Tuck-It-Away, which has served the New York and New Jersey community with self-storage and mini-storage space since 1980, suddenly has a new, equally-important role: activist for small private property ownership everywhere. On December 3, 2009, a New York State appellate court ruled in favor of Nick Sprayregen, President of Tuck-It-Away, over Columbia University in a groundbreaking eminent domain decision. The efforts of the university to force Tuck-It-Away and other property owners out of Manhattanville for the purposes of its own private expansion were determined unconstitutional, setting a significant precedent for future eminent domain cases throughout the United States. From day one our goal has been not only to preserve our business and the livelihoods of the wonderful team we employ, but to expand the legal protections for small business and property owners from the abuse of Eminent Domain law. Unfortunately, victory was overturned by New York State's highest court in June 2010. At the current time, Tuck-It-Away has asked the United States Supreme Court to review that decision.
Fighting Eminent Domain Abuse
The legal dispute began over five years ago, when representatives of the university contacted Nick about selling our flagship property in Manhattanville and the related buildings. Their approach struck him as threatening, essentially a demand he give up the property or face condemnation. After investigation, he discovered unconstitutional collusion between the private university and the agency sent to perform the Manhattanville blight study that was used in support of community-wide condemnation. Though the decks were stacked against our small company and the surrounding neighborhood, the appellate court agreed. In addition to the unconstitutional determination of blight, the court condemned both the fact Tuck-It-Away never had the opportunity to question government officials or Columbia University, and that Eminent Domain was being used for the benefit of a private institution rather than a public organization.
Although it's a landmark victory for Tuck-It-Away, we're not simply fighting Columbia University for the sake of our own business. 'What we're doing in fighting for our property will have positive effects for all private property owners throughout the state. It's no longer just about Tuck-It-Away, it's about the rights of property owners everywhere. As Nick says: "No matter what happens, I hope, at the very least, that no state agency will ever again be so cavalier as to request an impartial neighborhood 'blight study' from the same firm advocating to have the neighborhood blighted," Sprayregen continues: "There's nothing correct about that, and the inequity is most pronounced when small businesses are the ones being victimized."
The advocacy Tuck-It-Away has provided in the case against Columbia University is desperately needed. New York is recognized widely as the worst abuser of Eminent Domain legislation, being the only state that doesn't allow property owners the right to a conventional trial. While 43 of 50 states have reformed their Eminent Domain procedures in the wake of Kelo v. New London, New York is stuck in the dark ages of Eminent Domain law, where lower-income residents are consistently taken advantage of by corporate and other private entities with greater resources. That's why, with the financial resources of his family and the Tuck-It-Away enterprise, Nick has taken upon himself the responsibility of fighting for the Manhattanville community in which his father invested his life savings over 30 years ago. As the case continues through the United States court system, he vows to serve as a leader of this community-wide crusade. That's because to the Sprayregens, Tuck-It-Away isn't just a New York self-storage company, it's a part of the community willing to fight passionately and tirelessly for the integrity of Manhattanvllle and New York City as a whole.
Other Causes and Commitments
Tuck-It-Away is committed to giving back to our community in every way we can. New York has been great to us, and we want to be equally great to New York. If you're a non-profit looking for support and assistance, and think we can help, please don't hesitate to contact us.