A Weary Columbia Moves Full-Speed Ahead

columbia060529 560 A Weary Columbia Moves Full Speed Ahead Columbia’s prez, Lee Bollinger, almost breaks a sweat when he talks about the school’s plans to move ahead with expansion plans, reports Crain’s. “A note of impatience frequently creeps into the voice” of the ever-polished Mr. Bollinger when he talks about Manhattanville, says the article.

Apparently the former law prof found himself nonetheless unprepared for the neighborhood’s litigious response to the 17-acre project stretching from East 125th to East 133rd Street. “I didn’t think it would take quite this long,” said Mr. Bollinger, who’s apparently now vetting the possibility that the project won’t be complete until 2020.

Thanks to a ruling in June saying the school can invoke eminent domain to seize the land it needs, Columbia will break ground on the first of many new buildings this fall. Not that it had been waiting anyway (demolition of the first of 20 buildings began in January). 

In perhaps the most surprising turn of events, the community now seems on board, according to another article in Crain’s. “We’re ready to turn the page with Columbia,” said Larry English, incoming chairman of Community Board 9, which rejected the master plan in 2006. Now Columbia has pledged to provide $76 million in direct community benefits. “They’ve shown a willingness to work with us and address our concerns,” Mr. English says.

lkusisto@observer.com