Tuesday, October 19, 2010

☞ REVIVE: Harlem Merchants Lawsuit Dismissed

The East Harlem Alliance of Responsible Merchants, which are the business owners on East 125th Street that are having their properties taken by Eminent Domain for the East Harlem Media Center, has had their lawsuit dismissed. We received the below information from the organization last Friday:

The NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, unanimously affirmed the dismissal of all claims made by EHARM in their fight against the East Harlem M/E/C LLC. East 125th Street project; despite the misuse of municipal might, power, and procedure to take private, productive commercial property and hand it over to a secretly selected development group, beset by trouble.

Justice Catterson issued a separate statement warning that: “In my view, the record amply demonstrates that the neighborhood in question is not blighted, that whatever blight exists is due to the actions of the City and/or is located far outside the project area, and that the justification of under-utilization is nothing but a canard to aid in the transfer of private property to a developer.

Unfortunately for the rights of the citizens affected by the proposed condemnation, the recent rulings of the Court of Appeals in Matter of Goldstein v. New York State Urban Dev. Corp... and Matter of Kaur v. New York State Urban Dev. Corp (2010)...have made plain that there is no longer any judicial oversight of eminent domain proceedings. Thus, I am compelled to concur with the majority.”

We are responsible owners,” said Fancy Dry Cleaner’s Damon Bae, one of the property owners who filed the Petition and a spokesman for the group. “We maintained our land and grew our businesses over the past decades, but we are also being victimized by the City. The City neglects its own property, and then cries ‘blight’ so it can take our property and give it to some politically connected developer.”

The top photo shows the affordable housing currently under construction that is part of the $700 million East Harlem Media Entertainment Cultural Center.  This building is opposite to the main commercial site that will be on the north side of East 125th Street and 2nd Avenue (lower photo)  At the center photo, one can see one of the businesses that will be affected and since the case has been dismissed, all should theoretically move forward.  Read more about this development in our past post: LINK


  1. This is terribly unfortunate and should send shivers up the spines on long-term East Harlem residents and merchants. This is the beginning of the end and its really unfortunate. The statement; "...the justification of under-utilization is nothing but a canard to aid in the transfer of private property to a developer." is really profound & true.

    But once again, where is the sense of collective outrage. The EHARM people probably had less than aggressive legal assistance.

    This is the beginning of eminent domain in Harlem. I predict that we will see more of this as the decade progresses.

  2. This is a Seneca Village-esque type story.

  3. Greg, I think it is a difficult situation. Walking around that part of Harlem, there appears to be a lot of open ground that is not properly utilized. A brand new development on this scale is surely a benefit to the neighborhood with the provision of brand-new affordable housing units alongside other facilities. That is providing, of course, that they actually complete the work and it is all financed correctly.

  4. This is great news for East Harlem. The land in this area is truly underutilized and the proposed MEC center will be more beneficial to the neighborhood. Eminent domain is an unfortunate tool to have to use, but it does produce results when applied in cases when the existing property owners refuse to enter into good-faith negotiations. This is certainly the case here. Damon Bae in particular will not listen to reason. These property owners will be offered compensation to relocate their businesses elsewhere. This will dwarf the East River Plaza in terms of its importance to the local community.

  5. The East Harlem Media Entertainment Cultural Center, eh?

    Well at least they didn‘t give it a long, pretentious name.

  6. The East Harlem Media Entertainment Cultural Center for Cultural Development of East Harlem.

  7. I was about to call for an investigation into who had kidnapped Ulysses and reprogrammed him into a rabid anti-development partisan -- and then I re-read the first paragraph and realized the rest of the post was a quote...

  8. To call the Dry Cleaner guy, Schmuck's and the tile people "productive" in any objective sense is kinda silly to me. I'd of said "struggling" and been done with it.

    That area has looked like that for about a decade probably. Any improvement would be welcome.

    And it not like these businesses aren't going to get compensated, either.

  9. Yeah, like the flop house that's the Washington Hotel isn't an unholy blight on the neighborhood.

  10. ***a reminder to have User Names for comments to remain permanent on each thread. Sign off signature is okay also.