Jennifer Polovetsky Named To 2020 List of Top Women Eminent Domain Attorneysin NY Metro Area by Super Lawyers Magazine
Have you heard the news? Super Lawyers Magazine 2020 Edition has named Jennifer Polovetsky, Esq., to the Top Women Attorneys for Eminent Domain in the New York Metro Area. Jennifer, who is a partner at Sanchez & Polovetsky PLLC, is one of only two female lawyers named in the Magazine's Eminent Domain practice area.
"It is a great honor to have been recognized and included in this prestigious group. Sanchez & Polovetsky takes great pride in helping those affected by Eminent Domain and we are thrilled to be recognized for our work. Being selected as a top female attorney in the New York Metro Area, and one of only two female attorneys named for Eminent Domain, is especially gratifying. Congratulations to all honorees," says Jennifer Polovetsky, Esq., a partner at Sanchez & Polovetsky, PLLC.
No more than 2.5 percent of attorneys are selected to the prestigious list. Super Lawyers assesses outstanding attorneys from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and evaluations. Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, also publishes Super Lawyers Magazine reaching 13 million readers throughout the U.S. and England.
Sanchez & Polovetsky PLLC has handled many significant Eminent Domain cases in New York State. The firm provides legal representation to all types of Condemnees, including individuals, large companies, and small family-owned businesses. The firm has obtained significant condemnation awards, as well as awards in lieu of condemnation, for its clients and prides itself on its record of ensuring that each of its clients has come away whole. The firm also works to ensure that each of its corporate clients have the opportunity to relocate their businesses and continue operating.
While we are all hunkering down and trying to stay safe from COVID-19, we wanted to bring our readers a non-eminent domain newsbreak.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is probably better known as the MTA, has closed on its purchase of Grand Central Terminal in New York City from Midtown Trackage Ventures LLC.
The deal includes the Harlem Line and Hudson Line and marks the first time the MTA has owned the tracks and the terminal. Midtown Trackage Ventures is a private group that brought them from PennCentral Transportation, the railroad whose 1970’s bankruptcy and liquidation led the MTA to assume management of regional rail operations.
The purchase ends MTA's 280-year lease of Grand Central and gives Metro-North control of its operating environment. Owning the properties means that for the first time, Metro-North Railroad will have unencumbered control and responsibility of its operating environment.
In 1994, the MTA signed the Grand Central lease with American Premier Underwriters, which sold the ownership rights to Midtown Trackage Ventures in the early 2000s. According to the MTA, Metro-North had been paying $2.4 million each year to use the property.
In 2018, the MTA announced that it would buy the station and the Hudson and Harlem lines for $35 million. The interest rate environment, along with a discount offered by the seller, meant it was a better deal for the MTA to buy the terminal rather than continue to rent. That’s according to Janno Lieber, MTA Chief Development Officer.
"This transaction secures for the MTA control over development rights along the Harlem Line and Hudson Line, which will allow us to help local jurisdictions implement high quality transit-oriented development for generations to come," Lieber said.
Now with ridership down, it’s probably an even better deal not to be renting.
According to Councilman Ruben Ramos, the city of Hoboken may be working on a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with Academy Bus in order to expand the city’s Southwest Park. It would be using a portion of the company’s property.
For those of us who are not sure what a PILOT or tax abatement is - it is an agreement between a developer and a municipality allowing the developer to pay a percentage of a development’s revenues. In other words, it is a percentage of the project’s construction costs for a predetermined period of time (rather than paying traditional taxes on the buildings constructed on the site).
Way back in 2017, the City Council authorized the use of eminent domain to acquire Block 10 of Academy Bus’s land, in order to expand the Southwest Park form one acre to two. Mayor Dawn Zimmer was in office at the time. The city said it has attempted good faith negotiations with the company to acquire the property over the past few years.
The current parking lot, which is approximately one acre of land, will provide much needed open space, important quality of life upgrades for the community, and will also include infrastructure to further manage flooding in the neighborhood, according to the city.
Academy Bus proposed building the park extension for free in exchange for additional office space for Academy Bus, a new Middle School, and 439 residential units. That was in 2019. At the time, Mayor Ravi Bhalla called the plan a “nonstarter,” since the approved Southwest Redevelopment Plan calls for only 192 units.
As you may have read in our other blog posts over the summer, Bhalla announced that the city would again consider eminent domain; and in September Hoboken filed an eminent domain action to acquire the additional acre of land just west of the park-bordered by New York Avenue and Harrison Street.
Here’s where things get expensive. The city of Hoboken deposited $5.3 million, its estimated value of the property, with the court. Note that this deposit was made despite Academy Bus’s appraisal, which estimated the property value to be several million dollars higher- at $21.8 million.
The two parties were ordered back to the negotiating table in November 2019, citing issues with the city’s rezoning of the area and the city’s “faulty” appraisal.
New numbers were presented by the city. This time, the city had another outside appraisal of the property done, which now set the estimated value of the property at nearly $8.5 million. Sounds like a pretty big difference to us too.
In their March meeting, the City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance on final reading, that will allow the administration to offer this appraised value to Academy Bus to acquire the land.
Councilman Ruben Ramos said this will be used during negotiations with Academy. He also said that he hopes that Academy and the city will partner to create the park as part of a PILOT agreement.
In the “similar to what happened on Seventh and Jackson” example given at the meeting, the city was able to receive a park and gymnasium from the developers of the 700 Jackson Street Development Project near the Monroe Center as part of a 30-year PILOT agreement between the city and the developers.
Whispers about eminent domain are still being heard. City officials are saying that they are making efforts to avoid further litigation and come to an agreement as to what the actual price of the property should be. The city of Hoboken and Academy have agreed to enter into 90 days of mediation.
“That’s the strategy going forward,” said Ramos. “We should’ve used that strategy over the years, but we are trying correct that now and enter negotiations about how re-purpose property with them as partners”. He said that if it doesn’t work, the city can go back to court but “we want to avoid that happening."