DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A Brooklyn Supreme Court judge approved an order Thursday to transfer ownership of seven properties in the footprint of the Atlantic Yards development site to the state — as one of the seized buildings warned its tenants that the state is giving them 90 days to get out.
Justice Wayne Saitta signed off on the Empire State Development Corporation petition to take over the titles of seven properties under eminent domain during a hearing attended by attorneys representing the ESDC and the owner of at least one of the seven properties, 718-728 Atlantic Ave., a warehouse building currently occupied by the storage company StorageMart.
Charles Webb, attorney for the ESDC, said demolition or construction on the seized properties will not begin until the buildings are vacant, but said it is unclear when current tenants must leave.
However, in a blog post published Thursday, StorageMart said the state has given tenants 90 days to vacate the building. The company said customers must remove their property from the storage facility by Dec. 18.
“It is unknown to us at this time how the ESD will deal with anyone who has not vacated their storage unit by the deadline,” reads the post, written by StorageMart's Interactive Marketing Director Sarah Little, on the company website.
"Over the past few weeks, StorageMart has been advocating on our tenants’ behalf to get the ESD to agree to a reasonable date for emptying the building. We understand the frustration in having to find another storage facility and moving on such short notice."
A spokeswoman for the ESDC declined to say whether they ordered the 90 day vacate deadline for all buildings, but said the agency "will continue to work with each of the property owners and tenants on the timeline and relocation" once the judge's order to change ownership is filed.
The state also plans to seize three residential buildings, 495, 493 and 491 Dean St., a vacant lot at 37 Sixth Ave. and two commercial buildings, 25 Sixth Ave. and 700 Atlantic Ave., according to court documents. It was unclear if representatives from those properties attended Thursday's hearing.
As soon as the court files the order, the title for each of the seven buildings will transfer to the state, Webb said. He added that the agency has already made payment offers to each of the seven property owners, who have up to two years to accept that offer or dispute it in court. Webb refused to say how much money the state has offered to the former owners of the seven properties, saying that figure is not public information.
At Thursday’s hearing — which was conducted out of earshot of those in the court, during a sidebar at the judge's bench — one of the ESDC’s attorneys said “so far we haven’t had any opposition” from property owners over the state's land grab.
The seizure follows a previous court ruling that granted the state the right to exert eminent domain to allow developer Forest City Ratner to build a series of residential buildings, a public school and open space on 22 acres of land known as the Atlantic Yards project, but renamed “Pacific Park” this summer.
Inquiries made to the landlord of 491 Dean St. were not immediately returned. The previous owners of the other properties could not be reached for comment.