Friday, February 09, 2007

Whither Columbia?

It is becoming increasingly clear that Columbia is moving ahead without any real engagement of some of the key stakeholders in the West Harlem community. One in particular, storage company owner Nick Sprayregen, owns over 300,000 square feet of space in the direct footprint of the development. As Crain's In$ider is reporting this morning, Sprayregen has applied to rezone his property for a "mixed use development" that would include affordable housing, retail space, and the preservation of the storage capability of his company.

The Sprayregen proposal, unlike the Columbia plan, is congruent with the community board's 197A plan. What is missing from the entire scenario here is a direct discussion between Sprayregen and other property owners on the one hand, and elected officials and the university on the other. There is room for an inclusionary development plan but what is needed badly is the intervention of the area's representatives as catalysts of a compromise vision.