Skip to main content

Blight? City DOT cites Empire State Development for sidewalk conditions (worse than those used to justify eminent domain)

Update from Empire State Development: "ESD is aware of the notice and it is under review."

Pacific Street sidewalk hazard, east of Sixth Avenue
On one level, it's a routine act of enforcement, as the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a notice of violation to a property owner regarding damaged sidewalks.

The location: around the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park B15 site, at Sixth Avenue and the adjacent pieces of Dean and Pacific streets.

On another level, the action raises a supreme irony: the sidewalk conditions are actually worse than the "blighted" conditions--at least on this block--used to justify eminent domain for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

And, as shown in the photo above right, the conditions are worse than that documented in the 2006 Blight Study for Block 1128, Lot 4. (Note that no government agency is designating blight today; that's my layperson's observation, comparing conditions today with those found in 2006.)

Moreover, the property owner subject to sanction is Empire State Development (ESD), the very same state authority that approved eminent domain to purportedly remove blighted conditions. (Developer Greenland Forest City leases the land, and aims to build 664 Pacific, a 27-story tower with market-rate rentals and a school, on the B15 site, but that plan remains delayed.)

Not only have the blighted conditions not yet been removed, the DOT's notice of violation (left) points to the obvious, minimalist way to remove them: abatement.

The city is requesting that the owner replace 1187 square feet of sidewalk. It is not suggesting that condemnation is required (for a second time).

A citation, but no response yet

Two days ago, after learning from neighborhood residents about the publicly posted notice of violation, I contacted ESD. The notice indicates that this was a second attempt to issue the violation, because a previous notice sent by certified mail was returned without a signature.

I asked ESD several questions: was it was aware of the violation; did it plan to contest it; and did it plan to repair the conditions or let the city do it and send the bill ($17.93 per square foot, or a substantial $21,283 in total).

I haven't gotten a response yet, but will update when I know more. See above.

Below, more photos of current conditions, as well as the 2006 conditions.

Sidewalk gaps on Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue




The sidewalk on Pacific Street east of Sixth Avenue



The Notice of Violation




Looking at the 2006 Blight Study

In 2006, the Blight Study did find indications of blight on sidewalks here, but specifically mid-block Sixth Avenue, citing "Unsanitary and Unsafe Conditions":
As shown in Photograph B, lots 1 and 2 are surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. Weeds grow on both the inside and outside of the fence. The weeds on the outside of the fence encroach onto the sidewalk... The sidewalk bordering lots 1 and 2 is cracked in many places, and weeds grow along the curb and through some of the sidewalk cracks (see Photograph D).
Indeed, as shown at right, there are weeds growing through the sidewalk. It doesn't look much different than some of the stretch today, and without the deep gap in the photo up top.

Regarding the corner of Dean and Sixth, the Blight Study also cited "Unsanitary and Unsafe Conditions":
The sidewalk along the 6th Avenue side of lot 89 is in poor condition. In some places, the sidewalk is cracked and crumbling and in others, it is poorly patched (See Photograph B). Weeds grow along the curb for the length of the lot.

Again, it doesn't look that different, and surely no worse. That said, there were rough sidewalk conditions along Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, as stated:
In contrast, as illustrated by Photographs H and I, the blocks south of Atlantic Avenue host a combination of vacant, underutilized, and physically deteriorating structures and vacant lots, and are lined with cracked and crumbling sidewalks that are overgrown with weeds and strewn with trash.
Shirking responsibility

But guess what? When community commenters said, during the environmental review, that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had failed to maintain the appearance of the railyard and environs, the condemning agency's response, in toto, ignored the question of responsibility:
Chapter 1, “Project Description,” and Chapter 3, “Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy,” describe in detail the present condition of the project site, including the Vanderbilt Yard.
I'm not sure they can get away with it now.

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 …

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

This graphic, posted in January 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.

As …

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).

As…

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…