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February 28, 2005

The transit fare mess

Without help from the state, the MTA faces higher fares and worse service

NY Newsday: This week's fare increases for Metro Cards and the LIRR as well as service cuts will put strains on the region's economy, according to Alan Hevesi's report released last week. Pataki has continually starved the MTA, forcing the state agency to borrow heavily, and is poised to do it again.

Albany needs to cut the jabber and find a solid revenue stream for the MTA. Otherwise, it will run a crucial state agency - a great engine of prosperity - right off the rails.


NoLandGrab: This week's fare increases leave no doubt that Pataki expects RIDERS to bail out the MTA, not billionare developers Bruce Ratner and Woody Johnson. The MTA must send our a RFP for the Atlantic Railyards now, to insure getting the most money possible for this valuable real estate.

Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

Post-Kelo commentary examines past decisions

Observers of last week's oral arguments in Kelo v. New London were left wondering if the US Supreme Court would kick this controversy back down to the state legislatures. A quick scan of opinion columns and blogs shows that the Supreme Court has not only done this before, but they pratically opened the door for local eminent domain abuse.

Most columnists call for the Supreme Court to find a reasonable way to untangle this mess brought to you by past court decisions ("Berman v. Parker" and "Midkiff"), except for the Washington Post, which posits that the primary principle of Fifth Ammendment takings clause is the requirement for "just compensation."

Washington Post, Editorial: Taking New London
The Boston Globe, Jacoby: Will court curb eminent domain?
The Gainsville Times: Should government take private land to bring in money?
The Sun Herald (South Mississippi): The public 'use' and private wrongs of eminent domain
MensNewsDaily.com ("righty"): Condemning Private Property Rights
morons.org ("lefty"): Working-class New London, Connecticut residents are challenging the city's attempt to seize their homes and transfer them to a private developer...

Quote of the day (a.k.a. The Problem with "Parker"):

"Property of course may be taken for redevelopment which, standing by itself, is innocuous and unoffending. Nothing in the Fifth Amendment stands in the way."
-- Justice William O. Douglas

Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

YES! Albert joining Nets


The Newark Star-Ledger:

The man who made "Yes" a part of the NBA vernacular officially joins the YES Network today, when Nets owner Bruce Ratner will announce in a media teleconference that Marv Albert has been hired to call the play-by-play for 50 of the team's games next season.


The NY Times, Nets Get Albert for Next Season

NoLandGrab: Hope Marv likes driving out to Jersey.

Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

Whaling City Ready For Its Closeup?

The Day: As the drama unfolded last week in the case of Kelo v. New London, questions arise of who should play Kelo and Bullock in the Hollywood version of the story.

Hmm... Any casting ideas for Brooklyn's own Dan Goldstein? (see "Battling a Developer's Mammoth Plans" below) Could be a toss up between Brad & Leo.

Featured in Columns & Editorial Whaling City Ready For Its Closeup?

By JOHN FOLEY Day Staff Columnist Published on 2/28/2005

We can almost see the advertisements now: “The Magnificent Story of Seven Courageous People Who Fought the Forces of Power and Greed.''

“Filmed on Location in the Old Whaling City Where the Landmark Case of Kelo v. New London Began.''

“You Will Never Forget ‘The Fort Trumbull Story,' a Heart-Tugging, Inspiring Epic.''

It is almost inevitable. Hollywood loves movies about the little guys against the big guys, so it should salivate over the potential in the old Fort Trumbull neighborhood.

Sally Field, who knows how to portray indomitable women (“Norma Rae,” “Places of the Heart,'' etc.) would be great as Susette Kelo, the best-known of the neighborhood residents who have been saying for years, “Hell, no, we won't go!”

Unfortunately, Hollywood might regard Field as a little too mature for this part. But Annette Bening, the very model of a spirited advocate for a good cause (“The American President”) could also perfectly capture Kelo's personality.

Scott Bullock, the lawyer for the Institute of Justice who appeared before the U. S. Supreme Court last week on behalf of the property owners who have been told to clear out, would be among the movie's good guys – virtually a knight in shining armor, in fact.

James Stewart, always impressively idealistic (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”) would have been the first choice to play Bullock if he hadn't taken that final bow some years ago. Tom Hanks, also a straight arrow and a James Stewart, of a sort, for our times, could handle the role with ease.

Hollywood being Hollywood, it would be guaranteed that New London officials and New London Development Corp. officers would be portrayed as the heaviest of heavies. Their plan to generate taxes, jobs and economic renewal from private development after what is left of the neighborhood is razed would be presented as a cynical, money-grabbing scheme cooked up by slick operators.

While painted so darkly, the city and the NLDC could not be expected to derive much consolation by remembering that Alfred Hitchcock once said, during a debate about how a character should be depicted, “It's only a movie.''

Luckily for them, though, that George Sanders, the legendary cad who oozed disdain for common folks from every pore, is no longer around because he would certainly be cast as one of the prominent figures striving to take homes via the chilling eminent domain route. But Gene Hackman, who has had plenty of experience as a ruthless conniver in a pinstripe suit (“The Firm,'' among others) would be appropriately malicious.

Other actors in “The Fort Trumbull Story” would include Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, sons of Italy, as longtime residents of the neighborhood that once was filled with Italian families. Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck might draw the young crowd, but they just couldn't cut it as denizens of “the old Fort.''

This is the opinion of John Foley.    © The Day Publishing Co., 2005

Posted by lumi at 6:18 AM

February 27, 2005

Battling a Developer's Mammoth Plans


From the New York Times:

Indeed, as members of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Mr. Goldstein and others have collected 12,000 signatures opposing the project. The group, which has the support of many community leaders, offers as an alternative a more organic, home-grown development, the Unity Plan, that calls for keeping, not razing, the existing buildings, and for new construction on the rail yards.

"I know that I'm doing the right thing," he said. "I never said, 'Should I do this?' If I can't oppose something that threatens my home, my neighbors and my neighborhood, then what am I ever going to fight for?"


Posted by amy at 11:15 AM

Transit Chief Shows Signs of Political Independence


The New York Times presents a portrait of MTA Chairman, Peter Kalikow, and describes why he opened the West Side site for bidding.

As early as last March, when Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Pataki unveiled their plans for the stadium, Mr. Kalikow began to say that he believed the development rights were worth at least $400 million. When the Jets' offer came in much lower, Mr. Kalikow said, "I thought $100 million, frankly, was an insult."


Posted by amy at 11:00 AM

February 26, 2005

TONIGHT: GEORGE HARR-A-THON to Benefit DDDb at Freddy's Back Room


A Marathon Tribute to the Music of George Harrison to Benefit the Develop-Don't Destroy Brooklyn Legal Fund

Come hear Brooklyn's finest artists play the music of George Harrison, and contribute to the legal fund to help fight against developer Bruce Ratner's outrageous, abusive plan to raze Freddy's and the homes of our friends and neighbors in the area--all subsidized by your tax dollars!

Saturday, February 26, 2005, 8:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m.
The Back Room at Freddy's Bar and (Endangered) Grill
485 Dean Street, Prospect Heights
phone: 718.622.7035

For more info and list of artists, check out: http://www.johnsharples.com/Harrathon.html

Posted by lumi at 11:39 AM

Bloomie: Nets arena is real rival to MSG

Brooklyn Papers: Mayor Bloomberg, tried to sic Cablevision on the new Nets arena instead of Jets stadium.

"The best thing would be for Cablevision to build a new Madison Square Garden on the west side of the old Farley Post Office," said Bloomberg. "That will give them a great venue, especially with the Nets project in Brooklyn, because that is their real competition – the stadium is not, they just couldn’t be more wrong about that. 


Posted by lumi at 10:53 AM

Many donors to NYC2012 have business ties

From Newsday:

Forest City Ratner, which is seeking city approval for a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets in Brooklyn, has given more than $200,000. The company's plans have encountered neighborhood opposition because of its proposal to tear down housing in the area using eminent domain laws.


Posted by amy at 10:51 AM

NYC2012 Exec claims local projects' opponents support Olympic bid

NoLandGrab: After local groups who oppose controversial venues in the City's Olympic bid met with IOC delegates, NYC2012 Chief Executive Jay Kriegel touted the groups' support to the news media (see, The NY Sun, "Bush Bolsters New York Olympics Bid"). Also it was misreported in the NY Daily News ("Nets arena foes make case to IOC") that, "The anti-arena group insists, however, that it is not opposed to the city's Olympic bid."

To clarify DDDb's position, spokesperson Dan Goldstein submitted a letter to the Daily News.
Click here to read letter.

Posted by lumi at 7:41 AM

Daily Heights: Exclusive Interview


The Daily Heights' exclusive interview with the elusive internet prankster and Olympic gadfly that created the NY20$12BILLION spoof campaign featured on www.2012landgrabs.net.

Get the low down on the power of Photoshop and advice on adhesives.

Exclusive Interview

Posted by lumi at 7:06 AM

February 25, 2005

Atlantic Yards foes watch as eminent domain case reaches Supreme Court

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Several representatives from the Prospect Heights neighborhood traveled to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to hear the arguments in the New London case.

Sitting in the courtroom were Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents Prospect Heights, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill; civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel, who has been retained to represent Prospect Heights residents in a potential lawsuit against the Ratner plan; and a legal volunteer for the anti-arena group Develop — Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which maintains that the proposed 19,000-seat arena, as well as the up to 5,800 units of housing planned by Ratner are a far cry from the legitimate public use for which eminent domain is typically called into play.


Posted by amy at 10:03 PM

Critics Call Bidding Process For MTA's West Side Rail Yards Unfair


Coverage of Thursday’s MTA board meeting from NY1:

“To find that best deal, we really need an open bidding process, and the only way that happens - a true bidding process - is if everyone gets the same zoning override that the Jets have gotten," said Manhattan City Councilwoman Christine Quinn.


Posted by amy at 9:58 PM

Let Christo Run The Olympics

Forbes.com: New Yorkers are getting a raw deal from the Olympic Committee in the face of the privately-funded Gates.

New York Times sports writer Harvey Araton reflected the dissent, saying that many feel "the West Side needs a football stadium the way Simon needs Garfunkel." New York Daily News columnist Filip Bondy noted how the "pharaohs" of the IOC "practically ordered us peasants to build them a giant stadium," or it's no deal. Sometimes, though, the best deals are the ones you don't make.


Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

New York 2012 Inspection Ends With Assurances Of Stadium


Before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission left New York Thursday following its 2012 Summer Olympic bid inspection, the head of the delegation said the inspection team had received assurances the stadium will be there.

Nawal El Moutawakel told a news conference New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg is “a winner and his team is a winning team, so we trust that between the end of March or even in July this project will come to an end”.


Posted by lumi at 7:12 AM

Miller Tries To Seize Control Of Stadium Financing

NY1: In his State of the City Address, City Council Speaker and Mayoral Candidate Gifford Miller, "announced legislation requiring Bloomberg to get the City Council’s approval to finance construction of the West Side stadium."

NY1 transcript & video

Posted by lumi at 7:00 AM

The IOC delegation's Chair said what???

Yup, IOC Delegation Chair Nawal El Moutawakel muddied the waters of the most controversial local development issue. Yesterday, her comments on the need to build the West Side Stadium supports the Mayor's mantra of "build it and they will come."

Read NewYorkGames for article excerpts and commentary.

Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

More post-Kelo commentary

NoLandGrab has been carry coverage from around the nation on the Kelo case to illustrate that the possible seizures of private property by NYS for Bruce Ratner's arena is one of thousands of actions of this type nation wide. We hope that our readers appreciate learning from residents and small business owners who are struggling against the same coercive powers. Here is a sampling of commentary from across the nation.

The Seattle Times: Taking a wrecking ball to property rights
Santa Maria Times: An attack on property rights
The Brown Daily Squeal: Robin Hood In Reverse
The Day, New London (Letter to the Editor): Eminent Domain, Core of Democratic Ideology

Posted by lumi at 6:39 AM

City Council speaker outlines West Side rezoning

Crain's NY Business:

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller... said that he would propose legislation requiring Mayor Michael Bloomberg to get council approval to finance construction of the proposed West Side Stadium.


Posted by lumi at 6:34 AM

Nets arena foes make case to IOC

NY Daily News:

Foes of developer Bruce Ratner's $2.5 billion bid to build an NBA arena in Prospect Heights this week told the visiting International Olympic Committee they were being duped - just like the Greeks deceived the Trojans.

"The Olympic bid is a Trojan horse being used to grab 24 acres of prime real estate in Brooklyn," Shabnam Merchant said she told the committee.

"They seemed very engaged and were taking lots of notes," Merchant said about the meeting. "I'm glad they stopped to listen to the community."


NoLandGrab: There was one inaccuracy in the Daily News column that prompted DDDb spokesperson Dan Goldstein to send a letter clarifying the group's position on the NYC2012 Olympic Bid to the paper. Read the letter.

Posted by lumi at 6:30 AM

February 24, 2005


Promoting and Protecting our Atlantic Yards. NYC College of Technology

Thursday, February 24, 6:30pm
300 Jay St. (between Johnson and Tillary)

Featured Panelists:
- NYC Council Member Charles Barron - Marshall Brown, Urban Designer, UNITY plan - Assemblyman Richard Brodsky - Debra Cohen, Civil Rights Attorney - Patricia Spears Jones, Poet/Prospect Heights Resident - Bob Law, Local Activist & Business Leader - NYC Council Member Christine Quinn - Reverend Doctor Mark V.C. Taylor

Call 718 260 9191 for info.

Posted by lumi at 4:54 PM

Bush Bolsters New York Olympics Bid

The NY Sun: IOC delegates meet with leaders of dissident community groups.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and the Queens Olympic Committee, were each given 15 minutes in the morning to present their cases to four members of the 13-member [IOC delegation].


Also: The Bergen Record: Olympic visitors hear vow of funds

Posted by lumi at 8:47 AM

Thrown for a loss in the arena of logic

NY Newsday, Neil DeMause, op-ed: DeMause outlines the lessons to be learned from the "onging Jets squabble" in relation to the Nets arena.


Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM


NY Press:

[Ratner's proposal] doesn't have to be a quality-of-life cataclysm for the neighborhoods of north Brooklyn. If locals would accept the possibility of an arena in their midst, the project could be used as a springboard for historic, once-in-a-generation quality-of-life improvements. Unfortunately, these issues aren't even being discussed. While jobs and housing advocates have seats at the table and are wringing all kinds of concessions out of FCR, the neighborhoods are locked out.


Naparstek has posted an unabridged version of his column on his web site.

NoLandGrab: To be fair, opponents haven't dismissed the idea of an arena. In fact the Atlantic Yards Development Workshop, from which the UNITY plan was borne, came up with alternative development plans that included the arena, but mitigated some of the negative impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods and taxpayer pocketbooks. These ideas were dismissed by FCR.

Posted by lumi at 7:52 AM

As Domain Ruling Looms, Olympic Unrest Grows

Brooklyn Downtown Star:
By Emily Keller

Thirty-five tenants, activists and business owners from Downtown Brooklyn and Harlem braved the cold and snow Monday to line up on the steps of City Hall, calling for an end to the abuse of eminent domain, the process by which the government condemns private property and evicts tenants for the purpose of public land use.


