This Land is My Land

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Meet Nick Sprayregen — that’s him over there on the right, alongside anti-Columbia propaganda. For three years, he’s upheld a solemn vow to rally against the University’s expected use of eminent domain by holding onto his Manhattanville storage company, Tuck-It-Away Storage. He’s also the subject of an Observer profile from earlier this week (and one from the Times earlier this year), which chronicles his Sisyphean battle against Columbia. 

Specifically, Sprayregen’s opposed to the University’s imminent use of eminent domain, and in the past has tried to make a deal with Columbia in hopes of convincing them to drop it from their game plan. But Bollinger and his Legal All Stars wooed Harlem politicians with promises of low-income housing and an increase of jobs, so Columbia’s plan was approved by the state, Manhattanville was deemed “blighted”, and Sprayregen’s hopes of warding off eminent domain looked bleak.

But the Observer notes that he’s planning on challenging the “blighted” ruling, claiming that Columbia bought Manhattanville buildings and purposely neglected them. 

Sprayregen’s already spent a million dollars on legal fees and expects to spend another million to take this thing to the Supreme Court. He explains: “Obviously, we now have a real legal fight on our hands.”

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  1. This guy's

    got a funny way of flushing two million dollars down the toilet.

  2. Hmmm

    Supreme court won't take this. Eminent domain has been tackled ad nauseum by SCOTA and this case adds nothing new to the mix. The area is blighted, and anyone walking through it can see that. This area was blighted prior to Columbia owning any buildings in the area; in fact, one of these few buildings in the area that isn't blighted is the new admin center on 135th. I also found it interesting that this snippet paints Columbia as a villain, wooing the black Americans with the tempting prize of low-income housing..wooo. If Columbia offers low-income housing, you know that it will be of a higher quality than anything currently there.

  3. cu_alum

    Wow, Columbia housing is of "higher quality"? Much like the quality of our awful dormitories? I think not.

    • spoiled

      Our dorms really aren't that bad. Where are you from?

      • rotten

        obviously you never lived in wien. or mcbain prior to its paint job. or any of the buildings during a bed bug infestation.

        also, the times piece is interesting. it reveals Sprayregen for who he really is - a wealthy businessman who's out to make sure he gets a piece of the pie once the area around manhattanville gentrifies. Unless you're a libertarian or other propertarian (which means you're probably politically conservative) don't mistake Sprayregen as a hero for your cause.

        Lastly, #2, don't be so naive. Columbia already owns a large portion of its intended target area. The fact that the area "is" blighted has no bearing on Columbia's redevelopment - as demonstrated by Columbia's cleaning up of 1 buiulding already. They'll clean up the rest too - when they feel like it. This is what bothers people. The area is clearly blighted - because Columbia hasn't gotten around to redeveloping it. Who's the winner? Columbia, since it's angling for the blighted designation as leverage in negotiations with the last few property owners in the targetted area. NYS isn't going to exercise eminent domain on property Columbia already owns, obviously.

        It's all a game anyway. The only question is how painful Sprayregen is going to make this and whether Columbia caves to Nick.

        Sidenote: Columbia's current development plan calls for the preservation of two historic buildings in Manhattanville - The old Studebaker factory, which is the big building in the middle of manhttanville thats currently being renovated, and the Nash auto factory, which is across Broadway.

        Ol' Nick's "Compromise" is for him to get all the property on the other side of Broadway so he can build luxury housing there. In the process he'd knock down the Nash building.

  4. Buffalo Bill

    I like to tuck it away while dancing to "Goodbye, Horses."

  5. ...  

    yeah it's pretty funny. for someone who likes to pretend to wear the neighborhood preservation advocate hat, dear mr. sprayregen sure does have a history of converting old commercial property into luxury housing.

    you know, if he'd actually just plain argued the "eminent domain is wrong" argument from the start, i would probably respect the guy. but come on, feigning neighborhood advocacy and riling up the poor folks in the neighboorhood (who columbia has actually offered a good deal) purely for the sake of his own financial gain... even for new york that's pushing it.

    it's just sleazy.

    go to hell, mr. sprayregen.

  6. Stephan Schwartz

    well, there's clearly no doubt that Columbia University hasn't seen the last of Sprayregen.

    Anyone think he'll be able to take Columbia all the way to the Supreme Court?

  7. uhh

    so where's the actual news in this useless post?

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