18 N.Y.2d 250 (1966)

In the Matter of the Port of New York Authority, Respondent, Relative to Acquiring Title to Real Property in the County of New York for World Trade Center Purposes. 62 Cortlandt Street Realty Co., Inc., et al., Appellants.

Court of Appeals of the State of New York.

Decided July 7, 1966.

Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

Milton Pollack and Samuel N. Greenspoon for 62 Cortlandt Street Realty Co., Inc., and others, appellants.

Stanley Geller for Sarah McInnes and others, appellants.

Daniel B. Goldberg, Sidney Goldstein, Patrick J. Falvey and Joseph Lesser for respondent.

Chief Judge DESMOND and Judges FULD, BURKE, SCILEPPI, BERGAN and KEATING concur in Per Curiam opinion; Judge VAN VOORHIS dissents and votes to reverse in a separate opinion.

Per Curiam.

A condemnation proceeding brought pursuant to the Port Development Project Law (L. 1962, ch. 209; Laws of N. J., 1962, ch. 8) was approved in this court in the case of Courtesy Sandwich Shop v. Port of N. Y. Auth. (12 N.Y.2d 379 [1963]). The statute under which the Authority brought this proceeding was found to be constitutional because there was no showing at that time that the Authority was deviating from the authorized purposes mandated by the statute's terms. The appellants in this condemnation proceeding contend that the steps which the Authority has taken to implement the provisions of the statute to bring the trade center into reality deviated from the concept and authorized purposes set out in the statute.

There is no evidence in the record which indicates that the purposes or the provisions under which the Authority was given full discretionary power as to how best carry out the project to its successful fruition are being subverted by the Authority.

The operations and subsequent proposals of the Authority since the decision of the Courtesy case (supra) are consistent with the primary purposes mandated by the legislation under which it has acted.

In the Courtesy case the court had before it a preliminary schedule of space allocations. The schedule indicated that the project was planned so as to satisfy the constitutional interpretation which we assigned to it in accordance with the definition in the statute. That schedule does not differ substantially from the plan before us in this case which sets out the allocation of space in the present planned project.

An analysis of the record points to the single conclusion that the project which is under way under the direction of the Authority is fully authorized by the statute and that the real property being condemned in the present proceedings is being taken for an authorized public purpose. The World Trade tenants will include customs brokers, freight forwarders, carriers, banks, insurers and similar services; customs and other governmental services and offices; World Trade information and promotion services; Commodity Exchange and export-import exhibit and offices. These tenants will occupy a total of 5,910,000 square feet of space. The State of New York and Port Authority offices will take up 2,345,000 square feet of space and the remainder of the space, 1,895,000 square feet, is devoted to the service facilities, such as parking and storage areas, hotels and meeting room facilities, restaurants, newsstands, bank branches and other facilities to either serve the business and commercial needs of the firms that locate in the center themselves, or to serve the needs of the people who will be working for the tenants. The letters of intent of the prospective tenants for space as World Trade Center tenants satisfy the requirements of the statute. The eligibility of the occupancy by the State of New York and the Authority itself is specifically covered by section 2 which makes a distinction between governmental services related to the World Trade functions, activities and services and other governmental services. Furthermore, agreements between the Authority and the States of New York and New Jersey are specifically authorized under the statute. Section 7 gives the Authority power to make such agreements, and under section 8 the corresponding power is given to the States. The tenancy of the State of New York appears to be fully within the contemplation of the Legislatures as an accommodation of other governmental services set out in the statute; and the housing of the Port Authority, a bi-State governmental agency, also qualifies under this category. The Port Authority should also be considered eligible on the ground that the Port Authority is itself engaged in a World Trade function in that it maintains the Port of New York and has a very substantial role to play in ensuring an improvement in World Trade in the Port of New York which embraces a region in which New Jersey and New York have a major interest. Approximately two thirds of the space within the center is planned for the use of tenants directly involved in World Trade purposes; approximately one sixth is allocated to space devoted to governmental tenants and the remainder, approximately one sixth, to be used for support and service purposes. The service facilities are very much a part of a well-planned World Trade facility which the statute has authorized, and there is no doubt that it is within the Authority's authority in carrying out the directives of the statute that this trade center be established.

