Friday, January 9, 2009

Demolition of Manhattanville to commence

Text and photos by Nathan Kensinger:

Columbia University plans to demolish 17 acres of this busy neighborhood. They will replace them with a huge new $7 billion extension campus. As part of this plan, Manhattanville was declared blighted in 2008 by the Empire State Development Corporation, opening the door for government use of eminent domain to seize the property of any businesses that did not wish to relocate.

Work has already begun on on Phase 1 of Columbia's plan, which will remove a city block between 129th and 130th Street west of Broadway. Several businesses in this block, including a service station and parking lot, have already closed their doors. Popular restaurants like Dinosaur BBQ and Floridita will be displaced.


Manhattanville: Phase 1

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Horrible idea that Columbia and the city let ram through thats going to cause more tension in the area.

Kevin Walsh said...

'Blighted' has been redefined in recent years by developers; it now means anywhere where the middle class, and their annoying attachments to car washes, grocery stores, walkup apartment buildings, and diners are located.

www.forgotten-ny.com

Anonymous said...

...all to build something as frivolous as a university. Who do they think they are?

Anonymous said...

They already have a university. What they want is an entire neighborhood. They ruined the Upper West Side by buying it all up and evicting everyone and now they are doing it here.

Queens Crapper said...

Correction: A private university

Anonymous said...

This move displaced very few residents, a few crappy rundown buildings, and business or 2. In its place will come many jobs, money to the surrounding neighborhood, and education to some of the more intelligent/driven people in the country. Maybe when they build the center for disease research and possibly get closer to finding a cure for Parkinson's or Alzheimer's you'll change your mind.... Untill then keep fighting for the gas station they displaced.... because that thing really helped out society.

Queens Crapper said...

Hmmm...interesting view you have on private property rights. If what you own doesn't "benefit society" then expect the state to seize it and turn it over to a university that makes billions of dollars.

I have to wonder how a basketball arena and luxury condos are going to benefit society in Brooklyn...

Anonymous said...

"This move displaced very few residents, a few crappy rundown buildings, and business or 2."

Sounds exactly like what LIQ Shitty commenters say about LIC.

Anonymous said...

Eminent domain is part of property rights. No, not every gas station can be seized by the govt on a whim. But, I'm not ready to cry about this instance. American universities are important. Manhattan doesn't need gas stations. Cars should be banned.

Flame on that!

Anonymous said...

I have visited Manhattanville quite a bit since 1980. I lived in the neighborhood (in NON-Columbia housing). Take my word for it, this neighborhood is, in fact, blighted. It is (and for a long time has been) a scary, post-industrial, Mad Max kind of place. Manhattanville currently holds almost no jobs, while Columbia will create a thousand or more jobs once it builds its new buildings. No residential building will be taken by eminent domain. Columbia's taking over this property is the best news we've had for a long time. --Dave S.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other Anonymous. Having lived in the area, I couldn't be happier out CU demolishing it. It is blighted, dark and dangerous, with no culture or inhabitants (hope Dino BBQ and Fairway come back though). it only takes away from what makes this city amazing. It is NOTHING LIKE the area east of Broadway, don't confuse them.

Anonymous said...

"Busy neighborhood", REALLY????
Has the author spent any signficant time around there? I live in Hamilton Heights- 1 neighborhood north of Manhattanville, and it's generally pretty desolate with the exception of the new restaurant row area and Fairway. Almost all of the area that Columbia will be redeveloping is truly blighted. Columbia will have to spend a fortune cleaning this area up since all of the former automotive repair shops have had issues containing fluids- which have seeped into the soil. I would rather Columbia pay for that and make the neighborhood nice rather than to use taxpayer dollars to do so.

FYI- Dinosaur BBQ is being relocated around the corner from it's current location.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the Hamilton Heights commenter (I live in that neighborhood too). Also, Fairway is NOT going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, a service station and a parking lot! How the neighborhood will miss those cultural treasures.

Anonymous said...

It's "blighted" as you say, because Columbia started buying up properties years ago and neglected them, causing the blight (similar to Willets Point. Even their own students agree.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in the area for over four years and unlike the other commentors, I don't think the area blighted. Not every neighborhood is supposed to be shiny, new and squeaky clean. NYC is a city and like anywhere you have to use common sense when going about your business. Just because the neighborhoods above 96th street are quiet after awhile doesn't mean its desolate...I would rather have quiet, then people hanging out till who knows when spilling out of bars and restaurants and causing a racket.

