NY Daily News reports that New York City is using eminent domain to take an East Harlem businessman to the cleaners.
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Damon Bae, whose family success story embodies the American Dream, is about to lose the shirt off his back — after a 12-year battle with the city for control of his dry cleaning enterprise.
Fancy Cleaners, a 6,000-square-foot facility at the corner of 126th St. and Third Ave., was supposed to be the cornerstone of a family empire built by a Korean couple who came to the U.S. in 1981, bringing their tailoring skills with them along with two young children and endless ambition.
But an eminent domain claim filed by the city in 2008 and enforced — after years of legal challenges — in March 2017 means Bae’s family no longer owns its premier property.
Now Fancy Cleaners has nowhere to go, and the whole enterprise will likely shutter, said Bae, 42, who runs the business created through decades of hard work by his immigrant parents.
“The city has offered my family about 30 cents on the dollar on the market value for what our three lots are worth — that’s not enough to buy anything comparable in East Harlem today,” Bae said. “The city’s working so hard to meet the developer’s timeline; meanwhile, we’re trying to stay in business.”
The city said it would pay the Bae family $3.5 million for the lot holding Fancy Cleaners when it took the property title through eminent domain in the spring, Bae said.
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