The Columbia Effect, Detailed

Much has been made about the potential gentrifying effect Columbia University’s proposed expansion will have on Harlem. The draft environmental impact statement (PDF), which came out earlier this summer, does not disappoint. With the self-effacing accuracy for which these EIS’s are known, “approximately 3,293” residents of the surrounding area are vulnerable to “indirect displacement” due to “upward rent pressure” (p. S-31).

It is a big enough blip that the report’s authors, AKRF (which The Observer profiled this week), calls indirect displacement a “significant and adverse impact” that would be only partially mitigated by steps that the university is contemplating, such as developing affordable housing in the community board district or creating a graduate student residence on Columbia-owned land nearby.

And AKRF is being paid by Columbia–and by the Empire State Development Corporation (though that’s another story).