The Columbia grab for Manhattanville is very much in the tradition of Robert Moses who was notorious for uprooting low income housing and favoring the interests of the wealthy — see his planning contributions exemplified in the Northern State Parkway on Long Island which zig sags wildly for this reason or the abrupt ending off of coverage over the railroad under Riverside Park at 125th St.

Unhappily those to be impacted by Columbia will not be just African Americans.  One can expect the Latino small businesses and renters to the north and south of Columbia’s proposed expansion also to be hit by what is politely called ‘gentrification’, but which really represents owners of properties using the opportunity to up their returns by getting rid of the lower income interests.  The disappearance of small markets and other businesses in Morningside Heights is an illustration of this pattern as is the shift there from rental and SRO buildings to coops this past quarter century.

Columbia as owner has exploited this situation, e.g. the increases in prices in our local markets with the upped lease rates from Columbia. Sadly, we shall probably see home and rental owners to the north of the proposed expansion collaborating with the Columbia move on many pretexts as they realize that their own property values will be considerably enhanced by gentrification, while current renters and lessors will protest the fate that is facing them — “capital improvements” in buildings enable landlords to up rents and saddle renters with large surprise bills of thousands of dollars and unaffordable lease renewals — devices much used these days for ousting existing residents and small business owners.

There is virtually no representation in the current negotiations with Columbia for the principal Latino communities either — Puerto Rican and Dominican — who are terribly at risk within and in a wide sweep surrounding the targeted Columbia grab. Most of the local pols are going along with Columbia.  This is the old Columbia game as the biggest and meanest kid on the block — being executed with some pr sugar coating. Other universities do it right!

I am taking the liberty here of sharing Peg’s most valid question with other lists and by blind copy.  Ed Kent

Peg wrote:

> The reaction against the racist hate incidents is laudable, but is anyone tracking how this relates to the fact that Columbia is displacing so many African Americans in Harlem in an almost colonial land grab (and that many of the largess from this economic takeover ends up indirectly going to Columbia students)?  Peg

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

Be Sociable, Share!