Eminent domain, round two: state and Forest City close-mouthed as condemnation process begins for properties near arena site
|Three houses destined for condemnation; photo by AYR|
Still, Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards, and developer Forest City Ratner are close-mouthed and not fully candid about the second--but not quite final--round of eminent domain.
Eminent domain has already been approved; the issue now is compensation and possession, so the first step is asking property owners to accept a visit by an appraiser, a prelude to an offer, which later can be litigated.
|August 2004: Two buildings |
on left have since been demolished
But only the railyard work has a schedule.
As for when the tower will be built--who knows? There are several already-cleared sites available for construction, on both the arena block and also the southeast block, now used for interim surface parking.
After all, that 100-foot-wide piece of land was initially supposed to be used for interim surface parking and staging while four towers were built simultaneously with the arena--a plan that was later abandoned.
In other words, this piece of land was not needed to somehow "cure" blight anomalously located at one rectangle. It was to have a crucial role in construction.
Dicey issue remains
The argument that eminent domain is needed to build housing apparently wouldn't pass muster with the de Blasio administration, which (according to Capital NY's Dana Rubinstein) has ruled out using that tool going forward in its housing plan.
But eminent domain is already approved in this case. Still, however much de Blasio approves of Atlantic Yards--because he values affordable housing above all--it will still be touchy.
|Moving school from B5 to B15|
Then again, that school was long said to be in B5, just east of Sixth Avenue over the railyard. But construction there would require an expensive deck, and that's years away, so they're moving it to b15.
In a Times article last month about East New York, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said, "“We’re not talking 30- or 40-story buildings in the middle of a neighborhood where everything else is two or three stories."
|Slated for taking: lots 4, 87, 86, 85.|
Others already acquired by Forest
City. Lots in brown deemed blighted
New construction work
There's a lot of work coming. The joint venture plans to build the West Portal to the railyard and install a new green roof on the arena, both of which will require workers, trucks, and lane closures near the arena.
Meanwhile, B2, the tower at Dean and Flatbush avenues, remains under construction. And before it's finished in late 2015, the developers plan to start B3, located at the southeast corner of the arena block. That's a lot of trucks.
|Dark building is lot 4 on Pacific Street/Sixth Avenue,|
Adjacent is new residential construction
Besides the three homes on Dean Street, the properties include a wholesale fabric business on Pacific Street, and, on Atlantic Avenue, a former museum exhibitions factory (and then potential rave location), and a storage company.
|2010 Daily News photo, Block 1120, Lot 19 at left|
|The two properties yesterday|
"That's eventually the site of"--Cotton turned quizzical--"B13?"
"B15," I clarified, referencing the tower planned for that site. I asked if it was the next building: "Why now?"
"Um, why now?" Cotton responded, not as enthusiastic as when, say, talking up the green roof. "I can't answer that question... We're here to talk about MPT [maintenance and protection of traffic, to accommodate railyard and roof construction]."
(It's planned as the site of a 250-foot building, reduced from the originally planned 400 feet. Forest City Ratner already controls the Modell's property, but not the P.C. Richard site.)
There's no way to fight condemnation; eminent domain has already been approved.
The question is compensation and timing of their departure. An offer is sometimes sweetened in order to get people to leave faster (see the example of Daniel Goldstein, 2010).
In this case, the state and Forest City may have another edge: the construction slated to occur around the site may prove annoying enough to push owners to settle and leave.