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Three schools in the Ivy League have set their sights on bold campus-expansion plans.

But while Penn is sitting pretty with a blueprint to expand into the Postal Lands directly east of campus, plans at Columbia and Harvard Universities to extend into non-adjacent neighborhoods have created a host of issues.

Columbia is in the process of acquiring about 18 acres in the Manhattanville section of New York, located about eight blocks north of its main campus in Morningside Heights. The university also has a separate medical-school campus further north of the main campus and the proposed expansion area.

"We'll have to work hard to make [Columbia's three campuses] work together, but we feel confident that we can make them do that," Columbia Provost Alan Brinkley said. "We really have no alternative."

Meanwhile, Harvard is looking across the Charles River to Allston, where its plans include constructing a science complex and additional student housing. The expansion area is adjacent to the Harvard Business School campus.

In each case, the purpose of expansion is to give the university "some growing room" as it moves into the future, Brinkley said.

But as they grow, each school will face not only logistical problems, but the community's reaction to its proposed expansion as well

In Penn's case, though, the latter worry may not be too large.

Although Penn's history has been marked by precarious relations with West Philadelphia neighbors, its plan for eastward expansion has been met with little protest. Notably, unlike previous expansions - like the creation of Superblock - Penn's move into the Postal Lands will not displace any homes.

"The history of tension between Penn and its neighbors to the west revolved around planning and development and massive expansion strategies by Penn 30 and 40 years ago," Anne Papageorge, vice president for Facilities and Real Estate Services, wrote in an e-mail. "Clearly, this land to the east is an excellent opportunity to grow toward the east."

In contrast to Harvard and Columbia, "we are expanding into land that is adjacent to campus and is not currently a residential neighborhood," she added.

And moving into a current residential neighborhood has put Columbia in a difficult position.

"You're talking about just a complete clash in terms of the displacement aspect," said Tom DeMott, a West Harlem resident and member of the Coalition to Preserve Community, an organization that opposes Columbia's expansion.

"We believe [the Manhantanville expansion] will have a strong negative impact on every aspect of the community - its culture, its ability to survive in the most basic way," DeMott said.

He added that he believes Columbia has underestimated the number of residents that will be displaced.

However, Brinkley said Columbia feels "pretty optimistic that this could work, that it won't disperse the community too much."

Still, he noted, Penn is "very fortunate to have land adjacent to the campus."

Lauren Marshall, a Harvard spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail that no residents will be displaced by the university's expansion plans. Still, Harvard's plans have been met with some opposition, and the unversity has worked with a city-appointed neighborhood advisory committee in order to soothe conflicts.

"This is an important dialogue. We will continue to work with the city and community to make sure projects are carefully planned and that we respond to neighborhood concern," Marshall wrote.

- Staff Writers Samuel Dangremond and Ashwin Shandilya contributed reporting to this article.

This four-part series examines various aspects and effects of the future campus expansion.

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