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  • By Jennifer Polovetsky On Wednesday, September 26 th, 2018 · no Comments · In , , , ,

    We have exciting news to share with our blog readers! As this post’s headline suggests, the attorneys at Sanchez & Polovetsky have been named to the 2018 Super Lawyers list for the New York Metro Area. You can read all about it here. What is even more exciting is that it’s the fourth year in a row that our attorneys have received this honor.  Attorneys Philip A. Sanchez and Jennifer Polovetsky have been included in the Super Lawyers List for the NY Metro area every year since 2015. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the State are selected to receive this honor by the research team at Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business. When asked what this honor means professionally and personally, Philip Sanchez, a partner at the firm, reflected for a moment and then said, “You can’t imagine the tremendous amount of stress a business owner, who has put their entire life’s work and effort into their business, undergoes when faced with eminent domain and the possibility of losing it all.  We take great pride in helping these enterprises, which are often family owned and multi-generational.  They often have the opportunity to improve with a fresh start at a new location.  To be recognized for these efforts is deeply satisfying on both a professional and personal level.” Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys. Jennifer Polovetsky, the founding partner of the firm and a New York resident, said that “this honor is especially meaningful because the New York Metro Area is where we work and live. When we help local New York property owners and businesses, we are also seeking to improve the overall community serving our friends, neighbors, and businesses that we frequent.  It’s a great feeling to be recognized for our efforts by our peers.” The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law.  

    26 Sep
    26 Sep
  • By Jennifer Polovetsky On Wednesday, September 12 th, 2018 · no Comments · In , , , , ,

    It’s back to school time and New York commuters are back in force with memories of their vacations.   For those in Astoria, Queens, and Red Hook, Brooklyn (not the previously planned Sunset Park) they might also be thinking about when the much touted BQX streetcars will be built, shaving off valuable minutes (10-15 minutes to be specific) from their commute. Infrastructure challenges and, therefore, budget issues have delayed plans for the BQX, the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, which include a route between Brooklyn and Queens.  It is estimated that in the first year, ridership is expected to reach 50,000 people daily, according to the administration. Overall, the 26-stop line is expected to serve around half a million people in waterfront communities. Originally, the route was planned to run about 16 miles between Astoria and Sunset Park and cost approximately $2.5 billion.  The City’s streetcar team then updated the plan and developed a shorter route to Gowanus that will cost $2.7 billion.  That’s a per-mile increase of $247 million from $156 million. Why the increased costs? In February 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced plans for the streetcar route.  As other routes were examined, serious underground infrastructure issues were found and resulted in the increased budget estimates for the project. It probably also resulted in an extended planning time as the area would have to be more thoroughly studied.  Crain’s put it best in their report: The infrastructure study helped to insulate the city from risk in the event it had to scrap the project, but it also delayed the project and drove up costs. The project, which was scheduled to be completed in 2024, was supposed to be funded through property tax revenue as the land around the route increased in value.  Those plans changed too.  Now, the project is scheduled to be completed in 2029 and requires $1 billion from the federal government. Money set aside by the city for the BQX is being spent on other priorities, including affordable housing. It sounds like de Blasio is still focused on the prize. “The Brooklyn-Queens waterfront has experienced incredible growth. Now it’s time for our transit system to catch up,” de Blasio said in a statement. “The BQX is one of the biggest, most ambitious projects in a generation. It will be a challenge, but New York City is taking it on.” Plans are still underway for the city to examine the environmental impact of the project and kick off the public review process in 2020. Friends of the BQX, the tram’s independent booster group, support the plan.  “This commitment to moving the BQX forward is a huge win for New Yorkers who have been cut off from transit for too long—including more than 40,000 NYCHA residents along the route,” the organization’s executive director, Jessica Schumer, said in a statement. “With the city embroiled in a transit crisis, the BQX will serve as an innovative model for how to build new mass transit sustainably and equitably.” Of course, much of this depends on the situation in Washington, D.C. according to de Blasio. “We’re about to have two elections, 2018 and 2020, that could entirely remake the Congress and the White House, and then we would be having a very different conversation about infrastructure,” the mayor said. “In any competition for light-rail funding, this proposal would go to the front of the line instantaneously. … Looking around the country, it would cover the most people in the smallest amount of area.” In addition to timing, costs, and infrastructure issues, there seems to be a few additional challenges. First, if the project starts in 2020, de Blasio has only…

