Eminent Domain Opposed for New Subway: New York NY Sun, 9/21/07

Mayoral hopeful John Catsimatidis, who owns the Gristedes supermarket chain, may fight the state's attempt to condemn part of his supermarket on East 86th Street to make way for the Second Avenue subway line.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] last night held a public hearing on the acquisition of residential and business property along the subway route under the state's eminent domain law and several property owners were expected to express their concern that the law is being used too liberally, and that construction of the subway should circumvent their property.

"We're not opposed to the Second Avenue subway, but there's a shortage of supermarkets in New York City right now," Mr. Catsimatidis said. "I would think that the MTA should take that into consideration. The Gristedes store in question is situated on East 86th Street between First and Second avenues, he said. "It's not on Second Avenue, so somebody at the MTA would have to explain that."

As part of the first phase of construction — between East 96th Street and East 63rd Street — the state seeks to acquire at least four buildings. The MTA has expressed interest in acquiring permanent easements on at least 19 other properties.

Ultimately, the subway line will run between the financial district and 125th Street. Construction on the first segment of the more than $15 billion project, variations of which have been proposed since the 1920s, began in April.

Yesterday, the chairman of the Upper East Side's Community Board 8, David Liston, said the board supports the subway line, but believes eminent domain laws should be used sparingly.

Mr. Liston said the board has worked with the MTA to reduce the number of properties that may be disrupted. "We don't want to see anyone kicked out of their homes unnecessarily," he said.

New York NY Sun: http://www.nysun.com