Manhattanville catch up
Written by Bwog Staff
You’ve probably forgotten about it, but Manhattanville planning is rolling along in our absence. Here’s Bwog freelancer Emma Jacobs–who has a comparative analysis of university expansions here–with a lightning recap of the recent history.
June 4: ULURP is coming! But not yet. The start of Uniform Land Use Review Process of the rezoning that will allow Columbia to begin building its campus expansion is delayed two weeks. So, as the Observer points out, the community board’s 60-day deadline to submit their review of the plan will come not in the beginning of August, but in late August. “Don’t expect me to be thankful or gracious,” says CB9 chairman Jordi Reyes-Montblanc.
June 15: Columbia announces that its expansion has been accepted into the federal LEED for Neighborhood Development (“LEED-ND”) Pilot Program, which applies smart growth and green design in an effort to encourage good urban development. That could sweeten the deal for campus activists, at least.
June 18: One month after students go home, the Department of City Planning releases Columbia’s draft Environmental Impact Statement, which spells out how campus expansion will be on the surrounding area (in considerable detail…the table of contents is 39 pages). Its release kicks off the 60-day community review period (the first stage of the overall review, called ULURP). President Bollinger applauds the Opportunity for Progress and Public Engagement in Proposed Expansion. Community Board 9 points out the difficulties of conducting an effective review while the board is on summer hiatus, moving its offices, and people are off on vacation.
June 30: A judge concludes that concerns about objectivity of a company working for both the company and the state might be legitimate: the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC, the state development agency) has employed the consulting firm AKRF to conduct the blight study of West Harlem that would clear the way for the use of eminent domain to acquire the rest of the properties in the expansion footprint. Columbia is footing the $300,000 bill for the study–but AKRF is already working for Columbia to prepare the expansion Environmental Impact Statement. Judge Shirley Kornreich ruled in favor of the West Harlem businesses’ Freedom of Information Act request for 117 “secret” ESDC documents. [See also: NYTimes article on the decision].
July 9: Surprisingly enough, Community Board 9’s ULURP Committee votes for the Community Board’s own 197a plan (designed over 10 years with help from the Pratt Institute) over Columbia’s alternative 197c plan. Both are being considered in tandem by the City planning commission. [197a details]
July 12: Columbia announces the University will not ask for eminent domain to be used against residential tenants. Spectator points out that everyone has known about this for 2 years.
Much more to come! Stay tuned!