The owner of downtown land the Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency has targeted for eminent domain is vowing to fight the effort, his attorney said.
The quasi-municipal IDA is beginning eminent-domain proceedings on a 2,200-square-foot property that is part of the 2.8-acre Village Square, where Uniondale-based developer RXR Realty wants to build apartments, stores and a public plaza.
RXR is buying most of Village Square, now primarily fenced-off vacant office buildings. But the company has been unable to come to an agreement with All Island Real Estate Holdings LLC, owner of the smaller parcel, which includes the dermatology office of All Island’s principal, Dr. Joseph Onorato.
If the IDA gains control of Onorato’s property, the agency plans to sell it to RXR.
Onorato’s Garden City attorney, Saul Fenchel, said the IDA does not have the power to pursue eminent domain on the parcel for a private development unless it were part of a state-designated urban-renewal zone, which doesn’t appear to be the case.
Michael Zarin, a White Plains-based attorney for the IDA, said there’s no such requirement. The agency has a legal right to seek eminent domain because it serves “a public purpose,” he said.
“That’s one of the classic uses of eminent domain, where you try to revitalize an area and there’s one holdout and there’s no other way to go forward unless you use eminent domain,” he said.
RXR’s Frank Haftel said Onorato has never agreed to negotiate directly with RXR and, via designated representatives, has never accepted RXR’s multiple offers or made counteroffers.
RXR first offered a price 30 percent above the appraised market value of the property, Haftel said. Later, RXR offered to pay to relocate Onorato across the street, pay his rent there and then give him ownership of the same-sized space he currently has in the new Village Square development, Haftel said.
Fenchel said RXR never offered Onorato a price above market value. He said some variance of the other offer “may have been” made, but if it was, it was not detailed and in writing. Haftel said the offer was made via texts and emails.
The IDA also is seeking eminent domain over the Rason Asphalt plant across Glen Cove Creek from Garvies Point, a huge housing, parks and commercial development RXR is building. The plant, too, would be sold to RXR. The owner and management of the Rason plant did not return phone calls for comment.
Beyond the legal arguments, some residents oppose the IDA using eminent domain to obtain land for a developer. Amy Peters said the move would financially benefit RXR, not help residents.
“It’s immoral and unethical,” she said. “What’s to keep them from coming and taking my house?”