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ComEx plan survives community's lawsuit.

A New York State Supreme Court judge last week ruled in favor of the sponsors of the Commodities Exchange project planned for the TriBeCa section of Manhattan.

But even with all legal hurdles behind it, onlookers say circumstances, which include the possible purchase of the exchanges, make the three-building plan appear uncertain.

Slated for a site adjacent to Battery Park City, the facility will be the new home for four of the city's five commodities exchanges currently located at 4 World Trade Center.

Judge Robert D. Lippman dismissed the claims brought against New York State, New York City and the four commodities exchanges that will occupy the building by two community associations and four individuals.

The 12 assertions made by the complainants focused on whether or not the state's Urban Development Corporation and the city's Economic Development Corporation acted within the boundaries of their powers and if the approval process was carried out correctly.

According to Marc Chertok, Esq. of Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C., who along with the city's corporation counsel represented the project sponsors, the claims included:

* The UDC had not made a sufficient finding of "blight"

* The EDC was not within its rights to participate

* The state was violating the constitution by contributing funds to a project that did not have substantial public benefit

* Alternative sites in downtown Manhattan and the World Financial Center were not properly considered

* A detailed analysis of wind was not conducted

* The project would not preserve an entire industry for the city because the Mercantile Exchange has pulled out

* The State Environmental Quality Review and Uniform Land Use Review Procedure should be repeated because the project was reduced in size

The project was approved by the City Council last year. It is a significantly scaled-downversion of the original plan, which called for a single 1.2 million square-foot, 47-story tower. The change was made in response to community complaints and because the Mercantile Exchange seceded from the plan.

John Van Der Tuin, Esq. of Stults Balber Horton Slotnik, counsel for the community-based concerns, said the groups have not yet decided if they will appeal.

"There are certainly some issues ripe for appeal," he said.

Recent events, however, cast doubt on the major undertaking. Three or four competing bids - one from the Chicago Exchange and another from subsidiaries of the New York Stock Exchange - have been made for the purchase of the Commodities Exchanges. There are also proposals being floated by members of the real estate industry for a new New York Stock Exchange headquarters in lower Manhattan that would also accommodate the Commodities Exchange. In addition, The Mere, which had since found a new home in a building owned by Shearson Lehman on Greenwich Street, has been informed that Smith Barney Harris Upham & Co. will want the space for employees after they purchase Shearson.

But, Alan Hanson, spokesperson for the Commodities Exchanges, said they still expect to break ground in 1993 despite some questions surrounding project design and financing remain unanswered.
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Title Annotation:Commodities Exchange wins approval for real estate development project in New York, New York in New York State Supreme Court ruling
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 21, 1993
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