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Saving Property from Columbia University:

Columbia University is using the threat of eminent domain to acquire property in West Harlem for a new campus, and some of the local property owners are none to pleased. On Wednesday, Nick Sprayregen took to the WSJ telling the University to keep its hands off his properties.

Columbia University, a private institution, officially announced its desire for a new campus five years ago. The university zeroed in on the Manhattanville area of Harlem -- between 125th and 134th Streets, and between Broadway and the Hudson River. Since that time, while wielding the sledgehammer of the possible use of eminent domain, Columbia has purchased roughly 80% of Manhattanville.

My family has owned for almost 30 years four commercial Manhattanville properties. We run a self-storage business, plus we lease to various large retailers such as a discount store and a supermarket. For over four years we have been fighting the state and Columbia in their joint attempts to condemn my properties for the school's expansion. . . .

I look forward to my day in court. I am cautiously optimistic that it will expose as unconstitutional what Columbia and the state are attempting to do.

Hoosier:
Academic parody will surely die as a literary genre. Why read a novel when the same types of stories appear in the "Chronicle"?
9.5.2008 11:48pm
Richard Nieporent (mail):
Oh, who owns New York?
Oh, who owns New York?
Oh, who owns New York the people say.
Why, we own New York!
Why, we own New York!
C-O-L-U-M-B-I-A!
9.6.2008 12:45am
Consenting:
It seems Mr. Sprayregen could use a community organizer....
9.6.2008 1:31am
Vermando (mail) (www):
Consenting wins.
9.6.2008 4:14am
JB:
I store my stuff in that self-storage center. It has a great view and fantastic location, and should he wish to sell it on the open market would fetch a shocking amount of money. No wonder Columbia wants to avoid such a process.
9.6.2008 4:53am
Actual (mail):
It seems Mr. Sprayregen could use a community organizer....

One will be available in early November.
9.6.2008 9:39am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

should he wish to sell it on the open market would fetch a shocking amount of money. No wonder Columbia wants to avoid such a process.


This raises a question that isn't addressed in the various news articles, I don't think: once the property is condemned, is the setting of the price to be paid also unfair?
9.6.2008 2:03pm
Dave D. (mail):
....Hmmm, a self storage center is certainly a higher use than Columbia University. Professor Adler....Condemn them ! And tell 'em you'll store their stuff at a fair price until they can buy some land in their price range and build anew.
9.6.2008 9:47pm
Pitman (mail) (www):
Whatever one thinks of eminent domain, Nick Sprayregen is not some mom-and-pop business owner struggling to make ends meet. He has lots of money, see this recent article on a $30 million dollar investment of his in Yonkers, just north of NYC. Also he has purchased some medial holdings. See also this quote from an article in the NY Sun, hardly a liberal paper. (The bold is mine.)

The owner of 18 storage, residential, and commercial buildings around the New York metropolitan area, Mr. Sprayregen is hardly without self-interest. If Columbia moves forward with a revised expansion plan that does not use eminent domain, as Mr. Sprayregen is urging, the value of his five properties in the footprint will undoubtedly skyrocket, allowing for uses far more lucrative than storage.

Mr. Sprayregen acknowledges the potential for financial gain but said his pique is with the concept of a private university taking his property for its own gain.

The reason that Sprayregen is the pretty much the last one, is that Columbia has paid everyone else large enough amounts of money, and/or given them property in other parts of Manhattan, that they were willing to make a deal. He doesn't need the money, so he is fighting Columbia.
9.6.2008 9:52pm