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October 29, 2007

TODAY: City Holds Second Hearing on Eminent Domain Demolition of Historic Homes in Downtown Brooklyn

Housing Agency re-does botched hearing after legal challenges force agency to withdraw initial eminent domain findings

What: Press Conference and Public Hearing

When: Monday, October 29, 2007
9:30 am: Press conference with elected officials and community members
10:00 am: Public hearing

Where: City Tech Auditorium – Jay Street at Tillary in Downtown Brooklyn

Congresswoman Yvette Clark, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and City Council Members Charles Barron & Letitia James will join over 50 community members, preservationists and Black historians at a press conference and City hearing regarding the City’s use of eminent domain to take seven residences on Duffield Street, widely believed to be the sites of Underground Railroad tunnels. The City is also seeking to take other homes and businesses, including three rent stabilized apartment buildings on Albee Square that house over 40 low-income families.

As a result of legal challenges by Downtown Brooklyn advocates, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development withdrew its eminent domain findings for Downtown Brooklyn earlier this month. The City’s withdrawal was an acknowledgment that it had no basis in the record for its use of eminent domain. This abuse of the powers of eminent domain would have proceeded if the City hadn’t been sued. They are now trying to move ahead by adding a blight study that has never before been made public, though it was apparently produced more than three years ago. That means that the City Council approved the use of eminent domain in Downtown Brooklyn without ever seeing the document that justified it. This is just more evidence that in New York City the justifications for using eminent domain don’t matter; it is all a pretext.

HPD announced the new hearing in a small ad in the NY Post on October 17, 2007, yet they scheduled this new hearing without notifying the owners of the condemned properties. Isn’t it their responsibility to make sure that this is an appropriate use of ED, and not to use this process to rubber-stamp a decision that HPD has already made?

“The rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn was intended to bring economic growth to a blighted neighborhood. Instead it has brought a massive wave of luxury residential properties. It threatens to destroy successful high-tech companies, brand new cultural institutions, low income housing, and the Abolitionist homes on Duffield. Given the failure of the rezoning to achieve the stated goals, it is time to take a fresh look at how to promote the area for the good of everyone, not only the friends of politicians.” said Raul Rothblatt, a community activist.

Posted by amy at October 29, 2007 7:45 AM