Doesn’t it seem like we can blog about Cuomo’s proposals every week this month? The law firm of Sanchez & Polovetsky, PLLC is based in NYC, so anything New York City related captures our attention. We’ve been hearing lots of news about the expansion of the High Line, and the final authorization of a $1.3 billion loan to fund the “Empire State Complex”-which would update the railway hub for transportation use only.
For a while now, the Penn Station/Madison Square Garden neighborhood was being referred to as a “blighted slum,” and there was serious talk about redeveloping the area by building super tall skyscrapers in place of the current buildings. Cuomo was adamant that such plans be included in the final State budget.
Unfortunately for the Governor, the original redevelopment plans (which included the construction of 10 new skyscrapers) have been trimmed, including for “PENN 15,” the super tall tower that would’ve been comparable in size to the Empire State Building.
Instead of new office towers, money in the approved budget is going to be “used in furtherance of [expanding Penn Station] or other transportation improvement projects and not for above-grade development.”
State legislators opposed to Cuomo’s above-ground vision made sure that the budget limited the redevelopment plans. The approved plans only allow a Penn Station remodel and the expansion of track capacity.
Prior to the most recent news about the State budget, Cuomo had also proposed another extension for the High Line-that would run from 34th Street and 12th Avenue past the Javits Center and cross the West End Highway, ending at Pier 76 and Hudson River Park. Currently, the property is a tow pound run by the NYPD that was scheduled to be vacated by the end of January 2021, with plans to make it into a public park.
The purpose of the High Line expansion is to create more public space and address community concerns about pedestrian access to the west side of Manhattan. Anyone coming in and out of the area around Penn Station knows that there is a lot of traffic and congestion that continues on to Hudson Yards. The cost of the project is estimated at $60 million, which will come from a combination of private and public funds.
We anticipate that more redevelopment news will come our way soon, as NYC is poised for a comeback. Stay tuned!
Hot off the presses! We just got the news City of New York (the “City”) has purchased the newly-landmarked abolitionist home at 227 Duffield Street in Brooklyn. It’s a topic that we have been keeping a close eye on and blogged about on February 25th of this year, and on February 20, 2020.
The property that has been buzzed about was a vital part of the anti-slavery movement. It is thought to be a place where Underground Railroad refugees stayed. During the Civil War era an abolitionist couple named Thomas and Harriet Truesdell owned the house.
The property was named a landmark earlier this month after a decade-long fight, and now according to reports it has been purchased by the City's Department of Citywide Administrative Services for $3.2 million. The attorney for the Seller, Samiel Hanasab, stated that the landmarking of the property depressed its value significantly, leaving the Seller with no choice other than to sell the property.
Samiel Hanasab recently owned the property and had planned to build a 10-story apartment building on the property, with a museum dedicated to its Black history. The plans included demolishing the home-which spurred a resurgence among advocates who had pushed for its landmark status.
Prior to Hanasab’s ownership of this property, “Mamma” Joy Chatel owned the three-story brick home-and she wanted the house to be preserved. Under the Bloomberg administration, the City tried to take the house through eminent domain so that it could be developed as part of a redevelopment project in Downtown Brooklyn. At that time, the City claimed that there wasn’t enough proof to verify the building’s important history.
So far there are no reports about what the City plans to do with the building. It’s been reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray hope to see the property preserved as a memorial to the abolitionist movement.
Looks like there will be more to come, so stay tuned!
It’s Black History Month, so we thought it would be fitting to write about the latest news concerning an important home in downtown Brooklyn, owned by abolitionists during the Civil War Era. Although the fate of this home is still unclear, it has survived two very close calls with being torn down.
The property, which is a 4-story building located at 227 Duffield Street in Downtown Brooklyn, was a vital part of the anti-slavery movement. Number 227 is thought to be a place where Underground Railroad refugees stayed. During the Civil War era, an abolitionist couple named Thomas and Harriet Truesdell owned the house.
In 2004, New York City was about to seize the building through eminent domain as part of Michael Bloomberg’s urban renewal plan for downtown Brooklyn. Joy Chatel (lovingly known as “Mama Joy”), the owner of 227 Duffield Street at the time, as well as her neighbor Lewis Greenstein (owner of the house at 233 Duffield Street, who also made claims of abolitionist activity on that site-he said it was a "feeding station" for escaped slaves, based on stories he heard from past tenants) fought against the taking. Chatel and Greenstein were joined by local advocates, including the current New York State Attorney General (then City councilwoman) Letitia James, as they tried to prove that their houses were an essential part of abolitionist history.
Finally, in 2007, the city spared Mama Joy’s home and renamed it “227 Abolitionist Place.” However, the property was still not landmarked, and was at risk of being redeveloped, like the rest of the neighborhood.
For many years, advocates fought to have 227 Duffield landmarked. Finally, in February of 2021, officials declared the building a landmark, which stopped a planned private apartment conversion project. The effort to secure the landmark designation was hampered partly because there were no historical records officially documenting the house as a stop on the Underground Railroad. However, activists and scholars argued that the series of basement tunnels that connected neighboring houses are evidence that the abolitionist couple used their home to help runaway slaves.
What’s next for the building? It was previously reported that plans had been in the works to create a Black cultural center at the site (now valued at $1.28 million). Shawn Lee, daughter of former owner “Mama Joy” Chatel, was apparently involved with the center's creation, but she hasn’t said a word about the project.
We will keep you posted as to the developments in this story. In the meantime, it looks like this important historical property is safe from eminent domain.