Columbia clearly had the odds in their favor with money and influence, holding back door meetings, pushing agendas and refusing to answer community concerns. Why can't Columbia build an off-site campus in the suburbs? I've seen colleges in other cities do this when they need more "space."

Anonymous said...

to the area resident of 4 years... Columbia does have a campus in the suburbs- a few miles north of the GW Bridge. Perhaps it will become increasingly important as the University grows over time, but for now, Manhattanville was a prime opportunity to easily expand in an area that was in between the main campus at 116th St and the Medical school in Washington Heights.

As far as the shiny and new comment is concerned, I would agree on that aspect- but this was not an area that really had a whole lot going for it for decades. My father worked in one of the meat packing plants (which might be where Fairway is today) when he came back from Vietnam in the 70's. He literally ran for his life from the gangs chasing him. For a long time following, legitimate businesses continued to decline as gangs increased their presence- thus creating the blight.

Anonymous said...

So it sounds like the City is directly responsible for the blight by withholding adequate police protection. Kind of like how they withhold sewer and road maintenance services at Willets Point.

Anonymous said...

So it sounds like the City is directly responsible for the blight by withholding adequate police protection. Kind of like how they withhold sewer and road maintenance services at Willets Point.

-------

We see this policy in Astoria when (1) with a sharp uptick in absentee landlords, (2) building maintenence went down (3) just as more demands hit the infrastructure with a increasingly rapid turnover of (diverse!)residents.

The community leadership ignored the electric grid just they overloaded it with illegal conversions. So it fried.

Instead the money was spent making sure the developers took home profits on the waterfront by connecting their projects to the grid with lots of shining new wire - paid by Astorias thinking it was being installed in their community.

What happened in Astoria is a example of what is happening in the entire boro.

From shopping areas, to community institutions (Elks, churches, etc) to housing, the entire boro is being run down.

And everything being build is flimsy and poorly planned, with the durablity of paper plates.

In a few years, just about anywhere in Queens that is facing a developer, demoliton will be justified by the same comments those posters made here about Columbia (and as they have been aleady for Willets Pt and LIC).

You may call those buildings run down, but look at their detail and construction.

We would give our eye teeth if they would build that today.

Carmenville Cate said...

OK, if you got drug dealers and worse hanging out on your stoop, yes, you have a problem.

But is this the case? Or is it diversity! variety! that makes our friends at the university uneasy with us?

But variety is the spice of life - our blocks can be brought back to life without knocking them down. Think of a real neighborhood with restored turn of the century buildings, artists lofts, small shops and stores on the street.

Instead, what will you get?

A grand entrance, and on the other three sides loading docks and blank walls.

Anonymous said...

Ah Cate.

All the preservation organizations have alum from C U who are generous donors.

Anonymous said...

Most other cities in American would be happy that a University wants to expand. It will bring service jobs teaching jobs and thousands of students who will in turn spend a lot of money.
But in NYC there is no re3al idea of the common good. It is only I got mine and screw you Dude.
The same thing is happening with NYU dorms downtown.
The fact is but expending so much effort in absolutely trying to stop a project cold, the No-Birds actually miss much of the benefits of being able to bargain with the developers for some reasonable changes.
Or, worse, so much time and effort is spend in arguing that funding disappears. WTC is such a perfect example. Ditto for Atlantic Yards.

Anonymous said...

Ratner was poised to bargain for reasonable changes? That's news to everyone. Please tell us what he would have done voluntarily to lower the scale of his project, remediate traffic, etc.

The only people who generally benefit from expensions are the institution expanding. See Citifield and Yankee Stadium projects.

Anonymous said...

you people have no idea what state of disrepair those building are in. i work for one of the architects and most of the Columbia projects belong to us. these buildings will be either renovated and made safe or demolished a new built in place. instead of complaining, why don't any of you who are so adamant about maintaining the status quo, do something about it?

Anonymous said...

"you people have no idea what state of disrepair those building are in. i work for one of the architects and most of the Columbia projects belong to us."

A) How's this for an unbiased opinion?
B) Once again, Columbia owns most of those buildings, so we know where the blame lies if they are in disrepair. This was intentional in order to claim blight.

Anonymous said...

Most other cities in American would be happy that a University wants to expand.

