The Use and Abuse of Eminent Domain in Relation to Urban Development

Marina Ristic, Fordham University


This thesis examines the evolving nature of the use of the eminent domain process and points to the consequences, either beneficial or harmful, that can follow from its use. It thereby helps to fill the gap in the existing literature on this subject. In using the interdisciplinary approach favored in urban studies analysis, the thesis draws upon the supporting disciplines of law, history, economics, sociology, and political science to widen its scope and reach acceptable conclusions. Eminent domain can, as it has in the Poletown case, lead to abuse, but it also has the potential, to bring numerous benefits to society. An excellent example of what eminent domain can accomplish is the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. Through the reconfiguration of land-use sites in urban development projects, not only can long-term economic benefits be brought about, but large public benefits, educational and cultural, can be achieved. In the case of Columbia University’s Manhattanville project, eminent domain, based on documentation of blight, allowed condemnation of properties, thus enabling the University to proceed with its expansion in a targeted manner. This thesis examines the Columbia University’s . expansion project and its impact on the surrounding community. Using structured interviews of West Harlem residents, students, and workers, the goal of this research was to determine the reaction of the community towards Columbia’s expansion. The findings of the study conducted in Manhattanville demonstrate that there still exists fear of potential displacement and resentment from community members directed towards Columbia University. Columbia’s expansion project at present shows every promise of achieving its long-term goals and remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the Community Benefits Agreement. The thesis concludes with suggestions for the remediation of abuses inherent in the eminent domain process.

Subject Area

Urban planning

Recommended Citation

Ristic, Marina, "The Use and Abuse of Eminent Domain in Relation to Urban Development" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13853372.