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April 30, 2005

Land Store


By M. Fullilove

Background: Columbia University paid $300,000 to the Empire State Development Corp to begin a "blight" investigation.

Posted by lumi at 5:03 PM

Spring, in a Tense Time

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle stabs at Ratner's proposed street layout:

On Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards proposal, we’re all in favor of the Nets arena, and believe the site is right for attendant residential and commercial development – it’s just that the only indication of a plan we’ve seen so far looks wrong in terms of urban design, what with its closing-off of some streets. What the layout gains in terms of open park space doesn’t look to us like inviting or meaningful parks.


Posted by amy at 10:01 AM

Stern: Jersey blew it

From the AP:

NBA Commissioner David Stern blames New Jersey politicians for the Nets' planned move to Brooklyn in either 2007 or 2008.

"New Jersey blew it," Stern said Thursday of the proposed move. Speaking during an informal news conference before the Nets played the Miami Heat in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series on Thursday night, he added, "We practically begged them, and the New Jersey politicians did not step up."

Stern conceded that political leaders did not want state taxpayers saddled with the debt of a new arena.

"That's a fair retort, but you have to make your choice," Stern said.

I guess we see what our NYC politicians have chosen for us. For more on who to blame, see NoLandGrab's Pol Precinct.

Posted by amy at 9:55 AM

April 29, 2005


NY Daily Sun
By Julie Satow

Tension is brewing between City Council members who oppose Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project at Brooklyn and Council Speaker Gifford Miller, who they said has ignored repeated requests to schedule a hearing on the contentious project.

Holding a hearing on the Atlantic Yards project, which includes an 18,000-seat arena for the Nets basketball team, is one of the few options open to the council. Because the state is overseeing the development, it is not subject to the city's Uniform Land Use Review Process.

The council's economic development committee was to hold a hearing on the Atlantic Yards project last Wednesday, but the speaker's office never scheduled it, the chairman of the committee, Council Member James Sanders, a Democrat of Queens, said.

"Give me a date for the hearing - that is all I want - but the speaker has continued to put it off," Council Member Letitia James said. A Democrat, she represents the downtown Brooklyn area, where the development will be.

In addition to the basketball arena, the project, bordered by Dean Street and Atlantic, Flatbush, and Vanderbilt avenues, calls for 2 million square feet of office space, 4.5 million square feet of residential development, retail shops, and parking lots, according to the memorandum of understanding signed by Mr. Ratner's company, Forest City Ratner, and officials of the city and the state.

Mr. Miller, who is running for the Democratic nomination for mayor, has not taken a public position on the project. A Miller spokeswoman, Leticia Theodore, denied that the speaker is delaying a hearing, saying it would be held "sometime this month."

Ms. James contrasted the speaker's diffidence on the Brooklyn project with his outspoken opposition to Mayor Bloomberg's planned New York Sports and Convention Center at Manhattan, which will provide a new home for the New York Jets football team.

"It is inconsistent because the speaker is not supporting the stadium on the West Side, but this is so much worse than that project," Ms. James said. "At least in the Hudson Yards, they had a chance to rezone the area, but I can't even do that because the state has taken over the 24 acres."

Some of the land on which the development is to be built is owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which comes under the state's jurisdiction. According to the memorandum of understanding, the Empire State Development Corporation, a state entity, will create a local development corporation that will supervise the project.

A report published earlier this month by a group that opposes the Atlantic Yards development, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, concluded that public subsidies for the project exceed $1.5 billion. That sum includes a 30-year property-tax exemption, a mortgage-recording-tax exemption, and tax-exempt bonds. Also, Forest City Ratner will pay only $1 for a 99-year lease on the 6.5 acres of land under the proposed Nets arena.

Beyond that, the development is to receive $100 million from both the city and the state. The city has already set aside the money in the budget, Ms. James said.

"I would like to get the money taken out of the budget, or at least put some conditions on it," she said.

The conflict in the City Council belies a greater conflict in the community, which is sharply divided on the Atlantic Yards project.

The Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance, which supports the Ratner project, was founded by the Reverend Herbert Daughtry after he broke from his longtime organization of black ministers, which opposed the development.

Brooklyn United for Innovative Development, or BUILD, also supports the Atlantic Yards development - and has been the target of rumors that Mr. Ratner is its financial backer. The first vice president at BUILD, Marie Louis, called the claim "a malicious and outrageous lie."

The pro-Atlantic Yards groups, which also include the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, have been negotiating a community-benefits agreement with Forest City Ratner for more than a year. According to Ms. Louis, the deal is in its final stages and should be released in the coming weeks. It promises affordable housing, jobs for minorities and women, and job training.

Posted by lumi at 12:07 PM

EXCLUSIVE: Ratner's Revised Plan for AY Revealed!

scalemodel.jpgDope on the Slope

A batallion of Ratner PR reps unleash the revised plan for Atlantic Yards. Dubbed, "Brooklyn Will Always Have A Heart, A Home, And Hoops Aplenty" or BWAHAHAHAHA, the new plan features many cutting-edge and innovative new features such as a radium-illumitated clock tower, escalator tubes, Hot-Rod museum and more...


Posted by lumi at 8:56 AM

After Miami overtime win, Nets in the hole

kidd4.jpgRatner's NJ Nets fall to 0-3 in the Round 1 playoff serise, in 108-105 double-overtime loss to Miami Heat, despite Kidd triple-double. Now the Nets will have to accomplish what no other team in the NBA has ever done before, win four straight in a best-of-seven series, a feat all the more daunting against a team with Shaq.

NY Daily News, Nets run out of overtimes
The Newark Star-Ledger, Nets fall to Heat in double overtime
The NY Times, Nets Try, Try Again but Sink Deeper
NY Newsday, Nets lose to Heat in 2 OTs
Joe Nets Fan, Kidney Punch

Posted by lumi at 8:18 AM

Ridge Hill's fate back in hands of Yonkers' council

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

More on our friends' related Ratner woes in Yonkers. Now that the project has passed the last state approval hurdle, the fight moves to the Yonkers City Council.

The council must still decide if the project's environmental review is complete and, more importantly, consider a zoning change needed by Forest City Ratner Cos. before it can build 1,000 units of housing, a hotel and conference center, offices and stores on the 81-acre site.


Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

On Nets, Stern takes Jersey politicians to task

The Newark Star-Ledger

NBA commish David Stern's comments on Nets leaving NJ:  

"The Jersey politicians couldn't step up at the right time," Stern said. "There was an enormous opportunity, and New Jersey blew it. We practically begged them, but New Jersey didn't step up. ... I don't think it was the high point of New Jersey government. It just didn't happen."

Acting Gov. Codey chimes in too:

"I don't know that building a new arena would have kept the Nets here," acting Gov. Richard Codey said after the game last night. "Bruce Ratner is interested in building condos and retail space and office space, and that has nothing to do with a basketball team, which he isn't going to make money on for quite a while.

"Having said that, I had dinner with Bruce five weeks ago and he told me he can't say with surety that Brooklyn is going to happen and if it doesn't, I still think we have a real good shot to keep the team in the state."


NY Post, Stern: 'New Jersey Blew It' With Nets

NoLandGrab: The NBA had a plan on the table to move the team to Central Jersey where the Garden State Parkway and NJ Turnpike intersect -- that's later-disgraced governor McGreevy's 'hood. Codey is more interested in keeping sports franchises in the state.

Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

Report: Air Quality In New York Is Deteriorating


For the sixth year in a row in its “State of the Air” report, the city has failed air tests, the organization says. The New York metropolitan area ranks the ninth worst in the country for ozone pollution, slipping four spots from last year’s poor performance.


NoLandGrab: This is troubling news for Brooklynites who will face increased traffic to the already heavily congested intersection of Atlantic, Flatbush & 4th Ave. intersections if Ratner's project is built.

Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

April 28, 2005

Sale of Property in Yonkers Is Approved by State Board

The NY Times
By Kirk Semple

A state board on Wednesday approved the sale of the state-owned Ridge Hill property to a nonprofit corporation, after the corporation and the City of Yonkers bowed to public pressure and agreed to channel millions of dollars in revenue from development of the property to the city.

Under the terms of the new arrangement, all the rental payments from the developer of Ridge Hill Village Center, Forest City Ratner, will be made to the city, except for debt service payments and operating costs of the development corporation. The operating costs are capped at $1.2 million a year.


NoLandGrab: This vote was the final step in the state approval process. Assemblymember Brodsky and fellow Dems did well to wrestle control of the rent payments from the development corporation to the City. Though they went head to head with the Mayor, no doubt they are breathing a sigh of relief in Yonkers City Hall. This is not the end though, there will no doubt be lawsuits based on the Environmental Impact Statement.

WHITE PLAINS, April 27 - A state board on Wednesday approved the sale of the state-owned Ridge Hill property to a nonprofit corporation, after the corporation and the City of Yonkers bowed to public pressure and agreed to channel millions of dollars in revenue from development of the property to the city.

The administration of Mayor Philip A. Amicone had wanted to allow the corporation, the Ridge Hill Development Corporation, to control an estimated $6.2 million a year in sublease payments generated by a planned entertainment and housing complex, the Ridge Hill Village Center. But some residents and officials, including the state comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi, said the payments should be made to the public treasury, not to the corporation, a private nonprofit group free from government oversight. Some opponents of the original deal said the corporation was set up in a way that allowed friends of Yonkers politicians to control huge sums of money.

Under the terms of the new arrangement, all the rental payments from the developer of Ridge Hill Village Center, Forest City Ratner, will be made to the city, except for debt service payments and operating costs of the development corporation. The operating costs are capped at $1.2 million a year.

The vote on Wednesday by the state's Public Authorities Control Board permitted the sale of the 84-acre parcel along the New York State Thruway in northern Yonkers for $8.7 million to the development corporation, which will rent it to Forest City Ratner in turn.

The board has three voting members, one representing Gov. George E. Pataki, another representing the State Senate Republicans and the third representing the Assembly Democrats. Its votes must be unanimous, and the Democrats were balking at the original terms. The board was scheduled to vote last month, but the vote was postponed several times while the sides worked out a deal.

In a letter to Mayor Amicone, the general counsel for the Ridge Hill Development Corporation, which must approve the deal, said it would accept the board's new conditions.

The new financial arrangement does not prescribe how the city should use the revenue from the project, but many have pointed out the dire need for money for the city's flagging school system. Yonkers officials have promoted the Ridge Hill development as a way to create thousands of jobs and inject millions of dollars into their city. The rent payments of $6.2 million are to be made each year for more than 70 years.

Assemblymen Richard L. Brodsky, an outspoken critic of the mayor's original deal and a candidate for state attorney general, applauded the new arrangement. "The issue from the beginning was to stop the slush funds and essentially privately controlled sums of money that result from the sale of public assets," he said. "Public assets should be controlled by democratic institutions, not Soviet-style bureaucracies."

Mayor Amicone issued a written statement late Wednesday celebrating the sale, but criticizing Mr. Brodsky, among others, calling him a "grandstanding politician" who was trying to "sink this deal to jump start his stalled campaign."

Mr. Brodsky responded, "One of the reasons that the governance of the City of Yonkers is in collapse for the last several years is because its leadership refuses to recognize legitimate disagreements, and personalizes those disagreements."

Posted by lumi at 6:39 AM

Internet resources for what you need to know on NYC Land Use/Zoning

Gotham Gazette
Tom Angotti

For those of you who have been following this issue but are in the dark about Land Use issues, this piece is a Land Use primer with links to basic information available on the web.


Posted by lumi at 6:24 AM

April 27, 2005

And Zo it goes for lowly Nets

Ratner baiter Alonzo Mourning took control after Shaq ran into foul trouble, scoring 21 points in Miami's 104-87 victory against the Nets to take Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.

