NYC To Use Eminent Domain For Next Phase of 2nd Avenue Subway

by: Allan Zhang
4 May 2023

Is New York's Second Avenue Subway a Failure? | City Journal

Here is some eminent domain news from across the Hudson River regarding one of the costliest railroad expansion projects per mile in the history of the world. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”) has begun the eminent domain process for its second phase of the long awaited Second Avenue Subway. At the April 26, 2023, the MTA approved the acquisition of additional property in support of the subway line.

The plans for the Second Avenue Subway were first introduced in in 1920 and work began in the 1970s before stalling. Work restarted in 2007 with Phase One being completed in 2017. The fully completed line would span 8.5 miles from Harlem to Lower Manhattan and contain sixteen new subway stations. The projected cost is $17.7 billion dollars.

Now entering the second phase, the MTA has determined it needs nine properties in East Harlem to construct a “launch box” in order to begin digging new tunnels. Phase Two includes three new subway stations and would extend the Q line from 96th Street to 125th Street. The new stations will be 106th Street, 116th Street and a new lower level at the existing 125th Street station. It is expected that the MTA will acquire at least eighteen East Harlem properties before the project is completed as well as dozens of temporary easements. It is not only residential properties being taken, a church as well as a laundromat are also in line to be taken by the MTA.

The taking of one of the properties, located at the corner of Lexington and 125th Street, amounted to the single most expensive real estate deal for the Second Avenue Subway project (thus far).  The MTA initially appraised Lot 20 for $45.4M. The property owner counter-offered at $114M. The sides ultimately agreed on an $82M settlement.

Attorneys for the MTA stated “The new line will make the neighborhoods of the East Side more accessible not only to those who live there, but to visitors and workers traveling from other parts of New York City as well.” If history is any indication, it is unclear when the Second Avenue Subway line will be fully completed, however, what is known is that the MTA is not afraid to utilize the awesome power of eminent domain to acquire the properties it deems necessary to the project, thereby disrupting existing businesses and involuntarily acquiring private property. This is certainly a “to be continued story.” Stay tuned.

To view the recently filed petition and other court documents please click here.