    12 Sep
    12 Sep
  • By Jennifer Polovetsky On Wednesday, September 05 th, 2018 · no Comments · In , , , ,

      The next time visitors come to visit you for a tour of New York City, the New York Wheel may be on their list of places to see – or not. Let’s take a quick look at how it all began…  The idea for a New York Wheel began in 2008, when Meir Laufer, CEO of Plaza Capital Management, a small Financial District-based developer, first visited the London Eye and had a dream to create something similar in New York.  Laufer pithed the idea around and eventually caught the attention of investor Eric Kaufman, a developer and a former top broker at Colliers International. Not everyone agreed that the project was a good idea, but an exclusive construction deal with Mammoet-Starneth, the engineering firm behind the London Eye, was achieved.  This agreement enticed deep-pocketed investors, including those with EB-5 visas.  According to the US Government website, the program is for entrepreneurs that are eligible to apply for a green card if they make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States, and plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. According to the Real Deal, the program is facing a major backlog in applications, resulting in up to 15-year wait times for visas. By 2010 a site for the New York Wheel was searched for and with the help of NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing arm, as well as with the city’s Economic Development Corporation, Staten Island was finally agreed upon. In September 2012, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled the plan to the public. The project’s challenges are long, and here are just a few:  The current estimated cost is over $600 million, which is more than twice the original figure. Vicious infighting has ripped apart the working dynamic of the development team. All of these challenges have resulted in public officials and government agencies suddenly going quiet when they had given support to the project for the past three years. In May, the engineering company, Mammoet-Starneth, walked off the site after saying the soil could not support the structure. (Some reports say they were fired.) In December, the contractor filed for bankruptcy and in February, the developers agreed to pay $460,000 to help cover storage costs for some parts of the wheel. In addition to a new management structure and the amount of money it will need to continue, the Wheel is one of many EB-5 projects across the U.S. mired in controversy that has left investors in limbo. Regional center Canam Enterprises has raised $206 million from 412 EB-5 investors for the project, according to the firm’s website. So where does it all stand? A deadline was set for September 5th, and pushed back to September 11th, to see if the Wheel will keep rolling or if the project will have a permanent end.  If it does end, it would be seen as one of the largest EB-5 failures.  Maybe Hollywood will dive in and make a movie about it all.

    05 Sep
    05 Sep
  • By Jennifer Polovetsky On Tuesday, August 07 th, 2018 · no Comments · In , , , ,

    Eminent Domain Surprise?  You bet.  We’ve got the story here:  two sisters, Fran Gandarillas and Angela Camarda, have a property in Islandia, Long Island, that is up to date on its taxes and is under contract to be sold.  So you can imagine their surprise when a Newsday reporter called them asking them about the Islandia village’s plans to take the property by eminent domain to build a new public works and truck yard facility. “We know nothing further unfortunately,” Gandarillas, told the Newsday reporter. “We thought it was some kind of prank.” They questioned how the village could take their property, citing that it is up to date on taxes and is under contract to be sold. They found out about the plan a day before a public hearing was initially scheduled. According to Islandia Village officials, they are proposing to seize the 1.7-acre residential property on Old Nichols Road by eminent domain. When asked by the reporter, officials did not immediately say how they sought to notify the property owners. Officials said they commenced eminent domain proceedings against a nearby property two years ago and stopped the effort because of an unrelated issue of illegal action, which they did not immediately specify. The village has outgrown its current public works yard behind village hall, and officials have been looking for a property to store equipment for several years, Village Attorney Joseph W. Prokop said, noting a preference for a location on the north side of the Long Island Expressway.  Prokop gave a pretty standard answer when asked about the proceedings, “This would allow the village to better service roadways and provide other services in this part of the village.” According to the reports, municipalities have to notify property owners within 10 to 30 days of a public hearing either in person or by certified mail, but an “inadvertent failure to notify” them may not affect the validity of municipalities’ claim on the property, according to state law. The sisters’ property has been used until now as a day care center called “The Nursery School, Too,” according to state records.  The property is in a residential area that is surrounded by homes. There is also a nonprofit equestrian center serving people with special needs. If the Islandia Village were to successfully take the property, they would have to pay fair market value. According to records attained by the Islip Town Assessor’s office, that would be approximately $745,000. Village spokesman Hank Russell said a public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7, despite a public notice listing it for July 31 — a discrepancy he attributed to an error. The hearing will be at 6 p.m. at village hall.

