The Real Deal New York

City takes Williamsburg waterfront properties for park

October 05, 2007 07:14PM
By Adam Pincus

The city has taken two Williamsburg waterfront properties by eminent domain for the planned 28-acre, $100 million Bushwick Inlet Park, officials said.

The city took titles to two properties bounded by the East River, North 9th and North 10th Streets and Kent Avenue. Brooklyn judge Abraham Gerges approved the taking by eminent domain last month, said Lisa Bova-Hiatt, Department of Law deputy chief of tax and bankruptcy.

Now the city must pay for the properties, one owned by 9th Street Equities and the other by 50 Kent Associates. The sales prices will influence the price tags for the other three parcels needed to complete Bushwick Inlet Park, named for the waterway that divides Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The other properties are bounded by North 15th Street, North 10th Street and Kent Avenue.

A judge will determine the price the city must pay to the former owners.

Mark Lively, Massey Knakal director of sales for Greenpoint and Williamsburg, said the properties’ zoning allows for retail and commercial development. While they could fetch at least $200 per buildable square foot on the open market, he predicted the city would pay only around $100 per foot plus relocation expenses, based on comparable sales figures.

Louis Silverman, a 9th Street Equities principal, said he wanted a fair compensation for the company’s four acres.

“They have taken the property from us. All we are looking for is the fair market value of the property,” Silverman said.

The three outstanding properties will not be acquired easily.

One owner, TransGas Energy Systems, is in litigation with the city. TransGas wants to build an underground power plant there with parkland above ground. A judge has issued a stay on the city’s land-taking until a state commission rules on the proposed 1,000 megawatt power plant.

Another landowner, Norman Brodsky, chief executive of CitiStorage, is negotiating with the city over a price and relocation arrangement.

The third property, north of the inlet, is owned by an organization called the Greenpoint Monitor Museum, which plans to build a museum dedicated to the USS Monitor on an acre of property donated by Motiva Enterprises in 2003. The famous Civil War ship was built and launched on that spot in 1862.

“We are fighting it. It was donated and we are not giving it up,” said Janice Lauletta-Weinmann, president and co-founder of the Greenpoint Monitor Museum. “It is a disgrace.”

The city wants to instead make the property part of the park and has offered to relocating the proposed museum off the waterfront and onto an undetermined street, she said.

Silverman said he already sold other properties that will be part of the park to the Trust for Public Lands in 2000.

Government agencies have been on a land-grabbing binge lately, said attorney Michael Rikon. Big planned takings include Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, Willets Point in Queens and the Second Avenue subway sites in Manhattan. New Jersey Transit is seeking land for a tunnel on Manhattan’s West Side.

“There is a tremendous amount of eminent domain going on throughout the city of New York,” said Rikon, a partner at the firm of Goldstein, Goldstein, Rikon and Gottlieb. “I can’t remember as many takings.”

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