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MTA Plans to Temporarily Evict Co-op Building Tenants for Second Ave. Work

By James Fanelli | January 8, 2014 6:34am
 A construction crew works on the Second Avenue Subway project on 69th Street. The MTA plans to temporarily take over four properties as part of its construction.
A construction crew works on the Second Avenue Subway project on 69th Street. The MTA plans to temporarily take over four properties as part of its construction.
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DNAInfo/James Fanelli

UPPER EAST SIDE — The MTA wants to temporarily evict some tenants of a swanky co-op apartment building in order to work on the Second Avenue Subway project.

The state agency went to court on Dec. 24 to seize six units in 301 E. 69th St. after officials saw they needed to rework designs for the planned East 72nd Street subway station entrance. In court papers, the MTA cited its power of eminent domain to take control of the property.

The six units include basement space owned by the co-op, a dry cleaner, a parking garage and two other commercial spaces on the ground floor of the building.

The MTA plans to seize the units “for a matter of weeks,” with tenants returning after the temporary displacement, agency spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. He did not provide a specific length of time for the takeover.

The court papers, filed in Manhattan Civil Supreme Court, ask a judge to grant the MTA the right to seize the property and to set a compensation amount for the tenants and owners.

Construction crews are currently at work on the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway, a stretch between East 96th Street and East 63rd Street. The construction includes three new stations at 96th Street, 86th Street and 72nd Street. That section of the line isn't slated to open until December 2016.

The MTA originally planned to build an entrance to the 72nd Street station in two retail spaces in the East 69th Street co-op building, according to the court papers. The agency had previously acquired those two spaces through eminent domain.

The project designers decided to revise the plans in order to minimize the impact of construction on the building's structure and utilities, the court papers say.

The new design calls for two canopy-sheltered entrances on a widened public sidewalk on the east side of Second Avenue, which runs alongside the 19-floor co-op. Those entrances will use the basement and garage areas of the building, leading to a common mezzanine and escalator bank for the station.

The MTA says in the court papers that the temporary takeover of the units will help facilitate construction of the entrance.

The co-op board's president did not respond to requests for comment. The owner of the parking garage, which comprises two units, also did not respond to an inquiry.

David Kim, the owner of the dry cleaner, declined to comment.

The two other commercial spaces the MTA intends to seize are currently vacant.

A pizzeria, an Off-Track Betting parlor and a tanning salon on the ground floor of the co-op have all shuttered since Second Avenue Subway construction started in 2007.

The MTA has so far seized 24 properties through eminent domain in connection to the project.

Editor's Note: Due to a miscommunication with the MTA, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a co-op resident was one of the tenants being temporarily evicted to accommodate work on the Second Avenue Subway project. The MTA is not seizing a resident's unit, but is temporarily acquiring space in the basement that the co-op owns.