Columbia President Says Expansion Will Boost Harlem Economy

The economic impact of Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus has meant a big boost for local and minority-owned construction companies, according to data revealed Tuesday.

The university is opening its first building on the new campus on Harlem’s west side — and Columbia’s president Lee Bollinger said the ongoing construction will result in roughly $6.3 billion in local investment.

Columbia embraces its role as an engine of economic opportunity in our home city,” said Bollinger, who unveiled the economic impact numbers on NY1’s “Inside City Hall” Tuesday.

The Ivy League school also paid out $578 million to minority-, women-, and locally-owned firms for construction-related work over the past five years, the president said, and generated more than 1,500 construction-related jobs a year.

The expansion of Columbia University’s footprint in Harlem was the source of much controversy when it was first proposed more than a decade ago.

The 17-building Manhattanville campus will stretch from West 125th St. to 133rd St. along the west side when finally completed in 2030.

A series of court tussles over the formerly industrialized area took place between 2008 and 2010 when the state’s Empire State Development agency seized several tracts through eminent domain.

After much community protest, a New York appellate court ruled the state’s use of eminent domain was unlawful — and done for the benefit for the university more than the West Harlem residents.

That ruling was reversed in 2010 by the Court of Appeals, and Columbia University proceeded with its plans — but not without ongoing community protest.

The university agreed to invest roughly $160 million into the Manhattanville community and set up various programs to help local residents get jobs and enjoy the benefits of having a world-class university in their midst.

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