Skip to main content

Tenants' second lawsuit calls AY relocation plan inadequate

Thirteen rent-stabilized tenants, who live in two buildings in the proposed Atlantic Yards footprint and have already sued to block the demolition of their buildings, have filed another suit, claiming that the relocation agreements announced by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) are inadequate and violate state law.

Lawyers for tenants have long argued that the relocation agreements offered by developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) left the tenants vulnerable. The agreements provided for just three years of differential rent--the difference between their current rent and that in their temporary apartment--before the tenants were to be relocated to Atlantic Yards at their old rent. However, that wouldn’t leave enough time for the project to be constructed.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) issued by the ESDC in November indicated a better offer:
The sponsors have also agreed to pay the difference, if any, in rent between the tenant's current rent and the rent for the comparable interim unit until such time as the tenant is relocated into a new unit in the proposed development. This agreement would terminate only if the project were abandoned or the tenant breached its obligations.

However, that still would leave the tenants out in the cold if lawsuits stopped the project or the developer chose not to continue.

No offer made

The new lawsuit, filed in state court on behalf of residents of 624 Pacific Street and 473 Dean Street, alleges that those residents never received an offer, even though, “under section 10(g) of the UDC Act... respondent is required to provide petitioners with relocation into a residential project of ESDC or to provide relocation into equivalent housing in the neighborhood.” (UDC refers to the Urban Development Corporation, the ESDC's parent.)

“As far as petitioners are aware, it does not exist in written form,” states the lawsuit of the offer. (I asked for a copy in December, but ESDC didn't provide it.) “ESDC’s offer of ‘relocation assistance’ is not an offer to relocate or to provide housing, which section 10 (g) requires, and it does not meet the clear and explicit statutory requirement to provide comparable housing, not to provide a real estate broker.” Nor would the tenants get the “additional financial assistance” needed to relocate.

“Without sufficient financial assistance, the relocation plan proposed by ESDC--help from a real estate broker--is not a feasible way to provide comparable housing in the neighborhood" and is unlawful, according to the lawsuit.

Attorney George Locker said that tenants in one of the buildings met with FCR executive Jim Stuckey about two-and-a-half years ago. “It was highly conditional, it included gag orders, and it was never was reduced to writing," Locker said of the offer. "They never took it seriously."

New legal ground

As with the previous lawsuit filed on behalf of these tenants, which charged that the ESDC does not have the right to demolish buildings containing rent-stabilized tenants without going through a slower state process, this lawsuit would break new legal ground, acknowledged Locker.

“It's all new law, because nobody ever raises these questions,” he said. “I have not found a single case that has any discussion of relocation requirements.

(A separate case challenging eminent domain has been filed in federal court, and another case challenging the FEIS is expected in state court, both coordinated by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.)

Letter of the law

While one section of the new lawsuit says the ESDC must "provide relocation into equivalent housing into the neighborhoood," another clause quotes the UDC Act directly--which is somewhat more subtle--regarding equivalent apartments "which are or will be provided in the project area or in other areas not generally less desirable."

The UDC Act states:
(g) in the case of all projects, 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 or individuals, and reasonably accessible to their places of employment. Insofar as is feasible, the corporation shall offer housing accommodations to such families and individuals in residential projects of the corporation.

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…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

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…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.


Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

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…