Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Owner Files to Rezone - Sprayregan Has Refused Sale of Properties to CU

Columbia Spectator

Owner Files to Rezone
Sprayregan Has Refused Sale of Properties to CU

By Erin Durkin
Spectator Staff Writer

March 08, 2006

One business owner in the University�s proposed Manhattanville expansion zone has his own plans for development in the area.

Nick Sprayregen, the owner and president of Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage, has filed an application with the city to rezone the four properties he owns in the expansion zone, which stretches from 125th to 133rd Streets, between Broadway and 12th Avenue, as well as a fifth property on 135th Street. Columbia currently has an application pending to rezone the entire area to make way for its academic mixed-use development.

Sprayregen, the largest private property owner in the area after Columbia, is one of several business owners who have refused to sell to the University. They have formed the West Harlem Business Group to oppose the possible use of eminent domain to force them to sell their properties. Sprayregen described his development plans as �a bulwark against the abuse of eminent domain threats.�

The application would change the zoning on the properties, which are currently designated for manufacturing, to allow taller buildings and residential and commercial uses.

Sprayregen said that, if his application were granted, the businesses currently operating in the buildings�self-storage companies, retail stores, and a parking garage�would remain there. Additional stories would be devoted to community facilities and apartments, some of them earmarked for low- and moderate-income tenants, he said. Specific uses would be �fleshed out in the coming weeks and months with the community board.�

In order for the state to use eminent domain to acquire properties in Manhattanville, it would have to conclude that the area is blighted. Sprayregen said his plans will demonstrate that this is not the case.

�If they�re trying to use it [eminent domain] as a tool for economic improvement, then what about the fact that we can do this ourselves, and do it organically?� he said.

The University has said that it is working to negotiate the purchase of properties in the expansion zone in a mutually agreeable manner. It hopes eminent domain will not have to be used, though it will not take the option off the table. The University also says that its plan will lead to the creation of 14,000 jobs and bring other economic benefits to the area.

Sprayregen said he saw his plans as consistent with the 197-a plan, a broadbased framework for neighborhood development passed by Community Board 9. �I�m responding to their call for someone to put their vision into reality,� he said.

CB9 chair Jordi Reyes-Montblanc said in an e-mail that the Tuck-It-Away plans �look interesting.� While not commenting specifically on the consistency of the plans with the 197-a, he said this was a topic Sprayregen would be expected to cover when he presents his plans officially to the board later this month.

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