Controversy Continues Over Manhattanville Expansion

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Real life doesn’t have midterms. This past Tuesday, the Coalition to Preserve Community protested outside Columbia’s Harlem employment information center, chanting slogans such as “Harlem: Not for Sale” and “Floridita: Not for Sale.”

Videos from this protest of about fifty people, including Columbia students, were posted today, and you can see Floridita owner Ramon Diaz speak below. In the video, he emphasizes whom they are protesting: “Not the students, not the faculty, not the workers,” but rather a “small group” of people associated with Columbia’s real estate.

It just seems like these small group of people can’t make everyone happy, with the ongoing Manhattanville dispute and recent accusations of getting preferential treatment for a planned Baker Field expansion. At least some proposed expansions might look swanky.

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  1. Anonymous  

    great post bwog. we need more student support against the expansion.

  2. Anonymous  

    I don't give a shit about these protestors.

    I wish we expanded more aggressively earlier when harlem was poorer. We can't go through life as an economic and academic giant while worrying about every little bug that we step on. I'm sorry that they are having their community changed, possibly destroyed. It's not the first, and it won't be the last.

    • Anonymous

      You are clearly not sorry they are having their community changed...if you were sorry, you'd be against the expansion...duh.

      • Anonymous  

        That's demonstrably not true.

        You feel bad for children dying in Africa, but you don't spend every moment of your life trying to save them.

        I wish we all could live in the exact community that would make us the happiest, but that's not possible. However glorious Manhattanville is (not that much, as it happens), it is better for more people to bulldoze their run-down old buildings and construct billions of dollars of new high-tech research facilities. Life is harsh, you don't always get what you want. Those protestors need to grow up, and just take the fat check that Columbia offered them.

    • sooo

      one interpretation of what this person has said:

      poor people do not capitalize on their ability to gather capital and develop their land for economic profits. in fact, poor people in manhattan have the most economic profit to gain, but do not realize it, which makes them prime targets for societal economic surplus inducing organizations with columbia who have the capital and non-capital resources to capitalize on the opportunity.


      poor people lack non-capital resources to develop their own property for economic gain. these non-capital resources include: networks and connections to developer capital, knowhow & education, business language.

      if you really wanted to protest, maybe you should do something about rallying a neighborhood not to protest getting stepped on when stepping already happens. maybe you should consider founding a community building organization that links the community to non-capital resources so they can fend for themselves and potentially become developers themselves. This is the community plan 197-a. The fatal flaw on 197-a is that the plan was stupid. It did not propose getting non-capital AND capital resources together to create something--in effect, that plan laid down was already a pipedream when it was made. it also provided a golden nugget for columbia because it demonstrated that the effort on 197-a failed and that columbia would be the ultimate answer.

      to me, fighting columbia is already a lost cause. the fight should have begun a long time ago in a different medium where the argument and capital & non-capital resources could be controlled. until that time, poor people need to wise up and realize that their land is freakin valuable and they should develop it themselves, and endogenously raise the value of their land.

    • Anonymous

      Why do you assume the need to be an academic and economic giant as if this was a natural and necessary goal? Does academic learning necessitate capitalist expansion and accumulation or ? Your arguement is horribly hypocritical: you claim to feel sorry for an exploitative system you also whole-heartedly embrace as the natural order. Maybe you need to grow up and find a better way to look at the world beyond played-out social darwinism.

  3. Anonymous

    The community will almost surely be changed for the better. But more importantly, if Columbia owns the land and buildings they have every right to expand into it. It makes no sense for the Floridita guy to say that Columbia is "trying to take over something that doesn't belong to them".

  4. Anonymous

    So who currently owns the gas station and the Storage building?

  5. Max Goldberg

    Yeah, Harlem isn't for sale, except for the 20% of landowners who sold to Columbia's real estate proxy, and then the 30% who sold to Columbia freely, and then the 10% who sold to Columbia with no hope rates, and then the 15% who were public utilities that sold to Columbia...

    Look, Columbia's abusing eminent domain; they need deal with the last 5% fairly, even if Nick Spreregan is an opportunistic twat. But the opponents opposed everything else before they started standing up for the property rights of the two remaining owners. A cursory reading of the vaunted 197-a plan reveals special interest pandering, grandfathering, anti-growth rules, and all kinds of petty abuses of the rights the CPC now swears to fight.

