Columbia Expansion Holdout Sues To Block Eminent Domain

The owner of a set of storage buildings in West Harlem, Nick Sprayregen, has filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s use of eminent domain, he said this afternoon. The state has commenced actions to acquire the properties in connection with Columbia University’s planned 17-acre expansion in the area.

In Mr. Sprayregen’s 107-page petition, he challenged the state’s actions as unconstitutional, alleging the development is not intended for civic use. The petition claims that the area is not blighted, as required by law; that the studies demonstrating blight were highly flawed; and that the public approval process was rigged.

Among other claims, Mr. Sprayregen, the owner of Tuck-it-Away Storage, said that the city and state collaborated secretly more than five years ago to determine a strategy for the project, and quotes email excerpts that suggest some skepticism on the part of a city official about the process.  read more »

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