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COA upholds Columbia expansion plan

ALBANY — The New York State Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a redevelopment agency’s use of eminent domain so Columbia University can expand its Ivy League campus over 17 acres in West Harlem.

The court said the Empire State Development Corp.’s findings that the area is blighted and Columbia’s expansion is an improvement project had a rational basis.

Columbia’s proposed $6.3 billion project includes up to 16 new buildings for housing, laboratories and other facilities, two acres of public open space and tree-lined sidewalks.

The university already owns most of the land.

Other land owners claimed collusion between the school and agency, arguing findings of blight were based on vermin, garbage and mold in Columbia buildings.