Posted by lumi at 7:36 AM

Post Kelo coverage & commentary

Forbes: Supreme Court Takes on the Public
Roanoke Times: Supreme Court seems to side with government and against the American people
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Kelo v. New London: Specious arguments
The Republican (Western MA): High court must limit land-taking provision

The "geez, tell us what you really think" quote of the day:
Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer live in a warped parallel legal universe. -- Pittburgh Tribune-Review, editorial

Posted by lumi at 7:32 AM

Kelo post-game analysis from The Day (New London, CT)

High Court's Choice May Be Sympathy Vs. Precedent
Narrow Options For Cities

Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

February 23, 2005

Protest banners at Atlantic Yards site

Posted by lumi at 2:50 PM

Olympics Opponents Take Their Case to the Streets

The NY Sun: NYC Politicians, "Hacktivists" and residents join the chorus of dissent as IOC delegates begin site visits.


Posted by lumi at 2:08 PM

Latest Counterbid May End Up To Be Most Short-Lived

The NY Daily Sun: Regarding the TransGas $700 million bid for the Hudson Railyards, the MTA has stated that they will not accept any "non-conforming bids."


Posted by lumi at 1:52 PM

DDDb, PRESS RELEASE: DDDb Meets With International Olympic Committee

IOC Gives Community Activists Face-Time to Debunk Ratner Propaganda

BROOKLYN—In a meeting held early this morning, DDDb Steering Committee Members Shabnam Merchant and Candace Carponter met with NYC2012’s Jay Kriegel and members of the International Olympic Committee’s Site Evaluation Team.

“Unfortunately the Committee had only 15 minutes to meet with us, but we were given a respectful hearing,” Ms. Merchant said right after the meeting. “The IOC seemed quite interested to learn that New York City’s government and citizens have been systematically excluded from the planning and decision-making process and that the Nets Arena will require the construction of a tax-payer subsidized platform just like the Jets Stadium.”

Merchant made the following points about the proposed Ratner arena, which DDDb has called “a landgrab wrapped in the Olympic rings”:

For a full list of points made by DDDb to the International Olympic Committee, go to: http://www.dddb.net/DDDB_IOCpresentation.pdf

Ms. Carponter represented the environmental and public safety concerns of the People’s Firehouse—and the people of Williamsburg, Brooklyn—with the following points:

For a full list of points made by the People’s Firehouse to the IOC, go to: http://www.dddb.net/peoplesfirehouse.pdf

For more information regarding Williamsburg Brooklyn’s People’s Firehouse organization, contact Phil dePaolo, 347-200-2353, pdepaolo@nyc.rr.com.

Posted by lumi at 12:09 PM


Sportinglife.com: IOC delegates arrived during a whirlwind of controversy over the stadium. As the Mayor wines and dines them, activists who oppose controversial venues want to meet with the with the delegates.


Posted by lumi at 10:29 AM

The Day (New London, CT) coverage of yesterday's oral arguments

Holding Down the Fort
For Plaintiffs, It's A Matter Of Principle
High Court Takes Harder Approach With Attorney For Property Owners

Posted by lumi at 10:14 AM

Justices Consider Homeowner Rights Versus Government 'Eminent Domain'

The NY Sun:

A victory for the families could stiffen constitutional protections for property owners, and strengthen the hand of opponents of projects such as a planned sports arena at Brooklyn.

The discussion heartened the homeowners, who were joined by groups representing retired people, racial minorities, churches, and community activists opposed to developments, including a group of activists from Brooklyn.

"I am excited, and I believe it was a victory for the little guy," said a Brooklyn member of the New York City Council, Letitia James, who attended the hearing with a group of opponents of a proposed arena and office-building project in Prospect Heights. "Clearly the Supreme Court is troubled by the abuse of eminent domain."


Posted by lumi at 9:58 AM

Many from across country voice support for plaintiffs

South Jersey Courier-Post: Many individuals who are living under threat of eminent domain made the trek to D.C. yesterday to wittness the oral arguments of Kelo v. New London.

The reporter found, "at least one person waiting to get into the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning supported New London's effort." "Representing Brooklyn" in the gallery was BUILD's own Marie Louis.

"We don't want people to lose sight of the fact that sometimes eminent domain is needed to spur economic development," said Marie Louis, 30, of Brooklyn. "We're facing 55 percent unemployment in some sections of downtown Brooklyn."


Posted by lumi at 9:46 AM

Kelo case gets national headlines

keloaftercourt.jpg ABC News: High Court to Hear Propoerty Seizure Case
CNN, Law Center: Supreme Court examines limits of city's eminent domain powers
NPR, Legal Affairs: High Court Considers Property Rights Case
Slate.com: Condemn-Nation. This land was your land, but now it's my land.
The NY Times: Justices Appear Reluctant to Increase Land-Use Oversight
Bloomberg: U.S. Supreme Court Debates Property-Rights Dispute
NY Newsday: How Eminent Is A City's Domain?
The NY Sun: Justices Consider Homeowner Rights Versus Government 'Eminent Domain'
South Jersey Courrier-Post: Many from across country voice support for plaintiffs
Columbia Spectator Online: Eminent Domain's Future Unsure
Asbury Park Press: Supreme Court hears Connecticut eminent domain arguments

Posted by lumi at 9:03 AM

February 22, 2005

Opponents to Mayor's scheme unveil counter campaign


Opponents to Bloomberg's use of the Olympic bid to rush through approvals for controversial development projects have unveiled a counter campaign.

view photos

Posted by lumi at 12:03 PM

New Bid Entered As Olympic Committee Visits Stadium Site

NY1: New offer for Hudson Railyards by TransGas puts the high bid at $700 million.

transcript and video

Posted by lumi at 11:32 AM

Supreme Court Hears Arguments About Eminent Domain

cityhall2005-02.jpg NY1: Coverage of local City Hall press conference and historic Kelo v. New London case.

video and transcript

Posted by lumi at 11:26 AM

Protesters Rally at City Hall on Eve of Supreme Court Case

Columbia Spectator:

“END EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE,” the signs read.

A coalition of community groups held a press conference on the steps of City Hall yesterday to denounce what they see as the abuse of eminent domain—and to denounce Columbia.


Posted by lumi at 7:03 AM

Supremes' new domain

NY Daily News: The case of Kelo v. New London will have ramifications for the Columbia University expansion project in West Harlem and Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards.

"I do believe the tide is shifting," said lawyer Michael Rikon, a New York-based expert on eminent domain. "Across the country, courts have plainly had enough of this,"


Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

A home-court advantage, say Ratner foes

NY Daily News: Homeowners in the footprint of Ratner's plan (FACT: Ratner doesn't own the property he needs to build the arena) who have refused to sell are holding out as a matter of principle.

"The project is wrong and using eminent domain to push it through is wrong," said [Dan Goldstein a] 34-year-old graphic designer. "If all I cared about was my individual apartment, I would have sold it a long time ago."

[Vince] Bruns said he would not put up such a fierce fight if the state wanted to clear his property to build a hospital or subway station.

But both he and Goldstein object to the government stepping in to take their homes to boost a private enterprise.


NoLandGrab: None of the dozens of Forest City Ratner spokespersons would comment.

Posted by lumi at 6:47 AM

Flurry of Kelo v. New London coverage

Coverage on Kelo and other local developments that will be effected by the Supreme Court ruling:

USA Today: Your home is your castle -- until the city says it isn't
NY Newsday: Residents try to hang onto their homes in a court battle with the city
AP, The Cincinnati Enquirer: Court weighs eminent domain
The Toledo Blade: High court to hear land-seizure issue
Grand Forks Herald: Conn. residents seek to keep their homes
Myrtle Beach Sun News: High court to consider eminent domain
The Seattle Times: High court to rule on right to seize private property
CNN.com, LAW CENTER: Land war goes before Supreme Court
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Ruling could redefine key tool of developers
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Stop chainsawing the Constitution
San Dieago Union-Tribune: Residents asking Supreme Court to block eminent domain in the name of development

Posted by lumi at 6:45 AM

How to Fix the MTAA five-point plan for saving the subway.

NY Magazine: How did the MTA get to be such a mess and what can be done to fix it?

Item #3: Hold a Giant Yard Sale
[Peter Kalikow] should insist that the Jets pay more for the property or lose it. A Manhattan stadium would be a bonanza for the team, so let’s see how much they’re willing to share with subway riders. Among other things, playing hardball for a fair price would set a fine precedent for when the MTA restarts negotiations with Bruce Ratner for the rights to build his basketball arena at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 6:43 AM

February 21, 2005

The Power of Targeted Advertising

DailyHeights.com uncovers Ratner-related merchandising.

What next, the Greedy Real Estate Developer action figure? (Click to enlarge image.) It comes with a Genuine Certified Eminent Domain Condemnation Notification Letter and Limited Edition Wrecking Ball.

Posted by lumi at 5:07 PM

The Atlantic Yards Project: No Longer “Inevitable”?

atlanticterm.jpg Brooklyn Rail: The lastest installment in Brooklyn Rail reporter Brian Carreira's in-depth overview of the fight over the Atlantic Railyards. This article examines the reasons Ratner's "crown jewel" has gone nowhere in the last year.


Previous articles from the series:
Feb, 2004, Stadia Mania: The View from Prospect Heights
Mar, 2004, Sunday at Freddy’s: A Neighborhood Pulls Out the Stops
Apr, 2004, Other Visions Rise in Prospect Heights
Jun, 2004, Ratner’s Secret Deals Won’t Stop the Fight
Nov, 2004, Ratner Applies Full-Court Press on the Downtown Arena

Posted by lumi at 2:59 PM

Brooklyn Arena May Be a No Go For Ratner's Group


The MTA's move to open the bidding process for the Hudson Railyards on the West side of Manhattan may open the bidding process for the Atlantic Railyards in Brooklyn.

The MTA has completely halted discussions with the Nets regarding the railyards until they have solved the railyard problems on the West side of Manhattan.

Vernon Jones also questions the motives of billionaires like Bloomberg, Doctoroff and Ratner who prefer asking the public to foot the bill for MTA backroom deals.


Posted by lumi at 2:51 PM

IOC delegates arrive in New York

NY Newsday: Coverage of the arrival of IOC delegates. The reporters took special notice of the ingenuity and thoughtfulness of the media campaign:

Along Central Park South, 2012 signs were on lampposts, including "Peace is the dream" and "Every neighborhood will celebrate."

Perhaps the most telling slogan of all was provided by the city's marketing arm, NYC and Company: "Real estate capital of the world."


Posted by lumi at 1:09 PM

Four Days to Sell a Perfect Olympic Vision

The NY Times: Coverage of the City's attempt to impress IOC delegates.

Four Days to Sell a Perfect Olympic Vision
Behind the Bid: The Issues
Behind the Bid: The Players

NoLandGrab: No worries, The NY Times is not breaking their vow of silence regarding Bruce Ratner's pet project slated to be the gymnatics venue.

Posted by lumi at 12:25 PM

Other disputed calls

West Side stadium is not the only proposed Olympic site sparking controversy as residents question venues planned in their neighborhoods

NY Newsday:

In Brooklyn, the bid steps in the middle of an already messy development controversy.


Posted by lumi at 10:11 AM

Kelo coverage across the nation

The oral arguments for the US Supreme Court case of Kelo v. New London will be heard tomorrow. The Court's ruling will have a nation-wide affect on eminent domain seizures (government's most powerful tool for assembling parcels of private property for private developments). Here's the latest coverage:

Los Angeles Times: Is Your Stuff Yours? The Answer Isn't So Simple
Asbury Park Press: Eminent domain hits home
Asbury Park Press: Shore man tries to stop land takeover
USA Today: Connecticut residents fight for homes
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: High court to weigh eminent domain
Wichita Business Journal: Supreme Court case could trump eminent domain law
Arizona Daily Sun: High court asked to block eminent domain in name of development
Enter Stage Right: The tyranny of eminent domain
The Philadelphia Enquirer: Justices to weigh property rights
St. Petersburg Times: Putting the 'home' back in homeland

Quote of the day:

"There is no such entity as 'the public,' since the public is merely a number of individuals . . . . the idea that 'the public interest' supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others." -- Ayn Rand

Posted by lumi at 9:32 AM

February 20, 2005

Ratner Jeers Hudson Yards Link

From The Park Slope Courier, Forest City Ratner spokesperson Barry Baum denys any links between the open bidding process for the Hudson Railyards and Ratner's deal for the Atlantic Railyards. Opponents claim the MTA has the chance to "get it right in Brooklyn."

Ratner Jeers Hudson Yards Link
By Stephan Witt

The open bidding process instituted by the MTA for the Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s west side should not have a bearing on the proposed Atlantic Yards project, Forest City Companies Spokesperson Barry Baum said last week.

“These are two distinct and separate projects,” said Baum, refusing to elaborate further.

But opponents the FCRC proposal continue to argue that the only way to get maximum value for the 11-acre MTA-owned Atlantic Yards site is for the MTA to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP).

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDb) spokesman Daniel Goldstein said for the past year and a half his organization has suspected the that the MTA is working on a sweetheart deal with FCRC.

“This is clearly unacceptable for straphangers and taxpayers,” said Goldstein. “To avoid the debacle and brinkmanship at Hudson Yards, the MTA must now produce the independent appraisal of Atlantic Yards that the committed to this past summer and then issue an RFP, working with community organizations and elected officials to configure development guidelines for the MTA railyards in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Goldstein called the recent Hudson Yards development baby steps toward a truly open bidding process, but said it still has a long way to go.

“The MTA can get it right in Brooklyn, from the start, with an RFP,” Goldstein added.

MTA Spokesperson Tom Kelly said the MTA is either currently working on getting the property appraised.

Kelly said some talks have been held with FCRC, but they are still waiting for the company to get back to them.

Baum said that FCRC would not discuss negotiations with the city, state or MTA.

“The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding between FCRC, the city, state, and MTA) is a complicated document that is changing often,” Baum said.

Baum also said it doesn’t matter which comes first between the MOU and a binding Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). Both will happen, he said.

Meanwhile, the Fort Greene Association (FGA), which is hosting a 7:30 p.m. February 28 informational community forum on the project at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (South Oxford and Lafayette Avenue), issued a press release indicating that FCRC has withdrawn from participating in the meeting.

The press released, which was issued in conjunction with DDDb, also said repeated invitations to both BUILD and ACORN, two grassroots groups supporting the project, have both gone unanswered.

Baum said FCRC has been very open with the community throughout this process and the company would be happy to meet with the FCA.

“However, until the MOU is signed we don’t have any new information to discuss,” said Baum. “Once the MOU is signed we will coordinate a mutually acceptable date to meet with the For Greene Association and we look forward to it.”

ACORN Executive Director Bertha Lewis questioned the objectivity of the FGA.

“These folks wrote a letter months ago talking about how they were opposed to the project,” said Lewis. “We have other work to do. There are a lot of forums we don’t attend, so we’re not going.”

BUILD President James Caldwell said the organization will send a representative and he may attend himself.

Paul Palazzo, co-chair of the FGA Atlantic Yards Committee, said while the FGA has a coalition with DDDb, they have gone out of their way to make the forum as objective as possible.

Posted by lumi at 4:38 PM

High Court To Test Seizure Of Homes

From the Hartford Courant, a historical look at Kelo and past US Supreme Court eminent domain rulings.


Posted by amy at 3:24 PM

Testing Eminent Domain's Limits

From The Day, New London:

When the Kelo v. New London case heads to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, it will test whether the government can act as an all-powerful real estate broker that can seize property from one owner and give it to another to promote economic growth.

