Reuters) – New York’s top court ruled on Thursday that Columbia University can expand its campus in West Harlem, a $6.3 billion project that relies on the state’s use of eminent domain to take 17 acres from property owners.

The state’s top court has upheld the use of eminent domain in a plan to expand Columbia University.

The proposed $6.3 billion project would develop 17 acres in Manhattanville, just north of the school’s Morningside Heights campus.

The Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a lower court ruling that barred the state’s use of eminent domain.

Court Approves Use Of Eminent Domain In Columbia Expansion
Although the school owns most of the land in question, owners of four warehouses and two gas stations refused to sell their property to the school, claiming collusion between the school and a state redevelopment agency.

The highest court found that the area is blighted and that the Ivy League institution’s expansion would be an improvement.

The proposal includes up to new buildings for science, business and liberal arts studies, two acres of public open space and tree-lined sidewalks.

Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, the lawyer for Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage, one of the businesses that filed the suit, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the ruling and will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Court Approves Use Of Eminent Domain In Columbia Expansion
“This decision should be a wake-up call to the people in New York City and New York State and the Legislature to bring about major reform with regards to the rights of property owners, when the government attempts to condemn and take their property and give it to a private entity such as Columbia University,” said Siegel.

Siegel said he has 90 days to file the paperwork.

Columbia said construction will in phases in the area from 129th to 133rd Streets, between Broadway and 12th Avenue. Other involved properties are on 125th Street, and between 131st to 134th Streets on the east side of Broadway.

President Lee Bollinger of Columbia said the revitalization will create thousands of good jobs for

Source:Ny One