ESDC sent a letter dated March 4 to Freddy's Bar on Dean Street and other property owners informing them they are required to relocate within 30 days. Confusing matters however, the letter goes on to ask property owners to also continue making rent payments- to their new landlord, ESDC- “commencing April 1,” according to a copy of the relocation notice letter obtained by the Star.
So what should property holders do- continue paying rent or relocate?
Elizabeth Mitchell, an ESDC spokesperson, explained that recalcitrant property owners will likely do both, at least for a brief period, because “ESDC cannot compel occupants to vacate. Only the court can do that.”
If property owners ignore the April 3 deadline- which several, including Freddy's Bar and Daniel Goldstein, plan to do- in order to evict them the state would have to return to court to ask for writs of assistance authorizing law enforcement officials to enforce the evictions.
That process will take time, Mitchell said. The writs are issued on a case-by-case basis. Also, once they're approved, property owners are extended another deadline to relocate before authorities show up to seize their land once and for all.
So as this scenario plays out into April, past the first relocation deadline, property owners who choose to fight eviction by the state must also start paying the state rent (for land the state owns anyway).
Goldstein dismissed the ESDC letter as “meaningless” and said he would not leave his Yards apartment until a court orders him out. After a long fight that saw him rise to prominence as a leading opponent of developer Bruce Ratner's plans to build an arena and housing at Atlantic Yards, he seemed to admit a somewhat muddled end is near.
“I need to find somewhere to live but I don't when I have to do that,” he said on the day of the Atlantic Yards groundbreaking.
Steve de Seve, who in recent months has assumed the role of spokesman for Freddy's, a neighborhood focal point for Atlantic Yards critics, said the bar has developed a defensive strategy. Organizers plan to assemble so many people at the bar the day police show up to shut it, they won't possibly be able to arrest them all. He estimated Freddy's needs roughly 6,000 volunteers.
Efforts are already underway to recruit eminent domain opponents from cities around the country who wish to rally to the cause. De Seve said he would risk going to jail over the matter. “Its going to be a big standoff,” he said.