Saturday, June 30, 2007

Neutrality in Expansion at Columbia Is Questioned

Neutrality in Expansion at Columbia Is Questioned
Published: June 30, 2007

A state judge has questioned the independence of a state agency that is working with Columbia University to determine whether to condemn private property so that the university can expand.

The judge, Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich of State Supreme Court, found that otherwise confidential documents should be available to certain critics of Columbia’s expansion plans because of the appearance of collusion between the state and Columbia.

The main issue was the state’s hiring last year of a consultant, Allee King Rosen & Fleming Inc., or A.K.R.F., that was already working on the expansion project for Columbia, the judge noted.

In a ruling dated June 27 but released yesterday, Justice Kornreich ordered the state agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, to release 117 documents, including legal bills, memos, handwritten notes and e-mail messages to the West Harlem Business Group, a group of property owners who are resisting Columbia’s expansion.

A.K.R.F. is the state’s lead consultant on what is called a neighborhood condition study. The study is being done to determine whether the state would be justified in using its power of eminent domain to condemn property sought by Columbia for its expansion.

Justice Kornreich said in her decision, “A.K.R.F., presumably, seeks to succeed in securing an outcome that its client, Columbia, would favor.”

Norman Siegel, a lawyer for some of the property owners, said the ruling could “lift the veil of secrecy” surrounding Columbia’s plans. He said the part of the ruling that questioned the state’s neutrality could pave the way for a challenge to a use of eminent domain in this case.

“The easiest way to put it is you can’t serve two masters, and that’s what’s going on here,” Mr. Siegel said. “The government has the power to condemn my clients’ property. But the process should be neutral and objective, and when you find out the government has retained Columbia’s consultant, it can’t be neutral anymore. It’s biased.”

Robert Hornsby, a spokesman for Columbia, said, “We weren’t involved at all with E.S.D.C.’s independent decision to hire outside consultants.” He declined to comment further on the ruling, saying he had not yet read it.

Errol Cockfield, a spokesman for the Empire State Development Corporation, said yesterday: “We disagree strongly with this opinion. We provided voluminous information that we believe met the law.”

Phone calls yesterday evening to A.K.R.F. officials were not returned.

In order for a consultant to fall under the exemption from public disclosure given to government agencies, the judge said, the consultant must “not represent an interest of its own, or the interest of any other client, when it advises the agency.”

She said A.K.R.F. “lacks sufficient neutrality” for its communications with Empire State Development to be confidential under the law.

Only one of the 117 documents that the judge ordered released concerns the consultants. None have been released yet, and state officials indicated that they might appeal, effectively staying their release.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sunday, July 1, 2007 - 12:00 AM

Jose Temprana, 105, recites the pledge of allegiance while being sworn in as a U.S. citizen Friday in Miami.

Cuban becomes American after more than a century
By The Associated Press

MIAMI — A 105-year-old Cuban-born man who had at least one pending wish had it fulfilled: He became a U.S. citizen.

Jose Temprana celebrated by sipping champagne with friends at the Hispanic Community Center in Miami on Friday.

"I feel different," said Temprana, who served 30 years in Cuban jails. "Satisfied, very happy. It was worth the wait."

Temprana has the vitality of a younger man. Nicknamed "El Niño" (The Boy), he rides his scooter to the store to play the lottery, rolls his own cigars, drinks whiskey with neighbors and has a girlfriend.

"He's just got a great spirit," said his neighbor Patti Hernandez. "Everybody's going, 'Come on, he can't really be that old.' "

Temprana was born in the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio on Sept. 26, 1901. He worked as a sponge diver and lobster fisherman and had eight children with his first wife, who died giving birth. He remarried, and his second wife died in 2002.

In 1964, he was imprisoned in Cuba for smuggling weapons from the United States to the island for an insurrection against Fidel Castro.

Temprana was released from prison at age 93, applied for a humanitarian visa and flew to Miami.

Once in Miami, he worked to get his citizenship but fell short twice.

"I've wanted ... it since I was 8 or 10 years old," Temprana said.

CB9M COMMUNITY_BASED PLAN Public Hearing July 9th 2007

Invites you to a Public Hearing on


The public is invited to attend and present testimony on Community Board 9’s 197-A Plan.

The 197-A Plan is a community-based plan which sets forth a framework to ensure
that new development in the district is compatible with the existing neighborhood
character without displacement, conditions are created to generate good jobs for its
residents, and housing and services that are affordable to the community are provided.

Monday, July 9th, 2007
6:30 pm

Manhattanville Community Center
530 West 133rd Street
(Between Amsterdam and Broadway)

Further information on the CB9 197-A Plan can be found on the official CB9 website:

Les invita a una Audiencia Publica


El publico queda invitado a participar y a prestar su testimonio acerca del
Plan 197-a de la Junta Comunitaria 9 de Manhattan, (CB9M).

El Plan 197-A Plan esta basado en los anhelos de la comunidad estableciendo las
normas que asegurarán que el nuevo desarrollo del Distrito sea compatible con las
actuales characteristicas de la vecindad sin incurrir en desplazamientos, creando
condiciones que genéren buenos trabajos para los residentes, y que las viviendas
y servicios provistos sean adquisibles a los bolsillos de la comunidad.
Lunes, Julio 9, 2007
6:30 pm
Manhattanville Community Center
530 West 133rd Street
(entre Amsterdam y Broadway)

Para mas informacion acerca del Plan197-A de CB9M vea el sitio oficial de CB9M website:

Morningside Heights * Manhattanville * Hamilton Heights

Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, Chairman
Lawrence McClean, District Manager
Community Board No. 9 Manhattan
565 West 125th Street
New York, NY 10027

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Study Criticizes Parks Dept. Management

N.Y. / Region
Study Criticizes Parks Dept. Management
Published: June 27, 2007

The quality of the typical New York City park is determined largely by whether it is in a wealthy or poor neighborhood, according to a study to be released by a private nonprofit group today. The report also indicated that despite budget increases in recent years, the Parks Department is not doing enough strategic planning to manage its parkland properly.

“About one of eight parks citywide is not in acceptable condition, and there is a significant correlation between a community district’s share of parks in unacceptable condition and its average income level,” according to the report by the group, the Citizens Budget Commission.

The study, called “Making the Most of Our Parks,” is the latest analysis to suggest that city parks have devolved into a multitiered system, with parks operated by nonprofit groups like the Central Park Conservancy and the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation at the top, and parks that are in poor neighborhoods and are run by the Parks Department at the bottom.

“The challenge facing our city in the next century will be to create a park system that can take the successes of parks like Central, Prospect and Bryant and match their managerial prowess with additional public resources to provide a quality park for every neighborhood in New York City,” the report said.

