Utica can use eminent domain against developer

The nearly three-year-long tug of war over a downtown Utica building and property is over, decided by a panel of Appelate Court judges in Rochester.

Posted: Jan 6, 2021 5:50 PM
Updated: Jan 7, 2021 3:28 PM

UTICA, N.Y. -- The nearly three-year-long tug of war over a downtown Utica building and property is over, decided by a panel of Appellate Court judges in Rochester.

"So now they have the ability to move forward with eminent domain where they would take it from us," said Developer, Vincent Bailey, who owned 20% of the former Northland building, on Court Street.

The city owns the other 80% of the building. Bailey is mystified as to how the city is being allowed to move forward with eminent domain proceedings to take his share of the property.

"They really don't have a defined public purpose at all that they've disclosed to anyone for the property or project. Public domain is meant for public benefit or use and I don't know of any public benefit or use that will be coming out of this," said Bailey.

The city doesn't have a specific purpose, plan or buyer for the building.

"If we don't need it for a public use and it goes to the urban renewal, then we'll look at the best possible business plan that will be achieveable for the the city and the residents of Utica," says Mayor Robert Palmieri.

The city has argued that they can't market the property if they don't own all of it, and the mayor says the longer it sits vacant, the more it deteriorates, costing the city money.

"We have over $100,000 in taxpayer money invested to maintain it, to heat it, to light it, to repair any of the plumbing that has gone over the winters," said Palmieri.

Before the holidays, Bailey called the city's Commissioner of Urban and Economic Development and made a last-ditch effort to persuade the city to sell its share of the former Northland property to him.

"I called Brian Thomas up right before Christmas and asked him, I said, by some kind of Christmas miracle, is the city interested in selling me their property anymore? He didn't really have much to say."

Bailey can appeal further, but instead is choosing to end the costly, nearly three-year legal battle.

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