Skip to main content

State appellate court dismisses renters' case challenging AY relocation offer

Though members of a state appellate court on October 5 expressed some skepticism regarding the relocation plan for 13 residential tenants due to be displaced by the Atlantic Yards development, in a decision issued yesterday, the four judges unanimously upheld the plan.

The case, known as Matter of Anderson v. New York State Urban Development Corporation (the latter now doing business as the Empire State Development Corporation, or ESDC), was the second brought by attorney George Locker on behalf of 13 tenants (12 in rent-stabilized units) at 624 Pacific Street and 473 Dean Street.

The other case, which contended that the tenants were not condemnees and thus should be able to challenge the state's action in trial court rather than the appellate court designated to hear challenges to the Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL), was dismissed on October 16.

Relocation questions

To relocate the tenants, the state has promised to provide, at minimum, the services of a real estate broker, moving assistance, and a $5000 payment—but that, attorney Locker argued, would hardly guarantee similarly affordable housing in today's real estate market. He called it an "illusory plan," thus unlawful.

The ESDC pointed to a previous court decision which upheld a similar plan; Locker urged the judges not to follow a decision reached in a case where the plaintiffs represented themselves. The ESDC also cited an enhanced relocation offer from developer Forest City Ratner, which is referred to in the record before the court but, according to Locker, not offered to his clients.

Of the four-member panel, Justice Robert Spolzino seemed particularly skeptical during the oral argument, but he joined the brief opinion issued yesterday.

Two other cases, organized by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, are pending; one, in federal appellate court, challenges the use of eminent domain, while the other, in state court, challenges the environmental review of the project.

This case was the only one formally blocking the ESDC from moving to condemn properties, even though it’s likely the agency wouldn’t proceed against plaintiffs in the eminent domain case until it’s resolved.

The ESDC and Forest City Ratner expressed satisfaction with the decision, saying it was another step closer to bringing the project and its benefits to fruition. Locker said he'd appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.
[Update: That was discretionary.]

The decision

Judicial review of a condemnation proceeding is limited to whether (1) the proceeding was in conformity with the federal and state constitutions, (2) the proposed acquisition was within the condemnor’s statutory jurisdiction or authority, (3) the condemnor’s determinations and findings were made in accordance with the procedures set forth in EDPL article 2 and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (ECL art 8 [hereinafter SEQRA]), and (4) a public use, benefit, or purpose will be served by the proposed acquisition (see EDPL 207[C]; Matter of Jackson v New York State Urban Dev. Corp., 67 NY2d 400, 418). “If an adequate basis for a determination is shown ‘and the objector cannot show that the determination was ‘without foundation’, the agency’s determination should be confirmed’”...

The petitioners contend that the respondent failed to satisfy the requirements of the New York State Urban Development Corporation Act... which provides that the respondent is without authority to condemn real property except upon finding that there is “a feasible method for the relocation of families and individuals displaced from the project area into decent, safe and sanitary dwellings, which are or will be provided in the project area or in other areas not generally less desirable in regard to public utilities and public and commercial facilities, at rents or prices within the financial means of such families, and reasonably accessible to their places of employment” (hereinafter a feasible method for relocation). The petitioners argue that the respondent failed to make a specific finding that there existed a feasible method for relocation and, to the extent that such a conclusion can be inferred, that it is without foundation in the record. We have reviewed the petitioners’ contentions and find them to be without merit.

Contrary to the petitioners’ argument, the respondent did find, in its resolutions dated July 8, 2006, which were ratified and reaffirmed in resolutions dated December 8, 2006, that a feasible method for relocation existed. The foundation for that finding is in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (hereinafter FEIS), which was explicitly referenced in one of the resolutions dated December 8, 2006. The petitioners do not challenge the finding, reflected in the FEIS, that only 146 residents would be displaced by the project, and that this number of residents constitutes less than one-tenth of one percent of the residents within a three-quarter-mile radius of the project. In these circumstances, the petitioners’ argument that the respondent was required to conduct an additional study of the availability of housing in the area is without merit, and the plan for services to the displaced residents that the respondent has adopted, including professional relocation consulting, real estate brokerage and moving services, the payment of moving expenses, and an additional monetary payment for other ancillary expenses, provides a sufficient foundation for the respondent’s finding that a feasible method for relocation exists (see Matter of Fisher v New York State Urban Dev. Corp., 287 AD2d 262, 264).

The petitioners’ contention that the respondent failed to take a “hard look” at the impact on them of their displacement from their residences, in accordance with SEQRA, is also without merit. While SEQRA review requires a lead agency to take a hard look at the socioeconomic impact of a project on the community as a whole, including “the impact that a project may have on population patterns or existing community character, with or without a separate impact on the physical environment” (Chinese Staff & Workers Assn. v City of New York, 68 NY2d 359, 368), the agency is not obligated to separately consider the impact on a particular subgroup or upon particular individuals (see Matter of Jackson v New York State Urban Dev. Corp., 67 NY2d at 420-421). Here, a review of the FEIS reveals that the respondent appropriately considered the impact that the displacement of all households within the project site would have on the socioeconomic profile and character of the community as a whole, and there is no basis upon which to disturb its conclusion that the project would not lead to a significant adverse socioeconomic impact due to direct residential displacement.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …