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.