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Binghamton asks court for permission to condemn, take possession of 'derelict' plaza

The City of Binghamton filed a motion asking a judge to allow it to condemn and take possession of the Binghamton Plaza complex on the city’s North Side Thursday.

The 1960s-era shopping center has been in disrepair for a number of years; one of the city’s more noticeable eyesores given its visible location on the Chenango River Walk, across from the I-86 exit into the city’s North Side.

The New Jersey-based property owners filed for bankruptcy in 2019. But Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham said those proceedings haven’t moved fast enough and the owners have been uncooperative with the city.

"The plans that they're offering out of Wayne, New Jersey are nothing more than plans,” Kraham told reporters in a press conference in the plaza’s parking lot Thursday. “They never had an intent to upgrade this plaza. Talks of veteran housing, talks of a mixed-use complex, it's never going to happen and it never was going to happen."

The city is asking the judge overseeing the bankruptcy process to terminate a stay preventing the city from condemning and taking control of the property through eminent domain.

From there, Kraham said the city would likely demolish the plaza and the adjoining property area before taking public input on a plan to redevelop the land moving forward.

“I won't accept that the North Side in the City of Binghamton will be defined by defunct storefronts in a derelict plaza,” Kraham said. “This is a relic of the 1960s and it needs to come down and it needs to come down soon."

Kraham said the property was formerly a dump and has significant environmental problems that could limit some future uses, like building housing.

A lawyer for the plaza’s owners did not respond to a request for comment.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.