Allegations that the plan is doomed to failure were raised in the Courtesy case (supra) and we there rejected them. They have no greater merit at this time. The Authority has been delegated a task by the Legislatures. Its methods are not reviewable in a court of law as to whether or not they will ultimately succeed. (City of Mount Vernon v. East Hudson Parkway Auth., 45 Misc.2d 471 [Sup. Ct., Westchester County, 1965], affd. 23 A.D.2d 849 [2d Dept., 1965], mot. for lv. to app. den. 16 N.Y.2d 483 [1965]; see, also, L. 1962, ch. 209; Laws of N. J., 1962, ch. 8.) The question raised concerning the Authority's ultimate success or failure is mere speculation and is no more than a challenge to the efficacy of the project itself. These, as well as all the other contentions made, do not raise any factual or justiciable issues.

Special Term properly granted summary judgment on the Authority's motion. Here the answers to interrogatories filed in the earlier action have been made a part of the record before the court. The standards of summary judgment applied to actions should also be applied by the court to proceedings governed by CPLR 409 (subd. [b]). These standards were properly applied by the Judge at Special Term, and, since there are no substantial questions of fact in the case, he correctly granted summary judgment for the Authority on the merits of the legal questions.

The order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed, with costs, and the certified question answered in the affirmative.

VAN VOORHIS, J. (dissenting).

In upholding the constitutionality of chapter 209 of the Laws of 1962, together with concurrent New Jersey legislation (Laws of N. J., 1962, ch. 8), in Courtesy Sandwich Shop v. Port of N. Y. Auth. (12 N.Y.2d 379, 391) this court said: "As to the fears expressed by the respondents that the Port Authority may illegally seize a particular piece of property for an unauthorized nonpublic use, it is sufficient to say that the condemnation procedures prescribed by statute fully protect the respondents and others in like position against any taking for nonpublic purposes in violation of the Port Development Project Law."

Appellants are now here to put that statement to the test. Unless the powers of the Port of New York Authority regarding this project are virtually absolute, so that whatever is done is beyond court review, appellants are, in my opinion, entitled to a trial of the issue concerning whether what the Port Authority is doing in implementation of the World Trade Center does actually relate to the centralization of world trade in this area in New York City. Only if the project is being developed to that end is it constitutional as serving a public purpose under the holding in the Courtesy Sandwich Shop case. The Authority recognizes that 1,900,000 square feet of the 10,150,000 projected square feet of rentable area is to be rented to the State of New York, and the attorney for the Authority conceded on the argument that "The majority, the preponderance of the State of New York's functions are not related to world trade." Neither, it would seem, are the activities of the savings bank or schools proposed to be located in the area as tenants. The standards of eligibility of the Authority are so vague and indefinite that there is hardly a single business in the City of New York which is not eligible for tenancy. It is confidently asserted by appellants that upon a trial they can establish that of the approximately 372 proposed tenants not over 103 have real relation to the World Trade functions.

Deposition discovery proceedings were commenced in the declaratory judgment suit 25 Broad St. Realty Assoc. v. Port of N. Y. Auth. brought in 1964, but these proceedings were pending and incompleted at the time when the condemnation suit was commenced by the Authority which is now before us. Material areas of information were blocked by objections during the depositions of the Authority's witness, and the Authority contended that declarations on the pertinent issues were privileged and refused disclosure of documents and barred oral testimony by informed Authority personnel bearing upon the issues which appellants seek to try but are precluded from trying by the summary judgment now under review. These circumstances alone demonstrate that appellants are entitled to a trial in order to elicit fully the material facts bearing upon whether these property owners in the project area are being ejected, in violation of the Courtesy Sandwich Shop decision, from nonslum locations which they have occupied for years, without recompense for loss of good will and with the prospect that at least one out of four will be forced permanently out of business (see Martin Anderson, The Federal Bulldozer, p. 69; Kinnard and Malinowski, The Impact of Dislocation from Urban Renewal Areas on Small Business, prepared by the University of Connecticut under a grant from the Small Business Administration, July, 1960, pp. 2, 3; Study of Compensation and Assistance for Persons Affected by Real Property Acquisition in Federal and Federally Assisted Programs, printed for use of the House Committee on Public Works, 1965, Committee Print No. 31, p. 29, which says 35.3%).

Not only are the property owners affected in the project area, but the affirmative defenses allege, supported by affidavits adequate to warrant denial of summary judgment, that the Authority's contemplated project is a huge real estate development, primarily devoted to the production of revenue which only incidentally will house World Trade functions and that the Authority is unlawfully competing with private enterprise through the utilization of its claimed tax immunities for tenants not engaged in World Trade functions.

The order appealed from should be reversed and petitioner's motion for summary judgment should be denied.

Order affirmed, etc.


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