Eliot Spitzer, the former New York Governor, owns a luxury high-rise in Manhattan, on Fifth Avenue at 79th Street. An adjacent 350-square-foot ditch has become the focus of a dispute between Spitzer and another property owner. The other property owner claims to have been using the ditch, commonly referred to as “The Pit,” to store materials for more than 30 years.
Spitzer has plans to replace his current high-rise with an even more luxurious structure. He says that not having use of The Pit will cause project delays and will also increase his costs on the new building development. The property owner who has been using The Pit for decades has filed an adverse possession lawsuit.
“Use it or lose it” comes into play where real estate is concerned
Adverse possession means that someone has possession of a property that another party is entitled to possess. In this case, the property owner who has used The Pit to store building materials for years claims that his open, uncontested use of the land for so many years entitles him to claim possession of it. Spitzer says he was merely being a good neighbor when he allowed the property owner to use the space to store materials.
Adverse possession lawsuits are rare in Manhattan
This type of legal claim is not an everyday occurrence in an area filled with luxury high-rise buildings. Adverse possession claims typically occur in rural areas where there tends to be more open land than in New York City, where there are more buildings than land. It will now be left to a court to determine what will happen to the 350-square-foot space of land that a former governor and neighboring property owner both now claim entitlement.