Court approves Manhattanville expansion

<p>The state's highest court approved the use of eminent domain to facilitate Columbia's expansion in the West Harlem neighborhood. This expansion will create new laboratories and buildings to house research and teaching facilities. Columbia ceded a huge lead to Stanford and MIT in the sixties and seventies leading of course to California's silicon valley and Boston's high tech and bio industries. The expansion should start a renaissance of scientific research and spark new industries in the New York metro region. This region holds a huge reservoir of such talent. And SEAS at Columbia will be a leader in the effort. Too few people on CC have noticed the litigation which has been followed extensively in the Spectator.</p>

<p>Bottomline,focus on SEAS and what it and the New York area is going to be like in the next decade if you are a prospective engineering or science student or scholar. Learn and live here, make friendships and you will get jobs and probably become the next Jobs. Do not worry about what Stanford or MIT or Wharton or whatever. The next decade is what you should think about and SEAS at Columbia is where you should be.</p>

<p>Full disclosure: I am a grey sixty year old with no affliation to Columbia but a tremendous loyalty to New York which is my home.</p>

<p>Well, I'm a future CC student, and I've been following it.</p>

<p>The way I read it is that all except for two property owners sold out to Columbia, and those two wouldn't (a self storage place and a gas station) so Columbia used the courts to take their land, and proved that the area was 'blighted' with no hope of recovery and that expanding campus would help the area...I think it is ********.</p>

<p>Manhattanville's a complicated issue. quantman, I don't know if it's going to yield that kind of drastic results. The first wave of construction won't be yielding operable buildings for at least 5+ years, I'd expect, and the only science building slated for that wave is a much-hyped multidisciplinary neuroscience center. Granted, the other buildings will free up space for the faculties on the main campus, but we'll see. One of Bollinger's favorite statistics to back up this project is that not only is Columbia dead last among the ivy league in square footage per student (a wonderfully undefined metric), but even if Columbia were to <em>double</em> it's plant, it would only be tied for 7th - that's how space starved the Uni is.</p>

<p>Conorske - your skepticism is warranted- this was a nasty political process, but hey, welcome to New York. Politics here is it's own special kind of hell: Capitol</a> Confidential - A behind-the-scenes look at New York politics</p>

<p>That being said, Columbia has made a number of concessions and worked with landowners to reach satisfactory deals. The two holdouts are a shrewd multimillionaire businessman who doesn't want to sell now because he knows that same land is worth so much more once Columbia develops the neighborhood, and has offerred to swap his properties for other ones slated for the expansion so he can develop them as condos in the future, and Columbia refuses to play ball with him on those terms. The other property owner is a family that owns two gas stations in 125th, and I don't blame them for holding out. They don't just own two gas stations - they own two gas stations on a major NYC artery road that happen to be on the corner of a major highway on/off ramp. It's a sweet gig. I can see why they'd have a hard time reaching an agreement with Columbia on a monetary value. They are also a sympathetic family considering their backstory - immigrants, bought the gas stations when the neighborhood was really rough, one of the then-co-owners was shot dead in a robbery, and now that they're finally making money, someone wants to buy them out.</p>

<p>Leaving aside your normative opposition to Eminent Domain, which is a reasonable position to take, this is exactly what eminent domain is for (at least according to the broad interpretation used by the US, and now NY highest courts of appeal) - allowing large scale projects that have public benefit to move forward by eliminating the leverage that holdouts accrue.</p>