    • UMMM

      If you take the class Law & Econ , you will learn that Eminent Domain was created in part _with the intention of_ preventing opportunistic twats like Spreyregen from abusing his property rights out of proportion of the societal surplus from using his land and compensating him at market rates by mandate.

      • so the question

        is who are the real "money people"? people like nick want to take away societal economic gain for more people in preservation of singular property rights. If you take in sum the economic effect of Manhattanville, it far outweighs the individual surplus of the sum of the individual's rights.

        in some way, eminent domain is a socialist policy. DOWWWWN with socialism! Hooray capitalism and Nick Spreyregen and all the other CPC people.

        Some of you who are fighting eminent domain may find yourselves on the wrong side of the argument based on the reality of what our politicians are talking about--the good of the neighborhood

        • the neighborhood

          "the good of the neighborhood"
          "The community will almost surely be changed for the better."

          What are you two referring to when you say "neighborhood" or "community"?

          I can think of two options.

          One: the physical land mass that humans have decided to call Manhattanville, which, after the 50 year expansion, will be worth more money, and contribute to future research, which is also worth money and changes the way we live.

          Two: the people who live on the landmass we have decided to call Manhattanville, who, after the 50 year expansion-- well, we don't know. They will most likely all be gone; the first are "displaced" or "relocated" (currently) as planning begins, then people leave during construction, and eventually the rising cost of living that will come with Columbia's presence will force the last "neighbors" out.

          According to the first definition, the neighborhood or community will "change for the better" -- granted of course that you view those outcomes as "better." Now your first reaction might be "Of course it's better!" But what if Columbia hypothetically had expanded into Harlem 100 years earlier, At some point in the 1910s, by the 1940s they could have had labs in Harlem working on the Manhattan Project. And the property values and standard of living would probably have been higher than they were. And then the jazz that came out of Harlem in the 20s and 30s wouldn't have come out. And all the people who lived in Harlem when Columbia started expanding would not be in Harlem after the expansion to enjoy the benefits.

          That's the thing.

          This isn't for the good of the neighborhood, or community. It is good for the people of another neighborhood or community who will then move into the "improved" neighborhood, while the original community is sent away.

          Columbia can expand into Harlem cooperatively though. If the expansion planners realized that real people are living and working and breathing in Harlem, and respect them.

          • person  

            They bought 98% of everything outright and honest. I can't work myself up to being outraged that a storage facility and a gas are getting forced out.

          • huh?

            Give up the lie that Manhattanville = Harlem.

            Harlem is in the central plain on the island of Manhattan north of Central Park.

            The expansion zone has always been (at least since the dawn of the 20th century) a mixed-use industrial area. Meatpacking, transportation, etc. It has never been a cultural center because of the three viaducts that cut off the area from light and transportation.

            Most of the residents of the surrounding area moved in after Robert Moses built his warehouse-style projects (Grant and Manhattanville Houses) in the 1950s-60s. The people at Mitchell-Lama building 3333 moved in a bit later.

            This isn't really an area with lifetime inhabitants. It's such a joke that this keeps coming up.

  6. Anonymous  

    I bet these people are just holding out for a big out-of-court settlement.

  7. Anonymous  

    He's blaming, "bankers and the money-people." Wow. Thanks for your thoughtful addition to this debate, bud.

  8. ...

    Alex Klein, you're awesome

  9. Yea!

    Screw the Money People!

  10. Person  

    Mmmmm... local neighborhoods are delicious, taste good in Columbia tummy.


  11. ....original community is sent away

    kind of in the way that the conquistadors and pilgrims and settlers \improved\ \the New World\

  12. Anonymous

    If nothing else, we should continue to demand that Columbia "expand" in an ethical way, and not let it continue its real estate-hungry and destructive path through west harlem. The protester's main issue seems to be the fact that Columbia hasn't revealed where the 7000 jobs it promised are coming from, or given any other detailed information on what exactly is being given back to the neighborhood. On top of how they treated Floridita like a petty obstacle they could just screw over (putting its owner through a year long eviction lawsuit, and then finally relocating it into a building that they never mentioned was contaminated with asbestos) and then move on without stopping to consider the consequences for the community... If this case is an emblem of how the rest of the 50 year planned expansion process will go, it doesn't look good to me...

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