The Parks Department did not disagree with the group’s main findings yesterday. In a statement, Warner Johnston, the department’s spokesman, said the agency’s performance had been steadily improving.

“As documented in the C.B.C. report, park conditions have improved dramatically across the board, with the greatest improvement in parks in poorer neighborhoods,” Mr. Johnston said.
“We agree that more can be done to develop more sophisticated analytical tools for measuring park use and worker efficiency.”

The report found that while the Bloomberg administration has increased financing for parks over the past several years, the Parks Department has failed to collect data regarding how many people use its parks and for what activities, at what times particular parks are most crowded, and how much money is required to maintain specific parks.

The information the Parks Department uses to determine which parks need additional resources, some of which comes from periodic park inspections, is “inadequate for effective management,” the report said.

In contrast, the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, which runs Bryant Park, keeps data on everything from the number of people who sit on the park’s benches at a certain time of day to the ratio of women to men who use the park.

That information is then used to make decisions about what new programs to offer.

Among the report’s recommendations is for the city to allow the Parks Department to keep a larger share of revenue from concessions generated in city parks. Currently, only Central Park, Bryant Park and a few others are entitled to keep some or all of the funds raised from activities like food sales or field rentals.

The report said creating a new fund from concessions revenue could be used to pay for park improvements and to reduce the cycle of borrowing that has been used to pay for large-scale park overhauls instead of daily maintenance.

Monday, June 25, 2007



June 25, 2007 -- Columbia University is moving ahead with its controversial, multibillion-dollar plan to build a new campus on Harlem's western edge, a plan that's proving very expensive for at least one area resident.

Auto mechanic José Luis said the Ivy League college's uptown land grab forced him to relocate his business repairing yellow cabs and used cars - and he estimates it's going to cost him $21,000.

Columbia booted the 38-year-old Dominican entrepreneur from 3251 Broadway two months ago after buying the building from his landlord.

The university gave Luis a one-year lease in a larger location down the block and three months' free rent at $2,250 a month.

But the mechanic isn't happy at all. He said his electric bill shot up from $700 to $900 a month and his insurance premium jumped $250 a month.
"It's not right," said Luis, who runs 630 Auto Center, "I need a minimum five-year lease for my business."

Columbia - which owns over 75 percent of the real estate between 125th and 133rd streets and between Broadway and the Hudson River - wants to build a towering campus in western Harlem.

University officials have asked state officials to do an analysis for condemning the property under eminent-domain laws.

The plan took a big step forward last Monday when the City Planning Commission gave the university the green light to begin the public-review phase of its application to rezone the area.

A competing application by Community Board 9, which essentially calls for preserving the current character of the community, is also under review.

Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, the board's chairman, said the panel is concerned about the size and bulk of the buildings and the potential loss of affordable housing for 132 families.

So far, Columbia has been guarded in its dealings with the community, he said.

"People want to know what type of research will take place inside Columbia's laboratories," said Reyes-Montblanc.

"They won't get one square inch under eminent domain," the board chairman said. "If the area seems distressed or unoccupied, it's because it belongs to Columbia. They own it and they emptied it out."

Attorney Norman Siegel, who is representing four clients fighting the university, said Columbia is bullying them to take its offer on the ground they might get less under an eminent-domain ruling.

Columbia spokeswoman LaVerna Fountain said, "We have an unequivocal commitment to the people living in the 132 residential units to find them equal or better housing. We hope businesses will negotiate with us."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hey! Keep it down around here! New York's new noise code set to hush things up in the Big Apple


Hey! Keep it down around here!
New York's new noise code set to hush things up in the Big Apple

Saturday, June 23rd 2007, 11:00 AM


Video: New York's new noise code

On a busy street corner in Manhattan, a cabbie lays on the horn as he struggles through rush hour traffic. A few blocks away, sirens blare as an ambulance races down the street. In the subway below, trains screech to a piercing halt and an amateur dance troupe blasts hip-hop music on the platform.

New York can be earsplitting.

But city officials say Gotham is about to get a little quieter when new regulations governing the loudness of jack-hammers, barking dogs, bar music and other auditory menaces take effect July 1. Even Mr. Softee will have to keep it down - the ice-cream chain must now stop playing its omnipresent jingle when the trucks are stopped in residential areas.

From wary bartenders to construction workers and dog lovers, New Yorkers are bracing for stricter rules about just how loud the city can be, and are wondering whether it's really possible to reduce the noise level.

"Last time I checked, this is New York," said Erik Foss, who owns the bar and gallery Lit in Manhattan's East Village. "I don't know how you make it quiet around here. It wouldn't be New York if it were silent."

Noise-related calls to the city's 311 hot line have been increasing steadily the past few years and are the top complaint, said Emily Lloyd, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, which handles noise complaints. Noise calls this weekend alone were a record with 4,942 inquiries. In 2005 there were 38,660 noise-related calls, followed by 41,856 in 2006. The main gripes were construction during the day, and barking dogs and loud air conditioners topped the list in later hours.

On top of the irritation, noise is also bad for your health. The Environmental Protection Agency says people shouldn't be consistently exposed to decibel levels of more than 75. Heavy city traffic is regularly 85, an ambulance siren is 120, and the subway averages in the 90s.

"Noise is so pervasive in the city that people don't even realize it's happening," said Robyn Gershon, a Columbia University professor at the Mailman School of Public Health. "But it affects your health; it has a cardiovascular impact, causes sleep deprivation ... plus you can go deaf," Gershon said.

The new noise code is the result of revisions made in 2005 - the first time it was changed in more than three decades. Business owners, labor unions and nightclubs initially balked at the idea, but changed their tune as a final plan was worked out that they agreed was reasonable.

The old noise code relied on a way of measuring noise that was generally considered convoluted and too subjective. Essentially, an officer could ticket if the noise was unreasonable to a person of "normal sensibility."

Officials will now use a "plainly audible" standard for bars and clubs, which means if a cop or an environmental protection enforcement agent is able to hear it 15 feet from the source, they can issue a ticket.

It's still subjective, but city officials say it's a more common-sense standard that will hopefully result in fewer tickets, fewer arguments and less noise.

Also under the new regulations, a first-time offense, which costs from $3,200 to $8,000, can be waived if a bar or club submits a plan to muffle the noise.

"Really, I think it allows the nightclub to continue to be a great place to hear good music. It's just, the music has to stay in the club," Lloyd said.

Most police precincts also have devices to measure noise, but officers often lack the time to work with calibrating the devices. If the noise complaint is persistent, DEP officials will take decibel measurements with a high-tech device that also measures bass, which bugs a lot of sleeping New Yorkers.

