— City Files Motion In Federal Court, Setting Course For Eminent Domain Action Against North Side Eyesore —
(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — Mayor Jared M. Kraham on Thursday announced the City of Binghamton has taken legal action against the owners of the Binghamton Plaza on the North Side, beginning a process to gain control of the longtime eyesore at 33 W. State St.
Earlier Thursday, attorneys for the City of Binghamton filed a motion in federal court to allow the City to begin the process of acquiring the Binghamton Plaza through eminent domain. A copy of the motion filed by Harris Beach PLLC, the law firm representing the City of Binghamton, is attached.
“Enough is enough,” said Mayor Jared M. Kraham. “For decades, the Binghamton Plaza has continued to deteriorate with no plan and no action from the property owners. It has diminished quality of life for North Side families and hurt nearby small businesses. Residents deserve better. That’s why I’m directing attorneys for the City to take aggressive action on behalf of the public, starting the process of turning over control of the Plaza to the City. Under City ownership, the eyesore would be demolished, creating a shovel-ready site on the Chenango River, ripe with opportunities for economic development and revitalization on the North Side.”
In June 2019, the owners of the Binghamton Plaza filed for bankruptcy in federal court. The bankruptcy filing stated the owners owed more than $739,000 in property taxes. During the pendency of the bankruptcy, the amount was recalculated pursuant to assessment litigation and reduced to approximately $400,000.
Under U.S. bankruptcy law, an automatic stay taking effect at the time of a bankruptcy filing temporarily prevents creditors, collection agencies, government entities and others from collecting from the debtor.
The motion filed Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on behalf of the City asks the court to grant an exception to the stay, citing “the deplorable conditions of the building” and “the serious risk posed to the safety, health and general welfare of the public.” If granted, the motion will allow the City to begin the process of acquiring the Plaza through eminent domain.
“The bankruptcy case has been pending with little or no progress for nearly three years,” said Lee Woodard, Partner at Harris Beach PLLC. “This motion is the legal vehicle that requests the Court to order the automatic stay imposed by the bankruptcy to be lifted to allow the City to move forward under eminent domain law. There are a number of valid grounds for the request, which are spelled out in the motion, and we remain optimistic that the Court will grant our request.”
The court is expected to return a decision on Thursday’s motion this summer.
“The Mayor’s action demonstrates a commitment to crafting a brighter future for this site and most importantly for the North Side,” said Stacey Duncan, Executive Director of The Agency / Broome County IDA. “I’m confident that this site can be transformed into something to serve the community and recognize the beauty of the riverfront.”
The Binghamton Plaza is owned by Binghamton Plaza Inc., of Wayne, New Jersey. The Plaza opened in the early 1960s.