The Real Deal New York

Condo board loses bid to keep probation facility out of nabe

Judge says directors of building at 59 Maiden Lane filed lawsuit too late
By David Jones | April 21, 2014 03:25PM

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled against a Lower Manhattan condo board, which was seeking to stop the New York City Probation Department from relocating its adult facilities to a residential area at 66 John Street.

The board at Fifty Nine John Lofts, located at 59 Maiden Lane, filed a much-publicized lawsuit in December along with Pace University and Century 21 Stores to fight the relocation. The plaintiffs alleged that the move would put residents of the condo and local college students at risk and harm the retailer from attracting pedestrian customers.

Judge Carol Huff ruled that the Article 78 petition, which is a lawsuit challenging local administrative decisions, was filed six months after the second hearing in April 2013 – and therefore too late for the court to make a decision. Huff said the petitioners failed to prove a likelihood of success on the merits, meaning the initial decision would not likely be overturned if the case were judged solely on the facts.

City officials praised the judge’s decision, noting the probation offices for low-risk ex-offenders were moved to the space on January 17 and began seeing ex offenders there on Feb. 3.

“We are pleased with the judge’s decision, which allows the City to continue providing important services at 66 John Street,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Law.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they are considering an appeal of the ruling.

“We are most disappointed with the court’s ruling and respectfully and completely disagree with it,” said attorney Steven Sladkus, who represents the plaintiffs.

The suit was filed days after the city announced the sale of its former probation offices at 346 Broadway to the Peebles Corp for $160 million. The development firm, led by billionaire Don Peebles, plans to renovate the landmarked 13-story building and convert the space to hotel condos, under a partnership with Elad Group.

When completed, the $400 million project will have up to 140 condo units and 100 hotel rooms.

According to court filings, lawyers for the condo board claim the public was not officially notified of the relocation of the Probation Department facility until October 2013, when Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway mentioned that certain offenders would be going to 66 John Street instead of 346 John Street. The plaintiffs claim that contradicts earlier assurances by the city.

The offenders that will be spending time in The 66 John Street site include those convicted of narcotics possession and sale, theft, larceny and driving under the influence. Following the disclosure, several public officials, including Representative Jerrold Nadler and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, have come out against the move.

  • Maybe it wont be so bad

    If the Civic Center – all those state and city agencies are moved to less valuable real estate locations like the Bronx, then a lot of retailers will follow because those offices offer stability. They’re more likely to buy lunch than college students who may be on a meal plan. Chinatown and Little Italy used to really benefit from those retail customers so it is a shame that they are looked at askance now.

    As for their clients, someone who was visiting the Tombs or just got out of the tombs gets to have a hot affordable flavorful meal provided by retailers who don’t know where you just walked out of so they aren’t judging you – that’s priceless. There hasn’t been an increase in crime for retailers since Tombs was built and populated in the 1990s.