Construction is a little tricker, because it's loud by nature. Under the new code, companies will be required to submit a noise-mitigation plan on any development project. That way, builders can plan ahead and include in their bids the cost of keeping noise down. A first offense citation is between $875 and $1,400.

"We know they are always worried about keeping costs down," Lloyd said. "Hopefully this puts everyone at a level playing field."

Loren Riegelhaupt, spokesman for Forest City Ratner Companies, the company behind the massive Atlantic Yards project that includes a new Brooklyn arena for the NBA's Nets, said keeping the sound down is good business.

"As part of construction you have to mitigate noise measures, and we'll do everything we're asked to do," he said. As part of the plan to stifle construction noise around the Atlantic Yards project, the company is buying double-pained windows and quiet air conditioners for about 700 nearby neighbors to help offset sound.

In some years, barking dogs were the most prevalent noise complaint, especially in the outer boroughs. A violation was issued if the barking became "unreasonable." The new code states an owner can be fined between $75 and $175 for a first offense if a dog barks for more than 10 minutes during the day, and more than five minutes at night.

And there's never been a case that Lloyd can think of where Fido had to go.

Other parts of the code limit trucks and city vehicles, which have to be quieter in residential neighborhoods. That includes Mr. Softee, which can't play the jingle when it is stopped, but can when it is moving.

"New York is never going to be a really silent place," Lloyd said. "It's something that people have to get used to, and we can't turn New York City into Grover's Corners. We're trying to help create a good balance."

Erik Foss, whose bar and gallery is in the middle of a residential neighborhood, says he already takes precautions to keep sound down, including soundproof curtains against the windows and a new sound system that allows him to set maximum levels which can't be changed by DJs or bartenders. And since he owns the building, he gives the upstairs renters a discount.

"We really are part of the community, and they know it," he said. "But the community isn't supposed to be a super-clean, quiet, suburban yuppie land."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

CB9M 2007 Street Closings

Community Board No. 9 Manhattan

Street Closings
Summer of 2007

Date of Event Sponsoring Organization Location of Event Pct.

06/23/07 Church of the Crucifixion W.149th St. (bet Convent & Amst. Ave.) 30th

06/23/07 Hamilton Terrace Block Association Hamilton Terrace (bet. 141st&144th Sts.) 30th

06/23/07 Shekisha Harley Graham W.146th St. (bet Convent & St. Nicholas Ave.) 30th

06/30/07 The Children’s Enhancement Committee W. 137th Street (bet. R/S/D & B’way) 26th

07/01/07 Our Lady of Lourdes Church W. 142nd Street (bet. Amst. & Convent Ave.) 30th

07/04/07 Barbara Deas W. 146th Street (bet. Convent & St. Nicholas Ave.) 30th

07/07/07 500 Block Association W. 152nd Street (bet. B’way & Amst. Ave.) 30th

07/08/07 Convent Ave. Baptist Church Convent Ave. (bet. 144th & 145th Sts.) 30th

07/14/07 Survivors Fountain of Hope – Wellnes, Inc. W. 147th Street (bet. Convent & Amst. Ave.) 30th

07/14/07 Phase Piggy Back, Inc. Edgecombe Ave. (bet. 142nd & 145th St.) 30th

07/21/07 Church of the Master W.123rd Street (bet. Morningside & Amst. Ave.) 26th

07/21/07 St. Agnes Apartments W.130th Street (bet. Convent & 130th St.) 26th

07/28/07 150th – 155th Edgecombe Block Assoc. Edgecombe Ave. (bet. 150th -155th Street) 30th

07/28/07 Samson Lodge #65 W. 155th St. (bet. Amst. & St. Nicholas Ave.) 30th

07/28/07 B’way & Amsterdam Block Assoc. 148th Street (bet. B’way & Amst. Ave.) 30th

07/29/07 Harlem Week Riverside Drive (bet. 120th & 124th Streets) 26th

08/04/07 St. Catherine of Genoa Church W. 153rd St. (bet. Amst. & B’way) 30th

08/11/07 500 Block Association 152nd Street (bet. B’way & Amst. Ave.) 30th

08/11/07 Hamilton Pl. Playground Association Hamilton Place (bet. 140th & 141st St.) 30th

08/11/07 George Faison Fire House Theatre 124th Street (bet. Manhattan & Morningside Ave.) 26th

08/11/07 Dance Theatre of Harlem W. 152nd Street (bet. Amst. & St. Nicholas Ave.) 30th

08/17/07 500 W. 150th St. Block Association W. 150th Street (bet. B’way & Amst. Ave.) 30th

08/18/07 Community Fund Raiser W. 144th Street (bet. B’way & Amst. Ave.) 30th

08/18/07 500 Block Assoc. of 149th Street W. 149th Street (Amst. & B’way) 30th

08/18/07 General Grant Residents Association LaSalle Street (bet. B’way & Amst. Ave.) 26th

08/18/07 153rd Street Block Association W. 153rd St. (bet. St. Nicholas & Amst. Ave.) 30th

08/18/07 149th Street Block Association W. 149th St. (bet. Amst. & Convent Ave.) 30th

08/25/07 Gospel Missionary Baptist Church W. 149th St. (bet. B’way & Riverside Dr.) 30th

08/25/07 Broad/Am Block Association W. 151st St. (bet. Amst. & B’way) 30th

08/31/07 Teacher’s College W. 120th St. (bet B’way & Amst. Ave.) 26th

09/01/07 149th Street Block Assoc. 149th Street (bet. Amst. & Convent Ave. 30th

09/08/07 824 St. Nicholas Ave. Community Assoc. St. Nicholas Pl. (bet. 153rd & 155th Streets) 30th

09/09/07 Convent Avenue Baptist Church Convent Avenue (bet. 144th & 145th Streets) 30th

09/15/07 Homelessness & Housing Broadway (bet. 110th & 118th Streets) 26th

09/15/07 500 Block Assoc. of W. 149th Street W.149th Street (bet. Amst. & B’way 30th

10/06/07 Upper Westside Recycling Center Broadway (bet. 110th & 118th Streets) 26th

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Document Details Expansion's Impacts - News

Document Details Expansion's Impacts - News

California Gym for Inner-city Kids Joins IJ in Eminent Domain Abuse Battle New Study Vindicates O’Connor’s Warning: Government Kicks Out Poor To Make

Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 09:51:32 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Anne Z. Whitman"
Subject: Fwd: IJ Launches New Case and Study
To: "Jordi Reyes Montblanc"

Note: forwarded message attached.
Anne Z. Whitman, President
Hudson North American
3229 Broadway,
New York, New York 10027

Forwarded Message [ Download File ]
Subject: IJ Launches New Case and Study
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 10:16:36 -0400
From: "Christina Walsh"
To: "IJ Distribution"

Institute for Justice

(703) 682-9320
FAX (703) 682-9321

California Gym for Inner-city Kids Joins IJ in Eminent Domain Abuse Battle
New Study Vindicates O’Connor’s Warning:
Government Kicks Out Poor To Make Way for Rich

June 19, 2007

Arlington, Va.-Kick out the poor, bring in the rich. Those are the goals of a bogus “blight” declaration that National City, Calif., is expected to move forward tonight. In renewing a declaration that two-thirds of National City (a predominantly Hispanic San Diego suburb) is “blighted,” the city government’s goal is not to remove blight, but rather to remove the poor and minorities who have managed to purchase property and replace them with the rich and politically powerful.

