Binghamton City Council to vote on eminent domain of Binghamton plaza next week
The city of Binghamton is set to take another step in acquiring Binghamton Plaza through eminent domain next week, with a vote heading towards city council.
Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham said if the council votes to approve the eminent domain takeover during its business meeting next Wednesday, it will open a 30-day window for an appeal by the complex’s current owner, Galesi Realty. Kraham said the city plans to help businesses still using the plaza transition out of the space in the short term.
"It's working with the businesses that are there to find them a new location," Kraham said. "It's not like we get the keys on a Monday and by Friday the building's down. That's certainly not the case."
The plaza had been home to a Kmart and a number of other small businesses, but has been largely vacated and left dilapidated over the past decade.
The Binghamton Plaza’s owners had been protected from an eminent domain proceeding as they filed for bankruptcy. That changed last year, when lawyers for the city convinced a judge to toss out the bankruptcy case, opening the door for the city to take over the property.
At a hearing over the plaza’s eminent domain proceeding earlier this year, Mark McNamara, an attorney representing the owners, tried to dispel the characterization that the property is indeed derelict.
"The city has repeatedly characterized the Binghamton Plaza as derelict, near-vacant and underutilized while accusing the owner of essentially doing nothing at the plaza for 30 years,” McNamara said during the hearing. “These characterizations paint, respectfully, an incomplete picture."
Kraham said in the long term, the city plans to use some of the parcel for new commercial development and green space.
"It's increased public access to the waterfront, increased park space from nearby Cheri Lindsey Park which is there, as well as new commercial development closer to the West State Street corridor,” Kraham said. “What that commercial development looks like, I'm not sure as of right now. Certainly, it would have to go through the planning process in order to make it happen.”