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Brokaw v. Fairchild

Supreme Court of New York
135 Misc. 70, 237 N.Y.S. 6 (1929)



In 1886, Isaac V. Brokaw (testator) purchased a plot of land in New York City, located across the street from Central Park. The testator built a three-story residence on one corner of his land. The residence is suitable as a private single-family residence only. In 1913, the testator passed away, leaving a life estate in the residence to four remaindermen, who were to hold the property successively. The first remainderman, Brokaw (plaintiff), took possession that year. Since then, the character of the neighborhood surrounding the residence changed so that fewer and fewer private residences remained in the area. Brokaw attempted to rent the residence but found there was no market for rental of private residences. Brokaw eventually made plans to tear down the residence and construct a 172-room apartment building in its place, estimating he would make a $30,000 profit instead of the annual loss he had sustained in maintaining the private residence. Brokaw therefore brought this action for a declaration and judgment granting him the authority to replace the residence with an apartment building, despite the objections of the remaindermen.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hammer, J.)

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