Columbia University’s Expansion

The origin and purpose of West Harlem Development Corporation are connected with the 25-year expansion project of Columbia University in the City of New York. This educational mixed-use complex that began in 2009 will eventually span 17 acres and will include academic, commercial, cultural, and community facility space as well as open space.   It is bounded by West 125th Street to the south, West 133rd Street to the north, Broadway on the east, and Twelfth Avenue on the west. The integrated teaching and academic research campus would create 6.8 million gross square feet in 16 buildings at a projected cost of $6.28 billion. A consequence of this expansion project is the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) of May 18, 2009 that was signed between Columbia University and the West Harlem Local Development Corporation.

A CBA is a legally enforceable document between a real estate developer and a community that binds the developer to provide agreed-upon benefits. In 2005, Community Board 9 of New York City voted to approve the creation of the local development corporation to engage in negotiations with Columbia University on behalf of the community of West Harlem.  It was initially incorporated on March 16, 2006 as the D9 Local Development Corporation, a nonprofit New York State entity. Subsequently, an amendment was filed on October 5, 2006 to change the name to West Harlem Local Development Corporation (WHLDC).

On March 14, 2011, a new nonprofit organization was incorporated in the state of Delaware, called West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC). WHDC obtained an IRS 501 (c) (3) nontaxable status on July 6, 2011. WHDC is the successor organization to WHLDC. It is primarily charged with implementing the CBA for the benefit of the West Harlem community and leveraging the resources expected from the CBA.On May 1, 2013, the New York Supreme Court approved the petition by WHLDC to transfer its assets and obligations under the CBA to WHDC and then dissolve.


Community Engagement

There are many people from the West Harlem community and Columbia University who deserve credit for investing many hours of intense meetings that resulted in the CBA. It is a long list that includes the members of the Board of WHLDC, the community residents who participated in its many committees, the members and chairpersons of Community Board 9, the elected officials of Upper Manhattan, professional consultants, and many others. The CBA is a testament to their shared vision of working cooperatively to enhance the socioeconomic life of West Harlem for all its residents, commuters, business owners, and visitors.


The Community Benefits Agreement

The CBA provides $150 million in financial commitments on the part of  Columbia University.

The Agreement covers issues related, but not limited to, programmatic areas including:


Columbia University’s contributions to the CBA are broken down as follows:





June 7, 2012 – Compiled by Kofi A. Boateng, First Executive Director of WHDC from:

West Harlem Development Corporation. Columbia’s Proposed Manhattanville Expansion. What is a Community Benefit Agreement? What does it mean to West Harlem? Transcripts of Community Forum Saturday September 30, 2006.

New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development Corporation. Columbia University Educational Mixed-Use Development. Land Use Improvement & Civic Project. General Project Plan. July 17, 2008.

West Harlem Community Benefits Agreement.  May 18, 2009.


An Acknowledgement of the Members of the Board of Directors of West Harlem Local Development Corporation

As of June 28, 2012


Donald Notice (Chair)

John-Martin Green (Secretary)

Cecil Corbin-Mark (Treasurer)

Geoffrey Eric Eaton (representing US Congressman Charles B. Rangel)

Jeanine Johnson (representing New York State Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright)

Lermond Mayes (representing New York City Councilwoman Inez Dickens)

Juan Ignacio Rosa (representing New York City Councilman Robert Jackson)

Nina Saxon (representing Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer)

Maritta Dunn

Dr. Vicky Gholson

Theodore Kovaleff

Sarah Martin

John Reddick


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