Tuesday, September 16, 2014

State goes to court Thursday to pursue condemnation of properties needed for Phase 2A (?) of project

Three houses on Dean Street face condemnation, as
do properties directly behind them to Pacific Street
On Thursday at 2:30 pm, a state condemnation judge will hear a petition by Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing and shepherding Atlantic Yards, to condemn the remaining seven properties for the project, a relatively routine procedure, given that eminent domain has already been approved.

Those properties include three houses on Dean Street (right) and a lot behind them, and an industrial building behind them on Pacific Street.

According to attorney Michael Rikon, who represents two of the properties, a StorageMart facility at 718 Atlantic Avenue and a former museum fabrication company building at 700 Atlantic Avenue (and the site for a canceled rave), there is no opposition to the application to condemn, which means title should soon vest to ESD, even though the owners/occupants can remain.

Upon filing, ESD gets legal right of possession, though the occupants/residents need not leave. Within 30 days, they get a notice of acquisition, and then have 120 days to file a written claim for damages.

700 Atlantic Avenue
The parties then negotiate over just compensation and when they must vacate the buildings.

DNAinfo first reported on the filing of the condemnation petition, which includes a lot currently owned by Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Development Company (and now, presumably, owned by Greenland Forest City Partners). Though that's already owned by the developer, eminent domain will clear title.

Some history

In 2010, some property owners faced with condemnation notices challenged the action in court, but it was rejected by a state judge.

When Atlantic Yards was first approved by ESD in 2006, all properties needed for the project were supposed to be condemned in one motion. After delays and the recession, Forest City renegotiated, and in a second approval in 2009, ESD agreed that the condemnation could occur in phases, thus saving the developer money.

Now that Forest City has a deep-pocketed partner, the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group, the new team, Greenland Forest City Partners, has the money to proceed faster on the project, and has committed to building the affordable housing by 2025, rather than the let the previous 2035 outside date stand.

Which part more crucial?

I suspect that the properties between Dean Street and Pacific Street are more crucial.

That's where Building 15, which includes a school, is planned (see below). The Atlantic Avenue properties are part of sites that require an expensive deck over the Vanderbilt Yard.

Needed for Phase 2A?

According to the petition, dated 8/13/14 but filed 8/20/14, the properties are "necessary for Phase 2A of the project."

Phase 2A, which is said to involve involves construction of three residential rental buildings and open space on Block 1120--the center block of the railyard, between Sixth Avenue and Carlton Avenue, and Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street--and the construction of a market-rate residential building on Block 1128.

As I wrote in April, the school, once planned for Building 5 over the railyard, likely will be built in Building 15, on the site currently occupied by the houses, the lot, and the commercial building.


It's not clear why this is Phase 2A, given that the designation implies it's the first part of Phase 2. Actually, the first part of Phase 2 involves construction on the southeast block of the project, given that two towers will start in December.

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