City Set to Seize Abolitionst Homes, then commemorate them
City Seeks Developer for Downtown Park, Garage
Eminent Domain Ruling on Alleged Underground Railroad Homes to Follow
by Sarah Ryley ([email protected])
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
published online 08-16-2007
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The city officially began seeking a developer for the “Willoughby Square” park and underground garage on Monday, the same day Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $2 million project to commemorate abolitionist activity in Downtown Brooklyn.
Next week, the Department of Housing and Preservation is scheduled to issue its ruling on eminent domain proceedings involving homes in the footprint of the proposed park and underground garage, some which were allegedly safe houses for fugitive slaves along the Underground Railroad. The request for proposals notes that the city does not currently own the one-acre site, but anticipates that it will acquire the properties at its own expense prior to the selection of the developer.
The one-acre park would sit atop a public parking garage with 694 spaces, which would also service a boutique hotel under construction across the street and the proposed Albee Square development. Community Board 2 District Manager Robert Perris said he thinks the three events are correlated. “It’s all coming to a head at the same time,” he said.