Manhattanville anyway. Also, well-said #13.

  12. McFister

    Hudson Moving and Storage should be the first to be bulldozed.

  13. pick-up line

    for the new campus bars: I'd like to exercise eminent domain all over your private properties.

  14. rejection line #2

    Are you insinuating that I'm a commercial enterprise?

  15. rejection line #3

    I'm sure someone else around here will let you pay for theirs.

  16. sales pitch #1

    Don't let ED ruin your love life. See what men and women all over the country are talking about.

  17. sooo

    Hudson Moving and Storage is the biggest crock ever. I was waiting for my friend's box to get picked up at 2 in the afternoon, 4 hours later, no moving men. I find a Hudson moving truck, try to ask them what the deal is, and they proceed to drive away from me.

    don't do business with them.

  18. HMS?  

    oh please. hudson moving was so bad to me. i was scheduled for 2... and they picked it up at 2.... AM. yes. 12 hours, so suck it, bitch.

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