The Real Deal New York

Though eminent domain plan is ditched, Willets Point businesses continue fight against city

May 10, 2012 10:00AM

Attorney Michael Rikon and the rendering for Willets Point when eminent domain was pursued

Just because the city has scrapped its eminent domain plan for Willets Point, doesn’t mean its fight with neighborhood property owners is over. The New York Daily News reported that about two dozen business owners, through attorney Michael Rikon, will petition the city to repay the legal fees they incurred when fighting the proposal.

Willets Point United have spent more than $300,000 on attorneys to fight the city’s condemnation in the last four years, on top of fees paid to attorney Michael Gerrard to fight new exit ramps planned for the Van Wyck Expressway. Pending the formal release of the city’s new plan for the area, Gerrard said his clients are still contemplating filing suit against the Federal Highway Administration’s approval of the exit ramps without a full environmental review.

Rikon said the business owners are entitled to reimbursement under a section of state law that says when eminent domain procedure is abandoned “the condemner shall be obligated to reimburse the condemnee.” The city will reportedly forego the procedure now that Related Companies and Sterling Equities drew up new plans for a retail mall in Willets Point. If the city fails to pay up, Willets Point United will file suit, Rikon said. [NYDN]

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