Wednesday, June 14, 2006

After Pacific Street demolition continues, criminal complaint to be filed

Did contractors for Forest City Ratner know that people were living in 624 Pacific Street, the building adjacent to 622 Pacific, where the demolition began rudely at 6:15 a.m. on January 7? The developer says yes; the tenants say no.

Now that George Locker, an attorney for the tenants, has acquired a copy of the Structural Due Diligence Survey conducted for FCR by LZA Technology, he believes the document adds another layer to the eyewitness report. The document, completed 10/24/05, states: Adjacent properties include non-inhabited residential buildings.

In a letter sent yesterday to Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), Locker charged that Forest City Ratner continued a mechanical demolition on Monday, despite a stop-work order issued that day, given that there was no permit for using a backhoe to demolish the building. He said his clients will seek to file a criminal complaint. (Photo taken June 7, copyright David Gochfeld)

Demolition by hand?

He also argued that FCR "violated its explicit representation to ESDC's own engineers, of a demolition by hand tools." Actually, the ESDC’s Declaration of Emergency dated 4/12/06 said: FCRC has stated that it will remove walls that abut the adjacent apartment building primarily with hand tools. (Emphasis added)

Though ordinarily demolition is as of right for an owner, given that the property, within the proposed Atlantic Yards footprint, is part of a project going through state environmental review, the agency had to approve the demolition.

Locker also pointed out that, only after the demolition commenced did he get a response to his 2/20/06 Freedom of Information Law request and 4/21/06 appeal of that request, in which he sought documents relating to the pending demolition of 622 Pacific Street.

He wrote: ESDC is a public agency and not a division of FCR. This kind of subterfuge on behalf of a developer/landlord, to advance the use of eminent domain, is highly improper. He asked for the "integrity officer" at ESDC to investigate and, if no such position exists, for one to be appointed.

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