Yesterday a New York appeals court ruled that the state could not use eminent domain on behalf of Columbia University to take land from self-storage owner Nicholas Sprayregen and the owner of two gas stations.
Columbia unveiled plans to build a satellite campus in 2003 and has since attempted to obtain parts of a 17-acre site in Upper Manhattan for its expansion. After Sprayregen, who owns several self-storage facilities in the Manhattanville area, refused to sell his property, Columbia sought to obtain the land through eminent domain, claiming the neighborhood in question is “blighted.”
Last year, after reviewing the results of a study conducted by real estate consultancy firm AKRF, the state declared the area to be ruined, the main prerequisite for eminent domain. Yesterday a panel of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Manhattan annulled that decision, saying the procedure used to condemn the area was unconstitutional. AKRF was the same firm used by Columbia for its research into the neighborhood.
Norman Siegel, Sprayregen’s attorney, said the ruling was a major victory in a state that, just two weeks ago, awarded in favor of a Brooklyn developer in another eminent-domain case.
Columbia’s case will advance to the Court of Appeals. As the university still controls the majority of the 17-acre parcel in question, its $6.3 billion expansion can progress regardless of verdict. Presumably it can build around Sprayregen and the other holdout owner.
Sprayregen owns four Tuck-It-Away Self Storage facilities.
Source: The New York Times, Court Bars New York’s Takeover of Land for Columbia Campus