Columbia U. and CB 9 offer competing West Side plans

Columbia University proposes extensive re-development; Community Board 9 seeks to protect existing uses. On June 18, 2007, the Planning Commission launched public consideration of two competing future development plans for Manhattanville. The competing plans are sponsored by Columbia University and Manhattan Community Board 9.

Columbia University’s plan calls for rezoning of a 35-acre area with roughly 17 acres proposed for private development by Columbia. The area, roughly bounded by Broadway, Old Broadway, and the Hudson River between West 125th and West 135th Streets, is primarily zoned for manufacturing, which Columbia argues hinders development. Current development includes parking lots and automotive, warehouse, storage, and manufacturing uses.

Under Columbia’s plan, the area would be rezoned to commercial and residential districts. A Special Manhattanville Mixed-Use District with four subdistricts would govern use and design. The Academic Mixed-Use Area would make up the bulk of the rezoned area from Broadway to Twelfth Avenue between West 125th and West 133rd Streets. Within it, Columbia proposes a complex redevelopment plan including up to 4.7 million sq.ft. of academic building space, 1.3 million sq.ft. of university housing, 350,000 sq.ft. of recreation space, and 900,000 sq.ft. of retail and other ground floor uses.

Columbia’s plan will require approval by the Empire State Development Corporation to facilitate acquisition of property below West 132nd Street between Broadway and Twelfth Avenue.

At the same review session, Community Board 9’s future development plan for Manhattanville, Hamilton Heights and Morningside Heights started its review process. The plan, permitted under section 197-a of the City Charter, which authorizes community boards to create future development plans for their districts, culminated over 12 years of work by the board. It covers a slightly greater area of Manhattan than Columbia’s proposal, stretching roughly from West 122nd to West 135th between Convent Avenue and the Hudson River. Unlike Columbia’s plan, Board 9 proposes to maintain manufacturing uses, encourage new light industrial uses and retain existing low and moderate income housing within Manhattanville west of Broadway.

The public review will take different routes. Columbia’s proposal is subject to the City’s land use review procedure, triggering review by Community Board 9, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, the Planning Commission, and the City Council. Community Board 9’s plan will first be subject to a public hearing by the board, followed by a public hearing and vote by the Planning Commission. City Council is required to review the plan if the Commission approves it without change or with modifications.

CPC: Special Manhattanville Mixed- Use District, Application Nos. 070495ZMM (map amendment); 070496ZRM (text amendment) (June 18, 2007) (Samuel H. Lindenbaum, for Columbia); Community Board 9 Manhattan 197-a Plan, (N 060047 NPM) (June 18, 2007).

CITYLAND Comment: Community Board 9 will vote on both plans at a special board meeting on August 20, 2007.


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