New London -- When the Kelo v. New London case heads to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, it will test whether the government can act as an all-powerful real estate broker that can seize property from one owner and give it to another to promote economic growth.

The Kelo case, which arose out of the city's efforts to redevelop the Fort Trumbull area, is an important milestone in determining the limits of government power under the Fifth Amendment to take property for “public use” as long as it provides “just compensation” to the original owner.

Governments have always been allowed to condemn property for public works projects such as the building of highways, railroads and schools, and in 1954 the high court allowed that the clearing of slums and blight also qualifies as a public purpose.

This year, the court will referee whether governments can take property not to clear blight but simply to incubate the kind of development that will promote a general public good by producing a greater share of tax revenue. A decision is expected by June.

The Institute for Justice, the firm representing the seven Fort Trumbull property owners who are challenging the use of eminent domain, will argue that the court should strike down economic development as a valid public purpose because it produces nebulous benefits for the public at large while giving a huge advantage to private developers.

The institute, a public interest law firm that has waged a nationwide battle to curtail the use of eminent domain, asserts that the court will bleed all meaning out of the Fifth Amendment's public use clause if it equates private enterprise, no matter how good for a community's economic health, with such pure public uses as the building of roads.

The institute argues that the Connecticut Supreme Court, which upheld the city's use of eminent domain in a March ruling, transformed private development into a public use “simply because of the ‘secondary' or ‘trickle-down' benefits a business may produce.”

Three members of that court dissented from the majority ruling, noting that the benefits promised by the Fort Trumbull project were too speculative to warrant the seizure of homes where some residents had lived for generations. Those justices urged the adoption of a “heightened scrutiny” test that would require cities to provide courts with proof that a proposed development had reasonable certainty of success.

The Institute for Justice hopes the Supreme Court will quash economic development as a valid public purpose, but as a second best option its attorneys are asking the court to require the sort of test recommended by the dissent in Connecticut.

Legal experts are skeptical that the high court, which has traditionally shown deference to the way legislative bodies define public use, will disallow economic development condemnations entirely. Yet they are waiting to see where the court might place some checks on the power of governments.

“It's very hard for the courts to start telling the legislative branches what is and is not in the public interest,” said Vicki Been, the director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. “The Constitution, of course, says you can't take property except for public use. Well, is public use slum clearance, but not redevelopment of the slums that are cleared? How do you start drawing those lines?”


Attorneys for the New London Development Corp. will argue that decades of federal precedent support the sort of taking the agency is attempting at Fort Trumbull. The quasi-public agency asserts in its brief that courts have historically respected the way legislatures use eminent domain because judges do not have the professional capacity to evaluate economic development projects.

As they tell it, judicial checks on the use of eminent domain would handicap cities, with their dense neighborhoods and paucity of undeveloped land, in attracting the corporate campuses and industrial parks that now flock to the suburbs. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of the NLDC, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities argues that eminent domain helps to keep new development focused in the urban centers and prevents sprawl into the suburbs and the countryside.

Attorneys for the NLDC are urging the court to reject the “reasonable certainty” test advocated by the Institute for Justice that would require cities to have evidence of a project's viability, such as a contract with a developer, before they condemn private property. They say such a test would trap cities between impossible alternatives.

“On the one hand, the (institute) notes the constitutional bar against takings designed solely to benefit a private party,” they say in their brief. “On the other hand, (it) wants this Court to bar any plan unless it states who will develop the condemned land and for what specific uses.”

The Institute for Justice is pushing for a federal limitation on the ability of governments to use eminent domain because of what its attorneys call chaos and inconsistency in the state courts on the issue. Shortly after the Connecticut court upheld the use of eminent domain last spring, the institutes notes, Michigan's court overturned a 1981 decision that was among the first anywhere to allow the condemnation of private property for economic development.

The NLDC attorneys counter that the Michigan case was based solely on that state's constitution. To impose a federal limitation on condemnations would, they say, impinge on the federalist system that allows states to act with some degree of independence.

“It would be incongruous, to say the least, to have the federal courts micromanage state and local development projects,” their brief says. “Not only are judges professionally ill-suited to such a role, but that sort of heavy-handed intrusion into state and local affairs does not comport with our federalist system of government.”

David Barron, a professor at Harvard Law School, declined to guess where the Supreme Court might come down on the issue. He noted, however, that the Fort Trumbull redevelopment plan is not a simple case of a government seizing private property to hand it to a Wal-Mart or other big-box developer that do would little more for the public good other than increase the tax base. Instead, the plan was “a vision for an entire part of the city being used in a different way,” a re-imagining of old land-use patterns that would help open the waterfront to the general public.

“It's a very good plan, but it is also a long-range plan, and it is also speculative. There are so many features to the kind of taking that New London engaged in that there's a fair amount of room for the court to craft some limitations on the public use requirement,” Barron said. “If the court is interested in trying to develop some limitations to constrain the government's ability to take property and involve private developers in building it out, the rich factual setting of the New London land use plan provides them with a lot of different routes for establishing those limits. What I bet against is the court coming down with a bright-line rule one way or the other.”

Posted by amy at 3:22 PM

The Litigants In The Fort Trumbull Case


From The Day, New London:

“I've always loved New London. I wanted to come back and live by the water. So, for me, it's not about the money. It's about a person being able to live where they want to live. It's about a person buying a home and being able to stay in it. And this is where I want to live.”

Susette Kelo, 8 East St. Kelo, who was raised in New London before moving to Preston, relocated back to the city when she bought the East Street home in 1997. “I've always loved New London. I wanted to come back and live by the water. So, for me, it's not about the money. It's about a person being able to live where they want to live. It's about a person buying a home and being able to stay in it. And this is where I want to live.” July 2001

Pataya Construction/Richard Beyer, 41 and 49 Goshen St. Beyer, a Niantic resident, bought and renovated two residential properties on Goshen Street. “We had always had No. 49 occupied until the NLDC moved in and started threatening our tenants, telling them, ‘We're going to take the property,' scaring our tenants away. And what are they going to do? You kind of have to put yourself in their situation: ‘Am I going to have a place to live a month from now?' ” February 2003

James and Laura Guretsky, 19 Smith St. In the mid-1980s, the Guretskys bought 19, 21, and 23 Smith St., living in one of the homes and renting the other two. “We've been here for 15 years. It's our home, plus it's our income. We want to stay here.” Laura Guretsky, December 2000

Byron Athenian, 78 Smith St. He lives at 78 Smith St., and for two decades operated Byron's Auto Body in a shop next door. The residence is in the name of his mother, Thelma Brelesky. “It was a good neighborhood. It was the kind of neighborhood you never had to lock your doors at night when you're going out, you know? Now I don't lock it either. I got a pit bull, Charlie.” February 2003

Charles and Wilhelmina Dery, 87 Walbach St. Wilhelmina Dery was born inside 87 Walbach St. more than eight decades ago. The family first settled in Fort Trumbull during the early 1890s, emigrating from Italy. Five generations have lived on the peninsula. The Dery family also owns rental properties at 79 and 81-83 Walbach St. “If you guys want to play this, and you want to be the bullies, well then come down and do it in front of the whole country. Come down and drag my mother and my father ... drag us all out and kick us out in the street.” Matthew Dery, February 2003

Matthew and Suzanne Dery, 28 East St. “If we've gotta go, we have to go. We won't like it. It won't be pretty. They're gonna have to come and take me out. I don't mean to sound stubborn or anything, but that's exactly how I feel.” Matthew Dery, February 2003

“We're not going anywhere until we say so.” Sue Dery, December 2000

Pasquale and Margherita (deceased) Cristofaro, 53 Goshen St. The house has been owned by the family for nearly 30 years. “It was the American dream to buy and own property and be able to do what you want with it. For my father, the land was gold. He had his grapevines, his garden ...” Michael Cristofaro, February 2003.

Bill Von Winkle, 27, 31 and 33-35 Smith St. Von Winkle started buying and renovating Fort Trumbull properties in the mid-1980s on Smith and Howard streets. “I'm not going anywhere — not now or ever.” March 2002.

Scott Bullock, Institute for Justice attorney “What the NLDC is doing here is wrong. The NLDC got the land. The residents got the boot. And the citizens of Connecticut get the bill.” December 2001.

Posted by amy at 3:16 PM

Closing Arguments

From The Day, New London:

U.S. Supreme Court To Hear New London's Fort Trumbull Eminent-Domain Case Tuesday

New London -- The bakery Matthew Dery's great-grandmother opened on Walbach Street at the turn of last century became the cornerstone of the family compound — four houses honeycombed around a driveway where three generations now live in relative self-containment.

The history of the Dery family and its progress from northern Italy to New London is inseparable from these houses. A brick oven survives in the basement of Matthew Dery's house, a vestige of the original bakery. In expanding its settlement in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, the family blasted into the bedrock and then harvested the stone to build another home.

So it is no surprise that the Dery family proved among the hardest to uproot when the New London Development Corp. pegged their neighborhood, in the shadow of a Civil War-era fort near the Thames River, as the future site of a hotel, offices and upmarket rental housing.

Most of the family's 100-odd neighbors sold their properties when the agency came brandishing its plans for a redeveloped waterfront five years ago. The NLDC promptly demolished those houses, but the Derys and six others have spent the

ensuing years in court challenging the NLDC's right to seize their property by eminent domain.

They will get their final appeal on Tuesday, when their attorneys will argue before the U.S. Supreme Court that governments and quasi-public development corporations do not have the right to seize private property not designated as blighted to promote economic development.

The Derys are sympathetic plaintiffs, and legal experts have guessed that their generational ties to their houses might have inspired the high court to revisit the question of how far governments can go in using eminent domain, which it has not done since 1984.

Attorneys for the NLDC will argue that sentimental attachment to a home should not trump the government's right to pursue private developments that will help the public as a whole by creating jobs and boosting the tax revenue that feeds education and public-safety budgets.

“Where do the rights of individuals intersect with the rights of society as a whole?” asked Edward O'Connell, a local attorney who helped craft the NLDC's brief to the high court.

Newspapers these days are full of stories of cities using eminent domain to remove residents and small businesses from property coveted by big-box retailers or other developers, but this is not the story of Fort Trumbull as O'Connell tells it.

When Pfizer announced plans in 1998 to build its global research headquarters on an abandoned factory site close to the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, O'Connell says, the city saw an opportunity to remake its waterfront in a way that would stir economic revival. He emphasizes that the plans for the hotel, housing and offices were cycled through extensive public hearings.

“The city was at a crossroads. It could seize on the opportunity presented by Pfizer's arrival or it could continue to drift along as it had in the past,” O'Connell said. “The question is whether seven people can thwart a plan that was arrived at democratically and which benefits all citizens of New London.”

More than four years have passed since the Fort Trumbull property owners and their attorneys from the Institute for Justice, a libertarian, public-interest law firm, filed suit in December 2000 to prevent the NLDC from invoking eminent domain. The years of litigation have come with consequences for both the agency and the property owners, but on the eve of oral arguments before the high court, both sides say they have no regrets about the very long engagement.

“This has been a great object lesson for my son,” Matthew Dery said of 16-year-old Andy. “There are some battles you have to fight.”


Michael Joplin remembers the excitement that surrounded the first public hearings about the Fort Trumbull redevelopment in 1999. Joplin is now the president of the NLDC, but at the time he was a private investor piqued by the arrival of Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, and

interested in the city he remembered from his childhood as a vibrant regional center.

The NLDC saw the plans to reinvent the neighborhood as a logical outgrowth of the times. Pfizer's announcement that it would build a $294 million facility was a coup for the city, which had long struggled with a weak tax base, a declining population and a downtown filled with empty storefronts. The Fort Trumbull peninsula, adjacent to the Pfizer site and pocked with an industrial hodgepodge that included a scrap-metal yard, oil-tank farm, sewage-treatment plant and a polluted former Navy laboratory, was an obvious target for redevelopment.

“People tend to forget what was there before we started,” O'Connell said.

But there was also a neighborhood on the peninsula, and public opinion fractured over the NLDC's efforts to remove the residents along with the heavy industry. A poll commissioned by The Day earlier this winter showed that only 39 percent of city residents support the practice of seizing private property in pursuit of economic development.

Rob Pero, a Republican who has served on the City Council since the redevelopment plans were approved, thinks the NLDC made various missteps that contributed to waning public confidence in the plan. He said the agency was damaged by its failed plans to renovate three downtown apartment buildings, and it lost further support because of what the public saw as the inordinately large salaries it paid its staff.

The lack of measurable development at Fort Trumbull hasn't helped.

“The general mood of the city was that this was, all in all, a good plan, even if people had qualms about residents being displaced and uprooted,” Pero said. “Then over time, as people didn't see anything being built, they started asking why we went down this road.”

Joplin, the NLDC president, is quick to enumerate the steps his agency has taken to prepare the Fort Trumbull peninsula for development. In addition to removing environmental pollution from roughly 24 acres, the agency rebuilt Howard Street and raised the flood plain in the low-lying coastal area.

“We have cleaned the Aegean stables,” Joplin said. “There has been a productive period of time in the last few years. While the drama in town has been the eminent-domain issue, we were working on other things. Has the case cost us money and time? Absolutely. Have we wasted four years? Absolutely not.”

In spite of the ups and downs that have come with the project, Pero says, the city had little choice but to approve the project in January 2000. He points to the perpetual difficulty in raising tax revenue in a city where half the land is tax-exempt. Until the state allows cities some way to raise money other than the property tax, Pero says, developments like Fort Trumbull are their last best hope.

“If you want us weaned off the state payroll, there are only so many ways of doing that,” Pero said. “Could we have said we're getting Pfizer and then walked away? That would have been short-sighted.”


As Matthew Dery sees it, the pursuit of economic development sounds laudable enough until his family is the one asked to sacrifice its home in the name of the public good.

Sitting in the kitchen of his East Street home, with his cigarettes on the table and his three dogs underfoot, Dery says he has stuck out the fight in court for four years because he could not deprive his parents of the house where they have lived together for 60 years — their anniversary was two weeks ago — and where his mother, Wilhelmina, was born in 1918.

Fort Trumbull had its share of elderly residents when the NLDC slated the area for redevelopment in the late 1990s, and Dery knows a few who died shortly after they chose to relocate rather than fight the plans to redevelop the neighborhood.

“The stress of the episode didn't do them any good,” said Dery, who is the home-delivery sales manager for The Day. “It's not what I want for my parents.”

The forces that have sustained Dery through four years in court are an allegiance to family heritage and the instinct to resist the government that would order him to leave the house his grandmother gave him and his wife, Sue, as a gift when they got engaged in 1984.

Dery talks about the toughness of mind that characterized Fort Trumbull kids when he was growing up: anyone who came to the neighborhood looking for a fight would have to face a line of brothers and friends. The same mentality has helped him to resist the incursions of City Hall.

“No man likes to be told what to do,” Dery said. “It's not about winning or losing, because you lose more if you don't fight than if you fight and lose. You have to fight to get respect. They won't be so quick to pick on you if they're going to get a fight in return.”

Owning a home in a redevelopment zone has both psychological and practical difficulties. When the neighborhood was coming down around them four years ago, Matthew and Sue Dery did not know whether they should continue investing in their house if it was going to become just another pile of rubble.

After this much time, they have returned to the normal rhythms of homeownership. Recently they replaced the carpet in the living room and the floor in the kitchen. Still, they have had trouble obtaining property insurance, because the NLDC has technically held title to their home since the agency filed the condemnation notice in November 2000.

