December 10, 2010 8:49 AM
An eminent domain case involving the expansion of Columbia University could mean the end to four Tuck-It-Away self storage locations unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in and rules against the prestigious school. [More]
June 29, 2010 1:29 PM
Nicholas Sprayregan began his fight to save Tuck-It-Away Self Storage from annexation by New York’s Columbia University in 2004, but the battle may now be drawing to a close. Last week Columbia received a green light from New York’s highest court to go ahead with its eminent domain expansion, taking over private properties in a Harlem neighborhood that the government has designated as a blight on the city. Columbia’s team of lawyers had argued that because the West Harlem neighborhood was considered blighted, ruling in the university’s favor would mean upholding the precedent set in 2009, when the court approved the use of eminent domain in Brooklyn. In that case, attorneys argued that the rights of property owners did not outweigh the community’s right to improve the neighborhood by building the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project. [More]
January 20, 2010 4:57 PM
Nicholas Sprayregen, the owner of Tuck-It-Away self storage in Harlem, has been fighting Columbia University since 2004, when Columbia announced that it wanted to expand into the space where four of his self-storage facilities are located. The university at first tried to buy the properties from Sprayregen, but he refused. "Before long, the offer changed," explains Sprayregen. "'If you don't sell, you'll face condemnation.' I looked on that as offensive, coming from an institution as large and powerful as Columbia." Sprayregen tried to swap land with the university instead, offering to trade his Tuck-It-Away buildings on one side of Broadway for some parcels of Columbia's property on the other side of the street. The university did not agree.
Then Columbia tried to annex the property using the power of eminent domain, in which a public entity can force private property owners to sell their property so that the space can be used for the good of the public. Sprayregen decided to fight back. He filed a lawsuit in January 2009, not expecting to win. He lost his case in the Court of Appeals in November. But then the case moved to the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, and Sprayregen, who says that Tuck-It-Away has so far spent $2 million in the fight against the Columbia expansion, won....This month, Sprayregen continued the battle at a public hearing in Harlem. Speakers on both sides of the issue attended. Sprayregen has hired Norman Siegel, a former New York Civil Liberties Union executive director, to represent Tuck-It-Away. Siegel called eminent domain reform "the civil rights issue of the 21st century." [More]