Scandal over NY State Using Eminent Domain for Columbia University
The Empire State Development Corporation today declared blighted a 17-acre swath of Manhattanville where Columbia University is seeking to expand, a major step toward allowing the state to use eminent domain to acquire the property of two businesses that have declined to sell their land to the university.
Opponents of the $6 billion expansion plan said the results of the study that found the area to be blighted were a foregone conclusion, because AKRF Inc., the firm hired by the state to conduct the report, known as a blight study, had also performed an environmental analysis of the same site for Columbia University. (Two courts have questioned whether it was appropriate for the state to have used the same consultant that Columbia did.)
The report by AKRF found that the area mostly comprised “aging, poorly maintained and functionally obsolete industrial buildings with little indication of recent reinvestment to revive their generally deteriorated condition.” . . .