The Second Avenue Subway has been in talks since 1920… 101 years! Although the pandemic threatened to end the never-ending project, the MTA prevails as the project is now moving ahead—but not without a hitch.
The current Second Avenue subway ends at 96th Street but the ultimate plan is to extend the Q line to 125th with two additional stations at 106th and 116th. The problem is that there are more than a dozen privately-owned properties in East Harlem standing in the way.
Last month, MTA public affairs director Joe O'Donnell told Community Board 11 that the MTA is considering using eminent domain to take ownership of the "three-story, four-story walk-ups that are largely vacant" in order to build the necessary station entrances and construction shafts. (Patch first reported the news.)
O'Donnell tried to reassure the community stating no one would be “kicked out of their property or put out on the street." Rather, the MTA will use the state’s eminent domain to negotiate fair settlements.
At the virtual public hearing held on March 30th, local developer Peter Peccora’s pleaded with the committee (in reference to the mixed-use building he’s been working on for the past seven years), “There's been again many years of blood, sweat, effort put into this project, but we're finally ready to pursue and are in the process of developing...Please don't take our property and let us continue with our development.”
Concerns were also raised over the fair market value being devastated by COVID.
Despite sounding quite feudal, using eminent domain is not uncommon in local development. Cuomo would need to use eminent domain for his Penn/Empire Station Complex overhaul and Bayonne mayor Jimmy David supports the use of eminent domain in a Bayonne, New Jersey healthcare project.
The resistance to the need for eminent domain may hold the project up for a bit but what’s a few more months after over 100 years?
- Harlem (Urbanize NYC)