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Friday, June 13, 2008

Former Manhattanville Holdout Sells to Columbia | Columbia Spectator

Former Manhattanville Holdout Sells to Columbia
By Betsy Morais PUBLISHED JUNE 11, 2008

Hudson Moving & Storage, a company at 3229 Broadway owned by Anne Whitman, came to an agreement with University officials to hand over her property within the Manhattanville expansion footprint, Columbia announced Wednesday.The announcement comes after more than two years of arduous negotiations and numerous vocal cries of opposition from Whitman. Whitman agreed to give up her location between 129th and 130th Streets in exchange for a property to be newly constructed on Audubon Avenue in Washington Heights, near the Columbia University Medical Center.In a statement, the University explained that it would pay for the cost of building the new structure, and would move the old facade on Whitman’s existing storage facility to the face of the building at Audubon Ave.“We look at this as a win-win deal for both her and the University,” Columbia spokesperson Victoria Benitez said.No design plans for the new storage facility have been finalized, and until Hudson’s new home construction is complete, the company will be temporarily housed in a building on the east side of Broadway between 131st and 132nd Streets. Benitez said there is no date set yet for the move into this temporary location, and the University is still negotiating details of timing and cost with Whitman.As one of the final three holdouts keeping Columbia from complete control of its future Manhattanville campus site, Whitman had been loud and clear about her opposition to the University’s approach to expansion. During the city’s review process of Columbia’s plan, she spoke out on numerous occasions to demonstrate her frustration with the University and her determination to maintain a strong grasp on her property—which had been passed down through generations of her family.At one early rally against Columbia’s plan, she said, “It's so ugly to see raw, naked greed,” and added later, “It's not good faith negotiation, it's bullying.”Up until the agreement, she consistently stood alongside Tuck-It-Away Storage owner Nick Sprayregen—who has not yet struck a property agreement with Columbia—in railing against the University’s negotiation tactics. Sprayregen said he spoke with Whitman over the past few months about the negotiations process, and said that she “expressed extreme distress and extreme pressure” during these conversations.“I give credit to Anne for holding out as long as she has,” said Sprayregen, who owns the desired properties at 3261 Broadway, 614 W. 131st St., and 655 W. 125th St. But he added that, “Everyone has their breaking points, and this obviously was hers.”Still, according to Benitez, the property deal was struck with mutual contentment. Columbia’s statement explained that, as part of its Manhattanville campus, the University will “commemorate the building with plaques honoring the history of the building and Ms.Whitman's parents, Sheila Anne and Joseph Albert Zuhusky.”Anne Whitman could not be reached to discuss the agreement. Columbia spokespeople in the past have declined to go into detailed discussions about negotiations and have encouraged businesses to do the same.As Whitman stays silent, Columbia continues to move forward with expansion. Though two Manhattanville property owners—Sprayregen and the Singh family that runs the gas station on 129th Street—have yet to see eye to eye with the University, Columbia has vowed to pursue its vision as set forth in the plans approved by the city in December.The expansion’s architecture is being designed to fill out the 17 acres comprised mainly of four blocks from 129th to 133rd streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue, along with property on the north side of 125th Street and east of Broadway from 131st to 134th streets.Daniel Amzallag contributed to this article.
Former Manhattanville Holdout Sells to Columbia | Columbia Spectator
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