With a state appeals court's 3-2 decision to call NY State's seizure of West Harlem land by way of eminent domain "unconstitutional," the land owners who sued are thrilled. Nick Sprayregen, a storage business owner, told the Columbia Spectator, “We’re thrilled. We were always cautiously optimistic, but we always thought that we probably wouldn’t win. The majority of the court obviously saw what we saw, that the whole finding of blight was preposterous and engineered specifically to give all the private property over to Columbia. They’re shining a light finally that collusion and conflicts of interests evident in this relationship between Columbia and the state cannot be allowed to continue, and thus they’re putting a stop to this taking of land by Columbia.”
The NY Times pointed out how the majority decision "was scathing in its appraisal of how the 'scheme was hatched'” using terms like 'sophistry' and 'idiocy' in describing how the state went about declaring the neighborhood blighted, the main prerequisite for eminent domain."
Columbia owns most of the 17-acres in the Manhattanville area, which is "bounded by the Hudson River and St. Nicholas Avenue between 120th and 135th Streets," but were unable to strike deals with Sprayregen and gas station owners Gurnam Singh and Parminder Kaur. Singh and Kaur were the other party who sued the Empire State Development Corporation; Kaur also spoke to the Spectator, “Rich or poor, the government should treat you equally. I feel like today is justice.” The ESDC will be appealing the decision. And Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn claims this decision "breathes new life" into the case against eminent domain being used to seize Brooklyn property for the Atlantic Yards project.