[Not the newest game in town, but one that is currently escalating is the takeover of Manhattan by developers with the inspiration of its billionaire Mayor Bloomberg and the consent of too many of its elected officials. One of the tools being used for this takeover is the threat of eminent domain expropriation by private property owners — the NY Times acquired its new building by this route and so stands above the fray as such institutions as Columbia University makes a grab for 17 acres of lower West Harlem (Manhattanville) for a new campus, the sell out by the new staff at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine of a good portion of its lands (place) to a luxury housing developer) and the threat of super gentrification to all who live in the vicinity of such property grabs. Already residents near the new Cathedral sell out are fighting off rises in rents to $5-6,000 PER MONTH which is about what the luxury units being built there will cost.

Most of us do not realize that our own property rights and obligations are also impacted by such development schemes. Those who own properties or coop apartments — if not faced with some sort of sub prime or life disaster — watch their property values rise astronomically. Our coop at 440 Riverside Drive is now offering one apartment for sale at $2.8 million. Fortunately the owner of our remaining rental apartments is not greedy and is not harassing his tenants. However, not so far away landlords are playing all the tricks necessary to evict tenants — “capital improvements” in a building claimed which permit sudden and unexpected bills to tenants of thousands of dollars. Many other trick or treat tactics are used to expel tenants so as to increase either rents or the salability of buildings to astronomical levels.

Ron Schiffman who posts the report below designed the 197A plan of the local Community Board #9 for Manhattanville in the interest of all those living there and nearby which is being trampled by Columbia and other developer interests sweeping across 125th St. to the East River. If the NYC City Council plays along, as have the other agencies and pols supporting such development, thousands of individuals and small businesses will be driven out of Harlem to find new homes wherever they can.

Right here in liberal NYC we are watching the interests of the super wealthy trumping those of all other residents and business owners
in the area.

Only in Amerika …!!! Below is Ron’s pass along of bits and pieces of this iceberg threatening the shattering of this community. Ed Kent]


Subject: Fwd: cautiously optimistic message on former SF Stable
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2007 17:22:55 -0500
From: Ron Shiffman

Please ask for the preservation of all the buildings cited in CB 9M’s
197a and that 3229 Broadway not be taken from its owner and given to
Columbia University. They can expand without it and their plan would
even be better . Please circulate. The issue is not about whether
Columbia should expand it is how they should expand. The City should not
reward arrogance and planning rooted in 60’s but should plan for 2030
respecting diversity, community and democratic processes.

Please circulate to your lists.

Begin forwarded message:

From: MHabstritt@aol.com
Date: December 9, 2007 3:57:10 PM EST
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
Subject: cautiously optimistic message on former SF Stable


former Sheffield Farms Stable (1903/1909)

The Stable is still in private hands, but there are other worthy
buildings in Manhattanville which Columbia already owns. Please do
ask for landmarking of Prentis Hall and the Studebaker Building. It
is only right that these be preserved long-term since Columbia plans
to let them stand anyway. With the Sheffield Farms Stable, they
would represent Manhattanville’s “Dairy District” by retaining key
structures of the largest of the city’s milk distributors.
(Remember, Studebaker was a Borden dairy plant for much longer than
it served as an auto service center.)

Prentis Hall, former Sheffield Farms Pasteurization and Bottling
Plant (1909)

Ask that the archeological remains of the Third Avenue Railway be
protected in situ or offered to the Transit Museum. Archeologists
were not asked to look at streetbeds by City Planning, so even when
these remnants were called to the attention of the Landmarks
Preservation Commission’s archeologist, they can/will do nothing.
This streetcar company installed the first cable cars in Manhattan
on Amsterdam Avenue and by purchasing other lines eventually owned
one that crossed the island on 125th St. with a turnaround at the
Fort Lee Ferry landing at the Hudson River. The cable cars were
later converted to an underground electric system that was used
nowhere else in this country but downtown Washington DC. Here it
was used throughout Manhattan due to the ban on overhead wires. If
not actually damaged by excavation, they will be beaten to pieces by
construction traffic. Underground portions could tell us more about
how this technology worked. And, it’s a lot of fun to puzzle
visitors with why there are artifacts in the middle of Twelfth
Avenue that say “3rd Ave”

Third Avenue Railway remnants (1910?) under riverside viaduct at
Twelfth Avenue

There are other gems, several of which are in the modified 197-a
plan as targets for conversion instead of demolition. These are
already owned or controlled by Columbia. Supporting the modified
197-a plan will preserve these buildings.

Warren Nash Service Center
Despatch Moving and Storage
Meeting with God Church
Skyline Windows
BJ Harrison Chair Factory
West Market Diner

Former BJ Harrison Chair factory (1885). The co. made folding camp
chairs originally for the military in the CIvil War and later for
the leisure market

If you require more information on any of these buildings, please
let me know.

Thank you in advance for your assistance in preserving this
community’s built heritage.

For the Manhattanville Preservation Alliance,

–Mary Habstritt

“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]

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