Why does Columbia need to expand?Columbia is facing significant physical space constraints and has less square footage per student than any other university in the Ivy League, with less than half of its most-constrained Ivy peer. Harvard University, the second-most constrained, has twice as much square footage per student, while Yale and Princeton have three times as much. Space is required for new laboratories to make the critical discoveries that aid the ill and help us better understand the mysteries of our world and ourselves. Classrooms are needed to transmit to students what we know and identify the important puzzles that remain. Studio and performance spaces for the arts are necessary for Columbia’s students and faculty to express their creativity and draw upon the energy and talent of the community and city of which Columbia is a part.
Columbia's physical plant has not kept pace with its academic growth. The University has been adding an average of 200,000 square feet of space per year since 1994, but it is running out of space. Although Columbia has some limited development capacity remaining on the undeveloped sites it owns on the Morningside Heights and University Medical Center Campus, many of which were identified in the Framework for Planning document released in 1998. The framework was created through a collaboration between representatives from the Morningside Heights community and University administrators to set guidelines that would inform future University development. Of the seven sites identified in the framework, only two remain in the Morningside Heights area. Even though Columbia has since added acquired three additional sites over the past five years, the total represents less space than the University feels will be required to achieve its long-term strategic goals of the University.
Finally, because of the age of many of its buildings, much of Columbia's existing space is obsolete for its use, especially in science and research disciplines. Although the University has invested heavily in the improvement of these facilities through renovations, fundamental issues stemming from the age of the buildings still cannot be addressed, so the construction of new facilities is required.
Where is Columbia planning to expand? Columbia is interested in expanding into a manufacturing-zoned area in West Harlem known as Manhattanville (pdf) . The site consists of approximately 17 acres. The site is bounded by West 125th Street on the south (including properties on the south side of 125th), 133rd Street on the north, Broadway on the east, and 12th Avenue on the west. In addition, the area under study also includes two blocks bordered by Broadway and Old Broadway on the east and west between 131st and 133rd streets property fronting 12th Avenue between 133rd and 134th streets and property fronting the east side of Broadway between 133rd and 134th streets.
How would the University use its new development in Manhattanville?While it is too soon to know what all of the specific University uses will be proposed, it seems likely that the first phase of the development will include the construction of a new School of the Arts facility on 125th Street, a research building on Broadway between 129th and 130th Streets, and major renovations to Prentis Hall, 615 West 131st Street and the 125th Street/St. Clair Place entrance to 560 Riverside Drive.
How will the community benefit from Columbia's proposed investment in Manhattanville?Columbia's proposed investment in Manhattanville would produce significant economic benefits to the Manhattanville community in the form of jobs and opportunities for local entrepreneurs. Residents of the surrounding communities would benefit from other improvements to the area as well. Restaurants and retail shops would open on the ground floors of buildings on 125th Street and Broadway, providing additional services to the surrounding neighborhood. The east / west cross streets from 129th Street to 132nd Street will be made more pedestrian-friendly to encourage access to the city's new waterfront park.
Under the current plan for development what are the estimated economic benefits to Manhattanville in West Harlem?The University retained the services of Appleseed, an independent economic development consulting firm, to perform an economic impact analysis. Their report estimated the ongoing operation of a full development of the Manhattanville in West Harlem area would create about 9,200 net new jobs and generate approximately $1 billion in spending annually, much of which would benefit the city and state economies. In addition, it is anticipated that the proposed full development of the Manhattanville in West Harlem area would generate over $4 billion dollars of economic stimulus in New York City and employ thousands of workers annually to design and build the projects over the course of its 25-to-30 year development.
How will Manhattanville be connected with the current Morningside Heights and Columbia University Medical Center campuses?The University is in the process of studying several options to connect the existing Morningside Heights campus and the Columbia University Medical Center with the proposed development in Manhattanville in West Harlem. These options fall into two categories: those which take advantage of existing public transportation and options related to the current campus shuttle systems to accommodate a higher volume of users.
How will Columbia address concerns about safety as the primarily industrial site is transformed into a mixed-use neighborhood?The New York Police Department's (NYPD) current crime statistics for the area of Manhattanville in West Harlem are among the lowest in the borough. First and foremost, Columbia will rely on the strong existing relationship with the NYPD. This has been an excellent working relationship and Columbia will continue to depend on that relationship. Beyond that, Columbia will address security in Manhattanville in many of the same ways it addresses these concerns for its Morningside Heights and Columbia University Medical Center locations: a combination of security measures for individual buildings and a University patrol presence within the development.
Is the University interested in acquiring more property in the manufacturing-zoned area of Manhattanville in West Harlem?
Columbia owns, is under contract to purchase, or is in long-term lease relationships for over half the land under consideration, including such buildings as Prentis Hall, 560 Riverside Drive, and 615 W 131st Street. Public agencies such as the MTA, Verizon, and Con Edison own an additional 20%. The University is currently negotiating with owners in the area to acquire additional property.
Are people currently living in the area of Manhattanville in West Harlem?There are approximately 132 legal apartments in the manufacturing-zoned area. The apartments are located between 132nd and 133rd streets, at the northern end of Columbia's proposed development site.
How is the city government involved with Columbia's study of Manhattanville in West Harlem as a potential development site?Representatives from New York City government were consulted during the initial campus planning discussions and Columbia's planning team is continuing to work with the Mayor's Office, the Department of City Planning (DCP) and New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). In 2002, after rigorous consultation with local community members and area landholders, EDC and DCP jointly released a study of the Manhattanville area called the West Harlem Piers Master Plan. The plan called for an upzoning of the Manhattanville area and made recommendations for several improvements to the area's infrastructure, including a waterfront park and several other proposals to revitalize the area. Columbia has been supportive of the EDC/DCP planning process and the findings of the master plan. Several of the elements of Columbia's current development proposal for Manhattanville reflect the recommendations introduced in the plan the West Harlem Piers Master Plan.
Is the University interested in the concept of environmental sustainability?
The terms environmental stewardship or sustainability are commonly used to describe an approach to building design and construction where the goal is to minimize the impacts of development on the surrounding environment. They cover a variety of conservation-related concepts and usually share the responsible use of energy and natural resources as a guiding principle. Columbia is committed to the principles of environmental stewardship and is studying possible ways to implement these concepts on its existing campuses as well as any future development. The University is currently working on a policy to address environmental stewardship in its existing construction program and daily operations. It is also in the process of investigating sustainable design opportunities that would be made available to a large-scale development opportunity such as Manhattanville.
Who has the power to change the land-use designation of an area?Both the city and the state of New York can change the land-use designation. On the city level, this process is known as rezoning; the state's process is known as an override of local (city) zoning, which in effect nullifies the existing city zoning law and applies a new zoning designation to a specified project area, as was done with Riverbank State Park. Both processes procure the same result through different means.