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"Air rights" lawsuit latest block to Nets new Brooklyn home, ownership change

May 5, 2010, 1:11 PM EDT

Freddy Krueger is back. So is another lawsuit to block the plans for the Atlantic Yards development that will be the new home of the Nets in Brooklyn.

Both will not die. And both are only back because of the money.

The New York Daily News has your details on maybe the most frivolous lawsuit since “my hot coffee is too hot.”

Peter Williams insists he still owns the air rights over a Sixth Ave. lot – and says the state forgot to condemn it when they used eminent domain to seize the rest of the site.

He sued the state Tuesday, charging the Empire State Development Corp. is trying to “steal” his property and “intends to proceed as if it owns property it plainly does not…

He was one of a group of home and business owners who fought all the way to the state’s highest court to stop eminent domain seizures for the new Barclays Center arena and 16-tower project, and lost. The state took possession of the Sixth Ave. building where Williams’ grown children lived on March 1 – but never filed to condemn the air rights he owns over the former condo building next door.

So, he no longer owns the ground and building but he still owns the air over them? Really? Apparently this is some kind of normal thing, but I come back to: Really? Air rights? This is going to hold up the project after the State Supreme Court shot down his last lawsuit? Really?

The money quote from Williams is, “I have something of value that they’re not paying me for.”

It’s about getting more money. It is always about the money. Always.

Until this is settled, Williams can’t claim “vacant possession” of the land, which has to happen before the sale of the Nets to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov can be finalized. And the Nets continue to live in limbo.

  1. Mo - May 5, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Of course it’s about the money. Last I checked the Atlantic Yards wasn’t being built as a homeless shelter, an orphanage or a water treatment plant. So it’s about the money for the Nets too. Eminent domain is a tool that should be used rarely and judiciously. It’s one thing to do it for a public utility or roads. It’s an entirely different, unjust thing to use it for a development for a billionaire.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge basketball fan and a resident of New York City. I’d love for the Nets to move to Brooklyn, but only to willing sellers.

  2. roofus - May 5, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    I guess you don’t live in NY. This kind of stuff is standard crap for any real estate situation here. The NY real estate laws are a total pain in the ass. Air rights are the reason I have windows on only one side of my apartment.

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