New York: Where “Underutilization” Equals “Blight”

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys sing “there’s nothing you can’t do” in New York.  That may be true for Hova, but it’s not supposed to be true when it comes to eminent domain under New York law.  A purported “public purpose” is insufficient to seize private property for economic development.  So government authorities resort to “blight” designations to condemn private property they would like to redevelop.  This is the strategy being used for the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Project in Brooklyn.  Yet as Nicole Gelinas reports, the blight designation here is a bit of a stretch, as it relies upon the condition of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s railyards, occasional weeds and grafitti, and the alleged “underutilization” of local properties.  As Gelinas notes, if “underutilization” is sufficient to constitute blight, then nearly any proposed economic redevelopment project could utilize eminent domain under New York law.

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