Columbia University Buys Manhattanville Property for $34M

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Columbia University bought a three-story industrial building in Manhattanville for $33.6 million, nearly a decade after it used eminent domain take a nearby property from the owner, city records show.

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The college picked up 3300 Broadway between West 133rd and West 134th Streets from the family of self-storage mogul Nick Sprayregen — who passed away in 2016 — in a deal that closed on Oct. 2 but was made public yesterday, according to city records.

“It was a friendly negotiation,” said Gerald Sprayregen, Nick Sprayregen’s father who owns the property. “Although it took a long time, it went really smoothly.”

The sale comes years after Sprayregen, who owned Tuck It Away storage, waged a six-year, nearly $2 million battle against Columbia University to stop it from using eminent domain to purchase — after he refused to sell — his nearby property at 3261 Broadway for the college’s 17-acre expansion plans, the New York Times reported.

While a judge ruled in 2009 that Columbia couldn’t use the tactic to take control of the property, the decision was overturned in an appeals court the next year and Columbia eventually bought the land from the New York State Urban Development for around $17 million in 2012, according to the Times and property records. Gerald Sprayregen said he got a little compensation for giving up his property, but nowhere near as much as they were worth.

“I was very unhappy with that,” he said.

A spokeswoman from Columbia declined to comment on the sale.

The Broadway property is part of Columbia’s $6.3 billion expansion project in the neighborhood that has about a third of its buildings either open or under construction, CityLab reported. It is currently home to a parking garage and the El Mundo department store.

After all the years of battles, Gerald Sprayregen said he’s excited about Columbia’s plans for the neighborhood and hopes to seem them completed soon.

“I just think that what Columbia is doing there will be the most beautiful thing,” he said. “I’d like to eventually see it. And at the age of 84, I can’t wait too long.”