One of the property owners suing the Department of Transportation over an alley in Tribeca is now claiming that the Elad Group may be behind the agency’s sudden regulation of the passageway.
Attorneys for the owners of 373-375 Broadway say that the Elad Group wants to use an alleyway between Franklin and White streets — known as Franklin Place — to create access to its condo project at 371 Broadway. Owners of buildings adjacent to the alley are suing the DOT for abruptly regulating it, arguing that the thoroughfare is privately owned.
Attorneys David Rosenberg and Michael Contos pointed to the developer’s history of lobbying the DOT as a potential impetus for “No Standing” signs that appeared in the alley over the summer. According to public records, the developer spent $60,000 lobbying the Department of Buildings, the DOT and the mayor’s office in January 2017. Elad also spent $100,000 to lobby the DOT and DOB in 2012, the same year the company went into contract for the development site. Still, it’s not clear why exactly Elad lobbied the agencies.
“One would have to be naive to believe that there were no communications between lobbyists and Elad that led to this incredible reversal from DOT,” Rosenberg said.
Representatives for the DOT declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.
“The Department of Transportation has the legal authority and properly determined that the safety of people living on Franklin Place requires that no one park or block the alley,” a representative for the Elad Group said in a statement. “The current lawsuit has no basis in law or fact.”
The company wouldn’t respond to whether the parking garage at its condo project requires access to the alleyway.
Earlier this month, Arthur Karpati, producer of the immersive Macbeth theater performance “Sleep No More,” and owner of 70 Franklin Place, filed a lawsuit against the DOT after “No Standing” signs appeared in the alley. Karpati argues that he owns at least half of the alley, which has long been used by him and other residents and businesses for parking and deliveries.
In 2015, Karpati sued Elad and another property owner for allegedly trying to take full control of the alley. A state Supreme Court judge ruled in his favor in April 2017, finding that he had the right to “free and unobstructed” use of the alley.
Perhaps because of the growing appeal of private driveways in Manhattan condo projects, a similar battle is being waged between Madison Realty Capital and the owners of buildings neighboring its condo project at 1 Great Jones Alley. The co-op board for one of the buildings, 684 Broadway, sued Madison for marketing the alley as a private driveway for the condo residents. The alley is partly owned by nearby property owners.