Developer Steve Billings of TYC Realty filed plans last month to construct a four-story apartment building on the site of Crown Heights' beloved Roger That Community Garden, which would normally represent the death knell for most any community garden. However, the volunteers who run this particular garden seem to think they still have a fighting chance. And perhaps they do, because the developer, to be quite frank, seems pretty shady. A Gothamist article today lays out the gardeners case against Billings, which centers on the fact that he claims to have tracked down the site's owner (or the owner's daughter, according to other previous reports) and somehow convinced him/her to sign over the lease for $10.
Recently, TYC has moved to evict the garden by claiming that it served the gardeners with a notice demanding they vacate back in April, despite having the paperwork that lists the gardeners as "John and Jane Doe" with no known address. The gardeners, of course, claim to have never received any such notice. TYC previously attempted to lock the gardeners out in April, but was rebuffed because it had not formally moved to evict. The gardeners claim that TYC has been evasive and reluctant to meet with city officials, avoiding having to answer such questions as, in the words of one, "How did you get this property? Are you sure you got it legally? Because you're not acting like someone who did." And then there's this:
[T]he gardeners said they had scheduled a meeting with TYC, the Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust, and Councilman Robert Cornegy, but when everyone convened the day of the meeting, TYC didn't show, and when called, they said they couldn't make it because their lawyer was on a cruise. TYC's lawyer Kevin Spikes, presumably the same one, back from his cruise, spoke to Gothamist on the phone and told them, "It sounds like based on the questions you're asking maybe you know somebody there, maybe someone there is a friend of yours." Then he hung up.
· Developer Claims It Bought Crown Heights Community Garden Property For $10 [Gothamist]
· Roger That Community Garden coverage [Curbed]