News | West Harlem

Construction for displaced Manhattanville residents to begin

  • A NEW HOME | De Matos, a longtime Hamilton Heights resident is concerned that the new building Columbia is erecting for displaced Manhattanville residents could drive rents higher.

Columbia is preparing to break ground on 3595 Broadway, a new real estate development that will house residents being displaced by the University’s Manhattanville campus.

The 12-story development, which is expected to be finished two years after construction begins, will contain 42 units, the University said in a statement. A Columbia spokesperson declined to comment on the building’s budget.

Thirty-eight occupied residential units on the Manhattanville campus site are part of the city’s Tenant Interim Lease Program, which allows low-income residents to run city-owned cooperative buildings and buy their units for $250 each. Columbia plans to continue this program for all of these tenants at 3595 Broadway.

Additionally, the Meeting with God Pentecostal Church, which was originally located within the site of the Manhattanville campus, will occupy the commercial space on the ground floor of the new building. The church is currently using an interim space a block south of 3595 Broadway.

But while Columbia is fulfilling its promise of “equal or better housing” for residents displaced by Manahttanville, some local residents expressed concern with the speed of its real estate development.

“I have mixed feelings,” said John Chambers, who has lived in Hamilton Heights for 30 years. Chambers pointed to the RiverBridge Court, a recent condominium development at 148th Street and Riverside Drive.

“When they first put it in, the smallest one was going for $500,000, and you start getting Beemers on the street,” he said. “It’s too much, too fast.”

“There used to be a movie theater here,” Chambers said. “I’d rather have a movie theater.”

Many local residents have also wondered if Columbia’s developments will push commercial rents too high, making it difficult for local businesses to survive.

“This area has been closed down for a long time, the rent was too high, making it harder for businesses to start,” said De Matos, who has lived in Hamilton Heights for 35 years. “They were fighting a losing battle here.”

Other locals, though, including Harrison Parker, said they had high hopes for Columbia’s ability to strengthen the neighborhood.

“It’s going to enhance the community, the tradition of that school, in a lot of ways,” Parker said.

Columbia plans to renovate two additional properties, at 555 W. 125th St. and 319 W. 126th St., in order to provide enough units to relocate all former Manhattanville residents, according to the Final Environmental Impact Statement of Manhattanville issued by the Department of City Planning. It’s still unclear when construction on those two properties will begin.

news@columbiaspectator.com

Correction: After a University spokesperson declined to comment on specifics of 3595 Broadway’s budget, an earlier version of this story reported that the development was a product of a $20 million pledge toward housing made by Columbia in the Community Benefits Agreement. In fact, the development is independent of that fund. Spectator regrets the error.

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