We'll be updating this page as we continue poring over today's decision by the New York Court of Appeals, which upheld the Empire State Development Corporation's use of eminent domain and thus paved the way for Columbia's Manhattanville expansion plan.
"Contrary to petitioners' assertions, Earth Tech did not merely review and rubber stamp AKRF's study, but conducted its own independent research and gathered separate data and photographs of the area before arriving at its own conclusions. Further, unlike AKRF, Earth Tech had never previously been affiliated with or employed by Columbia. Simply put, petitioners' argument that ESDC acted in 'bad faith' or pretextually is unsubstantiated by the record." (page 20)
"In determining that Columbia created the blighted conditions in West Harlem, the plurality of the Appellate Division disregarded the Urbitran blight study commenced in 2003. That study, made at EDC's request and not ESDC's, was based on a survey of the Project site and surrounding neighborhood at a time when Columbia was only beginning to purchase property in the area. Indeed, the Urbitran study unequivocally concluded that there was 'ample evidence of deterioration of the building stock in the study area' and that 'substandard and unsanitary conditions were detected in the area.' Moreover, Earth Tech found that, since 1961, the neighborhood has suffered from a long-standing lack of investment interest." (page 22)
"It is fundamental that education and the expansion of knowledge are pivotal government interests. The indisputably public purpose of education is particularly vital for New York City and the State to maintain their respective statuses as global centers of higher education and academic research." (page 25)
"Rather, the purpose of the Project is unquestionably to promote education and academic research while providing public benefits to the local community. Indeed, the advancement of higher education is the quintessential example of a 'civic purpose' (see Cornell Univ. v Bagnardi, 68 NY2d 583, 593  [recognizing that schools, both public and private, 'serve the public's welfare and morals'])." (page 25)
"Unlike the Nets basketball franchise, Columbia University, though private, operates as a non-profit educational corporation." (page 25)
"In sum, there can be no doubt that the Project approved by ESDC -- which provides for the expansion of Columbia's educational facilities and countless public benefits to the surrounding neighborhood, including cultural, recreational and job development benefits – qualifies as a 'civic project' under the UDC Act.9." (page 26)