After months of court battles and appeals, a Manhattan self-storage owner has lost his fight in a New York eminent domain case.
The New York Court of Appeals in Albany ruled Thursday the state can use its eminent domain power to acquire private property for an expansion for the Columbia University. Eminent domain is state seizure of private property for the “public good” in exchange for market-rate compensation.
The ruling is a reversal of a lower court ruling in December that stopped the state from taking property from self-storage owner Nicholas Sprayregen and the owner of two gas stations. Sprayregen owns four Tuck-It-Away Self Storage facilities.
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 $6.3 billion expansion. After Sprayregen refused to sell his property, Columbia sought to obtain the land through eminent domain, claiming the neighborhood in question is “blighted.”
The Empire State Development Corp., the state body that approved eminent domain for the project last December, formally appealed the decision in January and presented its oral arguments earlier this month alongside the respondents.
In the ruling Thursday, the New York Court of Appeals agreed with Empire State Development Corp.'s findings of blight. The court also found the Columbia project met a "civic purpose" that lets the state exercise eminent domain.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Columbia Expansion Backed by New York's Top Court