University Statement on Empire State Development Corporation's Adoption of General Project Plan

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Columbia's long-term plan for an educational mixed-use area in the old Manhattanville manufacturing zone was overwhelmingly approved last year by the City Council as part of New York City's rigorous land use review process. We are gratified by the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) adoption of a General Project Plan (GPP) as the next step for a civic project that has moved forward with widespread support from local officials, elected representatives and a wide coalition of public interest groups committed to sustainable growth and vibrant urban neighborhoods.

This support is built on the broad recognition that a thriving system of higher education is essential to preserving New York's historic role as a place that provides good middle-income jobs for a diversity of local citizens—and as a global center for attracting the great minds that make a difference in our society. What's more, through the public amenities included in this state plan and other commitments, Columbia's long-term growth will deliver a broad range of new civic benefits and University resources to those who live and work in our local community.

Columbia will not at any point ask ESDC to exercise eminent domain over the seven residential buildings—less than 4 percent of the properties—while they are occupied. This is stated clearly in the GPP on page 27 under Site Acquisition: "...ESDC shall not exercise eminent domain power to acquire the Project Site's seven residential properties, described in Section H.2. below, at any time while they remain occupied."

The University has requested that the ESDC consider exercising its eminent domain authority in order to ensure that commercial development in this old industrial area does not prevent the City and State from achieving the public interest goals in the proposed academic expansion, with all of the long-term economic, educational and civic benefits it will bring to the local community and all New Yorkers.

The University has worked successfully over the past few years to negotiate fair deals with all of the other private landowners in Manhattanville area—many of whom speak enthusiastically of Columbia's good faith and fair dealing in meeting their economic and business needs, and helping them find convenient new locations that will keep jobs in New York City. The University remains committed to reaching mutually beneficial agreements with the two remaining commercial property owners on these blocks if they will agree to do so.

Background on Public Amenities included in the General Project Plan for the Educational Mixed-Use Area in Manhattanville (PDF)

Review the full General Project Plan