Suit Challenges Public Benefits of E. Harlem Development

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A group of property owners is challenging the city's right to take their properties for a housing and retail complex on East 125th Street in Manhattan. The East Harlem Media Entertainment and Cultural Center is supposed to be a 1.7 million square foot complex, spread over two city blocks. WNYC's Matthew Schuerman has more.

REPORTER: The owners filed suit in state Appellate Court this month saying the public benefits of the project are dubious since it will be built by a private developer.

They also contend the development group is financially unstable because one of its partners, General Growth Properties, filed for bankruptcy. In fact, a General Growth spokesman told WNYC that the company has dropped out of the project.

But Stephen Hayes of the Carey Group, which is acting as project manager, says the other partners are moving ahead. He says they'll either find a replacement or do the retail development themselves. He says they still plan to build 600 apartments for moderate and middle income families as part of the complex. The city's Law Department refused to comment on the lawsuit. For WNYC, I'm Matthew Schuerman.