“It was really bad at the beginning, but we've taken our lives back,” Dery said. “We've stopped living under somebody else's mandate.”

The family and the six neighbors who remain will travel to Washington, D.C., this week to hear the oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. Having the chance to make their case in such a solemn setting has been “humbling,” Dery said. He is holding out hope that at least five of the nine justices will sympathize with his family's story.

“This happened to us. We didn't have a choice,” Dery said. “At the end of the day, we can look in the mirror and know we haven't done anything wrong. We were going about our business when this was brought right to us.”

Posted by amy at 3:10 PM

Timeline Of Events In Fort Trumbull Case

From The Day, New London

January 2000 The Planning and Zoning Commission, Redevelopment Agency, City Council and New London Development Corp. approve the Fort Trumbull development plan.

May 8, 2000 The NLDC votes to begin taking 11 properties by eminent domain.

Sept. 5, 2000 The City Council rescinds an earlier decision that prevented the NLDC from razing buildings in Parcel 4A where the city hopes a Coast Guard museum will be built.

Sept. 20, 2000 The Coalition to Save Fort Trumbull submits a petition with more than 400 signatures to the City Council to save Fort Trumbull homes from demolition.

Oct. 2, 2000 The city's law director rules that a petition asking for a referendum on Fort Trumbull demolition is invalid.

October 2000 The NLDC votes to use eminent domain to acquire the last 22 properties it needs to transform the Fort Trumbull peninsula into a maritime village.

November 2000 The NLDC offers 11 property owners, including Susette Kelo and Matthew Dery, more than $2.7 million for their properties. They reject the offers.

Dec. 19, 2000 The Institute for Justice agrees to represent more than a half dozen Fort Trumbull residents in a lawsuit against the city and NLDC.

Feb. 21, 2001 The city, NLDC and property owners reach an agreement under which the Fort Trumbull residents will be able to stay in their homes while the eminent domain case is heard in court.

March 13, 2002Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Corradino rules on the eminent domain lawsuit.

March 18, 2002 Fort Trumbull property owners announce they will file an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

August 2002 The city and NLDC file appeal briefs asking the state Supreme Court to overturn the lower court ruling.

October 2002 City Council grants the NLDC a two-year extension of its eminent domain powers in Fort Trumbull area.

December 2002 State Supreme Court hears arguments in the eminent domain case.

March 3, 2004 The state Supreme Court affirms NLDC's right to take property at Fort Trumbull by eminent domain.

Sept. 28, 2000 The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Kelo et al v. City of New London, essentially deciding when governments may seize people's property for economic development projects.

Posted by amy at 3:08 PM

City Offers Compromise On Stadium Plan


This is funny - the title says the city offers a compromise. The story says Bloomberg sent a televised plea/threat to Cablevision.

Article from NY1

Posted by amy at 2:37 PM

February 19, 2005

Forest City Ratner Backs Out Of Ft. Greene Community Forum

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

A large-scale community forum on the proposed development of Downtown’s Atlantic Rail Yards will go on without a key participant, the proposed developer Forest City Ratner (FCR).

One spokesperson for the developer, Randal Toure, told long-time community organizer Ruth Learnard-Goldstein by telephone last week that FCR wouldn’t be participating in the forum because, “He told me that they’re working on the MOU (memo of understanding) and that they’re making changes to the project. I have to tell you that I was struck dumb. I was speechless.”


Posted by amy at 10:52 AM

Mike slams housing plan

From the Daily News: Mayor Mike finally drags Atlantic Yards into the fracas of bidding on the West Side Stadium.

The mayor argued that the Garden's main competition is not the proposed Jets stadium but the planned basketball arena for the Nets in Brooklyn.


Newsday: Mayor: Garden's real rival is Brooklyn arena, not stadium

Field of Schemes: Today on "As the Jets Turn"

Posted by amy at 10:40 AM

Updates on Kelo v. New London


The residents of New London are gearing up for the February 22 Supreme Court oral arguments where "the future of property rights in America will be at stake." Join the New London folks for their rally on Sunday! (See events...)

In the news:

The Ayn Rand Institute: The Tyranny of Eminent Domain
US Newswire: Officials to Comment on Critical Kelo Case Involving Economic Development Powers
Voice of America: Connecticut Residents Fight to Keep City From Taking Their Homes
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: The future of eminent domain
Salt Lake Tribune: Supreme Court to consider legality of land grabs

Posted by amy at 10:22 AM

February 18, 2005

NYC's Olympic dreams leave some still hoping

From NewYorkGames.org

NYC's Olympic dreams leave some still hoping
Metro Feb 16 op-ed
Theodore Hamm

Ideally, the decentralized design of the NYC2012 plan allows for all five boroughs to benefit. But in reality, most of the primary Olympic facilities would be located in areas of the city that are either already growing rapidly or, like "West Midtown," are neighborhoods that will inevitablly grow whether or not the Olympics come to town.

Property values also are high in downtown Brooklyn, where the proposed Nets stadium would become home to gymnastics events.

The one site in the city where the games could have been centrally located, Flushing Meadows, instead would be home to some of the games least glamorous events, like the Archery Field and Water Polo Center. Meanwhile, the city's "poorest and most deprived areas," from East New York to East Harlem, would not benefit in any way from the 2012 plan.

NYC2012 promises to disrupt growth where it already exists, and not generate new growth in areas of the city that need it most. The International Olympic Committee thus would be doing the city a big favor by sending Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff back to the drawing board.

Posted by lumi at 5:27 PM

Hudson Yards/Olympic-Jets Stadium/MTA Open Bid/NYS Shadow Government News

The MTA's sham bidding process has thrown everyone for a loop. First, if your head is spinning by news and events surrounding the West Side Stadium controversy, go to newyorkgames.org where Brian Hatch covers this issue in more detail than we can.

In today's headlines, the Governor and Mayor cover their tracks on Doctoroff's threats that rezoning of the Hudson Yards would not happen for anyone but the Jets. The State Comptroller wants more oversight of state agencies like the Empire State Development Corporation and MTA who operate behind closed doors.

NY Newsday: "Pataki backs stadium, but invites rail yard bids"
The NY Daily News: Mike's zonin' in on stadium site

[Charles Bagli from the Times and Juan Gonzales from the Daily News probably took yesterday off for some well-earned rest.]

Posted by lumi at 7:29 AM

Promised Land

justice4all.jpg Investor's Business Daily, editorial: This article takes the typical Conservative position against eminent domain and points out that, under the current definition of "public use", churches across the nation are vulnerable to land grabbing.

It was not without good reason that the Supreme Court in 1795 called eminent domain "the despotic power." The current court could check that power if it rules correctly after it hears Kelo on Tuesday.

If it doesn't rule correctly, even churches around the country should be worried. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed an amicus brief in the Kelo case that lays out the problem.

Houses of worship, it explains, will be "singularly vulnerable to being taken" if the court rules for New London. Why? Because churches, in vivid contrast to the commercial developments that could replace them, generate zero tax revenues.

The Becket Fund isn't just whistling in the dark. There are cities that have actually targeted churches. And as local lawmakers' hunger for money grows, so will the trend. Unless the court makes the right ruling.

Download the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty brief

Posted by lumi at 7:20 AM

Countdown to Kelo: Towns and Cities in America expect to see effect from court ruling

Like Brooklynites, local reporters and columnists from the The Roanoke Times and Atlanticville (Central Jersey) are expecting to see some local effect from the Supreme Court case of Kelo v. New London.

The Roanoke Times: "Government seize private homes for fun and profit"
Atlanticville: "US Supreme Court case could have local effect"

Posted by lumi at 7:02 AM

Pfizer is a good citizen

Pfizer Statement: Key Facts Regarding U.S. Supreme Court Hearing
Feeling the heat over the Supreme Court case of Kelo v. New London, Pfizer has issued a release to distance itself from the city's land grab, which the City of New London has claimed was necessary to create housing and amenities for employees at the new Pfizer plant.

Date : Thursday - February 17, 2005

NEW LONDON, Conn., Feb. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The following statement is issued by Pfizer Inc to assist understanding of the company's position regarding a case that will be heard on February 22 before the U.S. Supreme Court (Kelo vs. City of New London and New London Development Corporation).

The headquarters of Pfizer Global Research & Development are in New London CT, but contrary to some recent reports:

Pfizer is a good citizen and has delivered all its promises to the State and City. The corporation brought 1500 jobs to New London and is the city's largest single taxpayer. It is a major source of philanthropic and volunteer contributions. Pfizer has also delivered benefit by choosing to build on a derelict urban brown field, and investing in environmental remediation.

Pfizer Inc

CONTACT: Stephen Lederer, +1-860-732-9783, pager: 1-877-549-9848, stephen.f.lederer@pfizer.com, or Liz Power, +1-860-732-4987, cell: +1-860-625-9360, elizabeth.power@pfizer.com, both of Pfizer Inc

Web site: http://www.pfizer.com/

Company News On-Call: Pfizer's press releases are available through PR Newswire's Company News On-Call service on PRN's Web Site. Visit http://www.prnewswire.com/comp/688250.html

Company News On-Call: http://www.prnewswire.com/comp/688250.html

Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

Nets: At the break

The Newark Star-Ledger: Dave D'Alessandro takes stock of the (23-30) Nets at the mid-season All-Star break.


Posted by lumi at 6:42 AM

February 17, 2005

Builders Wary of Pursuing Site Sought by Jets for a Stadium

The NY Times:

A day after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that it would allow anyone to bid on the development rights to the West Side railyards, which the Jets want for a stadium, real estate executives began wondering who would dare to take up the offer.

Developers have no incentive to bid under the current zoning regulations and are concerned with drawing the ire of Mayor Bloomberg.


Posted by lumi at 8:25 PM


NY Press, "OLYMPICS GO HOME": Part deux to Aaron Naparstek's column last week, "THE BROOKLYN RATS," where he took a hard look at Ratner's plan. This week he features the UNITY plan.

While FCR touts its ability to create jobs and affordable housing, [Urban Designer Marshall] Brown believes that the community can do better and expect more. "We can go beyond housing and build homes. We can go beyond jobs and build businesses and careers." Ultimately, this is the biggest innovation of the UNITY planóthe idea that those traditional political commodities, "jobs" and "housing," aren't enough. For hundreds of millions of dollars of public money, New Yorkers can expect more.


Posted by lumi at 7:19 AM

Forest City Ratner withdraws from community forum

Forest City Ratner Companies [FCRC] withdrew its participation in a community forum organized by the Fort Greene Association [FGA] on February 28th, 2005. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss issues, both pro and con, concerning the proposed development of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards and to provide information to the Fort Greene community, which will be dramatically affected by the consequences of the project. FCRC’s participation had been confirmed by its spokesperson, Randall Toure and additionally through the office of the Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz.

Despite the FCRC withdrawal, the FGA will proceed with this important forum.

Download press release

Monday, February 28th, 7:30PM
Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church
(at South Oxford Street & LafayetteAvenue in Fort Greene)

Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

A Fight to Keep their Homes

dery.jpg The Christian Science Monitor: In the case of Kelo v. New London, how did homes, people and dreams, get in the way of progress, corporations and politics? Read about the sacrifices made by property owners who want to save their homes.


NoLandGrab: Whatever fate the US Supreme Court hands down to the New London homeowners will have some bearing on Ratner's plans. This is the first case in over 50 years where the Court will provide some direction as to how the Fifth Amendment's eminent domain clause should be interpreted.

Posted by lumi at 6:50 AM

The Whitney Should Move, Not Expand Museums

The NY Sun: Francis Morrone's opines that Ratner could be just the guy to bring the Witney to the BAM neighborhood.

In fact, Bruce Ratner could be the link. This developer has shown a notable interest in that part of Brooklyn. He also knows from Renzo Piano, as Mr. Ratner is the developer of the New York Times Building. Having brought Target to the neighborhood, surely he could bring the Whitney. Maybe Target could even start a new line of Whitney branded merchandise.


Posted by lumi at 6:44 AM

Ridge Hill critics speak out

The Journal News: Brooklynites are not alone. Opponents of Forest City Ratner's $600 million Ridge Hill Village project in Yonkers had to hold their own public meeting to have their voices heard.

Representatives of Forest City Ratner were not invited to the meeting.... The developer has angered some residents with his company's tactics intended to win support for the project, including enthusiastic projections of the project's expected impact on the local economy.


Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

February 16, 2005

Stadium Fear Factor


The Village Voice's Tom Robbins gets former MTA chairman Richard Ravitch and Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association to reveal why only out-of-staters might be bidding on the Hudson Yards:

Last year, Doctoroff lobbied the RPA heavily not to oppose him on the West Side. "We were under all kinds of pressure," Yaro said. "Our board members were as well." Two members, Keyspan Energy and developer Jerry Speyer, both quit the board after Doctoroff's arm-twisting, according to Yaro.

"There is a reign of terror in this town," Yaro said. "The litmus test is 'Do you support the Olympics?' If so, then you can do business with the city."


Also be sure to read Tom Robbin's History Lesson of West Side development.

Posted by amy at 9:53 PM

Regional Planning Association finds MTA Bidding Process "Fatally Flawed"

Robert Yaro, President of the Regional Planning Association, supports a open bidding process, but finds the competitive bidding process for the Hudson Railyards to be "fatally flawed."

Regional Plan Association Statement

While RPA strongly supports an open bidding process for the MTA's western rail yard, the process proposed yesterday is fatally flawed. By requiring bidders to assume that the current, outdated zoning remains in place, the process will make it impossible for the site to support its "highest and best" use or for the MTA to receive fair market value for the site. The MTA's own appraisal of the site assumes an override of the low-density manufacturing use to allow for valuable high-density, mixed use development. The appraisal assumption is perfectly reasonable considering that the land surrounding the site, including the eastern half of the MTA's property, is being rezoned for dense office and residential uses. With the City declaring that it will not entertain any rezoning of the site, and with silence from the State, which has the power to override City zoning, it is highly unlikely that any developer will bid on the site.

By not assuming the necessary zoning override, the State and the MTA are artificially deflating the site's value. By contrast, the Jets have already been promised a zoning override and are receiving $375 million in state and city subsidy to build a platform over the Yards, a subsidy that is not being offered to any other bidder. Under these rigged conditions, the Jets may be the only bidder. This is clearly not a true open bidding process. The only way to ensure that the taxpayers and straphangers of New York receive full value for this important asset is to provide a level playing field for all bidders, ensuring the winning bidder that the State will support its project with the necessary agreements and zoning changes. We urge the MTA and the Empire State Development Corporation to provide these assurances before the Request for Proposals is finalized.

--Robert D. Yaro, President

Posted by lumi at 5:52 PM

Justice Talking: Private Property, Public Interest

NPR, Justice Talking: The NPR weekly legal debate program tackles eminent domain as the Supreme Court is preparing to hear the case of Kelo v. New London.

Local color: Freddy's Bar Manager Donald O'Finn explains how this beloved neighborhood bar is going nowhere soon.

listen online

Posted by lumi at 8:59 AM

Open bidding? MTA seeks final offers for Hudson Railyards

The MTA's call for final competitive bids for Hudson Railyard development rights sure looks like an open bidding process. But, with Bloomberg throwing all of his political muscle behind the Jets' bid, will anyone else set up to the plate?

