Friday, April 11, 2008

Carroll Gardens Rumor: Lawsuit Over Subway Plaza?

360 Plaza Front

Many things float around in the hyper-active Carroll Gardens rumor mill. We take most of them with a very large grain of salt, yet one of the most interesting rumors (repeat: this is only a rumor) that we've come across recently is that some residents are considering filing a lawsuit over the contentious issue of ownership of the plaza in front of the Carroll Gardens subway station entrance. The controversial 360 Smith building would take about one-third of the plaza's area, but some residents strongly believe that the entire plaza is public property. Others believe that developer Billy Stein actually owns the one-third that would be part of his development. (The absurdity of the situation is illustrated by the fact that the ownership of the plaza is actually the subject of debate.) We have sat through long meetings in which the ownership of the plaza has been debated and it would appear there are sufficient issues to, at least, sustain the filing of a suit over the property. (The issue itself is a very complicated one relying on historic city records; the city believes the portion of the plaza that is at issue is actually private property.) As we noted earlier this week, there have been "private" meetings between the developer, some residents and staff members of elected officials in recent weeks that have included discussion of the plaza, but the issue continues to cause significant bitterness in the neighborhood. Litigation has become a powerful tool wielded by opponents of developments in Brooklyn in recent years and it has become even sharper as delays threaten to push projects deeper into the credit crisis and a sagging real estate market, raising the possibility of cancellation or stalling.



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