Friday, November 16, 2007

Columbia Held to Account

According to the Observer, the West Harlem LDC has upped the ante for the Columbia expansion to $100 million; with the money to be dedicated for affordable housing. As Matt Scheurman wrote:

Harlem Hits Columbia Up for $100 M.-Plus

As the deadline for City Council action on Columbia University’s expansion comes closer, the local development corporation established to negotiate the all-important community benefits agreement has asked the school to donate an amount “well in excess of $100 million” toward creating more affordable housing in the neighborhood, according to an individual source familiar with the negotiations.
The affordable-housing fund is one of several outstanding issues, but may be the hardest to resolve before Dec. 19, when the Council breaks for the holidays. University spokeswoman La-Verna Fountain said Columbia would not comment on the negotiations.
The source said that the school, while it had not offered its own number, understood it had to contribute more, and in a more timely way, than
the $20 million that Borough President Scott M. Stringer secured through an agreement in September.

All of which makes for some interesting negotiations as the City Council end game approaches. The key issue here, is that no matter how much CU puts into a fund there's a need to identify land that can be used for the building of the housing. Therefore, the swap proposal put forth by Nick Sprayregen becomes more germane-it's the only realistic option that identifies an actual spot for the housing to be built.