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Last Wednesday, the University acquired a three-story building from a company whose former owner had sued Columbia for their improper expansion tactics.

Last Wednesday, in the most recent development of Columbia’s Manhattanville expansion, the University purchased a three-story building for $33.6 million in West Harlem, 10 years after attempting to purchase another property by the company’s then-owner, according to city records made public today. The new building, 3300 Broadway, is located between West 133rd and West 134th Streets.

Manhattanville, a $6.3 billion dollar expansion originally bound by the borders of Broadway to 12th Avenue and 125th to 133rd streets, has been touted as the University’s attempt to maintain its world-class educational status in the face of space constraints on the Morningside campus.

Columbia’s acquisition of the property comes 10 years after a six-year long legal battle waged by Nick Sprayregen, former owner of storage chain Tuck-it-Away, over his refusal to sell his nearby property at 3261 Broadway. According to Sprayregen, the state and the University improperly used eminent domain to acquire buildings in the neighborhood for its expansion. Eminent domain is the right for the government to purchase private property at market-rate for public use. Sprayregen died in 2016.

In 2010, an appeals court ruled in favor of the University, allowing them to continue their practice of acquiring properties. The argument did not stop there; in 2013, landlords who had not yet struck a deal with the University fought once more in court. In 2017, the New York State Appeals Court heard arguments on whether the state can seize private properties in Manhattanville on Columbia’s behalf. The court has yet to reach a decision.

3300 Broadway was sold to Columbia last Wednesday. The owner of the property prior to Columbia’s purchase is listed as Gerald Sprayregen, a family member of Nick Sprayregen.The property will now be incorporated into the Manhattanville expansion.

Gerald Sprayregen and the University were not available to comment at the time of publication.

Staff writer Stephanie Lai can be contacted at stephanie.lai@columbiaspectator.com. Follow her on Twitter @stephaniealai.

City Manhattanville West Harlem
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