MTA moves on Harlem properties for Second Ave subway

Agency initiated eminent domain proceedings to take control of nine sites

MTA chair Janno Lieber and 246 East 120th Street (Getty, Google Maps)
MTA chair Janno Lieber and 246 East 120th Street (Getty, Google Maps)

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is finally ready to take the next step to extend the Second Avenue Subway.

The MTA on Wednesday launched eminent domain proceedings for nine sites in East Harlem, Crain’s reported. The transit authority announced its plans to grab the sites around Second Avenue and East 120th Street two years ago.

The start of proceedings is exactly that — a start. From here, the MTA needs to inform affected property and site owners about its plans within 30 days. The owners will then have four months to come up with a price for their condemned properties.

The properties include short mixed-use buildings and empty lots, some of which appear abandoned. Among the owners of the sites is the Pecora family, a local developer that owns several of the affected properties.

The MTA plans on demolishing existing buildings to make room for some heavy machinery to extend the subway from East 96th Street to East 125th Street. The staging ground at East 116th Street will ultimately become a subway entrance for the extension.

Gov. Kathy Hochul was hoping to get the ball rolling on the project’s next phase last year, but was awaiting federal funding through a grant application previously ignored by both Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s administrations.

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Biden earmarked $497 million in last month’s budget for the project, which is expected to carry a total price tag of $7.7 billion. The MTA hopes the federal government will ultimately pay for $3.4 billion of the project, the balance of which would come from the Federal Transit Authority.

The first phase of the project reshaped the Upper East Side upon opening in 2017 after 10 years of construction. It cost more than $4.4 billion to extend the subway to East 96th Street, the most expensive subway project in the city. The expansion catered to 200,000 riders pre-pandemic.

The latest extension could support roughly 123,000 daily riders.

Holden Walter-Warner