When Columbia University proposed a new $6 billion, last week and touted by the state in its promise to appeal this decision: “ESDC believes the decision of the Appellate Division, First Department in the matter of the Columbia University Manhattanville Campus to be wrong and inconsistent with established law, as consistently articulated by the New York State Court of Appeals, most recently with respect to ESDC’s Atlantic Yards project.”
How Columbia will proceed remains to be seen. Should an appeal fail, the school would have to negotiate with the two holdouts. This could mean a buyout, though both parties have expressed their interest to remain in the neighborhood, suggesting Columbia build around them."It’s a good and valuable business and they’d like to keep doing it," said David Smith, attorney for the gas station owners.
The school has called such a scenario impossible, because its new campus, designed by Renzo Piano with planning by SOM, entails a below-grade service core stretching across much of the site. The school argues that this would eliminate truck traffic in the neighborhood, providing for a better pedestrian experience, which could not be achieved without controlling all of the land, of which it currently has 91 percent. A Columbia spokesperson declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.
Nick Sprayregen, the owner of Tuck-It-Away, called the decision a victory not only for him but for all New Yorkers who fear for their property rights. “Although I’ve always been cautiously optimistic, I knew the weight of prior eminent domain rulings had been against us,” he said. “It’s nice to see the courts, when given actual proof of collusion, will rule in the right way and support the people.”