But National City did not count on the Institute for Justice (IJ)-a public interest law firm with a long and successful history of fighting eminent domain for private gain-taking up the cause of National City property owners and fighting back.

On June 19, 2007, the Community Youth Athletic Center (CYAC)-a gym in National City that helps low-income, minority kids stay off the streets and avoid gangs-announced it would join the Institute for Justice to challenge the decision by National City, Calif., to target the gym, as well as many other properties, for eminent domain.

“We’re going to fight the city’s outrageous plan to take away our gym so a developer can build condos for rich people,” said Victor Nuñez, vice president of the CYAC and a San Diego County Deputy District Attorney. “We’re doing what we teach our kids to do; we’re standing up for what is right.”

“With its bogus blight designation, National City is laying the groundwork to destroy flourishing small businesses, churches and service organizations like the CYAC,” warned Jeff Rowes, a staff attorney with the Institute for Justice. “Each of these pieces of property may not be put to its so-called ‘highest economic use,’ but each provides the owner with the opportunity for a better life. If that property is taken, only to be handed over to someone else with more wealth and political influence, these industrious but poor individuals will lose their American Dream.”

What is happening in National City is part of a nationwide trend of eminent domain abuse where the vulnerable are victimized. In a study released today analyzing U.S. Census data, the Institute for Justice documented that eminent domain abuse disproportionately takes land from the poor, less-educated and minorities across the nation. The study, “Victimizing the Vulnerable: The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse,” vindicates the warning offered by former-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who wrote in her dissent in the infamous Kelo case that eminent domain would be used “to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more.”

The first-of-its-kind national study systematically examined U.S. Census data to determine the demographic profile of people subject to eminent domain abuse in 184 projects. It found that 58 percent of those targeted with the threat of eminent domain were minority residents and their annual median income was less than $19,000. Moreover, people living in areas targeted for eminent domain for private development are significantly poorer and more likely to be minority than people elsewhere in their own cities. The report is available at

Not only does National City hope to kick out current property owners and replace them with wealthier ones, but it also plans to take on more debt. A “blight” designation enables a government redevelopment agency to incur huge debts and capture property taxes that would otherwise go to the county. California redevelopment agencies collectively owe more than $60 billion and are the exclusive recipients of property taxes on more than $380 billion worth of property. Overall, redevelopment agencies capture about 10 percent of all property taxes collected in California.

Demonstrating one of the many ways the blight declarations are unconstitutionally stacked against property owners, National City’s City Council did not even release any of the documents necessary to challenge the blight designation until just a few days before tonight’s Council hearing, making it impossible for property owners to effectively challenge what the city is doing at the meeting-the only opportunity the law provides for them to do so.

“California’s new eminent domain statute must be vigorously enforced by the courts if the poor and ultimately all Californians are to be protected from eminent domain abuse,” said Dana Berliner, an Institute for Justice senior attorney. “The courts must allow property owners the opportunity to review and challenge so-called blight designations. That is what this case is all about.”

“If you believe eminent domain is needed for redevelopment, look around you; virtually everything in America has been built without it,” concluded Rowes. “Development can be done, but it shouldn’t be done through government force. It should be done through private negotiation.”

This Saturday, June 23, 2007, marks the second anniversary of the Kelo ruling.

The backlash against the Kelo ruling was swift and nearly unanimous. Public opinion polls consistently show that more than 80 percent of Americans disapprove of using eminent domain for private gain, as is going on in National City. Already 41 states, including California, have reformed their statutes to some degree to afford property owners greater protection against the wrongful seizure of their property. The two state supreme courts that have squarely considered
the Kelo question unequivocally rejected the use of eminent domain for economic development.

The California Supreme Court has not taken a case in three decades addressing statutory and constitutional limitations on redevelopment. With so many Californians, many of them economically disadvantaged and minority, facing gross eminent domain abuse, the time is ripe for the California Supreme Court to consider this important issue and rein in this awesome power of government.

# # #

Christina Walsh Castle Coalition Coordinator Institute for Justice 901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900 Arlington, VA 22203 (703) 682-9320

P.S. HELP THE CASTLE COALITION GROW! Forward this message to your friends. They can sign-up here:

To unsubscribe from IJ's distribution list, please reply to this email with "unsubscribe" in the subject line or send an email to

A Community Burdened With Columbia's Need to Expand - Columbia University moves to the next stage of its proposed expansion into West Harlem.

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 06:20:12 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Lewis Burgess"
Subject: Re: Columbia Expansion
To: "Jordi Reyes-Montblanc"

Hi Jord,
Here is a news link on the rally.

Do you need help with the review?

A Community Burdened With Columbia's Need to Expand

Columbia University moves to the next stage of its proposed expansion into West Harlem.
By Paul Schrodt

Protesters of Columbia University's expansion into West Harlem hit another roadblock Monday when the City Planning Commission certified the school's application to re-zone Manhattanville. Now Community Board 9 is squeezed to come up with opposing recommendations over the next 60 days.

Keywords: Analysis, Manhattan, Government, Education, Housing & Development, Civil Rights,

Outside City Planning, protesters raise a ruckus.

Tom Kappner wouldn’t budge—not for this. As Columbia University publicly revealed its plans to develop in West Harlem before a city hearing, Kappner and a group of other protestors stood their ground outside the double doors. Although this meeting was supposed to be open to the public, there were no more empty seats, and a city official asked the group to kindly “sit in the lobby.”

“We’ll just stand here until you arrest us,” Kappner told the official.

On Monday, residents of West Harlem fought to keep their streets. Columbia’s hope to expand into Manhattanville, announced in 2002, has turned into a five-year struggle with community members who want to slow the tide of gentrification in an area known for its manufacturing industry. Not only will those jobs disappear if Columbia moves in, but the new campus could indirectly displace as many as about 3,300 residents in the area, by the school’s own estimation.

