Saturday, June 13, 2009

Developers and homeowners compete at Aqueduct auction

From the Daily News:

The struggling New York Racing Association will get a much-needed cash infusion after it auctioned off more than 325,000 square feet of land near Aqueduct Racetrack this week.

The auction, which took place Wednesday afternoon at the race track, was filled with developers as well as residents who have lived next to the vacant land for years.

Carlos and Grace Benitez were among the lucky ones. They successfully bid on a 48-by-125-foot lot next to their home for $120,000.

"We've been taking care of that property for years," said Carlos Benitez, 59. "I've been mowing it and we planted shrubs."

He and his neighbor, who bid on the adjoining lot, are thinking of fencing off the area for their pets.

"It's not going to be developed any more than it is now," he said.

"I'm going to dance tonight," said a relieved Grace Benitez.

It's likely that some of the larger lots were snapped up by developers. The current zoning allows for two-family homes there.

Rosemary and Frank DeBartolo were disappointed they couldn't buy a portion of the 6,000-square-foot lot next to the home they have lived in since 1964.

That lot, offered as one parcel, went for $250,000 during the first round of bidding.

"I mowed the grass. I fenced it in so no one would dump there," said Frank DeBartolo, 75.

"There are a lot of older people who have lived here a long time who couldn't get the land next to their homes. The whole process wasn't fair," DeBartolo said.

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