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September 27, 2007

In appellate court, AY renters' case finds little sympathy

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder went to court yesterday to cover the case against the "friendly condemnations:"

Can the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), pursuing "friendly condemnations," override the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), which typically must grant permission to a landlord who wishes to demolish a building housing residential tenants with rent-stabilized leases?

The answer, not previously decided by the courts, appears more likely to be yes, allowing such "friendly condemnations," in which Forest City Ratner-owned buildings are transferred to ESDC ownership, thus ending the leases far more speedily than the process would occur under DHCR.

In May, State Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub dismissed a challenge from 13 tenants (all but one rent-stabilized) in the Atlantic Yards footprint, saying that the case belonged instead in the appellate court designated to hear eminent domain determinations, but without the advantages to the plaintiffs of a trial.

Appealing Tolub's ruling to a different appellate court, the tenants, represented by attorney George Locker, found it tough going yesterday. A five-judge panel of Appellate Division, First Department was steadily skeptical of his argument that the tenants are not actually condemnees, with an ownership interest in their leases.

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Posted by lumi at September 27, 2007 7:54 AM