James and Ratner: 2 heads ’a’ buttin’

The Brooklyn Paper
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Opponents of Bruce Ratner’s arena-residential-commercial mega-development at the Atlantic Yards were crying “foul” this week after the master builder moved forward with preliminary demolition work on six buildings within the project’s footprint.

Ratner gave the New York Times an exclusive walking tour of the buildings earlier this month, and his spokesmen told the Paper of Wreck-ord that the buildings were in imminent danger of collapse and, therefore, must be demolished.

Not so fast, cried City Councilmember Letitia James (D-Prospect Heights), who demanded that Ratner let her bring in an outside expert. James contends that Ratner is legally allowed to tear down the buildings only if they are an immediate threat to public safety.

“We want to know what they are trying to hide by not letting us in,” said James.

She’s now asking the city Department of Buildings to refuse to issue still-needed demolition permits. But the point may be moot: Ratner’s spokesman said the engineer’s report has already been provided to “the relevant agencies,” who have been convinced that the buildings are, indeed, falling apart.

And the spokesman, Joe DePlasco, said James and other lawmakers “were invited to tour the structures with the licensed engineer who wrote the reports, but they said no.”

DePlasco also pointed out that if the buildings were to collapse and injure someone, everyone would again be screaming for the head of Bruce Ratner.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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