Columbia, West Harlem Local Development Corporation Reach Long-term Agreement

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Columbia, Local Development Corporation Reach Long-term Collaboration Agreement on Enhanced Education, Health Care, Jobs, Affordable Housing and Other Civic Programs

Columbia University and the West Harlem Local Development Corporation today joined in a collaboration aimed at enhancing the vitality of both the University’s academic mission and the community’s quality of life for decades to come. The core of the agreement between Columbia and the Local Development Corporation is a commitment by the University to investing in a comprehensive set of community needs.

“Flourishing universities are the source of two of the essential elements of New York’s historic uniqueness: attracting the great creative minds who come here to pursue ideas that make a difference in our society, and creating the good jobs that provide sustained economic opportunity for a wide diversity of working people,” said Columbia President Lee Bollinger.  “This can be an extraordinary opportunity for Columbia and our local community to work together on enhancing the many educational and health care services the University already provides, as well as supporting the local community so it can be full participants in the economic opportunities that our expansion will create. With support from the Bloomberg administration, Congressman Rangel, and many others, this commitment to our Harlem community is central to what it means for us to be a great urban university in the 21st century.  We thank LDC chair Pat Jones and her fellow members for their extraordinary hard work in reaching this agreement.”

The University and community have joined together to develop a wide array of existing and new programs that enhance the human potential of local citizens and further community goals. This programmatic commitment will come not simply by the investment of funds, but through the enhanced engagement of Columbia’s globally renowned intellectual resources in local neighborhoods over the life of the expansion project.

Some examples of proposed programmatic enhancements by Columbia in the field of basic and secondary education include a new PreK-8 New York City Public School to be developed in partnership with the local community by Columbia-affiliated Teachers College.

This comes in addition to the Columbia-assisted public secondary school for math, science and engineering that will have a permanent site in Manhattanville and has already opened for grade 6 in temporary space; as well as the School at Columbia, a private school with half of its enrollment comprised of children from the local community.

The agreement with the Local Development Corporation also includes the previously-announced University commitments to affordable housing:


  • $20 million in seed capital for an affordable housing revolving loan fund, which could preserve or create up to 1,100 affordable units locally over time
  • A $4 million fund to expand support for tenant legal services, including protection from unlawful eviction and harassment


Columbia has taken a number of other steps to address concerns about affordable housing, such as the commitment to building nearly 1,000 units of new housing for faculty and graduate students – 800 of these within the proposed expansion area. This critical housing for University affiliates will minimize the projected demand for rental housing in the immediate area generated by new jobs created on campus. Columbia has also committed to providing equal or better housing for the small number of current residents in some 130 apartments located within the proposed expansion area and has secured local sites for new replacement housing that will provide a net increase in such affordable units.

With respect to support and enhancement of community facilities, the Columbia has previously agreed to support playground improvements at IS 195.  As part of this agreement it will also develop a plan for community access to University facilities and youth athletic clinics.

The University-Community collaboration has been developed to provide support to a long-term approach that will be both strategic and comprehensive. The University has therefore pledged to provide expertise in support of community stakeholders, civic and elected leadership, and the private sector as they develop strategies with integrated objectives that provide a framework for the future allocation of services and resources.

“We want to ensure that our wisely planned long-term expansion provides both the facilities we need for Upper Manhattan to remain a world center for teaching, academic research and patient care, and the opportunity for Columbia to augment its already significant engagement of intellectual resources in improving the quality of life for the people of Harlem and New York City,” said Bollinger.  “Columbia and our local community can move forward to create a new platform for enhancing the breadth and depth of educational, economic, cultural and civic partnerships that are so central to what it means to be a great urban university in a great City.”