The NY Times: Transit Agency Seeks Other Bids on West Side Site
NY Newsday: MTA sets deadline for rail yard bids
NY Newsday: New York's MTA asks for 'best and final' offers for West Side property
NY1: MTA Opens Hudson Rail Yards To Competitive Bidding

Posted by lumi at 8:25 AM



Wednesday, February 16, 7pm
YWCA, 30 Third Avenue at Atlantic

The Boerum Hill Association and the Hoyt Street Association are co-hosting a presentation by urban designer, Marshall Brown, on the UNITY Plan - Understanding, imagining and transforming the Atlantic Yards.

The Unity Plan is the product of the Atlantic Yards Development Workshop, a community planning session hosted in the spring of 2004 by City Council member Letitia James. According to Marshall Brown, "the Atlantic Yards Development WorkShop is A"a collaborative association with a dual mission: transforming the Atlantic Yards site into a place that is culturally and economically productive is one part of the mission A-transforming the development process is another."

The presentation of the concept plan with time for questions from the community. More info www.boerumhillbrooklyn.org.

Posted by lumi at 8:05 AM

Kidd's not sold on Jersey

NY Daily News:

Jason Kidd still yearns to play with an All-Star big man, specifically Minnesota's Kevin Garnett.

Five sources told the Daily News that Kidd wants to join the NBA's MVP and that the star point guard is not over last summer's Kenyon Martin fiasco.


Posted by lumi at 6:20 AM

February 15, 2005

Countdown to Kelo.

CT, local coverage:

New London property owners are looking forward to their day in court. On February 22nd, the US Supreme Court will hear the first property rights case to come before the court in nearly 50 years.

The Hartford Courant: Residents Ask Supreme Court To Block Eminent Domain In New London
News Channel 10 (CT): Residents Take City's Development Plans To U.S. Supreme Court
The Hour: Standing their ground

Posted by lumi at 8:45 AM

February 14, 2005

Open Bidding May Erupt on West Side

The NY Sun: Developers discuss pros and cons of developing the Hudson Railyards as politicians and public call for open bidding.


NoLandGrab: Open bidding on the West Side would set a precedent for the Atlantic Yards site.

Posted by lumi at 11:15 PM

Final Brief Filed In Fort Trumbull Case

briefs.jpg The Day:

Final Brief Filed In Fort Trumbull Case
Lawyers Take Last Step Before High Court Hears Oral Arguments On Eminent Domain

The Institute for Justice delivered its final brief in the Fort Trumbull eminent domain case to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, once again urging the court to limit the right of governments to take property from one private owner and hand it to another who can produce more jobs or tax revenue.

The brief is the second filed by the Institute for Justice and the final milestone in the case before oral arguments take place Feb. 22.

Final Brief Filed In Fort Trumbull Case
Lawyers Take Last Step Before High Court Hears Oral Arguments On Eminent Domain

By KATE MORAN Day Staff Writer, New London Published on 2/12/2005

New London — The Institute for Justice delivered its final brief in the Fort Trumbull eminent domain case to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, once again urging the court to limit the right of governments to take property from one private owner and hand it to another who can produce more jobs or tax revenue.

The brief is the second filed by the Institute for Justice and the final milestone in the case before oral arguments take place Feb. 22.

Attorneys for the firm used their last licks to convince the court that the rights of private citizens are in jeopardy so long as government has the authority to act as an all-powerful real estate broker that can force them out of their homes or businesses.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives cities and states the right to seize property for a “public use” as long as they provide “just compensation” to the displaced owner. At issue in the Fort Trumbull case is how far governments can stretch the definition of public use.

Attorneys for the New London Development Corp., the agency that condemned 15 properties in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood to usher in a hotel, rental housing and offices, argue in their brief that distressed cities like New London need the tool of eminent domain to facilitate projects that will benefit the public by generating the tax revenue needed to fund education, public safety and other government services.

As the Institute for Justice, the libertarian, public-interest law firm representing the Fort Trumbull residents, sees it, the public benefits that arise from economic development are too intangible and often too speculative to justify displacing people from their homes or businesses.

Attorneys for the institute claim the question turns on the integrity of the language of the U.S. Constitution. If public use can be construed to mean the general benefits that arise from ordinary commerce, they argue, the phrase is drained of all practical meaning.

“It must mean something other than ordinary private use,” the brief asserts. “On some fundamental, bedrock level, the examination of the meaning of the English term ‘public use' must inquire into the actual use to be made of the taken property and the extent, if any, to which such use is something that society associates with government activities, not just private profits.”

Attorneys for the NLDC had similarly used their brief to parse the public use clause of the Fifth Amendment, arguing that its primary intention was to ensure just compensation, not to create a narrow definition of public use.

In its 20-page brief, the institute urges the high court either to reject economic development as a public use or to require some proof, such as contracts with a developer, to ensure the benefits promised by a project have a reasonable certainty of coming to fruition. Because economic development is a riskier enterprise than, say, the building of a school, the institute says it wants some assurance that the sacrifice of home and business owners will not be for naught.

Ed O'Connell, an attorney for the NLDC, argued Friday that the institute is trying to use such a heightened scrutiny test to trap governments in an impossible position. If governments come ready with signed contracts, he said, they might be accused of improper collusion with developers to remove owners from their properties. If they have no contract, he added, the institute would deride their plans as too speculative.

“They want to put cities between a rock and a hard place,” O'Connell said.

The institute believes a failure to curtail the use of eminent domain will lead to open season on private property owners.

“Every home and every business, everywhere in the country, will be subject to condemnation if a local government prefers some other private party's use of property,” its attorneys wrote Friday in their brief.

The NLDC, on the other hand, argues that distressed and crowded cities like New London will lose out to suburban or rural towns, which can offer developers large chunks of vacant land for corporate campuses and other economic engines, unless they retain eminent domain as a tool to acquire land for redevelopment.

“Employing the power of eminent domain to revitalize a municipality's economy satisfies the public use requirement,” the NLDC attorneys wrote in their brief last month. “This is especially true in urban settings, in which the problem of land assembly often acts as a barrier to economic revitalization.”   

Posted by lumi at 8:38 AM

Similar Property Disputes Around The Nation

The Day, New London, CT: Property owners and developers across the nation (including Bruce Ratner and the Prospect Heights' property owners who are standing in his way) are holding their breath for the outcome of the case of Kelo v. New London. The case will be heard by the US Supreme Court on Feb 22 and a decision is expected in June.

Similar Property Disputes Around The Nation

Day Staff Writer, New London
Published on 2/13/2005

The Kelo v. New London case headed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 22 could give state and municipal governments the express authority to use eminent domain — the seizure of private property — as a tool for economic development. For half a century, cities have already been using eminent domain to clear away blighted or aging neighborhoods to usher in development that will improve the streetscape and generate higher tax revenue. Here's a look at what's happening around the country:

Ventnor City, N.J., a town of 13,000 in the shadow of Atlantic City, is preparing to condemn a neighborhood that town officials say has become noisy and congested. The area includes nail salons, dry cleaners, a florist, card shop and convenience store, as well as numerous rental properties that officials blame as the source of the noise and parking crunch. The town sees a cure to the problems in the proposal for 375 condominiums and townhouses and 55,000 square feet of retail space floated by two private companies, Pulte Homes and the Alliance Co. The Hispanic Alliance of Atlantic County, which filed an amicus brief in the Kelo case, has filed a civil rights lawsuit accusing the town of trying to clear Latinos and other minorities out of Ventnor. Forty percent of the town's 2,200 Latinos live in the area slated for redevelopment.

A legal fight started brewing in January when the city of Tempe, Ariz., condemned 20 small businesses now operating on the site of a former landfill. The city intends to turn the property over to developers who have promised to clean up the landfill and then build a $200 million shopping center complete with movie screens and big-box retailers. Opinion is divided in this conservative state, where the public wants to see the contamination removed but is deeply ambivalent about the government's intrusion on private property rights. The ideological split got fuzzy in December, when attorney Tom Liddy, a conservative radio talk show host and the former executive director of the Arizona chapter of the Institute for Justice — the libertarian law firm that represents the Fort Trumbull property owners — decided to represent the developers.

Ogden, Utah, is threatening to condemn several homes to make room for a Super Wal-Mart. City planners say the proposal would improve an unattractive neighborhood near the entrance to downtown and generate $700,000 in additional sales tax revenue per year. While most of the 33 residents are pleased they will be able to unload property they have not been able to sell on the open market, others say they want to stay and that the city should help them fix up their blighted property. A local attorney is doing pro bono work for those owners because her grandfather lost his tailor shop to the failed Ogden City Mall in the early 1980s. 

article (free subscription)

Posted by lumi at 8:37 AM

Firms in way of stadium plan protest

The Times, London, UK: THE Olympic committee has agreed to meet representatives of more than 300 businesses that will be bulldozed to make way for an Olympic stadium if London wins the 2012 Games.


NoLandGrab: Hopefully the IOC will meeting with groups in NYC who would be adversly affected by Bloomberg's attempt to attach every controversial development to the Olympic Bid.

Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

Nets spoil K-Mart's return, but fans are still devoted

Though the Nets creamed the Nuggets, Kenyon Martin took the court in the Meadowlands to a chorus of fans chanting "Ken-yon Mar-tin" -- a reminder of what might have been if Ratner hadn't screwed up and traded him to Denver.

NY Daily News: K-Mart's Rocky return. Nets hammer old mate and Denver.
Bergen Record: Nets spoil K-Mart return
NY Daily News: Ratner deals with trade just fine

Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

February 13, 2005

Residents ask Supreme Court to block eminent domain in New London

NY Newsday: Seven homeowners are getting ready for their case to be heard by the US Supreme Court in hopes to save their homes from New London's wrecking ball of progress.

"It's quite an amalgamation of people to be taking this case where it's going," said Matthew Dery, who lives in one of four houses on a compound his family has owned since 1901. "It's a case of the rich eating the poor. Sometimes the poor are difficult to digest."

One of the toughest things for Dery to accept is the fact that New London doesn't know for sure what will replace his neighborhood. The city has a plan, but no developer is under contract to complete it. "What they're saying," Dery said, "is that anything that we put there will be better than you."


Posted by lumi at 11:48 PM

Olympic Committee To Be Welcomed To New York City

NY1 discusses the wining and dining of the IOC. "The tab for all the hoopla will be picked up by the NYC2012 Committee, the private group spearheading the city’s bid." You may remember the NYC2012 committee from such recent scandals as "You can't buy the Mayor? So give to 2012 games."


Posted by amy at 10:57 AM

Cablevision Says $600 Million Offer Stands For MTA's Hudson Rail Yards

From NY1

Posted by amy at 10:55 AM

In Case a Jail Closes: Pursuing Ideas for a Gentler Future

From the New York Times:

The jail sits at the intersection of the Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill neighborhoods, between the planned Brooklyn Bridge Park and Bruce Ratner's proposed arena. Marty Markowitz, borough president, thinks its redevelopment would unify the area. He said last week that the city should issue a request for proposals, to "see what ideas are out there."


Posted by amy at 10:48 AM

City Issues RFP For Development of 65th Street Rail Yard in Sunset Park

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

SUNSET PARK - The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has issued a Request for Proposals (FP) for the northern portion of the 65th Street Rail Yard in Sunset Park.

The RFP offers 14.9 acres of the 33-acre rail yard for development for intermodal rail or waterborne uses. The rail yard is adjacent to the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT), a former military facility that is currently home to more than 70 companies and thousands of employees.

There will be an informational meeting and site visit for potential respondents at 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 2, at 63rd Street and Second Avenue.

"This RFP is further evidence of Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to revitalizing the City's waterfronts for industrial and maritime uses and creating quality jobs for residents of all five boroughs," said Andrew Alper, EDC president, in a published statement. "By improving freight movement in the City, we have the potential to divert thousands of cars from the roads and improve the quality of life of all New Yorkers."

The RFP is for potential use and occupancy of only the northern, intermodal portion of the Yard. The RFP arena is about 1,665 feet long by 250 feet wide and has water frontage with unimproved shoreline. The shoreline could be converted into useable concrete bulkhead for landing barges. The EDC estimates that the cost of converting the 400-foot waterfront would be about $3.8 million.

Two railroad tracks run through this portion of the yard, and two other tracks run north from the Rail Yard's throat at Second Avenue into the Brooklyn Army Terminal and to a connection with the First Avenue Rail Yard. The southern portion of the Yard consists of 14 rail tracks that make up a classification yard connected to two electric gantry float bridges. A railroad operator will be responsible for the operation of the southern portion of the site.

The 65th Street Rail Yard is located between 64th and 66th Streets, west of Second Avenue. It forms the terminus of the Long Island Rail Road's Bay Ridge freight line along the Brooklyn waterfront. The City acquired the 65th Street Rail Yard in 1982 and, in conjunction with the State, has invested more than $20 million in improvements, including construction of the two new rail transfer bridges.

To maximize alternatives available for the site, a number of agreement structures are possible, depending on whether the yard is to be used for maritime endeavors or industrial rail. The RFP contains details of the various agreement structures. For a copy, please call 212-312-3565. Proposals are due by 4 p.m. on March 8.

For site visit reservations, please send an e-mail to 65rfp@nycedc.com or call (212) 312-3600.

Posted by amy at 10:40 AM

February 12, 2005

Bruce Ratner Holds Court

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:


Bruce Ratner doesn't want to hear about the problems he'll have dealing with those opposed to his $3.5 billion plan for Downtown, which will include a sparkling new arena for his soon-to-be-Brooklyn Nets...

Ratner has been unable to secure the parcel of land necessary for his $550 million Downtown Arena, but refuses to let the wait for the M.O.U. (Memorandum of Understanding) or questions regarding the Community Benefits Agreement get in the way of his vision for bringing big-time pro sports back to Brooklyn for the first time since the Dodgers fled to Los Angeles in 1957.


Posted by amy at 11:50 AM

New Yorkers rally for affordable housing

From the People's Weekly World:

Housing activists charge that the mayor supports many real estate developments that benefit big business, but has aggravated the housing crisis for regular people.

Reginald Bowman, representing Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.), told the World that housing plans must take into account the needs of community residents. Referring to plans of Ratner, a developer whose corporation is trying to redevelop downtown Brooklyn in a way that would force out many community residents, Bowman said Rep. Owens is supporting an alternative. “He is an advocate for making sure that the community has affordable housing and the kind of planning for neighborhoods that makes sure the working class and the poor always have some place to live.”


Posted by amy at 11:43 AM

Pols pile on Jets

From Field of Schemes:

Could that be ... the fat lady? Yesterday brought an avalanche of bad news for the New York Jets' $1.7 billion stadium plan, as three top state legislators threw roadblocks in the proposal's path...

Meanwhile, the growing clamor over the rail yards sale could come back to haunt New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner, who's attempting a similar noncompetitive bid for Brooklyn rail yards where he wants to build his basketball arena. Skelos, in fact, specifically urged that competitive bidding be used for the Jets because of the precedent it would set for the Nets project. Could that be two fat ladies singing...?


Posted by amy at 11:40 AM


From the Brooklyn Papers:

Though the Cablevision bid was decried as a “publicity stunt” by both the mayor and officials with the football team, the notion of competitive bidding for the site gave Brooklynites who oppose Ratner’s plan a beacon of hope.