    07 Aug
    07 Aug
  •   We had a busy week last week and a proud one too! (Drum roll, please!) Sanchez & Polovetsky is pleased to announce that is has successfully tripled the eminent domain award initially offered to its client, an East Harlem Auto Repair Shop. For all of those legal scholars and nerds who want the gritty details, you can look it up here: New York County Supreme Court Master Index No. 453233/2015 and Sub-Index No. 450082/2018 (Shlomo, J.) For the rest of us who what just the exciting details, here goes:  Sanchez & Polovetsky filed a claim on behalf of its client, East Side Auto, Inc., in November of 2017.  After months of intense negotiations and pre-trial court conferences, the firm was able to obtain a favorable settlement on behalf of the East Harlem Auto Repair Shop on July 10, 2018, less than a year after filing an eminent domain claim for additional compensation in Court. Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, attorneys at the firm have confirmed that the settlement was in an amount that was approximately three (3) times the amount of the initial eminent domain award offered to its client. If you have followed our press releases and media coverage on the firm, you will note that Sanchez & Polovetsky places great importance on helping small businesses. Often those small businesses are run by families and without a positive outcome, their lives would be completely changed for the worse, for a very long time, maybe even forever. This blog post is a good time to note that often eminent domain proceedings take a small business owner by surprise. They often don’t know what to do and might even feel pressured to sign papers that are not necessarily in their best interest.  It doesn’t have to be that way, especially if the right help is found as soon as the notice is received.  In fact, there have been cases won by Sanchez & Polovetsky that allowed the business to relocate to a bigger and better facility, allowing the business to flourish instead of fail. “Small businesses are an essential part of the local and national economy. Being able to help this client thrive despite eminent domain proceedings is truly gratifying. We are thrilled about the award and the results we were able to achieve,” says Jennifer Polovetsky, a partner at Sanchez & Polovetsky. “It is extremely rewarding to help a small business that employs members of the local community.  This is yet another example of how a business can fight and win despite eminent domain proceedings,” says Philip Sanchez, a partner at Sanchez & Polovetsky.

    30 Jul
    30 Jul
  •   Eminent domain cases are happening every day, in cities that are both large and small.  Over the past few weeks we’ve taken a look at what is going in in New York City and the surrounding suburbs; and today we are going to be discussing a case that recently hit the press.  In Utica, New York, the nonprofit Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) wants to build a new $480 million hospital; and it is negotiating with property owners in the downtown area who have not yet sold their land. The official word is that no one wants to take the properties through the use of eminent domain, but if it is necessary, MVHS will do it.  As is usually the case, some of the property owners are trying to stop the project and are looking for ways to stop the proceedings from starting. One such example is a row house at 442 Lafayette Street.  It is there that a group of residents who are opposed to the MVHS hospital have started the “No Hospital Downtown” effort to make its final stand. Brett Truett, one of the founders of the project’s opposition group, actually bought a property that lies within the footprint of the hospital to fight his property’s acquisition in court. Legal scholars and those interested in eminent domain are probably thinking if a private entity can use eminent domain to take another private property in New York State.  Jim Brock, the other founder of the No Hospital Downtown group, thinks not. Thomas Merrill, a property law scholar at Columbia Law School disagrees.  Merrill said, “There’s no requirement that the person that’s going to get the property after the condemnation is completed has to be public. New York does not draw that line at all. In fact, there’s some language in the statute that encourages the use of private enterprise in these projects.” Technically, in New York, property can be taken be for a “civic project” and that can be private or public. A “civic project” is defined as something intended for an educational, cultural, recreational, community, municipal, public service or other civic purpose.  Both MVHS and local government officials have said the new hospital meets that definition because it provides access to quality health care for the region.  They also say that the new project will assists with economic development in downtown Utica. Scott Perra, MVHS’ president and CEO said, “the question is how much do we pay for the properties. I think there’s some misunderstanding from people about what eminent domain actually is. It’s not people going to court arguing we ought to move or we don’t think the hospital should be built downtown at that point in time. Those decisions have already been made. So it’s really a discussion over what’s the fair value of the property.” Merrill, the Columbia law school professor notes that “health care” and “economic development” are technically not listed under the state’s definition of a civic project. Therefore, the property owners could challenge it in court. But, he says, it’s unlikely that they would win based on recent rulings on eminent domain. “At least in New York, the tradition has been that the courts have been very deferential to the arguments that these are public uses, so it would be a very long shot that they would prevail in the New York courts,” he said. Although New York state law is very government friendly when it comes to eminent domain (almost everything is considered public use), property owners and business tenants have the right to go to court to contest the amount of…

    21 Jul
    21 Jul
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