Monday, January 08, 2007

Three plaintiffs added to AY eminent domain case

Three new plaintiffs have joined the ten initial plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state’s planned use of eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards project. Among them is the owner of the largest portion of privately-owned property within the AY footprint, who was already enmeshed in a legal battle with project developer Forest City Ratner.

Henry Weinstein owns four properties—three lots and a renovated six-story building that he rented to Shaya Boymelgreen, another major Brooklyn developer. Boymelgreen assigned the lease to Forest City Ratner. Weinstein argues that his tenant didn’t get permission to do so, and that by taking over the lease, Forest City has been able to claim that it “controls” a property that it doesn’t own. That dispute is pending in state court.

Weinstein’s properties, which stretch from Carlton Avenue between Pacific and Dean streets around down Pacific Street to the east, are located in what would be Phase 2 of the project.

Another property owner

Also joining the suit is Peter Williams, owner of a small residential building on Sixth Avenue between Pacific and Dean, which would be part of the initial phase, known as the arena block. Williams co-owns the building with his son Lars; in October Lars Williams filed suit against Forest City Ratner, as the Brooklyn Papers reported, “for putting a surveillance camera in his building, and then having him arrested for taking it down.”

Peter Williams told the Papers that the dispute made him less willing to negotiate with Forest City.

"We're pleased there are other owners fighting for their rights," said Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and also a plaintiff.

Another tenant

Also joining the suit was a seventh rent-regulated tenant, Joseph Pastore, who has lived in his one-room apartment on Dean Street (in the arena block) since 1967. Pastore, 62, told the Village Voice in August that he didn’t want to leave his $400-a-month studio because a loophole in the relocation contract the developer offered left him vulnerable. (A loophole remains.)

“I'm not against the arena,” he told the Voice. “I'm against what he's doing to me. Why should I suffer? It's my tax money that he's using. Put that down. I worked all my life to get thrown out of my apartment? With my own tax money?"

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