Columbia's Manhattanville takeover took another great leap forward yesterday with a 10-1 vote (with one abstention) in favor from the City Planning Commission. The plan for the 17-acre expansion now goes to the City Council for a hearing and a vote in January. Not that it mattered in terms of the lopsided vote, but the meeting was described as "tumultuous and bitter" and "packed with chanting protesters." The festive background included protesters chanting "Harlem’s Not for Sale," singing "God Is on Our Side" and handing out "Bollinger Dollars." In an interesting twist, the Planning Commission voted for both Columbia's own plan and an alternate strategy crafted by Community Board 9. They said the City Council can sort out the differences (including a position in the latter against the use of eminent domain) and decide.
Some highlights of the coverage:
1) Who says Planning Commission meetings are boring? “We just witnessed, in that room, an indication of the kind of sell-out politics that’s going on in developments all over the city,” said Tom DeMott, of the Coalition to Preserve Community. [Metro]
2) The hot potato has been handed off to the City Council, which will reconcile the Columbia vision and the Community Board 9 vision. Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden says she doesn't think the differences are significant. [NYT]
3) The plan was tweaked a tiny bit, with a couple of buildings getting slight shaves in size, one from 240 feet to half as tall, and another building from 260 feet to 180 feet. [TRE]
4) Columbia President Lee Bollinger, in a long memo to the "Columbia Community" makes serious kissy face with the Planning Commission writing, "We are grateful that the City Planning Commission, under the leadership of chair Amanda Burden, has given such careful consideration to how our proposal can be improved and move forward in the best interests of both the University and the local community. This is not only because the Commission's decision is an essential element of the public land use review process, but also because the independent judgments of the Commissioners about how to balance preservation of our City's unique urban fabric with the need for wisely planned growth are so widely respected." [Curbed Inbox]