Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has let the world know that the city has certified the university's rezoning application for its expansion into Manhattanville. What's that mean? The official public review process and comment period for the expansion is under way.
The full announcement from President Bollinger is below. It was sent in a Monday afternoon email to Columbia alumni in the New York City area.
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community: As a graduate of Columbia living in the New York area, you may be interested in knowing that today New York City's Department of City Planning certified that Columbia's application for the proposed rezoning of the old manufacturing area of Manhattanville in West Harlem is now complete. This action launches the official public review and comment period under the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, also known as ULURP, that will probably last until the end of this calendar year. We enter this formal process of public review after more than three years and hundreds of consultative meetings with community members, civic leaders, public officials, faculty, and students. From these conversations, we have proposed a design for the University's long-term growth that is fundamentally different from that of our historic Morningside Heights campus --creating a new kind of urban academic environment in which University facilities are woven into existing streets and the surrounding community. While our goal is to ensure that Columbia has the space needed to carry out its mission of teaching, research, and patient care in Upper Manhattan in the decades ahead, we also aim to help revitalize economic, civic, and cultural life in a project area that has not thrived in recent decades. That includes providing ground-floor space for local retail and community uses; widened sidewalks; new publicly accessible green space; and a pedestrian-friendly environment that helps reconnect West Harlem with the new waterfront park now under construction along the Hudson River. In addition to taking part in ULURP, we are engaged in productive discussions with the West Harlem Local Development Corporation to craft a community benefits agreement. Our goal is to use this proposed development as an opportunity to expand the tangible benefits a great university can bring to its own local community -- including investments in new job opportunities, education, health care, culture, and affordable housing. I encourage you to learn more about Columbia's proposal, and invite you to visit the Manhattanville Planning Web site. If you saw the May 27 op-ed in the New York Times by former Mayor -- and our professor of public policy -- David Dinkins, you know the strong case he makes for the many mutually beneficial ways Columbia and Harlem can grow together. Today we continue the process of shaping that future together. Sincerely, Lee C. Bollinger