Chants of “127th street—not for sale! 128th street—not for sale!” echoed on the street outside the Department of City Planning (DCP) building, where a commission was to decide whether it would certify Columbia’s Land Use Review Application. For Community Board 9, which represents the affected area, this could not have come at a worse time. If the application is certified, it only has 60 days to file its opposing recommendation—in the middle of the summer, as the board moves into new offices, and when many volunteer consultants are out of the city. Protestors barked “disenfranchisement” into the windows of DCP.

Either the commission didn’t listen, or it had its own opinions: The application was certified, meaning Community Board 9 will have to wade through hundreds, maybe thousands of pages of documents in the next two months on limited resources.

“You can’t just say you’re for or against it—you have to give reasons. And if you’re looking at a huge document like this Environmental Impact Statement [filed by Columbia]—in order to deal with that, you need the time,” said Tom DeMott, who is with the Coalition to Preserve Community that is fighting Columbia’s expansion.


Of course, everyone guessed Columbia might file their application at a time when the community board was at its weakest. Throughout the planning process, the university has made few if any compromises with the opposition. It has promised but given no concrete guarantees that it will find affordable housing for displaced residents. Columbia President Lee Bollinger even refused to take eminent domain off the table, a power normally reserved for public institutions, which Columbia—in spite of Bollinger’s arguments to the contrary—is not. With eminent domain, Columbia could conceivably force Manhattanville landowners onto the streets.

Not only is Columbia not taking eminent domain off the table, evidence suggests it is actively pursuing it. In 2005, the Columbia Daily Spectator uncovered hidden payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars the university made to the Empire State Development Corporation in order to begin a process that might find Manhattanville “blighted,” and thus vulnerable to eminent domain.

What will happen if Columbia gets eminent domain?

“Good question,” chuckled Bryan Mercer, a senior at Columbia and member of the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification. “I think no one knows what will actually happen. Something to look out for is what happened in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards.” Eminent domain was used in Atlantic Yards for a multi-billion dollar development project by Bruce Ratner, which will include a new Nets basketball arena, commercial offices and a “boutique hotel,” among other things—not what many would say is “for the public good.”

If Columbia does obtain eminent domain, it will come with some irony: Columbia already controls or owns most of the properties in the area where it hopes to expand, so it has had at least some influence over its allegedly “blighted” condition.


Community Board 9’s opposition to the expansion project faces this daunting fact: Columbia University is the second largest private landowner in New York City. Columbia says it needs more space to keep apace with the innovative research of other Ivy League institutions, and many believe it has the political connections to make that happen.

To help market its case to the public, Columbia has enlisted Bill Lynch’s consulting firm, Bill Lynch Associates. And if local politicians didn’t already favor the university, Lynch might easily do the trick. As one of five vice chairs of the Democratic National Committee, Lynch helps oversee funding for the campaigns of local Democratic politicians, some of whom will be voting on Columbia’s proposed expansion.

“There is no Democratic official who hasn’t received funds from the Democratic Party,” DeMott says. “And he dispersed those funds. I’m not saying he gave them money so they’d always vote in his favor, but it’s a serious conflict-of-interest.”

According to DeMott, this is one more way in which Columbia has positioned itself as the bullying giant looming over West Harlem.

“Columbia is a huge and powerful institution. They have made no bones about trying to grab hold of every trick in the book,” he said.


For all the ways in which Columbia has indisputably changed since 1968, some would say they’ve also remained the same. In that politically tumultuous year, the university seized another section of its surrounding neighborhood, provoking a student outcry that has become part of this city’s notorious history.

“I think they’ve learned. They’re more sophisticated. They have a more well-oiled public relations apparatus. But the community has learned a lot, too. We’re not going to let that happen again,” Tom Kappner said. Kappner graduated from Columbia in 1966 and has lived in the area ever since.

In its defense, Columbia argues the new campus will create the need for thousands of jobs. Manufacturing is a dying industry anyway, by all accounts. But for some in the community, this is no consolation. Sonia Reyes represents a building in West Harlem mostly occupied by illegal immigrant workers. Columbia recently bought the building and tried to evict its residents.

“Those are the kinds of jobs we think they should be protecting. These are illegal immigrants who aren’t likely to get jobs with the Columbia expansion. We don’t think those people should be left out of the future of West Harlem,” DeMott said.

Reyes stood on Reade Street with the other protestors Monday, asking Columbia to stay out of her neighborhood.

“We are Harlem. We belong to Harlem,” she said. “And we want to stay in Harlem.”

On WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” President Bollinger defended Columbia’s conversion of this manufacturing area into an extension of a prestigious academic institution, saying it would pave the way for the next century of creative thought and scientific innovation. But for Mercer, that’s just not proper justification.

“I think that the university is a private institution, and it largely serves the interests of its students and faculty. Bollinger says those 3,300 people aren’t as important as the school’s new research labs that could find the cure for cancer,” Mercer said. “The question is not whether 3,300 people should be able to live in this neighborhood or we should find a cure for cancer. It’s a question of whether those people need to be prevented from living in their homes in order to find a cure for cancer.”

If the city approves Columbia’s re-zoning and subsequent transformation of Manhattanville, the Coalition to Preserve Community is not prepared to back down—as DeMott says, “We’re not going to lose this fight.” “It’s ridiculous to think they can get away with this,” Kappner said. “I remember in ’68 it only took four people standing in front of the bulldozer, and this time we’re going to have a lot more.”

By Paul Schrodt

Coalition to Preserve Community steering committee
Jun 20, 2007 12:48PM EDT
Tom DeMott

Correction to the author Paul Schrott: My emphasis on the immigrant status of many of those facing eviction was about their disadvantaged status because of language and education requirements in terms of future employment opportunties in the jobs Columbia is supposed to be creating. If I mistakely used that phrase, let me correct it right now because I have no idea if any of the workers does not have proper resident status. There are lots of people in the expansion area who live, work or own property in the expansion area who are facing eviction. All of them, whether immigrants or not, deserve to be protected.

Piano, SOM’s Columbia Plan Stirs Controversy

Piano, SOM’s Columbia Plan Stirs Controversy
June 18, 2007
by Dorian Davis

Renzo Piano is not bashful about his plan to raze century-old, masonry-clad factories and tenements in West Harlem and replace them with big, crisp buildings of steel and glass—a new campus for Columbia University that resembles Metropolis more than it does the existing neighborhood. “Cities are bound to change,” he says, “You have to accept it.”

Images courtesy Renzo Piano Building Workshop / Skidmore
Owings & Merrill
Created by Renzo Piano and SOM, Columbia University’s new
17-acre campus will replace low-rise warehouses and
tenements with glass-walled towers.

Pressed for space at its original campus in Morningside Heights, 10 blocks south, Columbia hired Piano in 2003. He created a sprawling, city-within-a-city that covers 17 acres with 6.8 million square feet of box-shaped towers; Skidmore Owings & Merrill formulated the urban plan. But to make way for this development, Columbia must contend with three privately owned warehouses that refuse to sell, including one that was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. Its plan to demolish them is raising the specter of eminent domain and pitting Columbia against Harlem residents.

