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Tribeca groups sue to stop ComEx plan.

A number of community groups are suing to stop the development of the new headquarters for the commodities exchanges in the Tribeca section of lower Manhattan.

The suit was filed by the Tribeca Community Association, Inc., the Washington Market Community Park, Inc. and several residents against the New York State Urban Development Corporation, the City of New York, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Coffee, Sugar, & Cocoa Exchange, Inc., the Commodity Exchanges, Inc. and the New York Cotton Exchange, Inc.

The groups charge that the project was a "for-ordained" conclusion that got pushed through without complying with the normal approval process and other restrictions, said John T. Van Der Tuin, Esq. of Stults Balber Horton & Slotnik, attorneys for the plaintiffs.

"The agencies put such a high price on retaining the exchanges at whatever cost," Van Der Tuin said.

To be built with the help of state and city subsidies, the three-building plan is proposed for Site 5B of the Washington Street Urban Renewal Area, a two-acre parcel adjacent to Battery Park City. The current scheme is a scaled-down version drafted after the Mercantile Exchange, Inc. withdrew from the plan in January. The original plan was a single 1.2 million-square-foot, 47-story development.

Specifically, Van Der Tuin said, the suit asserts, among other things, that the state's policy has always been not to become involved in a private project unless the area is deemed "blighted or unsanitary." This is not the case he said.

In addition, he said, since the project is now at one-third its original size, alternate sites should be considered, such as available space in 4 World Trade Center.

The plaintiffs also claim the buildings have not gone through the public review process required by the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) or the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).

Also, he said, it is against the state's constitution to give cash grants to private developments.

"The subsidies here are a jump beyond the usual tax exemptions, cheap power and cheap financing," he said, "In addition to that, they are giving them cash."

Catie Marshall, spokesperson for the city's Economic Development Corporation, said she could not discuss matters of litigation, but she said "We are confident we will prevail."
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Title Annotation:Tribeca neighborhood in New York, New York; planned new headquarters for commodities exchanges
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 5, 1992
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