NYC’s Planning Chief Won’t Broadly Use Eminent Domain

NEW YORK (AP) -

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious redevelopment plans won’t involve the use of eminent domain to acquire property for affordable housing, Planning Director Carl Weisbrod said Tuesday.

The mayor’s planning priorities include building more affordable housing and rezoning a five-block stretch of midtown Manhattan adjacent to Grand Central Terminal.

“I don’t see us using eminent domain in a broad way,” Weisbrod told a real estate conference hosted by Crain’s New York. “I don’t believe that it’s going to be in our toolbox.”

Developer Forest City Ratner’s use of eminent domain to build Barclays Center and the development now known as Pacific Park stirred wide opposition in Brooklyn.

De Blasio’s affordable housing plan will require developers to set aside affordable units, rather than making such below-market set-asides voluntary. He said he could “not yet” pinpoint the percentage that developers will have to allocate.

He said the administration is trying to strike a balance between the need for affordable housing and the needs of builders.

“We recognize that if we are overly aggressive we’re not going to see any housing,” he said. “If we’re not aggressive enough we’re not going to get the benefit of our bargaining.”