Piano says the results will be worth the controversy. Punctuated by tree-lined quads, his buildings are meant to bring a new, open sense to the neighborhood. Their ground floors will host retail stores and restaurants. “We put the dirty functions—garbage, ramps, parking, and loading—underground, because they make a very opaque environment, and we put the research facilities up higher, so that everything on the ground is more transparent and public,” he explains.

Columbia’s plan took a big step forward this summer following the completion of an environmental impact statement and feasibility study by Thornton Tomasetti and AKRF. The city’s Planning Department is scheduled to start the land review process today, giving the local Community Board 60 days to review Columbia’s plans and suggest changes. If approved, construction would be completed in two phases: the first by 2015, the second by 2030.

Meanwhile, the Community Board’s own plan, called 197A—which includes more preservation and avoids eminent domain—goes before public hearings in July.

Developing a new campus almost as big as the original one requires extensive dialogue with neighborhood residents, Piano concedes. “Listening is a very tough job, because you have to listen to the right voices, and sometimes the right voices are very little voices.” But residents wonder if, so far, the architect has listened only to Columbia. His plan calls for retaining only a handful of existing buildings: three small, brick structures dating to the early 1900s. They include a terra cotta-faced building where the architect makes his local office. “We saved buildings that will give a sense of the history of this neighborhood. It’s a mix of the past but, at the same time, the courage to go ahead and change,” he says.

Neighborhood residents and others contend that more preservation is warranted. “How can only three or four buildings preserve the character of a neighborhood,” says Eric Washington, author of Manhattanville, a history of the area. “That’s a lot of responsibility for four buildings.”

Instead of demolishing some of the older structures, residents want Columbia to build its campus around them. “It has the opportunity to embrace such a rich community,” says Anne Whitman, owner of Hudson Moving and Storage, which could be seized if the state, prodded by Columbia, invokes eminent domain.

For its part, the university contends that an influx of shopping, dining, working, and living opportunities will quiet dissent. “This is an area that is going to change, and should change in significant ways,” says Columbia University president Lee Bollinger. It’s a sentiment that Piano shares: “You can’t embalm a city,” he says.

Photo: © Charles Linn
The owners of a storage facility slated
for demolition protest Columbia's plans"
NB - As this article did not fully reflect the "controversial" part as
the editors used their sharpest knives to excise any real controversial
remarks I include below the e-mail exchange between me and the
author while he was in the process of writing the article. -JRM

Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 08:28:53 -0700 (PDT)
From: "J Reyes-Montblanc"
Subject: Re: Piano's Columbia Plan Stirs Controversy

Of course the editor took the "controversy" out of the article turning
it into a "puff piece" I regret they did this to you so early in your career. wrote:

I know.....

I apologize.

I included them.

There were space limitations, and the editors cut several others
who were interviewed as well. I appreciate the help, though.

-----Original Message-----
From: J Reyes-Montblanc
Sent: Tue, June 19, 2007 10:53 am
Subject: Re: Piano's Columbia Plan Stirs Controversy

Thank you. Can't help notice that none of my remarks replying
Piano made it into the article.


Jord wrote:


Here is the article we corresponded about several months ago.

It will also appear in the print version of the magazine in July.

"Piano's Columbia Plan Stirs Controversy"

Dorian Davis

-----Original Message-----
From: J Reyes-Montblanc
Sent: Fri, April 6, 2007 4:17 pm
Subject: Re: CB 9 Meetings / Public Record

Yes it is possible. Please contact Mr. Lawrence McClean
at the office (212) 864-6200 and he will arrange it.


JRM wrote:


I noticed that some of the meetings that I've attended at CB9
have been tape recorded for the public record. I'd like to
come in and listen to a couple of the tapes.
If I can provide you with the exact dates of the meetings
I'm interested in, would it be possible?

Let me know.

Dorian Davis
NYC News Service
Graduate School of Journalism
City University of New York

-----Original Message-----
From: "J Reyes-Montblanc"
Sent: Mon, April 2, 2007 3:26 pm
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Renzo Piano on Manhattanville Follow-up

Great!! Thank you. wrote:
It looks like it will be published in an architectural magazine.

As soon as I get it back from the editor, I will send you a copy, and when
it is available online, I will send you a link.

-----Original Message-----
From: "J Reyes-Montblanc"
Sent: Thu, March 29, 2007 2:50 pm
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Renzo Piano on Manhattanville Follow-up

Thanks!! wrote: its coming.

i will be sure to send a link.

-----Original Message-----
From: "J Reyes-Montblanc"
Sent: Thu, March 29, 2007 2:29 pm
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Renzo Piano on Manhattanville Follow-up


Did this article ever get published? If yes may I have a copy or a link if online?



J Reyes-Montblanc wrote:\

Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 10:07:30 -0700 (PDT)
From: J Reyes-Montblanc
Subject: Re: Renzo Piano on Manhattanville
To: wrote:



Renzo made the point repeatedly that it was important to listen to the
community, and take it into account, and even called this exchange

Having said that:

PIANO: “The problem with discussions in a community is that the voices you
hear are not necessarily ones with much to say. Listening is a very tough
job, because you have to listen to the right voices, and sometimes the
right voices are very little voices. You have to listen to people who
don't say anything, to the silent multitude.¬

Any response?

Piano is correct and fully applicable in a "democracy". Thank God we do
not live in a "democracy".

We live in our great Representative Republic and our Board Members
represent the community opinions, feelings, aspirations and emotions.
Our Founding Fathers understood the "silent multitude syndrome" quite
well and that is why they devised the Representative Republic type of
government "by the people for the people" and Community Boards are the
"closest to the people" level of government.

Further comments:

I don't believe Piano is familiar with how our system works and I do not
recall he ever even to have visited any of the monthly CB9M'
Manhattanville Rezoning Task Force, lo these many years so he doesn't
really understand how the "silent multitudes" communicate in NYC.

One of the 2 things that CU's voices (and Piano is one of them) do is to
try to diminish the voices of the community and in particular CB9M's.

Another thing they do is to promote the idea that CU's objectives and
possible contributions to "health and well being of humanity" places CU
above the needs of the lowly local unwashed bi-ped residents and the
even more lowly "greedy and uncaring" property-owners, who refuse to
sell. This establishes some sort "institutional neo-eugenics" in which
the "best & brightest" (CU) are to be encouraged and incentivised to
reproduce and grow while the "ugly & dimmer" local residents needs and
wants have no value or rights in view of the grandiosely superior
accomplishments, current and future contributions of CU.

