This week we blogged about Governor Cuomo’s announcement about a possible expansion of Penn Station. The state would acquire a block south of Penn Station to increase track capacity which would affect properties between 30th and 31st Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Eminent domain is being considered as part of the expansion.
Fox5 New York interviewed Philip A. Sanchez as part of a recent report on this very topic. Regarding eminent domain as part of the Penn Station expansion, Sanchez commented, “This is entirely possible -- and the governor is completely within his right to do that.”
Sanchez described eminent domain as the government’s power to take private property for a valid public purpose. “This is most certainly a valid public purpose,” he said. As an example, Sanchez explained, “Where the New York Times Building on Eighth Avenue and 40th Street they took an entire block there as well.”
Sanchez reminds all tenants and commercial owners on the block that they can and should seek additional compensation for the sacrifice of their buildings, shops, and bars beyond what the state offers them. What is the estimated compensation? Sanchez estimates, “Hundreds of millions of dollars, easily, into the billions – no question about it.”
“(…Eminent domain is) The one power that the government has that people don’t realize how awesome it really is,” said Sanchez when talking about eminent domain and the impact it can have on all sizes of business.
Photo: Streets Blog NYC
It’s 2020 and the eminent domain blog posts from Sanchez & Polovetsky are gearing up for the excitement ahead!
Hot off the press is news that Governor Cuomo is backing a plan to acquire a block south of Penn Station to increase track capacity. Under a pre-existing plan, already backed by Cuomo, the State will make an attempt to purchase the properties between 30th and 31st Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues. We wouldn’t be blogging about it if this option didn’t have some whispers about using eminent domain as a last resort.
Currently, there are 21 tracks at Penn Station and this plan would create an additional eight. We will do the math for you – that’s a 40% increase in capacity. Over 175,000 people travel through Penn Station each day. “The problem with Penn Station is the functionality, the track capacity,” Cuomo said at a luncheon hosted by the Association for a Better New York, a group of business leaders.
“Sometimes there is no little fix that works, and this is one of those situations,” Cuomo added. “We believe the best alternative is to expand by acquiring the block south of Penn Station and increasing the footprint that way.”
With 22 properties that are a part of the block, that’s an ambitious project. “Amtrak owns property there, the Archdiocese of New York, office, residential-use and community facilities," Cuomo said. “The State will plan to acquire it for public use. We’re already speaking to people.”
New York State is also looking into acquiring the Theater at Madison Square Garden and converting it into a new entrance on Eight Avenue.
This part of the plan has been named the “Empire Station Complex” which includes the new Moynihan Train Hall. The Hall is expected to open in the Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue at the end of 2020, along with the renovation of the current Penn Station and the expanded tracks south of Penn.
Do not mistake this plan for the one named “Penn South.” That’s an expansion that has already been studied by Amtrak as part of the Gateway proposal which we blogged about previously.
“We are pleased to see a comprehensive plan that encompasses not only the Station itself, but also the district surrounding it,” Regional Plan Association president and CEO Tom Wright said in a statement. “Adding transit capacity and prioritizing safety is critical to the success of the region and for the hundreds of thousands of people that rely on the Station regularly.”
Details about the new project have been revealed by Cuomo’s office include that it will have a new 125,000-square foot terminal south of Penn Station and six entrances and exists that would reduce and dissipate congestion and enhance safety. The terminal is also planned to have retail development.
No word yet on the cost, but according to the governor, it will be paid for with revenue generated by the project. “Value Capture” will be used by the State to fund the improvements with payments in lieu of taxes — voluntary payments made by organizations as a substitute for regular property taxes — along with income from new commercial development.
The plan will be in collaboration with the MTA and Amtrak with the Empire State Development Agency overseeing it all. The MTA will be responsible for the transportation planning elements and Amtrak will help with the development and finance aspects of the project. FXCollaborative, an urban planning consultant, has already been contracted to carry out the plan.
As frequent Penn Station commuters ourselves, we cannot say we disagree with this plan. As always, we caution property and business owners affected by eminent domain to retain experienced eminent domain counsel to represent their interests. Condemnees do not have to accept the State’s offer of compensation as final, they are allowed to file claims for additional compensation in Court.
The new decade is certainly off to an exciting start!
Misheard, too sensitive, or just wrong? We think it’s a combination of all of those.
Eliot Bloom, a Long Island Attorney, was suspended for three years by New York’s Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, for calling two Nassau County prosecutor “sluts” and for harassing an elderly client. Bloom was suspended by the Second Department because they found that he neglected a legal matter entrusted to him by a client, who died in 2016 at 93 years old.
In response, Bloom filed a federal civil rights complaint against the New York state court system and several of its top officials. He claims that he was misheard and never used the slur and really said “slugs”. (Yes, this is a true story with adults and not kids in the first grade!) Bloom is demanding $6 million in damages.
In the complaint, which was preceded by a required notice of claim filed in March, Bloom described the state’s attorney grievance process as secretive and lacking due process. He also is unhappy about the three-year state grievance process, saying that it was prolonged deliberately after he filed a 2016 complaint against a grievance committee lawyer.
Representing Bloom is attorney Raymond Negron who says that his client is sad to have to take the case to federal court, but that they see no other options with the state. A state court spokesperson would not comment because of the policy against commenting on pending litigation.
The case also points out conduct that adversely reflected on his fitness as a lawyer by calling the female prosecutors “sluts.”
According to the Second Department opinion two prosecutors were standing outside a courtroom talking with a third lawyer. Bloom walked up to them and started talking to the third lawyer, who asked what he was doing at court. This was in 2016. Bloom said he was “just doing a trial with these two sluts,” and when one prosecutor objected, he told her to “stop being so sensitive, this is how I speak to ADAs,” according to the opinion.
Bloom later testified that he had said “slugs,” not “sluts,” but the appellate judges found that explanation “patently incredible.” “The respondent’s present misconduct, alongside his prior disciplinary history, reveals a recurring thread of deceit … His testimony lacked candor and showed no remorse,” the judges wrote.
We think that this blog post is a good place to start our New Year’s Resolution to be respectful to each other. No need to put others down or be rude. Let’s just go back to the basics that we learned as kids.