New York State’s highest court has ruled in favour of Columbia University, reversing a lower court decision that would have prevented the University’s from realizing its massive expansion into West Harlem, a project that involves the development of 17 acres. But the fight is not over as one business owner in the affected area says he will take it to the US Supreme Court.
In a 7-0 decision written by Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, the judge referred to the recent Atlantic Yards decision in saying that the Empire State Development Corporation’s taking of the land by eminent domain qualified as a ‘land use improvement project’ and was therefore for a ‘civic purpose’. “If we could rule in favor of a basketball arena, surely we could rule for a nonprofit university”, the judge said.
The $6.3 billion master plan project, developed by Renzo Piano with SOM, envisions 6.8m sq ft of space housed in transparent towers on tree-lined streets in the West Harlem neighborhood of Manahattanville.
Columbia president Lee Bollinger said on Thursday that the university is looking forward to ‘moving ahead with the long-term revitalization of the these blocks in Manhattanville that will create thousand of good jobs for New Yorkers and help our City and State remain a global center of pioneering academic research’.