Sterling Equities & Related Companies Lose A Court Battle
Plans to Build Shopping Mall on Flushing Meadows Corona Park Land Reversed on Appeal, but Legal Wrangling will Continue
This report is based on an Associated Press report dated July 2, 2015 and a Queens Tribune story dated August 28, 2014.
In August of 2014, New York State Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez decided in favor of Related Companies / Sterling Equities by throwing out a lawsuit filed by the City Club of New York and NYS Senator Tony Avella.
The plaintiffs alleged that billionaire Stephen Ross's Related Companies, the real estate developers of Hunters Point South and the Hudson Yards, and the Sterling Equities which was co-founded by the NY Mets owners, mega-millionaires Saul B. Katz and Fred Wilpon, had not gone through the NYS legislature for the approval of the transfer of the parkland as required by law.
The lawsuit, filed in February 2014, alleged that the transfer of 47 acres of Flushing Meadows Corona Park land that currently represents the western part of the Mets parking lot, was done without following the procedure for a proper public review [see photo above right]. The City had proposed transferring the 47 acres to Related Companies / Sterling Equities who had planned to build a 1.4 million square foot shopping mall next to Citifield.
The NY City Council and the billionaire former Mayor Bloomberg approved the project in October 2013, but the proposal never went to Albany for a vote. According to the Queens Tribune report one of the plaintiffs said that the Judge Manuel Mendez's ruling goes against the Public Trust Doctrine, ignores longstanding case law history, and bestows too much power that was formerly the purview of the Board of Estimate in one person: the NYC Mayor.
On Thursday, July 2nd, 2015, the four-judge Appellate Court overturned Judge Mendez's decision and ruled that the Willets West Mall Project was illegal because the land is a part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in spite of its current paved over status as a parking lot [see 2009 photo above].
And because it is a part of the public parkland of the people, it may not be turned over to the real estate developers without approval of the NY State Legislature. The judges rejected the ruling in favor of the mall development made by Judge Manuel Mendez, wherein Mendez sided with the wealthy real estate developers who argued that the 54 year old, 1961 law authorizing the construction of Shea Stadium, also included a mall.
The photo above shows the Citifield parking lot in 2009, as it was being paved over following the demolition of Shea Stadium which was authorized in 1961. The new Citifield stadium built to replace Shea, is smaller.
According to the Associated Press report, a spokesman for the real estate developers said that they would appeal the decision.
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