Maloney Calls For City To Exercise Eminent Domain To Make Citistorage Site Part Of Bushwick Inlet Park

Aug 5, 2016
Press Release

New York, NY – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan) sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio urging him to use eminent domain to fulfill the City’s long-delayed promise to create a 27.8 acre park in Greenpoint/Williamsburg as part of a 2005 rezoning of the area that is expected to add roughly 17,000 new residents to a community starved of green space.  The CitiStorage site constitutes 40% of the promised Bushwick Inlet Park. At the time, the City reported that there was only .562 acres of open space per thousand residents, far short of the recommended 2.5 acres, and that was before the influx of new residents. 

Congresswoman Maloney said: “The community accepted the upzoning in return for a 27.8 acre park.  It was a trade, not a gift.  The community is unwilling to accept anything less than the full 27.8 acre park they were promised, and they shouldn’t have to.  Eminent Domain will allow the City to fulfill its promise to the community.”

Congresswoman Maloney delivered the letter personally to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen.  The text of the letter follows in full:

 

The Honorable Bill de Blasio

Mayor of the City of New York

City Hall

New York, NY 10007

 

Dear Mayor de Blasio,

I am delighted that your Administration made a significant offer of $100 million to the owners of the CitiStorage space.  As you know, the owners retained Cushman Wakefield to try to get a better offer.  We have been told that they have received an offer of between $170 and $180 million and that contracts are going out shortly.  Given the City’s commitment to the community of a 27.8 acre park that would include the 11 acre CitiStorage site, now is the time to fulfill that commitment by taking the site through Eminent Domain.  This park was not a mere promise, it was a trade – mitigation to the community for accepting greater density, congestion and burdens on their infrastructure.

New York City guidelines recommend 2.5 acres of open space for every thousand residents within a half mile radius.  Even without the influx of roughly 17,000 new residents expected from the upzoning of Greenpoint/Williamsburg, the City’s Final Environmental Impact Statement related to the upzoning reported that our community has only .562 acres per thousand residents.  The park is not just an amenity, it is critical for the quality of life of each and every resident of our community.

The community believes that Mr. Brodsky has never made any effort to negotiate with the City, and the City’s offer expires on Monday, August 8.  The only way the City will acquire the property is through Eminent Domain.  As you know, under U.S. v Miller, 317 US 369, 63 S. Ct. 276 (1943), “The owners ought not to gain by speculating on probable increase in value due to the Government's activities.”  While generally in Eminent Domain, an owner is entitled to have his property valued at its highest and best use, the Miller rule says that there is an exception where the increase in value is a result of the project or plan for which the property was condemned. This principal was recently applied in Matter of City of New York (Fifth Amended Brooklyn Ctr. Urban Renewal Area, Phase 2), 2013 NY Slip Op 51657 decided on October 11, 2013 in Kings County Supreme Court.  In that case, the City had, as part of the Brooklyn Downtown Plan, rezoned a number of properties as part of a comprehensive plan, including the properties that were the subject of the lawsuit.  The Court determined that since the rezoning of the subject properties was part of a larger rezoning of the surrounding blocks, “valuing the subject properties based on the rezoning is barred by the project influence rule, and the subject properties must be valued based on the prior zoning.”  Similar reasoning was applied in Matter of City of New York (No. 7 Subway Extension) 33 Misc 3d 1202(A), 938 NYS2d 225 (Sup Ct NY Co. 2011).

There is no time to delay.  Given the owners’ intransigence, the City must exercise Eminent Domain in order to secure the CitiStorage site for the long-promised park owed to the community.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Very truly yours,

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                CAROLYN B. MALONEY

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Member of Congress