As Trump well knows, New York has one of the most expansive eminent domain laws in the country, and has condemned property as “blighted” for fairly flimsy reasons.
“The statutory language is so elastic, you can fit almost anything into it,” says Jeffrey Rowes, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. (The institute often represents property owners in eminent domain actions, including an Atlantic City woman who fought efforts to turn her home into a limousine parking lot for Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.)
The city doesn’t need to prove that Trump Tower is derelict to declare it “blighted”; the mere fact that it’s hindering traffic, impeding commerce and draining the public fisc could be sufficient. Then officials just need to find some alternate use for the property — perhaps a Hamilton memorial? — that they could reasonably believe better serves the city’s interests.
Of course, the city would have to pay Trump the fair-market value of the property, about $471 million.