Supreme Court judge orders new study of Atlantic Yards impact

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A judge handed Atlantic Yards opponents a minor victory this week, ordering a new environmental review of Bruce Ratner’s $4.9 billion project — but one that is unlikely to halt the development of the under-construction Barclays Center.

On Wednesday, Supreme Court Judge Marcy Friedman ruled that the state acted illegally in 2009 when it approved the plan for the 22-acre Prospect Heights site without assessing the long-term impacts that its 25-year build-out would have on surrounding neighborhoods.

At that time, Ratner maintained that the project, which includes the arena that will house the Nets as well as a 16-tower mini-city, would be finished in 10 years, though he had secured an extension — until 2035 — from the state.

In light of this extension, Friedman ordered the Empire State Development Corporation to conduct a new environmental study of the post-arena phase of the project, which consists of 11 additional high-rises slated to go up west of Sixth Avenue.

But the ruling won’t stop the arena, currently rising at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, from moving forward.

Joe DePlasco, a spokesperson for the developer, said construction will continue on the Barclays Center, whose facade along Atlantic Avenue is set to go up next week.

The ruling also permitted work to move forward on the handful of residential buildings west of Sixth Avenue, though all but one have been stalled indefinitely due to a lack of financing.

“The arena is scheduled to open, as planned in September, 2012,” said DePlasco (Sept. 28, 2012, to be exact). “We are also working aggressively to start the residential portion of the project.”

Still, Atlantic Yards opponents applauded the verdict anyway.

“This decision sends a clear message that no state authority or politically connected real estate developer can be above the law,” said District Leader Jo Anne Simon (D–Brooklyn Heights), a member of Brooklyn Speaks, which helped file the lawsuit that Friedman ruled on.

In light of the verdict, project critics also demanded that the state throw out Ratner’s plans beyond the arena and start from scratch.

“The [state should] consider a project that truly provides affordable housing, public open space and meaningful benefits in a timely and financially feasible manner,” said Candace Carponter, the legal director of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, another group involved in the lawsuit.

Empire State Development Corporation spokesperson Elizabeth Mitchell defended the state’s initial approval of the project.

“The state complied with all laws applicable to the project,” Mitchell said.

Updated 5:25 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Joe from P. heights says:
Empire State Development Corporation spokesperson Elizabeth Mitchell defended the state’s initial approval of the project.

“The state complied with all laws applicable to the project,” Mitchell said.

Oh? That's not what this court said.
July 14, 2011, 5:30 pm
Norman Oder says:
You can call the victory "minor" in the sense that it will have a minor impact on the project under construction. It could have a much larger impact on Phase II.

But it is much more than a minor victory in court, if you consider that judges almost always defer to government agencies, which need merely a "rational" basis for their decisions. The ESDC's ten-year timeline didn't pass that very minimal "rational" basis test.

Why should it have passed that test? After all, the ESDC's own CEO, in April 2009, admitted that Atlantic Yards would take "decades."
July 14, 2011, 7:19 pm
judahspechal from bed-stuy says:
Another delay for the housing. Like I said these opposition groups are working with Ratner. Cause he's not the hurt by further delay. That's the real Ay scam. Thanks, once again DDDB. You're doing a hellauva job.
July 14, 2011, 7:21 pm
judahspechal from bed-stuy says:
he's not one hurt by this delay.
July 14, 2011, 7:22 pm
Joe from P Heights says:
It is not a delay. There is no injunction on Phase 2 because, as the decision says, Ratner is not doing any work on Phase 2. So what are you talking about Judah?

All you want to do is blame the opposition for everything, as if Ratner has no responsibility for the clusterF he has created and now owns at Flatbush and Atlantic.

give it a rest already.
July 14, 2011, 7:58 pm
Frank from Furter says:
My concern is that the decision will allow Ratner to back out of the affordable any case I expect that the Rat will come back and ask for more money to build the affordable housing anyway.
All that Brooklyn Speaks is asking for is a governance model for Atlantic yards that ESDC has used in every other project BUT this one....and it hasn't stopped them in any other development. Its interesting that the Battery Park development also an ESDC project did NOT bypass the City's land use procedures....but then again we live in Brooklyn not Manhattan.
July 14, 2011, 8:46 pm
judahspechal from bed-stuy says:
You can yap all you want Joe from P Heights, but reality is the opposition has been a boon for Ratner. I won't count the ways, not including Goldstein $3mil payoff. Once again the rich wins, the taxpayer suffers. And I am not a tax cut fiend. Just what's fair is fair.
Once way or the other the American people will sort this out. We always do.
July 14, 2011, 11:54 pm
David Brown from LES says:
Bruce Ratner could not find better "allies" than Judge Friedman, DDB and Brooklyn Speaks if he created them (Even more so than Bloomberg, ACORN, Pataki etc). Why is that? Simple: The plan to create low income housing will NOT occur, in the next 20 years (If ever). The stall tactics (Lawsuits etc), coupled with the bad economy, gives him carte blanche to do sit on the land, until it is economically to his advantage to build or sell. This tactic was repeated at Columbia University, and will probably succeed at Willets Point as well (One place where a redevelopment is actually needed.
July 15, 2011, 1:12 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Despite the fact that the latest ruling will not stop the arena, it is a start for reconsidering the project. However, later hearings could possibly lead into a stay of construction on what is already going on including the arena. Meanwhile, I don't think Ratner ever had any intention of building the rest especially the part that is affordable housing. I always believed that he would put it off and claim it was the economy that prevented him from ever doing it. Another thing is that he said that the rest will be left as interim surface lots for years to come, and there are already many interim lots throughout the city that are left like that.
July 15, 2011, 2:17 pm
Steve Nitwitt from Sheepshead Bay says:
Norm Odor should be charged for using this comment area as an ad for his DDDB-backed blog.
July 16, 2011, 3:02 am
Steve Nitwitt's conscience says:
Oops, sorry about that. I'm a jerk.
July 16, 2011, 6:31 am
MajorRay from formerly Crown Heights says:
The protesters must have a better plan than Ratner to clean up that neighbor dump. What is their plan for the area by 2035? I bet these antagonists couldn't create one job before Messiah returns. They need to shut their faces and help solve some problems, not tear down people with something they don't have, a vision.
July 16, 2011, 12:23 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
There is an alternative plan for the rail yards besides this one, and it's called the UNITY Plan,which features many of the promises that Ratner would never keep. Also, no taxpayer dollars would be spent because those doing it will pay for it themselves. If you asked me, that's a lot better than an arena with a lot of interim lots that will be left probably for decades. As for Oder, nobody asked for him to make such a blog, he did that by himself, and it's not DDDB sponsored at all.
July 16, 2011, 3:47 pm
Josef from downtown says:
What I would like to see (though I realize this will never happen from our corporatist mayor, curse him) would be the re-seizure of all non-arena land via eminent domain in order to create high quality housing reserved 100% for low and moderate income families. Think Stuy town with less monolithic architecture and a less yuppified crowd of residents.

MajorRay, the problem is that Ratner's vision is a sham. There were alternative plans, as Tal points out below your comment.
July 21, 2011, 2:40 pm

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