Landlords irked by condemnation letters for East Harlem center

City owns three-fourths of the neighborhood's redevelopment zone

Rendering of the East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Culture Center
Rendering of the East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Culture Center

Several East Harlem landlords are not happy about letters sent to them by the city launching condemnation proceedings for a long-gestating East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Cultural Center project.

Officials at the city Economic Development Corp. said they would rather engage in talks with the landowners than exercise eminent domain, the New York Daily News reported. The city currently owns three-fourths of the redevelopment zone spanning 125th to 127th streets between Second and Third avenues. The EDC began the condemnation process, in which private land is forfeited for public use, last month in an effort to avoid losing its right to do it, a city spokesperson told the New York Daily News.

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“If you’re going to send me a notice, that’s telling me you’re going to take it,” Damon Bae, owner of three parcels in the redevelopment zone in East Harlem, told the Daily News. “It is 100% contrary to what they’re saying.”

The $700 million, 1.7 million-square-foot project broke ground in 2010, but it has been stalled since the developers involved parted ways. As a result, at least six property owners in the area have been barred from redeveloping or unloading their land. [NYDN]Mark Maurer