The Brooklyn Daily Eagle has published more details regarding the City's retraction of its eminent domain findings for Downtown Brooklyn. The eminent domain findings are required for the city to legally confiscate and demolish the Duffield Abolitionist homes and other properties threatened by the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning. In Withdrawal of Eminent Domain Findings Gives Hope to Duffield St. Preservationists, the paper reports:
Seth Donlin, spokesman for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said a blight determination that included the 21 lots on three blocks in Downtown Brooklyn in question was prepared for the department by environmental consulting firm AKRF in November 2003. But it was mistakenly not entered into public record at last May’s eminent domain hearing, requiring the reversal of the findings and a new public hearing scheduled for Oct. 29.
He said the blight determination would have to be obtained by making a formal Freedom of Information Law Request before it’s entered into public record.
“It is something that was produced specifically for the proceedings for eminent domain, and there is a specific time for which it is supposed to be made public,” he said. “Unfortunately, because of some oversight, it was not entered as it should have been [at the first hearing in May].”
Track Data, a financial firm with 150 employees; a rent-stabilized apartment building that houses 40 families; a handful of parking lots; and Amber Art and Music Space are also at risk of being displaced. Attorney Jennifer Levy, who represents one rent-stabilized tenant, and Joy Chatel, the partial owner of a home allegedly involved in the Underground Railroad, said she doesn’t believe there were any specific blight findings. Levy said the original urban renewal plan for Downtown Brooklyn found blight in very specific properties, but was later expanded to include a general area deemed blighted. This may not be substantive enough, in the eyes of the court, to justify the seizure of personal property. “I guess we’ll have to see what they have that they haven’t produced.”“I was never briefed or given a copy of any blight study,” said Councilwoman Letitia James, a supporter of the Duffield Street homeowners.