Please keep this private until publication.


Dorian Davis
NYC News Service
Graduate School of Journalism
City University of New York
(917) 568-8664
Dorian Davis started in entertainment as a weekly panelist on MTV's pop
culture series MTV Hits. He has researched and developed a special for
MTV, where he was the only conservative, and contributed to a special for
LOGO. His work has been published in the NY Daily News.

-----Original Message-----
From: "J Reyes-Montblanc"
Sent: Thu, March 15, 2007 5:36 pm
Subject: Re: Renzo Piano on Manhattanville

Yes I would. Please e-mail them. wrote: Jordi-


As you may recall, I've been working on a piece on Renzo Piano, architect
of the proposed new CU campus in Manhattanville. I spoke with him in
person on Monday, and he said some interesting things about the plan, and
about the community itself.

Could I ask you to respond to a couple of his quotes?

Obviously, I would ask that you keep them private until publication.

Dorian Davis
NYC News Service
Graduate School of Journalism
City University of New York
Dorian Davis started in entertainment as a weekly panelist on MTV's pop
culture series MTV Hits. He has researched and developed a special for
MTV, where he was the only conservative, and contributed to a special for
LOGO. His work has been published in the NY Daily News.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Columbia University in the City of New York: Manhattanville in West Harlem

Columbia University in the City of New York:
Manhattanville in West Harlem

Welcome (en español)

As new fields of knowledge emerge, the nation's universities are growing in order to have the physical space needed to pursue the missions of teaching, research, public service, and patient care. Because Columbia University is dedicated to fulfilling its role as a globally respected academic institution that is also committed to the economic, intellectual, social, and cultural vitality of its local community, it has proposed long-term expansion in the old Manhattanville manufacturing zone in West Harlem.

This 17-acre area of Upper Manhattan is just north of Columbia's historic Morningside Heights campus and consists primarily of the four large blocks from 129th to 133rd Streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue (see map), including the north side of 125th Street, as well as three properties on the east side of Broadway from 131st to 134th Streets.

The goal of a comprehensive proposal limited to these blocks is to move away from past ad-hoc growth of University buildings and instead create a wisely thought-out, transparent, predictable plan for the next quarter century that gradually creates a new kind of urban academic environment that is woven into the fabric of the surrounding community. This would produce more than 6.8 million square feet of space for teaching, research, underground parking, and support services, while creating new facilities for civic, cultural, recreational, and commercial activity—as well as improved pedestrian-friendly streets and new publicly accessible open spaces—that reconnect West Harlem to the new Hudson River waterfront park now under construction. This kind of smart growth would not only generate thousands of new University jobs, but also result in many more local economic opportunities in the decades ahead.

Rezoning Application for Manhattanville Expansion Proposal Certified (pdf)

Expansion Proposal Selected for Environmentally Sustainable Design Program (pdf)

Former Mayor David Dinkins in the New York Times (pdf)

University Selects Construction Management Firm to Guide Proposed Expansion Process (pdf)

Full Scope of Rezoning and Academic Mixed-use Development (pdf, 278 pages)

Public Notice of Test Borings in Proposed Project Area (pdf)

Read a letter from Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger.-->

Manhattanville Video Tour
View a video tour of the proposed expansion site in the old Manhattanville manufacturing zone in West Harlem.

View a series of slide shows describing Columbia's proposal:
Design Principles
The slide shows and the video tour require the Flash plug-in. Download it here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rising Rates Squeeze Consumers and Companies

Rising Rates Squeeze Consumers and Companies

Published: June 15, 2007

The unusually low interest rates of the last three years have been an enormous boon to almost every corner of the American economy.

They have provided consumers with dirt-cheap mortgages that fed the real estate boom. They have supplied easy credit to companies and investment firms, propelling stocks and corporate profits to record highs and fueling a buyout binge.

Now that party may be coming to an end.

Yields on the 10-year Treasury note — a benchmark that influences many long-term interest rates, including home mortgages — jumped sharply on Tuesday and are up significantly in the last month. The fallout is likely to be widespread, and felt most immediately by homeowners and people looking to buy a house.

Economists said homeowners trying to refinance their adjustable rate mortgages before they reset to higher levels are already feeling pinched. The national average for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 6.74 percent yesterday. At the beginning of the year, the average was 6.18 percent, according to Freddie Mac, a big buyer of mortgages.

Last year, adjustable rate loans accounted for 25 percent of mortgage applications, up from 11 percent in 1998, Freddie Mac said. Demand for adjustable rate loans peaked in 2004 at 33 percent; many of those are at or near the reset point.

“It’s going to be tough,” said Adam L. Stein, president of the Washington Association of Mortgage Brokers near Seattle. “I talk to people every day looking to get the fixed rate. You give them the current rate and they say, ‘That doesn’t do anything for me.’ ”

Homeowners are not the only ones who will have to swallow higher costs. Corporations, accustomed to financing operations with cheap debt, will see their expenses rise, cutting into profits. In addition, rate increases will crimp the private equity buyout boom, which has been fed in large part by the heavy issuance of corporate debt at low rates.

“There has been a half a percentage point rise in rates while inflation has been flat, so the real cost of capital has gone up for consumers and for corporate America,” said Mickey Levy, chief economist at Bank of America. He said he expects that the increase will put pressure on stocks and damp already weak demand for housing.

The recent rate move came as something of a surprise to Wall Street. It is the result, traders say, of heavy selling by foreign investors, who may be growing concerned about inflation, and holders of mortgage securities hoping to reduce the risks associated with higher rates.

While the Federal Reserve Board sets the nation’s interest rate policy, buyers and sellers in the Treasury market drive the rates that affect both consumer and corporate borrowers. Bond yields rise when prices fall. The 10-year Treasury note stood at 5.22 percent at the end of trading yesterday, up from 4.7 percent a month ago.

Adding to concern over rising rates, the Labor Department reported yesterday that producer prices rose 0.9 percent in May, more than forecasters had expected. The government will release May’s consumer price figures today.

Stocks have so far shrugged off the jump in interest rates. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,553.72 yesterday, up 71.37 points; the average is 0.8 percent below its high of June 4.

Some bond strategists said the recent rate spike is only the beginning. The sharp increase, they said, is just starting to bring interest rates back to their normal or long-term trend levels.

“Bond yields have been so low for so long,” said Richard Suttmeier, chief market strategist at RightSide Advisors. “But yields in the 10-year have moved up almost 100 basis points since the end of February. That, to me, is a big shock and enough for people to take notice.”

Particularly hard hit will be consumers with weak credit — known as subprime borrowers — who are faced with mortgage rates that will soon reset to higher, in some cases double-digit, levels. Some $100 billion in subprime loans are scheduled to reset between now and October.