--------

Yes, but we are not Slippery Rock, Meadville, or State College.

This is NYC baby!

Anonymous said...

Trained in Columbia's historic preservation program it so distresses me that they are embarking on a project counter to all we were taught. Hasn't the depressiopn taught us anything about investing solely in monoculture enterprises? Didn't Robert Moses'monoculture architectureal disasters teach us anthing about replacing diverse historic builldings, with simularly varried burgioning businesses, with an enfallade of identical steel and glass bio-tech factory towers? Our president ellect has spoken against the tricke-down, elitest, give more to the rich and screw the poor policies beloved by Bush, Bloomberg and Bolinger. Hopefully, the downturn, the new administration and enlightenment , will deliver us from those out to make Manhattan an all White, only rich industrial park, where we the poor and those of color, are bussed in from "homelands" for the privelege of laboring for the wellfare of our affluent White masters?

Anonymous said...

the comments which oppose this project are likely authored by the tenants who live in the "neighborhood" as professional tenants...people in rent controlled apartments who have no jobs and don't pay the $100/month rent and then call 311 every time they see a piece of trash on the street..why don't you all join society...get off your buts, gets a job and do something to improve the status quo instead of your constant nagging and sense of entitlement

Queens Crapper said...

No, the comments which oppose this project reflect the belief of 90% of Americans who strongly feel that the use of eminent domain to profit a private party is wrong. Take your elitism and shove it up your ass.

Anonymous said...

So classic. Everyone wants something for nothing. It sounds like a real bunch of people only looking for handouts. Why don't you all go and contribute something to society and to yourselves, instead of waiting for the freebies you always expect. Oh I forgot, your jobs are professional organizers and professional tenants. Quick, go call 311 and call Legal Aid.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone wants something for nothing."

No, actually, the property owners here just want to be able to keep their legally owned property. They aren't asking for any handouts.

Anonymous said...

i respect and understand the issues of property owners and dont object to the discussion of eminant domain...i am referring to those individuals who protest and lament the "gentrification" of washington heights and wish to maintain the "flavor" of a neighborhood that by any objective evaluation has nowhere to go but up

Anonymous said...

The two issues are kind of inseparable when it comes to Columbia & Manhattanville. The City could have revitalized the area itself over these past few decades. But the people who live there weren't "good enough" for it to do so. A better class will get the services, though, just like at Willets Point.

Anonymous said...

ok so now we have a private institution paying to improve the area...why the uproar????

JC said...

Isn't it funny how elitist socialist organizations like Columbia University - which forces groupthink on its students to be anti-Bush, anti-American, and anti-capitalist - always seem to be "imperialist" when it comes to profitting for themselves?

Anonymous said...

"ok so now we have a private institution paying to improve the area...why the uproar????"

Because they don't own all of it. Let them pay to improve the areas they own. No reason why these businesses can't stay and allow Columbia build around them.

Anonymous said...

If "property rights" means eminent domain is always wrong, then logically, taxes are always wrong and the government shouldn't exist. Basically it seems like some people are not satisfied as long as there is any concept of shared interest. Like, I made a dollar today. Why does the government feel entitled to twenty cents of it? Well, actually, because we are the goverment. The government does things like watch our for our food safety, builds roads, encourages the construction and regulation of medical services, etc. It's us, taking care of ourselves.

If you don't believe that New York ever has the right to improve the welfare of New York, you don't believe in society -- you believe in a continent that contains 300 million individuals.

By the way, from what I've seen, government usually way-more-than-fairly compensates the affected party. Like they'll pay fifty percent more than fair value when they take your property. (Not that that makes it right... but again, that's the price of living in part of a city, state, and country and not on a desert isle.)

Anonymous said...

"If "property rights" means eminent domain is always wrong..."

No one here said eminent domain was always wrong. Everyone agrees that eminent domain may be used when the government is taking it for a public use, such as PUBLIC schools, roads, hospitals. When it is developer driven and to benefit a private entity, it is WRONG. 90% of America feels this way, so go argue with them.

Vernon Malcolm said...

The cynical Columbia secret bosses be messing with Obama the way they do with their cynical Bill of Rights and all their cynical superstition based initiatives. Every time something good be going on at Columbia they tried to stop it. This is why Columbia be needing to lose in Manhattanville just like they did in Morningside Park in 1968.