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July 1, 2009

Right of way: ESDC letter warns AY footprint tenants/owners that relocation consultant will be knocking on the door

Atlantic Yards Report

Just as the New York State Court of Appeals announced that it would hear the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case, the Empire State Development Corporation was getting ready to unleash its friendly "relocation consultants" on residents of the project footprint.

Tenants and property owners in the Atlantic Yards footprint have received letters from the law firm Berger & Webb, which represents the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) in its pursuit of eminent domain, telling them it'll be time to move soon.

One complication: the letter offers only services of a real estate agent and a modest $5000 stipend for residential services, not mentioning the offer by Forest City Ratner--which was part of the General Project Plan (GPP) and Modified General Project Plan--to those in residence for at least one year to "return and to rent a comparable unit within the Project Site at a comparable rate to what they are currently paying."

The absence of an offer to relocate tenants into the project--as state law recommends but does not ensure--prompted a protest by George Locker, who represents eight rent-stabilized residential tenants in the project footprint and has filed a number of lawsuits on their behalf.
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But Empire State Development Corporation spokesman Warner Johnston said, "The letter is just intended to alert occupants that representatives of The Cornerstone Group, our relocation consultant, will be in the neighborhood and contacting them soon, and it includes the basic parameters of the relocation assistance that ESDC is providing (essentially verbatim from the General Project Plan), such as referrals to alternative housing, provision of moving services, etc. The General Project Plan also references some additional assistance that FCRC has been and will continue to provide for residential tenants, such as relocating residents back on the Project Site as soon as feasible (if that's what residents desire) and providing interim rent subsidies. The referrals to alternative housing to be provided by Cornerstone (mentioned in the letters of introduction) will include coordination with FCRC as necessary with respect to this assistance."

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NoLandGrab: Cornerstone is a member of the International Right of Way Association, which is fitting, since Bruce Ratner appears to believe he has a right to push property owners and tenants out of his way.

Posted by eric at July 1, 2009 9:37 AM