City to pay $9 million for Queens waterfront property

Court rejected City’s lower valuation. As part of its plan to develop a waterfront park, the City in 1996 condemned waterfront property in College Point, Queens owned by Malba Cove Properties, Inc. A majority of Malba’s property is underwater and the remainder is constrained by several mapped, but unbuilt streets.

At the trial to determine the property’s value, the City submitted an appraisal estimating the total value at $890,000. Malba’s appraisal found it to be $9.8 million if developed for single-family housing and $10.4 million for multi-family development.

Malba’s zoning experts testified that the total area of the property that could be developed was between 77,000 and 105,000 sq.ft., depending on the type of housing built and the potential to demap the unbuilt streets. The City viewed the developable area as 36,018 sq.ft. The difference between the estimates reflected the parties’ conflicting interpretations of the City’s zoning and waterfront regulations. Malba claimed that the required yard space could be measured from the high water line while the City said it should be measured from an alleged man-made erosion wall on the property. Malba added that the City submitted lower property value comparables since none of its comparables were on the waterfront and three were in Far Rockaway. Finally, Malba objected to the City’s characterization of the property as being located in College Point; it claimed it was located in the upscale waterfront neighborhood of Malba, Queens.

Justice Abraham G. Gerges determined the value to be $9 million and ruled that the City failed to prove the existence of the manmade erosion wall. Malba correctly measured the developable lot area from the high water line. Judge Gerges found both parties’ comparables for multi-family housing to be inapplicable and based his final conclusion on Malba’s single-family housing comparables.

In re Powell’s Cove Environmental Waterfront Park, 2007 N.Y. Slip Op.50267(U) (QueensCty.Sup.Ct. Feb. 15, 2007) (Gerges, J.).


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