“We’ve been demanding for the past year that the MTA should issue requests for proposals,” said Patti Hagan, who lives near the site of the proposed Nets arena. She said she knew of at least one idea by a developer for the Vanderbilt Avenue end of the site.


Posted by amy at 11:26 AM

State of confusion over Yards

MTA to Brooklyn Papers: "Define 'discussions'."


Posted by amy at 11:22 AM

Un-Vinceable Nets fold


Carter and the Nets were closing in on a record-breaking game against the best team in the NBA, until getting tossed out of the game for a second technical foul.

The NY Times: Carter Soars Until Spurs Get Under His Skin
Bergen Record: Un-Vinceable Nets fold
The NY Daily News: Vince tossed, Nets are lost
The Newark Star-Ledger: Nets suffer a technical knockout
NY Newsday: SPURS 101, NETS 91. Carter Ejected with 43 points.

Posted by lumi at 9:01 AM

February 11, 2005

Expanding Fan Base

NY Newsday: New NJ Nets CEO Brett Yormark is heading a campaign to "re-image" the team. The team's lame-duck status in the Continental Arena and MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow's announcement that the "The Nets' deal is absolutely on hold until [the Hudson Yards deal] finishes," have put the Nets in an awkward position with its current and potential fan base.


Posted by lumi at 6:40 PM

Nets' Owner Starts Over


...and speaking about "the campaign to re-image the team" as a metro-area attraction, here's the latest NY Times scoop on the sensitive, caring side of Bruce Ratner. Too bad the story made him out to be such a dork.

Nets' Owner Starts Over By RICHARD SANDOMIR

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Feb. 9 - The pregame was easy for Bruce C. Ratner.

Ratner, the principal owner of the Nets, chatted with team officials over a turkey dinner Wednesday night at the Winners Club restaurant inside Continental Arena, then greeted Magic Johnson and Richard J. Codey, the acting governor of New Jersey, at courtside.

Fans reached out with their hands and suggestions. Ratner strolled through the new prefabricated Nissan Courtside Club to mingle with elite seat-holders, as well as Jason Kidd's wife, Joumana, as they supped on frankfurters and popcorn.

Then he suffered - quietly. He sat unobtrusively, usually with his arms folded over his chest, as the Lakers erased the Nets' 12-point fourth-quarter lead. He wondered about the identity of these largely nameless Lakers, who were showing perseverance without the injured Kobe Bryant.

"Who are these guys?" he said.

With each missed Nets shot, Ratner uttered a barely audible, "Oh, no." When the Lakers' Chucky Atkins tied the score at 92-92, Ratner shook his head sadly in disbelief.

In overtime, when Caron Butler's 3-pointer put the Lakers ahead for good, 102-101, Ratner emitted a pained, "Unnhhh."

With the score at 104-101 with 36 seconds left, Ratner, a tiny, rueful smile creasing his round face, said: "Anything can happen on any given night in sports. But I still don't like it."

When the game ended in the Nets' 28th loss of the season, Ratner slapped his right thigh, exhaled and said: "I've got a sinking feeling. It's far better to win."

Praying for Vince Carter to hit a buzzer beater is a new feeling for Ratner, who is 60. He was not an especially knowledgeable fan when he bought the Nets last year and was painted by critics as a developer who dipped into basketball only to move the team to a new Brooklyn arena by 2007 or 2008 and make a big real estate score.

It may be a while before he erases that image. There has been community opposition to his plan to build the arena and surrounding residential and commercial buildings, as well as discontent about how he has pursued his goal.

Norman Siegel, a lawyer for Develop Don't Destroy, said that Ratner had not provided enough information to neighborhoods about the project.

"Ideally," Siegel said, "a developer would reach out and meet with people and disclose his plans in detail so the people affected would understand what's happening."

But Bruce Bender, an executive vice president of Ratner's company, Forest City Ratner, said: "We've gone above and beyond to meet with the community. We've met with all the community boards. We've never turned down anyone. We have been very open. To say we haven't is wrong, deceitful and outrageous."

Forest City Ratner is the development partner of The New York Times Company in building a new headquarters in Manhattan on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st streets. For Ratner, the opposition to the Brooklyn development was a prelude to the ferocious reaction to the Nets' trading Kenyon Martin to Denver last summer, which Ratner subsequently called a mistake. After the Nets then traded Kerry Kittles, Jason Kidd said he wanted to leave.

The criticism was unlike anything Ratner had encountered as the commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs from 1978 to 1982 and as an urban developer. Both jobs, he said, had positive elements to them, but lacked the renown of owning a sports team.

"It was difficult for me the first three months, but it was a good trial by fire," he said. "I was horribly criticized. I got used to thickening my skin."

He said that he had atoned for much of the media and fan savaging when Rod Thorn, the Nets' president, and Ed Stefanski, the general manager, traded for Vince Carter. Ratner said that deal symbolized his belief that a solid organization, like his real estate company, could rebound with smart decisions.

"I didn't expect it to happen so quickly, that I'd be proven right," he said.

The impression that Ratner's intentions were purely real-estate driven was exacerbated by his status as a neophyte basketball fan. His sports memories reflect his upbringing in Cleveland - his love of the football Browns, and his first baseball game, the 1-0 no-hitter pitched by the Yankees' Allie Reynolds against the Indians in 1951.

"My father bought tickets for Game 5 of the 1954 World Series," he said, but the Indians, who won 111 games that season, were swept by the Giants. "When the Indians were last in the World Series, I made sure to buy tickets for Game 5." (The Marlins won the '97 World Series in seven games.)

To elevate his knowledge of basketball, Ratner plays the NBA Live video game on his computer; trolls the Internet for news and statistics; and bought the league's pay-per-view games on the N.B.A.'s League Pass subscription service.

"I watched the San Antonio game the other day to prepare for our game on Friday," he said. "I'm learning. Until 1983, I didn't know a thing about real estate."

Thorn, who has spent 40 years in the National Basketball Association as a player and an executive, said: "He's become a fan. He knows more about the game than he did before."

Ratner's challenges are hardly related to whether he can recite Wilt Chamberlain's free-throw percentage on the night he scored 100 points. It is, however, crucial that he build up the franchise in the years before the move to Brooklyn. Attendance is down this season by nearly 4 percent, to an average of 14,952 a game. Empty seats were noticeable Wednesday night throughout the arena. For most of the first half, there were five empty seats right in front of Ratner's.

"It doesn't break my heart," he said. "It's not whole empty sections. But when I look at N.B.A. games with whole empty sections, that scares me."

To maintain and add revenue, Ratner hired Brett Yormark, a former Nascar executive, as president of the team's parent company; created the Courtside Club from unused space near the basketball court's entrance; added areas for sponsor hospitality; reduced the price of 3,000 upper-tier seats to $15; initiated a postgame concert series; and distributes free tickets to deserving high school students.

During Wednesday's game, about 50 students from Thomas Jefferson High School in the East New York section of Brooklyn left their upper-level seats to meet Ratner, one after another, thanking him for their tickets.

Ratner said he was not concerned that reducing ticket prices or giving away a substantial number of tickets would hurt his bottom line. "Eighty percent of the revenues is in 20 percent of the seats in the lower bowl," he said.

He refused to divulge the state of the team's finances and said that before he sells the future in Brooklyn, he will build revenue in a market that has historically not fully supported the Nets and will, to some extent, be left behind.

"I don't accept that we can't substantially improve our business with the right product," he said.

He added, "With the right product, you can mess up the marketing."

One aspect of improved marketing is the imminent hiring of Marv Albert to call about 50 Nets games for the YES Network next season. Drawing Albert, a Brooklyn native, who is closely identified with the Knicks after calling their games for 35 years before leaving the MSG Network last June, is a public relations coup for the Nets.

Ian Eagle, who has called Nets game for 11 years, is deciding whether to accept a diminished role of about 30 games.

"Ian is very good," Ratner said. "But Marv is the gold-plated standard. It's our philosophy to get the very best people. I think I'm doing the right thing. There'll be some negative reaction about Ian, but it will turn out to be a positive thing."

There was little positive in the Nets' locker room after Wednesday's loss.

Ratner walked slowly from player to player, saying, "Tough loss." Not one looked up at him.

Ratner seemed forlorn when he walked out and decided against going back in to console Coach Lawrence Frank.

"I'm going to replay this game in my head," he said, before driving off in the rainy night in his chauffeured Lexus.

Posted by lumi at 6:12 PM

IN THE SUBWAYS. MTA, ink a sweet deal for riders' sake.

NY Newday, Ray Sanchez:

From the start, the process to get the Jets a West Side stadium and strengthen New York's bid for the 2012 Olympics has been handled like the MTA's rigged fare hikes - behind closed doors, without debate, no real contest.

"There's a great disregard for the public who pays for the fare," [#7 subway rider Neal] Twomey said.


Posted by lumi at 8:32 AM

Not So Fast, Mr. Mayor. Is a new stadium critical to New York's Olympics bid?

Business Week:
Bloomberg's tactic of using the Olympic bid to force stadium approval is now being scrutinized.


Interviews with:
NewYorkGames.org Olympic expert, Brian Hatch, "An Olympic-Size Mistake?"
NYC Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, "No Stadium, No Games"

Posted by lumi at 8:12 AM

February 10, 2005

Powerful Republican calls for open bidding on W. Side yards

Crain's NY Business:

State Sen. Dean Skelos, deputy majority leader for legislative operations, says the MTA’s financial position necessitates an open bidding process for the yards, where the New York Jets want to build an arena. The move is a big coup for opponents of the project, which requires the approval of state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

“We believe that a competitive RFP process would maximize the value received for the West Side Yards’ development rights.” [Skelos] adds that it will set an important precedent for future projects, such as developer Bruce Ratner’s proposal to build a sports stadium in Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 7:55 AM


NY Post, Opinion Columnist, Steve Cuozzo:

THE New York Times is evidently unafraid to make an ass of it self if it can add even incrementally to the growing hysteria against the West Side stadium project.

Worse still are the Times' editorials against the stadium deal — which flagrantly ignore striking similarities to the Times' own recent purchase from the state of the land for its new Eighth Avenue headquarters.

Similarities between the Jets and the Times-Ratner deal are: * sweetheart land deal, * a litany of tax-breaks, and * lack of competitive bidding on the site.


NoLandGrab: If you added eminent domain abuse at taxpayers' expense to this list, then you would have the complete real-estate-developer playbook written by Forest City Ratner. Who can blame the Jets for stealing a few pages from the NYC Builder's Bible?

Posted by lumi at 7:53 AM

Cablevision offer spurs debate

The Cablevision offer has muddied the waters enough to give political cover to politicians who have thus far remained silent. Meanwhile the merits of the deal is being analyzed in the press as the MTA awaits more details.

The NY Times: Bruno Urges Going Slower on Decision for Stadium
NY Newsday: Lawmakers in no rush to sign off on stadium
NY Daily News: Cablevision plays out of bounds
The NY Observer: The Dolan Family: Dysfunction Clan Makes A Gutsy Bid
The Villager, Editorial: A stadium referendum is required
The NY Times, Editorial: Eyes Wide Open on the Stadium

Posted by lumi at 7:52 AM

New Jersey in Talks With Giants and Jets

The NY Times: New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is reaching out to the Jets to try to convince them to stay in Jersey for at least the next 10 years.


Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

More economic fascism

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Editorial:

To own property is to own the right to live and do business according to one's means and desires. The Framers understood this as a fundamental right that government is obligated to defend. Property rights should give way only for the strictest public necessity, not for private profit and taxes.


Posted by lumi at 7:11 AM

February 9, 2005

Embarrassment for the MTA on the fight for the West Side

The NY Sun:

[The] group that stands to suffer the most embarrassment from the coming debate over the rail yards is not Mr. Bloomberg or the Jets: It’s the MTA.The cash-strapped transit service has until now justified its willingness to sell airrights over the 13-acre parcel of land by citing giant shortfalls in its coming fiscal years. The authority, which raised fares and cut services last year because of ballooning interest payments and other expenses, is staring at a $586 million deficit in fiscal 2006 and nearly $1 billion in fiscal 2008.


NY1: MTA Sets Friday Deadline For More Details On MSG's Bid For Hudson Rail Yards
WNYC: The MTA Should Get Best Price for Railyards
The NY Daily News: MTA gives Garden 3 days to back up $600M offer

Posted by lumi at 8:02 AM

City Plans to Use Real Estate Revenue Stream to Finance Stadium

The NY Times: After a year of questions about how the City is going to pay for its $300M-portion of the Jets Stadium, Bloomberg reveals that it will be financed from "annual payments in lieu of taxes, known as PILOT." The use of the revenues from the PILOT are soley at the Mayor's discretion and do not require City Council approval.

PILOT explained:

Many of these payments flow to the city's Industrial Development Agency when it strikes a deal with a major corporation, like CBS, Credit Suisse First Boston and Bear Stearns, to build a new headquarters or expand its operations. The city provides various incentives and, because the project is on city-owned land, sets an annual payment in lieu of taxes that is usually less than the property taxes on privately owned land.

The entire project attempts to sidestep any City Council authority:

Much to the Council's chagrin, Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff designed a stadium project that sidestepped the normal budget process and a vote by the Council. And at the hearing on Monday, he and [City Budget Director Mark] Page revealed that the city would subsidize the stadium with funds over which the Council had no authority.


Posted by lumi at 7:39 AM


Last night, City Councilman Charles Barron announced that he would not be seeking the Democratic Party nomination for Mayor, citing lack of funds raised. Last year Barron sought to have the NJ Nets arena built in his district in East New York as opposed to Prospect Heights. He is considered by local activists to be an ally in the fight against overdevelopment justified by false promises of housing and jobs.


Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

February 8, 2005

The Return of Metrotech

City Limits Monthly begs Brooklyn, in detail, to learn from our (Ratner's) mistakes. A NoLandGrab Must-Read!


Posted by amy at 9:10 PM

Bloomberg threatens to take his ball and go home


The Daily Snooze:

Mayor Bloomberg, during yesterday's press conference, explained that if the Jets stadium deal is not approved, New York would not be awarded the 2012 Olympics and the #7 subway line would not be extended to the West Side. Hizzoner also claimed that the Cablevision proposal would lead to a "glut of housing" on the market. (We're not making this up folks.)

In response to a question about ongoing talks with the Jets, Bloomberg dropped a bombshell -- if the stadium isn't built, the NY Jets would move to New Jersey. Other repercussion may follow:

  • the New York Stock Exchange will move to York, PA and to be renamed the "York Stock Exchange,"
  • Staten Island moves to NJ,
  • Lower Manhattan moves to NJ, and
  • the fiscally challenged MTA would be forced to raise fares!

Posted by lumi at 8:52 PM


nypressratner.gif NY Press:

"We already know who the big winner of the Jets stadium battle is. It's mega-developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner. As the city's focus remains riveted on the west side story, a much bigger and less scrutinized deal is underway at the Atlantic Avenue Railyards in Brooklyn."


Posted by lumi at 6:22 PM

Atlantic Yards Development

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle: UNITY Plan presented at community meetings.

Atlantic Yards Development by Charles Sweeney (charles@brooklyneagle.net), published online 02-08-2005   PARK SLOPE -- Tonight, an old church in the heart of Park Slope will serve as the latest stop on the “tour of neighborhoods” undertaken by opponents of the Atlantic Yards development plan.

At tonight’s meeting at Old First Reformed Church on Seventh Avenue, the contentious issues surrounding Forest City Ratner’s (FCR) redevelopment plan will be aired and an alternate vision for the area will be presented.

