Columbia University said today it was back-tracking on its plan to remove the Cotton Club at 656 West 125th Street and make way for a small park as part of its West Harlem expansion today after getting negative feedback. (Get it? Feedback?)
The park idea came about during negotiations with Borough President Scott Stringer, who listed it as part of the “historic agreement” he reached with the university in September. But the New York Post’s coverage of the issue really made it seem pretty unseemly: an Ivy League university pushing out a historically black institution from Harlem, of all places.
“There was a general sense that we heard that it would be a good idea to turn it into a park and then people took a closer and decided that was not the way to go,” Robert Kasdin, senior executive vice president for Columbia, said today outside a City Council public hearing on the university’s expansion. “We never planned to have academic buildings there.”
Originally, the idea was to build retail on the triangle of land at 125th Street and 12th Avenue, which would have allowed the Cotton Club to retain its current location in a new building.