Durst, MTA settle Second Avenue subway lawsuit 

Developer had alleged agency underpaid for seized sites, interfered with his plans

Durst Settles Second Avenue Subway Lawsuit With MTA
1801 Park Avenue in Harlem; Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Janno Lieber; Durst Organization's Douglas Durst (Getty, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Durst Organization)

The Second Avenue subway extension is a step closer to reality after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Durst Organization settled a dispute.

The lawsuit Durst filed against the MTA was settled in April, Crain’s reported. It’s unclear if the settlement involved any money changing hands.

Durst sued the MTA in 2021, claiming the transit authority was preventing the developer from building on its vacant lots on both sides of Park Avenue on East 125th Street in Harlem, where the MTA has been plotting an extension for the Q line.

1801 Park Avenue in Harlem (Google Maps)

The suit claimed the MTA kept flip-flopping on its needs regarding the trio of parcels, which Durst acquired for $126 million as East Harlem was being rezoned.

The MTA ultimately seized the sites at 1801 and 1815 Park Avenue from Durst using eminent domain, paying the developer $40.7 million. Durst claimed in the lawsuit that the deal was “coerced.”

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While the settlement terms are confidential, the MTA confirmed it now controls all of the property on the east side of Park Avenue between 124th and 125th streets. The two parcels seized from Durst will be transformed into a subway station entrance and an ancillary facility.

Durst retained control of 1800 Park Avenue on the other side of the street. There are no plans on the books for the 36,000-square-foot lot, though Bjarke Ingels Group once designed a tower for the site. The MTA wanted an easement to allow site access for an emergency stairway and construction equipment; it’s unclear if it received it.

This spring, the MTA launched eminent domain proceedings to seize another nine sites around Second Avenue and East 120th Street. Landlords for those sites filed a lawsuit last month accusing the MTA of lowballing owners on prices, though the condemnations have already been approved. Overall, the MTA is looking to take parts of two dozen properties and get easements at another 50.

The federal government recently agreed to $3.4 billion in funding for the subway extension, which could add approximately 123,000 daily commuters to the line. The MTA hopes to start construction on the $7.7 billion project by the end of the year.

Holden Walter-Warner

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