Critics contend the FCR plan, if realized, would “destroy the character of the neighborhood, put a strain on the existing infrastructure, cause traffic problems and, with the considerable subsidies at the state and city level for the developers, engender huge taxpayer losses,” according to Jezra Kaye of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), a group opposing FCR’s plan.

(See Borough President Marty Markowitz’s “State of the Borough” on page 4 for a different view of the arena controversy.)

Marshal Brown, an urban designer from Fort Greene who worked on the alternate plan said, “We’re not just interested in this particular site, we’re interested in using this as a model for how development can be done cooperatively by bringing everyone to the table in the beginning.”

Brown is critical not only of FCR’s plan for the site, but how the plan came about.

“There’s been no independent review,” Brown pointed out. “City planning has not done their job. The developer doesn’t even want to go through the Uniformed Land-Use Review Process (ULURP).”

He places the blame for this circumvention of checks and balances squarely on the shoulders of the city’s politicians. “The fact is it’s their responsibility to do their job to enforce the system,” Brown said. “I hope the mayor and the governor and the borough president are more responsible for the process. They need to say yes, we will go before ULURP, no we won’t allow eminent domain abuse for sports and entertainment uses.”

The alternative Unity Plan eliminates the sports arena and calls for a higher percentage of affordable housing, more green space and more storefront retail space. It’s (the arena) only 800,000 square feet,” Brown said. “The entire proposal is 7.6 million square feet. The arena is only 10 percent of the project. I call it a ‘Trojan Horse,’” Brown joked.

Brown will present the plan to the public in Park Slope himself. “Everyone should get something out of it,” he said of the proposed development.

Coalition of Groups Tours Areas

While this will not be the first time the Unity Plan will be presented to the public, supporters feel they have to reach out to as many people as possible if they hope to compete with the millions spent on public relations and lobbying by FCR.

The groups decided to tour the affected neighborhoods “to present to communities the changes that such large-scale development can bring,” according to Jezra Kaye, of DDDB. “Some people understand well, others are not noticing how deeply this will impact them.”

“This is our first time in Park Slope,” said Eric McClure, a spokesperson for Park Slope Neighbors (PSN). “This is an update for the people of the neighborhood, what the plans are.”

Asked about a recent announcement that FRC would be reducing the amount of office space in the current plan, adding more housing, PSN’s McClure was unimpressed.

“They might be doing that because they think it would be easier to fill,” he said. “They’ve had problems filling MetroTech.”

This second-guessing of motives and the general air of cynicism, while always a part of real estate development in the city in the past, seems to have reached a new level in the battle over the Atlantic Yards.

DDDB’s Kaye criticizes the lack of public input into a decision to turn public land over to a developer who she believes has shown little interest in neighborhood concerns.

On one side, Kaye sees the forces of the real-estate lobby with allies in Albany and City Hall; and on the other, ad-hoc groups like DDDB and PSN.

“This deal has been carefully crafted to insure that only three people need to approve it for it to go through,” Kaye said. “Governor Pataki, (NYS Assembly) Speaker Silver and the mayor.”

Kaye explained the process of handing over the development rights: “The MTA agrees to give up the rail yards, the Empire State Development Corporation takes control of the process and awards Ratner the development rights, and the mayor signs away rights of review.”

Study Critical of Ratner Plan

Does the Unity Plan really have a chance?

In light of the political wrangling required to get the project under way, what chance does an alternate plan have, even one put together by talented, well-meaning but otherwise under funded professionals donating their spare time?

Toward this end, Kaye points to an economic viability study released in June 2004.

The study was self-funded by a Jung Kim, a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and Gustav Peebles, a former city employee with a masters in economics from London School of Economics.

The results of the study question the contention that FCR’s development plan is economically viable.

In an executive summary, the study concludes, “In addition to the $449.34 million the city and state are giving outright to the project, the developer (FCR) will utilize the threat of eminent domain to obtain land that the developer could readily buy on the open market.”

It is this definition of “eminent domain” that critics contend has been misused.

Something Will Be Built

“It’s safe to say that someone will develop there,” Kaye said. “Not necessarily Ratner.”

Even the most ardent opponents of the plan believe that something will be developed at the location.

What they are fighting for is the kind of development they, as residents, will have to live with.

“I’ll say this,” Brown added. “I think the Atlantic Yards site might be the best single piece of coherent property in New York, with its relation to transportation infrastructure, the convergence of so many neighborhoods. Rather than selling the resources short, let’s invest in the city. We want to see something that would benefit the surrounding communities.”

The “Unity Plan” presentation for the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards takes place Monday, 7 p.m. at Old First Reformed Church, 126 Seventh Ave., near Carroll Street.

Posted by lumi at 4:12 PM

MTA-Jets Face Off

The NY Times: Top Price for Stadium Site Trumps the Olympics, M.T.A. Chief Says

"Peter S. Kalikow, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said yesterday that the authority's need to get the highest possible price to keep the transit system running properly outweighed even City Hall's desire for a football stadium and its bid for the 2012 Olympic Games."

Bloomberg News: Jets Will Give Up on Stadium If Site Price Too High

"The New York Jets would walk away from building a Manhattan football stadium if an arbitrator sets too high a price for the site's development rights, Jets President Jay Cross said today."

Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

Check in with the Nets


Bruce Ratner is making a deal with Brooklyn-born Marv Albert to be the new voice of the team, leaving current play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle (who merely grew up in Queens) with a tough choice of whether to take a back seat to Marv or join another team/network.

FOXSports.com: "Don't look now, but the three-time defending Atlantic Division champion Nets are only four games out of first place."

Carter scores season-high 43 points on Kidd's 3rd triple-double in cliffhanger with Sixers
NY Daily News: Vince Nets 43, deep-sixes Philly
Sportsline.com: Carter's 43, Kidd's triple-double send Nets to victory
NY Newsday: Carter (43), Kidd lead surging Nets
The Newark Star-Ledger: Two much to handle. Carter (43), Kidd lift surging Nets to key victory.

Posted by lumi at 7:00 AM

Ratner's now an L.E.S. memory

Ok, wrong Ratner, but maybe the Bruce could open up a Ratners in an FCR food court.


Posted by lumi at 6:13 AM

February 7, 2005

Round 2: MSG sues NYC over West Side rezoning

Madison Square Garden added the City Council to its suit over the West Side's environmental impact statement.

The NY Daily News: Garden sues Council

The NY Daily News: The lawsuit calls the Council's approval of the rezoning "arbitrary and capricious" and an "abuse of lawful procedure," arguing it was based on a flawed environmental statement.

NY Newsday: Madison Square Garden sues city over stadium rezoning

NY Newsday: The suit was originally filed in December as part of an attempt to stop the Jets from building a new stadium that would be near the Garden. The council became a defendant after it approved a city plan to rezone part of the West Side for housing, offices and parks.

NoLandGrab: All of MSG's efforts are tying up the Jets project, which keeps Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal on the back burner. Also, they publicly highlight the controversial issues surrounding Ratner's Brooklyn Boondoggle.

Posted by lumi at 8:19 AM

Olympics Backers To Practice Lines for IOC Tryout Doctoroff, Jets President, Others Will Gather This Weekend

The NY Sun: NYC2012 and NY City and State Officials will be getting together to get their stories straight for visiting International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials. IOC officials are currently visiting cities vying for the opportunity to host the 2012 Olympics. The IOC NYC visit begins on February 20. Officials will be staying at the Plaza hotel, overlooking Central Park.

[Robert Livingstone or GamesBid.com] said he couldn’t think of anything New York could do to hurt its chances — and he said protests or negative advertising campaigns about various parts of the Olympic plan wouldn’t do any damage. “In a Western democracy,” Mr. Livingstone said,“if the evaluation team went there and didn’t see a protest, they’d begin to wonder.”


NoLandGrab: Mr. Livingstone's opinion won't keep Brooklynites who are threatened with displacement from pleading with the IOC to help save their homes.

Posted by lumi at 8:06 AM

EDITORIAL: West Side Super Bowl

The NY Sun:

Mayor Bloomberg and the Jets would have an easier time dismissing the Cablevision bid as anti-competitive if their own plan for West Side development weren’t itself still awaiting a market test. These columns have argued from the beginning that the city and state would do better by issuing a request for proposals and establishing an open, transparent bidding process for the West Side rail yards. Instead, the city and the state adopted the Jets’ plan without such a process and thus without inviting, let alone considering, other alternatives. The Cablevision bid suddenly has many New Yorkers — left and right,ourselves as well as, say, the Times — thinking that Mr. Bloomberg’s central planning approach was shortsighted.


Posted by lumi at 7:39 AM


NY Post: NJ acting Gov. Richard Cody wants the chance to keep the Jets in NJ.


NoLandGrab: Cody has given the NJ State Exposition Authority permission to try to keep sports teams in NJ. Under former Gov. McGreevey this was not the case. McGreevey even nixed a proposal to move the Nets to Central Jersey, thus leading to Ratner's purchase of the team. Since Cody is not running for election to the seat vacated by McGreevey, the question remains of how aggressively the next governor will try to keep the Nets in NJ if things stall out in Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 6:49 AM

Standing by the stadium Critics use it to attack mayor, whose supporters say controversy overshadows his many economic successes

NY Newsday: As the Mayor has staked his political fortunes on the controversial West Side Stadium, other local issues and controversies have been eclipsed. Polling data sends mexed missages as the Mayor and critics point to public support for each of their positions.


Posted by lumi at 6:01 AM

February 6, 2005

MSG to MTA: Why won't you let us give you money?

Madison Square Garden letter to MTA. AKA Ratner vs. Ratner.

This proposal is much more beneficial for the MTA and New York City and State than surrendering the sale of this valuable piece of property to a contentious and unpredictable arbitration process. For example:

• New York City and New York State save $600 Million that they would have paid for the proposed Jets stadium.

• The MTA obtains a firm commitment from a credit-worthy buyer for a dramatically higher price than the Jets are willing to pay.

• New York City and New York State residents derive future tax revenues -- including property tax revenues -- certain to be many times greater than the revenues to be derived from the proposed Jets stadium.

• The project creates real, diverse jobs in a much more attractive environment.

February 4, 2005

Peter S. Kalikow Chairperson Metropolitan Transportation Authority 347 Madison Avenue New York, New York 10017

Dear Chairperson Kalikow:

We are pleased to present this proposal to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (the "MTA") of the principal business terms on which Madison Square Garden, L.P. ("MSG") is prepared to acquire and develop the Site (as defined below).

  1. The Site.

The project consists of improvements to be built above the current Hudson Rail Yards bounded, generally, by West 30th and 33rd Streets, and Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues (the "Site"), currently proposed to be acquired by or leased to the New York Jets football team. The MTA will deliver the Site and the related development rights (collectively, the "Property") by fee simple conveyance or long-term lease of development rights, a long-term ground lease and/or another mutually agreed mechanism.

  1. The Project.

MSG will develop a project consisting of a dynamic mixed-use community centered on residential development (including affordable housing). The environmentally sensitive design with ample open space and community amenities will be created by internationally recognized architect(s) and may include office, general commercial, cultural, recreational, hotel, restaurant, retail, parking and entertainment uses. The design will contemplate public access to, and other enhancements of, the Hudson River waterfront, to serve as a beautiful, dramatic and vital neighbor to the newly-expanded Javits Convention Center, and visitors to the Javits Center will enjoy access to this new community and its amenities. The economic development impact from the diverse uses proposed will be much greater for New York City than the Jets' proposal. The aesthetically-pleasing and environmentally sound land-use plan to be developed by MSG will be a stronger and more coherent stimulus to broader development of the West Side of Manhattan.

  1. Price and Payment.

    MSG will pay an aggregate purchase price of $600 Million. The MTA will be responsible for delivering the Site with a platform (or other suitable support alternatives to a platform) in place, to be constructed by MSG or the MTA or by a mutually-agreeable third-party using a portion of the purchase price. The platform will be built in a manner mutually acceptable to the MTA and MSG as required by the design for the new development and to permit efficient operation of the railyards. We believe that our proposed uses for the platform will make it far less costly than those contemplated by the Jets and we will agree to negotiate with the MTA about any cost overages over $250 million.

    This proposal is much more beneficial for the MTA and New York City and State than surrendering the sale of this valuable piece of property to a contentious and unpredictable arbitration process. For example:

    • New York City and New York State save $600 Million that they would have paid for the proposed Jets stadium.

• The MTA obtains a firm commitment from a credit-worthy buyer for a dramatically higher price than the Jets are willing to pay.

• New York City and New York State residents derive future tax revenues -- including property tax revenues -- certain to be many times greater than the revenues to be derived from the proposed Jets stadium.

• The project creates real, diverse jobs in a much more attractive environment.

  1. Zoning.

    This proposal is based on the assumption that the zoning applicable to the Site will permit the highest and best development of the Site for the diverse uses described above, consistent with the Hudson Yards zoning recently approved by the City Council for the area around the Site.

  2. Commencement of Construction.

    MSG will commence construction as expeditiously as possible following the receipt of all necessary governmental approvals.

This proposal indicates our current intentions with respect to this matter. We are prepared to commence negotiation of binding agreements as expeditiously as possible upon your confirmation that the MTA desires to proceed on the basis of the terms outlined in this proposal. If the MTA intends to solicit or entertain other proposals or offers, or conduct an auction of any sort, for the Site and/or the related rights, please consider this proposal to be an expression of MSG's continuing interest in obtaining the Property.

Please let us know as soon as possible if the MTA is prepared to proceed with this exciting proposal. We are enthusiastic about this excellent opportunity and look forward to hearing from you regarding this proposal.


Madison Square Garden, L.P.

By: ________ Hank Ratner Vice Chairman

Posted by amy at 5:50 PM

As London awaits the Olympic inspectors, Athens offers a bleak vision of the future

From the Guardian

Posted by amy at 5:40 PM

Jets sweat out Dolan's end run

From Mike Lupica at the Daily News:

It all starts with the MTA being prepared to hand over the Hudson River railyards to the Jets for a song.

"It's a whole new ballgame," Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the biggest voice against the Jets' stadium, said Friday in a release. "There is now a real offer on the table that will give the MTA full value for its property at no cost to the taxpayers."

And for future reference, Lupica has two new nicknames for us:
Deputy Mayor In Charge of 76 Trombones, Daniel Doctoroff and Charles (Rubber Stamp) Gargano of the Empire State Development Corporation. Thanks, Mike!


Posted by amy at 5:19 PM

New city school will be a condo

From the Daily News:

The project will be the city's first public school built on private land and will be treated as a commercial condominium, meaning the city will own the school space. But the arrangement will not be cheap. The school will cost taxpayers $650 a square foot - more than twice the price City Hall has been trying to pay for new schools.

School officials said the higher cost reflects the architectural and planning work to be done by Ratner - an expense that typically isn't publicized.

Daily News article
New York Times: School? Bloomberg Says Yes. Stadium? Silver's Still Thinking.
Also see Newsday: New school announced for Lower Manhattan

Posted by amy at 5:15 PM

Nets' arena talks on hold while MTA deals with Jets

NorthJersey.com reports:

"The Nets deal is absolutely on hold until this finishes," MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow told five New York State Assembly members at a public hearing about the Jets stadium Thursday.

MTA Executive Director Katherine Lapp said at the hearing that agency officials have held only general talks with representatives of Nets principal owner Bruce Ratner.

