ABOUT TIME: Sane judge lambasts city for abusing eminent domain in East Harlem development

The $700 million development will be located on the corner of 125th Street and Third Avenue

Yes, apparently the city can say your neighborhood is shitty in order to let the corporate vultures in.

Although the lawsuit  against the developers of the East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Cultural Center was dismisses in October 2010, the ruling is making headlines once again after an appellate judge chastised the city for falsely claiming “blight” in the neighborhood as a means to transfer private property to developers.

In a searing statement, Justice James Catterson of the state Appellate Division stated:

“In my view, the record amply demonstrates that the [East Harlem] neighborhood in question is not blighted . . . and that the justification of under-utilization is nothing but a canard to aid in the transfer of private property to a developer,” Catterson said of the city’s argument that it can grab two blocks between 125th and 127th streets along Third Avenue because the area is economically depressed.

“Unfortunately for the rights of the citizens affected by the proposed condemnation, recent rulings . . . have made plain there is no longer any judicial oversight of eminent-domain proceedings.”

The lawsuit, Uptown Holdings vs. New York City, was dismissed on Oct. 12, 2010, infuriating the half-dozen East Harlem merchants who had brought the lawsuit hoping it would save their livelihoods.

The $700 million East 125th Street megaproject, which when finished in 2016 (allegedly!) will have 600 affordable housing units, community and cultural space, a public plaza and office and retail space built by a team of developers. That’s about five phases from now. The first phase, a 49-unit building with retail space, is now under construction on the southeast corner of 125th Street and Third Avenue. That’s expected to be completed in July 2011.


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