By the 1970s, Times Square had become synonymous with crime and urban decay. Prostitutes, petty criminals, and not-so-petty criminals prowled the neglected neighborhood.
Times Square area is very valuable real estate and has symbolic value for the city of New York. NYC’s political and economic elite sought to transform the area from loss to profit.
The Players Political and Economic Elites: Real estate developers Large corporations (Disney) The Mayor and City Hall Local politicians Governor of New York State New York judiciary (The courts) Interested Groups: Times Square community groups Times Square business owners Trial lawyers Residents of nearby neighborhoods (Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen)
The political and economic elite’s plan was to clear away all lawsuits over development plans and use the government’s right of eminent domain to seize the land they want to develop. Eminent Domain: The right of a government to appropriate private property for public use, usually with compensation to the owner.
"Times Square really was the poster child for a seedy, dangerous, unattractive, porno-laced place ... Because of eminent domain and some forward-looking people in this city, they turned it into a place where 24 hours a day you're safe on the street." -- Mayor Bloomberg May 3, 2006