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NYS Approves Columbia University Expansion

Rendering of new Columbia campus at 131st Street & Broadway

Empire State Development Corporation has adopted the Columbia University General Project Plan and authorized a public hearing for the university’s proposed West Harlem expansion.

The state agency declared the 17-acre expansion footprint as blighted, a necessary step before using eminent domain. Two reports characterized the area by aging, poorly maintained and functionally obsolete industrial buildings, with little indication of recent reinvestment to revive their generally deteriorated conditions.

The $6.28 billion project, which is to be funded entirely by the university, will add up to 6.8 million square feet of new, state-of-the-art facilities in up to 16 new buildings and in an adaptively reused existing building.

The additional space will be used primarily for graduate-level teaching facilities, academic research, housing and recreation, and open active ground floor uses. The proposal also calls for the development of open spaces accessible to the general public, including widened sidewalks, mid-block open spaces, a large square and smaller open spaces.

The site of the proposed expansion of University facilities, which would occur over the next 25 years, is a 17-acre area just north of Columbia’s historic Morningside Heights campus in the Manhatanville industrial section of West Harlem and consists primarily of the four large blocks from 129th to 133rd streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue, including the north side of 125th Street.

The new facilities would also include three properties on the east side of Broadway from 131st to 134th streets. The majority of the construction in the proposed initial phase of the project would occur on the block bounded by 129th and 125th streets on the south and 130th Street on the north, between 12th Avenue and Broadway.

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