By Anna Phillips
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 21, 2007
Columbia has selected and purchased a site where it plans to relocate tenants currently living in Tenant Interim Lease apartments in the proposed Manhattanville expansion zone, the University announced Thursday.
Columbia’s announcement, issued publicly Thursday morning but distributed to elected officials at Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s public hearing on Wednesday night, offers little detail about the site itself, saying only that it is located “within the community.” According to the document, Columbia recently acquired the site, which “will allow for the development of a new 42-unit elevator building.” A non-profit developer will be identified to build the new apartment building.
The University promised that the tenants will be able to continue participating in the TIL Program—a project run by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development that allows for tenants to pay their way to eventually owning their apartments. It also said that the relocation plan would be shortened by several years the amount of time tenants would have to wait before owning their homes.
Of the apartments that Columbia says it will create, 27 will serve as replacement units for TIL tenants currently living in two buildings in the expansion zone—3289 Broadway and 602 W. 132nd St.—while 11 units will replace apartments that are currently vacant in these buildings. In addition, the University will develop four more affordable units that will be made available to eligible families.
“We have said all along that Columbia is committed to ensuring that the small number of current Manhattanville residents will have equal or better affordable housing in the area because of our long-term expansion,” University President Lee Bollinger said in the press release.
The announcement of the relocation plan could influence the vote of Stringer, who will issue his opinion on Columbia’s application to rezone the Manhattanville expansion area next Wednesday.
Some objected to the fact that Columbia had not directly contacted the TIL tenants about this new site or secured their approval.
“I was flabbergasted,” said Community Board 9 Chairman Jordi Reyes-Montblanc upon reading the press release. “I’ve made it very clear that if the tenants don’t accept it [the purchased site], no matter how good it may be, we would support the tenants 100 percent.”
“It’s really simple,” Mario Mazzoni, a Harlem resident, added. “Columbia made an announcement to try and prevent actual negotiation from going on.” Columbia’s statement said that the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which administers the TIL buildings, had met with the boards of the buildings’ tenant associations about the relocation plan and will meet with the tenants over the next several weeks to further discuss the plan.
Martin Smith, a spokesman for Councilman Robert Jackson’s office said he had yet to read the press release and that there had been an agreement that Columbia would contact Jackson before issuing a release of this sort. “The councilmember will not be very pleased to hear this information,” Smith said.
Currently, the TIL tenants in 3289 Broadway are being represented by Ryan & Conlon, LLP. No TIL tenants agreed to comment for this story.
HPD has made it clear that the TIL Tenants will decide their future and CB9M has made it clear will will support the TIL Tenants no matter what their decision is, if made freely and without coercion from any quarter.
This is a press release about nothing - as no agreement has been obtanied from HPPD and the TIL Tenants and CB9M has not blessed or cursed the proposed transaction as none of the pertinent facts have been shared with us and the press release shed no light but to confirm the ephemeral rumours that have been floating for months.
So what possible purpose does this press release serves Columbia for it definitely it does nothing for the TIL Tnenats or the community.
This press release is nothing but a wste of good ink and paper and obvioulsy mandated by the same brain trust of "dimmnedlights" that have been steadily sinking Columbia's plans and relations with the community in a quagmire of idiotic strategic and tactical mistakes - dimmedlighta that don't know what community they are dealing with and have forgotten that this Fighting WestSide Harlem and not one of the third-world colonies. - JRM