New Yards suit — one day before the old Yards suit

The Brooklyn Paper
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One day before a climactic court hearing that could clear a major legal barrier for Bruce Ratner, opponents of the developer’s residential, retail, office and arena mega-project filed another lawsuit this week, this time challenging the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s mid-summer “sweetheart” renegotiation with Ratner.

The suit, filed on Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan by a panoply of state legislators, plus Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene), the NYPIRG/Straphangers Campaign and Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, seeks the annulment of that June deal to sell the Vanderbilt rail yard near the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues with just a $20-million down payment.

The original 2005 deal with the MTA gave Ratner control of the Vanderbilt Yards for $100 million, even though it had been appraised at more than $271 million. In the ensuing controversy over that deal, the state passed the Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005.

Opponents argue that the new law required the MTA “to obtain any appraisal of the current value of the yard [and] entertain any competing proposal for the yard.”

But when it rubber-stamped the renegotiated deal with Ratner in June, the agency did not do so.

Instead, the MTA “capitulated to [Ratner’s] demand and negotiated a disposition of the Vanderbilt Yard on terms significantly more favorable to [Ratner] than were approved in September, 2005,” the brief states.

In a statement, state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, one of the plaintiffs, said, “We have laws in this state that forbid these kinds of sweetheart deals. With the Atlantic Yards, the MTA violated our legislation and the public trust. Their sale of the Vanderbilt Yard to Ratner must be annulled.”

A spokesman for the MTA, Kevin Ortiz, said simply, “We will not comment on pending litigation.”

Updated 5:15 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was updated to include more details.
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Reasonable discourse

Al from Park Slope says:
I know, usually politicians are for progress. I guess she gets more campaign contributions from that develop and destroy group than the Brooklynites for a Stadium group. Lets be real about what this is truly about!!!!
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:45 pm
Raul from Prospect Heights says:
This suit distills how the state is bending over to help Ratner at the expense of New Yorkers. The very generous terms of the Vanderbilt Yards sale hurt the New York economy because it makes the MTA's cash flow problems worse, increasing the likelihood of fare hikes and service cuts.

Let's say that the Ratner proposal deserves public subsidies. Why give him those subsidies through a reduced sale price? Isn't there a better, more transparent way to encourage development?

Of all the suits that the community has brought against Ratner, this is the one that deserves the full support of anyone who rides the subways or anyone who benefits from a well run transportation system. I am very proud that someone is standing up to the MTA's back room deals.
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:46 pm
HappyLeader from New York says:
Sam and Al.... you boggle my mind!
Letitia James is the ONLY politician in all of New York who had the courage to oppose BUMberg's term limits, and to oppose the taxpayers' giveaway to RATner. And you put her down? She is the best!
Oct. 13, 2009, 3:25 pm
Al from Park Slope says:
Well, considering that the land deal was trying to get done when the real estate market was hot, Develop and destroy has delayed the deal for so long, Ratner appears to be getting the land at the current fair market rate value based on the economy and the current real estate market.

And secondly, EVERY politician is full of $@#T in that they are all beholden to whomever they are getting their money from and their spin is basically who they are protecting. If Leticia James voted against Anything.. its because her "financial fat cat benefactors" wanted her to. None of these politicians are for THE people, they are for whomever donates enough to get them elected..

Politics is a dirty business and to believe that there are honorable clean candidates who can get elected into office anywhere w/o owing LOTS of favors is right up there with believing in the Easter Bunny & Santa Claus
Oct. 13, 2009, 4:15 pm
s from brooklyn says:
these people do not understand how great this arean would be for brooklyn yet alone new york.. this is why we as a nation are so behind.. because of nimrods like them trying to protest against a great project!
Oct. 13, 2009, 4:22 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
another bunch of fools looking for their 15 minutes of fame, a waste ot time and money. they musy like that dump of an area and the big hole in the ground for the last 60 years.
Oct. 13, 2009, 6:05 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
In fact Leticia James voted against the interest of the party that gave her the council seat. Working Families was in favor and yet she for her reasons voted against it. You really need to get out more.
Oct. 13, 2009, 6:40 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
Hey 's', great arean? What the hell is that? We as a nation? So are you saying the people who live in crap water arkansas are behind this? Who are you anyway? Do you speak for all Americans? Was there a national referendum on this perpetual disaster?
Oct. 13, 2009, 8:22 pm
harriet from Brooklyn says:
Says Al: "Well, considering that the land deal was trying to get done when the real estate market was hot, Develop and destroy has delayed the deal for so long, Ratner appears to be getting the land at the current fair market rate value based on the economy and the current real estate market."

