After losing the court battle to take over the Levine family’s property in South Paterson for a parking garage project, the Paterson Parking Authority has paid them $41,768, according to public records.
Paterson Parking Authority was ordered by a judge to pay the Levine family’s legal expenses incurred in defending themselves against eminent domain action. Officials approved the payment to the Levine family’s attorneys — McKirdy, Riskin, Olson & DellaPelle – in October 2020.
“We had to take a shot. This project was very important to South Paterson. That whole area was going to benefit significantly from the parking deck,” said Tony Perez, director for the Paterson Parking Authority.
“It was just a frivolous lawsuit to hurt a business in Paterson,” said Theodore Levine. The Levine family has been doing business from the location for 144 years.
The Paterson Parking Authority spent $72,000 on the case in 2019. Perez said the appeal that followed was done pro bono.
Perez did not provide an updated figure of the total amount the agency sank into the fight.
“It’s a lot more than 100 grands,” said Levine. He said the agency likely spent as much as $250,000 in legal expenses, engineers, architects, consultants, and other professionals from the beginning to the end of the battle to seize his family’s property.
Perez is underreporting the amount of public money the agency spent in the fight, said Levine.
Perez negotiated with the Levine family. He even made them an offer that was far more than the fair market value of the property, he said. At the heart of the dispute is the three-acre site owned by Levine Industries at the corner of Courtland and Levine Street.
Perez said the $50 million parking deck project was greatly needed to increase parking spaces in a booming part of Paterson. That project is now dead. Tax credits that were intended for that project have been reallocated to others.
“I never close the door on a project, I never close the door on a deal. If he has any intention of selling, we expect them to call us and let us know,” said Perez.
“Right now, it’s not for sale,” said Levine.
Perez said that’s the end of the court battle. He said he has no intention of filing further appeals in the case.
Levine said he was glad the battle has ended.
“It’s a shame. I didn’t think Paterson would treat us that way,” said Levine.
Email: [email protected]