Even before the latest rate increase, borrowers who were refinancing their mortgages were paying higher prices to do so. In the first quarter of 2007, Freddie Mac said, half of the borrowers who paid off their original loans and took out new ones absorbed an average increase in interest rates of three-eighths of a percentage point.

Betty King, a 42-year-old single mother of two in St. Louis, would like to refinance the adjustable rate mortgage on her three-bedroom townhouse but cannot. Her $1,200 monthly payment would rise too much. Her loan, with a rate of 5.9 percent, is scheduled to reset next year.

“Right now, it doesn’t pencil out for me,” said Ms. King, who works part time at an online travel site so she can spend time with her teen-age daughters.

A. W. Pickel III, a mortgage banker who is working with Ms. King, said several clients are in similar predicaments.

“I don’t think they are panicked,” he said. “But now they are wishing, ‘Why didn’t I take a fixed rate three years ago when I had the chance and rates were low.’ ”

Higher rates are already contributing to an increase in foreclosures. The share of mortgages entering foreclosure in the first quarter of 2007 rose to 0.58 percent, the Mortgage Bankers Association said yesterday, up from 0.54 percent in the previous quarter.

RealtyTrac, an online provider of foreclosure data, reported Tuesday that foreclosures in May were up 90 percent from the period a year earlier. Although RealtyTrac’s figures may overstate matters somewhat by reflecting loans in each step of the foreclosure process, the total foreclosures of 176,137 in May were sobering.

For struggling homeowners, the rise in rates could not come at a worse time. “In prior foreclosure waves, we had a drop in interest rates that allowed workouts to be done at lower interest rate levels,” said Louis S. Barnes II, a partner at Boulder West Financial Services, a mortgage banking firm in Lafayette, Colo. “Today rates are substantially higher than when a lot of these loans were created.”

In Florida, a glut of homes on the market combined with rising insurance premiums and higher interest rates will mean a slower recovery, said Patrice P. Yamato, a mortgage broker in Jacksonville and president of Florida’s mortgage broker association. One potential client, she said, decided not to buy a new home because the jump in rates meant a monthly payment of $500 more than what she would have paid a few weeks ago.

Consumers will not be the only ones encountering higher borrowing costs. Corporations will also have to absorb greater expenses, putting pressure on profits and stock prices.

“The trajectory of corporate profits has flattened out after growing in double digits for several years,” Mr. Levy said. “The stock market could handle that when rates were low, but a 50-basis-point rise in real bond yields should have dampening impact on stock valuations.”

The private equity buyout boom that has contributed to the bull market in stocks will also face headwinds. While prevailing rates remained below 5 percent, deals financed by corporate debt issuance worked well. As rates move up, the economics of selling big bond issues to pay for the deals becomes more difficult.

Consider Alltel, the nation’s fifth-largest cellphone company, which is being taken private in a $27.5 billion deal by the Texas Pacific Group and Goldman Sachs.

This week, Alltel said that it would take on about $21.7 billion in debt to pay for the transaction. About $14 billion of that debt will be secured loans, but Alltel must sell $7.7 billion in bonds to get the deal done.

Assuming the bonds carry an 8 percent to 9 percent interest rate, the range for comparable telecommunication debt issued recently, Alltel will probably spend almost all the cash that it earns to service the debt, said Ping Zhao, a senior analyst at CreditSights. Ms. Zhao further assumes the company’s service revenue will grow 7.3 percent this year.

Alltel could prove to be a critical test of investor sentiment, said Kingman Penniman, chief executive of KDP, a bond research firm. “The first cracks will appear when you can’t do the $14 billion or the $8 billion deals,” he said.

For now, investors still appear to be receptive, said Andrew Feltus, a high-yield fund manager at Pioneer Investments. “The market seems to be saying, ‘I have got the money, I have got to put it to work.’ ”

Manhattanville in West Harlem Rezoning and Academic Mixed-Use Development Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Manhattanville in West Harlem Rezoning and Academic Mixed-Use Development Draft Environmental Impact Statement

On June 15, 2007, the New York City Department of City Planning, on behalf of the City Planning Commission as lead agency, issued a Notice of Completion for a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Manhattanville in West Harlem Rezoning and Academic Mixed-Use Development.

A public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) will be held at a later date to be announced, in conjunction with the City Planning Commission’s citywide public hearing pursuant to ULURP. Advance notice will be given of the time and place of the hearing. Written comments on the DEIS are requested and would be received and considered by the Lead Agency until the 10th calendar day following the close of the public hearing.

View the DEIS.


Draft Environmental Impact Statement

On June 15, 2007, the New York City Department of City Planning, on behalf of the City Planning Commission as lead agency, issued a Notice of Completion for a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Manhattanville in West Harlem Rezoning and Academic Mixed-Use Development.

A public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) will be held at a later date to be announced, in conjunction with the City Planning Commission’s citywide public hearing pursuant to ULURP. Advance notice will be given of the time and place of the hearing. Written comments on the DEIS are requested and would be received and considered by the Lead Agency until the 10th calendar day following the close of the public hearing. The files below are in PDF format.

Inside Cover / Table of Contents
(0.1 mb)
Executive Summary
(1.2 mb)
Chapter 1 – Project Description
(4.3 mb)
Chapter 2 – Procedural and Analytical Framework
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Chapter 3 – Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy
(.8 mb)
Chapter 4 – Socioeconomic Conditions
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Chapter 5 – Community Facilities and Services
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Chapter 6 – Open Space
(0.6 mb)
Chapter 7 – Shadows
(11.2 mb)
Chapter 8 – Historic Resources
(7.6 mb)
Chapter 9 – Urban Design and Visual Resources
(9.7 mb)
Chapter 10 – Neighborhood Character
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Chapter 11 – Natural Resources
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Chapter 12 – Hazardous Materials
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Chapter 13 – Waterfront Revitalization Program
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Chapter 14 – Infrastructure
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Chapter 15 – Solid Waste and Sanitation Services
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Chapter 16 – Energy
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Chapter 17 – Traffic and Parking
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Chapter 18 – Transit and Pedestrians
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Chapter 19 – Air Quality
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Chapter 20 – Noise
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Chapter 21 – Construction
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Chapter 22 – Public Health
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Chapter 23 – Mitigation
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Chapter 24 – Alternatives
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Chapter 25 – Unavoidable Significant Adverse Impacts
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Chapter 26 – Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources
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Chapter 27 – Growth-Inducing Aspects of the Proposed Actions
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Appendix Table of Contents
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Appendix A – ZONING TEXT
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Appendix I – AIR QUALITY
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Appendix J – NOISE
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Appendix N – 197a PLAN ALTERNATIVE
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Appendix O – BUS DEPOT
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