I hope you remember that Ratner originally bid $50 million, but because DDDb found another developer, Extell, to bid $150 million, Ratner was forced to raise his bid to $100 million. That's still under the appraised value of $214.5 million, which seems extremely low to me. One-family buildings in Prospect Heights go for over $2 million, so Ratner is getting a sweet deal no matter how you cut it. Prospect Heights real estate is one of the few bright spots in New York, even though the area owned by Ratner has been left to rot.

Al, if you're so angry about dirty politicians, then why not direct your rage at the MTA and the state government that bent over backwards to give away the public's land for a song?
Oct. 13, 2009, 8:33 pm
Jim from Park Slope says:
Letita James made it clear during her campaign that she was unequivocally opposed to the AY project. She won in a landslide, so it's wrong to say she's betraying the interests of her constituents or beholden to special interests. Know what you're talking about before you speak Al.
Oct. 14, 2009, 3:39 am
Al from Park Slope says:
Seems the NY Islanders would like to move to the Brooklyn Arena as well. hmmm, Basketball, Hockey, Concerts, Events...... THIS MUST BE STOPPED!!!!!!

And I hope you are not making being endorsed by the working family mob group a good thing. They show that the dirty republican Bush style politics have an eqally disturbing left wing rival.
Oct. 14, 2009, 11:22 am
Bayof from Biscay says:
Recently visited the once vital but now decrepit downtowns of Syracuse, Scenectady and Utica New York enroute to sparkling Toronto. .. Would James, Montgomery, Goldstein and other fake populists visit upstate's deterioration on Brooklyn? Would they have their provincialism, suburban fantasies and jealousy thwart this magnificent project? Or do they rejoice in downtown's continued drabness. Our under-parked, under museumed, modest borough needs the economic and cultural jolt Atlantic Yards will provide.
Oct. 14, 2009, 12:54 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
I think Al, Bayof, Sam, S, are probably all the same Ratner employee.

Jim from Park Slope has it right!
Oct. 14, 2009, 1:57 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
@Joey, me thinks you are right. It's the attack of the sock puppets!

@AL, yes it must be stopped. Traffic is a nightmare in the area already. At rush hour it is a standstill, at night pedestrians risk their lives crossing Flatbush ave. Imagine after a game?
Oct. 14, 2009, 6:12 pm
Al from Park Slope says:
@ 4th Estate. The funny thing is I would imagine that after a game, the traffic police presence for cars and pedestrians would be just what the area needs on most current days. It's more unfortunate that there are not traffic cops in the area at all times from 7AM to 7PM the way they would be pre and post games/concerts.

I would disagree with Bayof in regards to comapring brooklyn's current "decrepitness" and any future plans, stadium or not, with the issues of Syracuse Utica....etc. unfortunately though, the main reason that part of Brooklyn is so viable currently is because of its proximity to Manhattan and not because of its own self sustaining city business

Its also not a fantasy to have a suburban feel in brooklyn, however it should not be in the urban city centers of the borough... it should be in the Kensington type areas that currently exist as "Suburban Brooklyn"
Oct. 15, 2009, 5:28 am
Bayof from Biscay says:
No, Joey and Fourth Estate. I'm not shilling for Ratner, though I admire his grand vision. Manhatten overweens; Brooklyn should ween more. This may be its moment.
Oct. 15, 2009, 9:09 am

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