Looking like he still held a grudge against the Nets for trading Kenyon Martin and not buying him out at his request earlier this season, Mourning scored eight more points in the third and he appeared to alter everything that came his way inside the paint.

Nets owner Bruce Ratner, one of Mourning's favorite targets, could only watch helplessly from a couple of rows away.



Posted by lumi at 8:20 AM

Ratner's generous to a fault

And some wonder: Just buying support?

The Daily News
By Deborah Kolben

As developer Bruce Ratner plows ahead with plans to build a controversial $2.5 billion arena and residential complex in Prospect Heights, he's also doling out checks to local groups.

"That's what we are, a helping hand," Ratner said yesterday as he gave $50,000 to the Brooklyn Perinatal Network, which works to combat baby deaths in Fort Greene, the neighborhood with the highest infant mortality rate in the city.

"I think it's a good thing, but I also note the difference between what they're doing and public relations; they're trying to get public support by any means necessary," said Clinton Miller, pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Fort Greene.


Posted by lumi at 7:19 AM

Bruce Ratner Donates $50,000 To Combat Infant Morality

After Meeting, Some Questions, Few Answers on Atlantic Yards
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Raanan Geberer

perinatal.jpgMore on Ratner's $50,000 donation to the Brooklyn Perinatal Network:

"I'm going to lean all I can about perinatal [before-birth]* health," said Ratner before offering a symbolic check. "People said I didn't know anything about basketball, but I learned," he joked.

The arena was not mentioned during the ceremony, although several of its supporters, such as James Caldwell of the organization BUILD and the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, were in attendance.

* FYI for the Eagle and its reporter, (from Merriam Webster) perinatal: occurring in, concerned with, or being in the period around the time of birth.

BROOKLYN YWCA -- Developer Bruce Ratner yesterday announced a donation of $50,000 to Brooklyn Perinatal Network, to help mobilize community efforts and develop a plan to address the increasing number of infant deaths in Fort Greene.

"I'm going to lean all I can about perinantal [before-birth] health," said Ratner before offering a symbolic check. "People said I didn't know anything about basketball, but I learned," he joked.

The reference was to the basketball arena that Ratner's company, Forest Citgy Ratner, is planning, also in Fort Greene. The arena was not mentioned during the ceremony, although several of its supporters, such as James Caldwell of the organization BUILD and the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, were in attendance.

Some people might be surprised that Fort Greene, where a mini-real estate boom is taking place, has had the highest infant mortality rate in the city for the past two years. However, Dr. Georgianna Close, head of the organization Fort Greene SNAP, told this reporter that Fort Greene still has several poverty areas, including three low-income housing projects.

The recent economic change, strangely, has had a negative effect on health funding for the area, according to the Brooklyn Perinatal Network.

“One reason for the rise [in infant mortality] is that Fort Greene, unlike neighboring Bedford-Stuyvesant, does not qualify for federally funded initiatives like Healthy Start. Because brownstones and co-ops abut existing NYCHA housing, the base income of the neighborhood is skewed, making the district ineligible for many public resources,” says a handout from the group distributed at yesterday’s ceremony.

The 15-year-old organization, headquartered at the YWCA, covers not only Fort Greene, but a wide stretch of Central Brooklyn stretching east to East New York and Brownsville. The $50,000 donation will be spread over two years, as seed money for the group’s efforts.

In her speck, Ngozi Moses, executive director of the Perinatal Network, slammed the city and state for cutting back on their health budgets. When funding does reach the organization, she says, “it takes nine months to get it.”

Even getting money from private foundations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations, she said, is getting harder because the aforementioned government agencies are competing for the same grants.

Therefore, she said, organizations like hers must turn to the private sector. She said private business has largely been unresponsive in the past, but praised Ratner, saying that aid from such a high-profile, wealthy individual will get more press and may inspire other firms to donate as well.

Ratner was rather modest, as usual, judging by his rare public appearances. “You’re the experts,” he said. “We’re just the helpers. If you need anything, contact us.”