<p>Confucian,
I tend to agree. Sprayregen is a ****ing snake, and while I sympathize with the Singhs, I don't think it's fair that they can hold up a redevelopment project that would improve the neighborhood. I just hope they get a very good deal on their property. Regarding the legality of eminent domain, the Supreme Court hasn't ruled against the state in an eminent domain case in the last 100 years, so I have little doubt that eminent domain will continue to be practiced in the future. As for the normative ethics, I'm torn. On the one hand, there's a definite danger that the government could be corrupted by special interests (e.g. developers) and could abuse the power of eminent domain to "super-gentrify" poor neighborhoods, especially in the city. On the other hand, I don't see private property as an inviolable right. If a nonprofit organization thinks it can improve an area through a redevelopment project, let them present it to the public and government. If it's approved by independent reviewing bodies and the proper regulatory agencies, then let them move ahead with it and use the government's eminent domain power to overcome those who want to hold out in order to extort the developer into paying way above-market rates. It all depends on whether you have faith on good governance, which is why I find it ironic that so many liberals who typically rail against the unregulated free market have found themselves fiercely protecting a multi-millionaire's property rights.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Regarding the legality of eminent domain, the Supreme Court hasn't ruled against the state in an eminent domain case in the last 100 years, so I have little doubt that eminent domain will continue to be practiced in the future. As for the normative ethics, I'm torn. On the one hand, there's a definite danger that the government could be corrupted by special interests (e.g. developers) and could abuse the power of eminent domain to "super-gentrify" poor neighborhoods, especially in the city. On the other hand, I don't see private property as an inviolable right. If a nonprofit organization thinks it can improve an area through a redevelopment project, let them present it to the public and government. If it's approved by independent reviewing bodies and the proper regulatory agencies, then let them move ahead with it and use the government's eminent domain power to overcome those who want to hold out in order to extort the developer into paying way above-market rates. It all depends on whether you have faith on good governance, which is why I find it ironic that so many liberals who typically rail against the unregulated free market have found themselves fiercely protecting a multi-millionaire's property rights.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>yup, makes sense you got in and are coming to Columbia :)</p>

<p>He/she did post the same thing word for word on Bwog ;)</p>

<p>conncoll,
Thanks. I can't wait to wax pretentious in LitHum and CC ;)</p>

<p>Confucian,
It's a he :) and it's not a word-for-word reporduction; I just re-used a lot of the phrasing. Sorry to post so much; I'm just passionately conflicted about the expansion, like so many others, and I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. I'm also a recovering libertarian, so I'm skeptical of an unregulated market. Ideologically, I'm pretty radically liberal, as I'm a fan of "critical theory" (i.e. pretentious papers that discuss the intersectionality of Foucault, global warming, post-colonialism, and social constructions of gender), but I'm much pragmatic politically. Those with a similar philosophical bend to Foucault tend to treat every power relation as suspect, so it's no surprise most radical liberals oppose eminent domain, seeing it as just an excuse to use money and power to displace helpless poor people. And that's certainly a legitimate fear, as many examples of development unfairly benefit the rich while screwing over the poor. But I'm much more optimistic, since I believe that powerful institutions are not innately corrupt and can use their power and resources to better the world. So long as there is adequate oversight and regulation, I see no reason why eminent domain should not be a rarely-used tool that assists beneficial re-development of certain communities.</p>

<p>edit: Damn, I didn't mean to write that much. All well, I guess you're in luck if you wanted me to clarify my position. Don't worry, I'm not often like this in real life (with the exception of a class on "The Wire" where I was known as "the Marxist.")</p>

<p>Wasn't my intent to call you out - just recognized the rather well reasoned and thought out opinion ;)</p>

<p>So long as you don't turn out to be "that guy" in class (condescending, deliberately esoteric, obnoxious, etc.), I think you're going to really enjoy Columbia. You'll find plenty of like-minded classmates on the critical theory front, and your nuanced views will have plenty of room for play in and out of class. Your faith in properly functioning government institutions is laudable, and reminds me of my callow youth... I kid.</p>

<p>I think you might find this article interesting: The "Public Menace" of Blight: Urban Renewal and the Private Uses of Eminent Domain by Wendell E. Pritchett. It appeared in the Spring 2002 volume of the Yale Law and Policy Review, but I can't seem to find a free copy on the internet. Once your UNI works, you might be able to access it through one of the electronic databases Columbia Libraries subscribe to. It's a great walk through about how the term "blight" has been manipulated throughout history to serve more and more private interests over time.</p>

<p>I wish I could tell you to take the class I had to read that for (American City: Urban Forms and Social Patterns with Hilary Ballon), but the professor is no longer at Columbia, which is a damned tragedy. One of the best classes I took, and one of the few professors of a large class who bothered to take advantage of faculty funding to take small groups of students out to dinner throughout the semester.</p>

<p>Ah well. /nostalgia</p>