"We've had no discussions directly with them about the value [of the air rights], what they would purchase, etc.," Lapp said of the site at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

Nets' arena talks on hold while MTA deals with Jets Saturday, February 5, 2005

By JOHN BRENNAN STAFF WRITER The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has told the New Jersey Nets to take a seat on the bench.

The reason: The MTA is too busy trying to work out a complicated deal with the New York Jets for a football stadium atop its rail yards in Manhattan to deal with the basketball team.

That means the Nets will have to wait indefinitely to pursue their own talks with the MTA about building a basketball arena atop MTA-owned land in Brooklyn.

"The Nets deal is absolutely on hold until this finishes," MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow told five New York State Assembly members at a public hearing about the Jets stadium Thursday.

MTA Executive Director Katherine Lapp said at the hearing that agency officials have held only general talks with representatives of Nets principal owner Bruce Ratner.

"We've had no discussions directly with them about the value [of the air rights], what they would purchase, etc.," Lapp said of the site at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

A spokesman for Ratner declined to comment.

Ratner undoubtedly will be keeping a close eye on the Jets talks, because his relocation plan is similar to that of the National Football League team.

The Jets are seeking binding arbitration as a way to bridge the wide gulf between the MTA's estimate of the value of the air rights above the Jets' stadium site.

The agency wants $300 million from the Jets for a one-third share of those air rights. The Jets say they should be required to pay only $35 million for full air rights, but they have offered $100 million. Kalikow said he would demand full market value from the Jets, dismissing suggestions by Assembly members that he has been asked by stadium supporters Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to give the Jets a discount.

The Nets must work out their own air-rights deal with the MTA before proceeding on building an arena that would be the centerpiece of a $2.5 billion housing, retail and office complex controlled by Ratner. The air-rights value determined for the Jets' site may serve as a model for the Nets' project, known as Atlantic Yards.

New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, expressing skepticism of a plan to use former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell to settle the Jets' dispute, asked Kalikow how he could turn down an arbitration request by the Nets if the Jets are allowed to go that route.

"I don't know," Kalikow said.

The Nets are trying to finalize a Community Benefits Agreement with various neighborhood groups this month. That would allow the franchise to sign a deal to make the state-run Empire State Development Corp. the lead agency for the overall development.

The ESDC, which also is overseeing the Jets' deal, is expected to give its final approval to that plan this month.

A Ratner aide said last fall that the Nets' owners hope to begin construction of their project early in 2006, which likely would delay a move to Brooklyn from Continental Arena at least until 2008. An environmental impact statement must be completed, and a series of public hearings must be held before ground is broken. Supporters and critics also expect several lawsuits to be filed against the project.

E-mail: brennan@northjersey.com

Posted by amy at 11:37 AM

February 5, 2005


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle announces the new name to look out for: Brett Yormark.

By taking control of the Nets’ parent company, Yormark will lead the overall business and marketing operations of the Nets, including corporate sponsorships, marketing partnerships and ticket sales. In addition, Yormark, who will report directly to Ratner, will be responsible for developing the business and strategic marketing plan for the new arena in Brooklyn – a $550 million project that stands as the centerpiece of a $3.5 billion development project in the heart of Downtown.


Posted by amy at 10:08 AM

Should the MTA be saying no to money???


Coverage of Madison Square Garden's $600 million counter bid for the Hudson Railyards.

Daily News: MSG's big bid to derail Jets
Daily News: MTA giving Jets lotta green
New York Times: Owner of Garden Outbids Jets For Stadium Site
Newsday: MSG makes bid for Jets stadium site

Posted by amy at 9:17 AM

February 4, 2005


Marty poses with a representation of the Titanic mess he's making of Brooklyn. And Tony Danza.

The Brooklyn Papers covers Marty's State of the Borough address:

The mention of the Ratner project drew loud boos from anti-arena activists Patti and Schellie Hagan, who sat among a pool of reporters in the back of the auditorium. When Markowitz promised that the project would create “about 10,000 permanent new jobs” and “15,000 construction-related jobs” the sisters shouted in unison, “Lies.” The shouting drew two community affairs police officers, who on two occasions threatened to throw out the critics.

Possibly predicting protests, Markowitz also acknowledged criticism of the plan in his address.

“I want to say right now that I fully understand — and share the concerns — of local area residents who have spoken out in opposition to this development,” said Markowitz. “People of goodwill can differ.

“And constructive opposition is something I value and cherish because I honestly believe that — in the end — it makes for a better plan.

“The Nets arena — and the Atlantic Yards project — will go forward, but it must work for both Brooklyn and for the community surrounding the arena,” he said. “Because people do not move out of Brooklyn today seeking a better life. They move out because they can’t afford the good life we have here.”


Posted by amy at 10:46 PM

MSG offers $600M for W. Side rail yards

Crain's New York:

Upping the ante in its campaign against a West Side stadium, Cablevision Systems Corp.’s Madison Square Garden has offered to develop the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s West Side Hudson rail yards for $600 million.

In the letter, MSG outlined plans to develop a mixed-use community centered on residential development on the site of the yards, which is where the city wants to build a new stadium for the New York Jets. MSG envisions the “highest and best development of the site” allowable under recently approved zoning regulations.

MSG”s move comes days after MTA and the Jets agreed to submit their dispute over the value of development rights at the site to binding arbitration. The authority wants $270 million, while the team has appraised the rights at about $35 million. The city and the state have agreed to pay about $600 million for the project, including a $375 million platform over the rail yards and $225 million for a retractable roof.

The letter from MSG proposes that the MTA deliver the site with a platform over the yards in place, to be constructed using a portion of the purchase price.


Posted by lumi at 8:43 PM

Gambles forced from their home on Atlantic Avenue

gambles.jpg That's Atlantic Avenue in Norwood, OH, but it's a taste of things to come in Prospect Heights if Ratner isn't stopped.

The City of Norwood has forced senior citizens, Joy and Carl Gamble, from the only home they've ever known. The Norwood City Council justifies the eminent domain condemnation for reasons of blight. This "blighted" neighborhood is being cleared for a local developer to build a shopping plaza (or "lifestyle center" as developer J.R. Anderson likes to call it). Like the case of the Blankenships in Toledo, OH, the city refusd to wait until the appeals process unfolded or for the US Supreme Court to rule in the case of Kelo v. New London. The Blankenship's brake shop was razed while appeals were still pending.

Institute of Justice press release
Mother Jones, "The Condemned" (last month's article about the Norwood land grab)
MSNBC: Ohio couple accuses city of grabbing land
Email the Norwood City Council

Posted by lumi at 7:32 PM

Groups Back NLDC's Eminent Domain Case

The (New London CT) Day:
By Ted Mann

A broad range of states, cities and economic development groups has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the New London Development Corp.'s use of eminent domain at Fort Trumbull as a proper use of the government's power to seize private land.

Among the groups coming to the defense of the city and the NLDC, in friend-of-the-court briefs filed last week, were the National League of Cities and International Municipal Lawyers' Association; attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia; and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

CCM assembled a coalition of more than 30 other state municipal associations to argue that “the Fifth Amendment does not prohibit the State of Connecticut from empowering a distressed municipality to use eminent domain to assemble small urban parcels into a unified package suitable for modern economic development.”

The briefs were filed as attorneys for the NLDC and the city prepare to defend their condemnation of 15 properties at Fort Trumbull, where the city hopes a planned hotel, office and residential development will generate much-needed tax revenue for the city.

The seven property owners have appealed the city's efforts to seize the land to the nation's highest court, arguing that the economic development proposals do not represent a proper “public use” for their land, and asking the court to require more stringent judicial oversight of eminent domain applications.

Oral arguments in the case, known as Kelo v. New London, will be heard by the justices Feb. 22.

A slew of advocacy groups filed amicus curiae briefs on behalf of the Fort Trumbull property owners, and by Friday a similarly large group had leapt to the city's defense, depicting eminent domain as a harsh but necessary remedy for urban woes.

“The assembly of urban lands for economic growth is a ‘public use,' as it eliminates the accretion of small parcels that has acted to hinder old cities like New London from competing in the market for economic development projects,” attorneys for CCM and 32 allied organizations wrote. “...As such, it plainly falls within the police powers of the State of Connecticut, which has determined that its municipalities need the power to assemble lands to create developable urban parcels that the market itself has been unable to supply.”

The briefs argue that eminent domain is an invaluable tool for cities and states trying to further redevelopment plans, or, as in New London's case, to boost a sagging tax base.

“We've focused on both New London and the broader question ... of the importance of economic development to municipalities, especially in Connecticut,” said Allan B. Taylor, an attorney at Day, Berry & Howard in Hartford, who wrote the CCM brief.

Attorneys from the Institute for Justice, a public-interest firm representing the property owners, have said taking land purely to bolster private business — even to improve the city tax base — is unconstitutional, and have criticized the NLDC's development plan as speculative and vague. CCM's lawyers reject that assertion, as the NLDC and the city did in their own brief, and warned that asking the courts to make decisions on the specifics of eminent domain uses, as the institute suggests, would give the judiciary a responsibility intended for legislatures.

Posted by lumi at 6:53 PM

The Deputy Mayor and the Olympics

WNYC: Read or listen online to Andrea Bernstein's series on how local developers curry favor with Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff by donating to NYC2012, the non-profit NYC Olympic bid committee set up by the Doctoroff. It's not illegal, and it works!

The Deputy Mayor and the Olympics
Condos Grow in Red Hook?

Posted by lumi at 5:45 PM

DDDb: Kalikow Contradicts Bruce Ratner

MTA Chief Says He and Forest City Ratner Have Not Talked Money
Community Groups Estimate Value of Atlantic Rail Yards at $1 Billion Dollars.

MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow, when questioned by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky at a contentious public hearing today, stated that, “The MTA has not had any discussions or negotiations with Forest City Ratner about the value of the Atlantic Yards.” MTA Executive Director, Katherine Lapp, confirmed this at the same hearing.

Kalikow’s testimony, under oath, contradicts statements made by Forest City Ratner (FCRC) executives who have claimed to be in negotiations with the MTA. On October 8, 2004, The Daily News reported, “The developer told The News that negotiations with city and state agencies are ‘going very well,’ and would be completed within the next two months.” Over the past year Bruce Ratner himself has thanked the MTA for their support of his proposal, while the MTA, in the Fall of 2003, had to retract statements that they had transferred development rights of the rail yards to Ratner's firm.

Daniel Goldstein, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesperson, attending the Brodsky hearing, was surprised to hear that negotiations on the value of the 11-acre MTA parcel have not yet started. Goldstein said, “DDDB, and transit-rider advocacy groups estimate that this valuable piece of prime real estate could be worth nearly one billion dollars. This property is obviously solid gold.”

For the past year and half FCRC has stated that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement about their stalled 17 high-rise and arena proposal was imminent. They have recently claimed that the MOU will be signed within the next two months.

Goldstein added, “How can FCRC claim that an MOU is imminent when the MTA, busy with the Hudson Yards negotiations, has not even begun to discuss the value of the property Mr. Ratner covets? How can anyone discuss the financial feasibility of the Ratner proposal when the development rights of the rail yards have not even been appraised? The value of the yards is clearly one of the biggest obstacles for Mr. Ratner and a reason his proposal is stalled.

DEVELOP DON’T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them.

Posted by lumi at 8:20 AM

MTA Jets hearings for Hudson Railyards

Just what went on in yesterday's MTA hearings?

Field of Schemes: No way to run a railroad
The NY Times: Arbitration Over Stadium Site Is Called Bad Move for M.T.A.
NY Newsday: Lawmakers question MTA officials on New York Jets stadium deal
NY Daily News: MTA: Stadium estimate flight of fancy

Posted by lumi at 7:52 AM

February 3, 2005

TODAY: MTA hearings on Hudson Railyard appraisal mess


MTA Executives will be questioned on the value of the Hudson Yards

Place: Assembly Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, Rm. 1923, 19th Floor
Time: 10:30 A.M.

Assembly Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions
Chair: Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky

Read the litany of questions for the MTA from NewYorkGames.org (scroll down). NYGames's questions illustrated how the MTA & Jets have made the debate over a simple question — how much the railyards are worth — nearly incomprehensible.

Today's showdown is a primer for the Atlantic Railyards appraisal. With its unparalleled access to transportation, the Atlantic Railyards should be worth more than the Hudson Railyards, but not if Ratner can help it.

Posted by lumi at 7:26 AM

February 2, 2005

ZONED OUT: A cult of growth and the death of Brooklyn


NY Press: A must read for Brooklynites, by Brian Ketcham and son, Christoper Ketcham. The gridlock in Downtown Brooklyn, last Christmas Eve, is a prophecy of days to come, if comprehensive planning doesn't replace the development goldrush and stop-gap measures that are being doled out of the political feeding trough.


Also, in case you missed it: Christopher Ketcham's Harpers Magazine article (Dec, 2004) that shook the Brooklyn political machine and has incurred veiled threats from the DA's office.

Posted by lumi at 9:14 AM

MTA & Jets set to go to arbitration over railyards. Ferrer calls for open bidding process.

Neil DeMause's Feild of Schemes: Jets appraisal follies.
A comprehensive wrap-up of the latest in the MTA-Jets Railyard Scandal

"...the Jets want to deduct the cost of the platform that would support the stadium over the West Side rail yards. Given that the city, not the Jets, would be paying for the platform, this seems an especially crack-addled argument, and clearly would amount to another huge subsidy if the team gets its way."

NY Daily News: MTA, team split on price of site
Crain's NY Business: Jets, MTA jointly agree to arbitration on price of stadium site

"The New York Jets and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed Tuesday to have former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell arbitrate their dispute over the value of the development rights...."

The NY Times: Ferrer and Others Seek Auction of Proposed Site for Stadium

"Several community groups and at least one mayoral candidate said yesterday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority should get competing bids for the development rights to its West Side railyard...."

Posted by lumi at 8:36 AM

Doctoroff & NYC2012 raise millions from local real estate tycoons.

Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and his NYC2012 bid committee are being scrutinized for large contributions received from some of New York's favored developers, including Brooklyn's master builder Bruce Ratner. In an administration where Docotroff and Bloomberg draw a salary of $1 per year, contributions to NYC2012 are seen as being the best way to curry favor with the power elite.

The Village Voice: The Deputy Mayor for the Olympics. For city and glory, Dan Doctoroff seeks Olympic gold at home and abroad.
WNYC: The Deputy Mayor and the Olympics
NY Observer: You can't buy the Mayor? So give to 2012 games.

Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

February 1, 2005

Stadium stiffs subway

The NY Daily News: Now that the $900-million dollar price tag of the entire Hudson Railyards has been revealed, columnist Juan Gonzalez takes Doctoroff and MTA to task for still trying to cut the Jets a deal by only having them pay for the physical space the stadium occupies, not the space given over to tailgate parties.

This idea that the Jets should pay only for the actual physical space their stadium occupies, and not for all the open spaces around it that are essential to its viability, is a novel concept.

Imagine telling a real estate agent you want to buy a house but not the front lawn or the backyard.


Posted by lumi at 8:31 AM

Build, and they will vote

The NY Daily News: Errol Louis once again, takes to the pen in support of billions of dollars flowing into Central Brooklyn for development and against Letitia James for her opposition of the Atlantic Yards Project, touting possible opponents for her re-election campaign.


Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM