Friday, September 28, 2007

Two residential tenants settle, leave eminent domain suit

Two residential tenants (of seven) among the original 13 plaintiffs in the eminent domain suit challenging Atlantic Yards have settled their cases, reports the Brooklyn Paper, in an article headlined Lawsuit against Atlantic Yards is losing its plaintiffs one by one. (An additional commercial property owner plaintiff has since been added, from a parallel case that was consolidated.)

The Paper's Ariella Cohen (who is leaving the newspaper) quoted the tenants' attorney, Jennifer Levy: “[The tenants] don’t agree with the project, but their rights are limited under the law, so if they are being offered something that protects their rights, they will take it.” (They were not named, and a confidentiality agreement prevents them from commenting.)

Should we expect any of the five other tenants with rent-regulated leases to settle their cases, as the October 9 date for oral argument in the plaintiffs' appeal approaches? Levy said four others were in settlement talks, so it's quite possible.

Plaintiffs' motivations for joining the suit undoubtedly vary, from strong philosophical opposition to the project to the perceived failure (so far) of Forest City Ratner to negotiate a settlement. The developer had previously said its relocation deal--paying the difference in rent for a new apartment, and then offering a place in Atlantic Yards, when built--would not be offered to those filing suit.

The rental tenants are in the most precarious position. Additionally, the cost of relocating them into suitable accommodation is undoubtedly lower than reaching agreement regarding commercial and residential properties owned by other plaintiffs. And Forest City Ratner would like to proceed with as much pre-construction demolition as possible.

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