The lawyer for the Niagara Venture companies said he filed two legal actions against the city Thursday related to the Urban Renewal Agency's leasing of a downtown property this week to the Jefferson Apartments for parking.
John P. Bartolomei said he filed the two actions in State Supreme Court. He said one asks the court to order the city to turn over the property, which was part of a 1982 agreement between the city and Lehr's Greenhouse Restaurant of New York. Bartolomei contends the rights now belong to companies he represents, which are the successors or assignees of Lehr.
He said that he has asked that the title to the property be conveyed at least 10 times for a hotel development but that the city has not complied.
"This is a response to they're not delivering title after my last request in an Aug. 21, 2000, letter to (Corporation Counsel Ronald D.) Anton," Bartolomei said.
In a Nov. 30 letter to then-Acting Corporation Counsel Timothy G. Bax, Bartolomei threatened to file the lawsuit and another seeking to set aside the transfers of the Niagara Splash water park to Niagara Falls Redevelopment and Falls Street Station to a company owned by James Williams for the development of the Teletech Call Center. The letter said the transfers were "fraudulently induced." Falls Street Station and the water park were developed by companies Bartolomei represents and is a principal in.
Bartolomei wrote that the acknowledgement of development rights over the disputed parcel was promised to him under the administration of former Mayor James C. Galie as an inducement to transfer Falls Street Station and settle the splash park litigation.
Bartolomei contends the 296-foot-by-132-foot property is part of the parcel his companies bought and developed as Falls Street Faire, not an adjacent parcel that was reserved for parking under the city's urban renewal plan.
Bartolomei said the suit requests $25,000 in legal fees.
He said the second action filed Thursday is a notice of pendency, which "puts the world on notice" that the property is in dispute.
Deciding that the time had come when Bartolomei's claims were interfering with downtown development, the Urban Renewal Agency on Monday voted to seek a declaratory judgment to have the claims overturned.