After the meeting, Forest City Ratner Executive Jim Stuckey answered questions on the arena, and his answers echoed stock replies from the company during the past few months or so.

When asked how much the Atlantic Yards project are Forest City Ratner now owned, he merely said, “A significant amount.” He said he hopes construction can begin next year, and that the arena will be open in time for the 2008-’09 basketball season.

Asked to respond to those critics of the project who want the Atlantic Yards to go through the city’s ULURP land review process, Stuckey responded that Forest City Ratner will go through any process that is required by law.

“However,” he said, “you can look at history, and see that projects on state land and on MTA property usually go through the state review process.” Critics charge that the state process has less public input.

In response to another question, Stuckey mentioned a detail that has been part of the Atlantic Yards plan for a long time but is rarely mentioned: when the Nets arena is build, the MTA’s Long Island Rail Road yards themselves will be moved, to an area between Carlton Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.

This, he said, will improve security for the LIFF, as well as make it safe for trains to maneuver during the layup periods in between rush hours. “We’re doing them [the LIRR] a favor,” he said.

Posted by lumi at 6:27 AM

Ridge Hill vote again delayed

The Jounal News
By Michael Gannon

The meeting for final approval for Bruce Ratner's Ridge Hill project in Yonkers was postponed again yesterday.


Posted by lumi at 6:15 AM

April 26, 2005

Community Gazette: Neigborhood Activists' Toolkit

How does an issue, develop into a movement and where does a fledgling activist turn to information on how to get organized?

The Neighborhood Activists' Toolkit has useful links to information on how to get started running a local campaign. Topics covered are: * Contacting Public Officials * School-Related Issues * Producing Print Material (Posters, Flyers, Newsletters) * Forming Organizations * Media Relations * Online Media (Web Sites, Email, Discussion Groups)

Posted by lumi at 6:40 AM

Ridge Hill sale today again up for approval

The Jounal News
By Michael Gannon

State legislators and budget officials today will again attempt to forge an elusive compromise that would allow the state to sell the Ridge Hill property in northeast Yonkers to an entity created by a city agency.

The Public Authorities Control Board, composed of representatives of Gov. George Pataki, state Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats, the majorities in each house, is set to meet at 1 p.m. to vote on the $8.7 million sale. The board has postponed the vote, which requires unanimous approval, last month and several times since Wednesday.


Posted by lumi at 6:06 AM

April 25, 2005

An MOU and a Giant Check: Spring, Courtesy of Forest City Ratner

The latest Brooklyn Rail report by Brian Carreira examines the public support of Ratner by ACORN, BUILD and Rev. Daughtry; the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which failed to outline any of concessions touted by the Ratner supporters; and the perenial soon-to-be-released Community Benefits Agreement, which Ratner has pledged will contain the long-sought-after details missing from the MOU.

Sincere in their intentions or not, community groups in support of the project do not negotiate from a position of strength when they are concerned with appearing in the developer’s PR photo ops while their community benefits agreement lags far behind the development’s approval process. They do not engender credibility when they shout down those who stand to lose their homes at community meetings while the job and affordable-housing numbers upon which they base their support seem to be slipping away. Will their alignment with Bruce Ratner amount to anything more than the reflected glow of a giant check?


Posted by lumi at 9:00 AM

...and speaking of "Spring Courtesy of Forest City Ratner"

sakuramatsuri.jpgExcept for Prospect Heights, Brooklyn is feeling the love from Forest City Ratner as the controversial developer spreads around the cash. The latest events "brought to you by Forest City Ratner" include PS 321's annual fundraiser (FCR VP Bruce Bender's wife Amy is a PTA member) and next weekend's Sakura Matsuri Festival at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Park Slopers get extra credit for hypocrisy -- while the 1st St. Block Association fought to keep drive-thru traffic off their precious side street when Commerce Bank comes to town, the Benders, who live just steps away from what will become the bank's parking lot, are pulling for neighborhood support of the Nets arena, despite any related traffic nightmares. No worries, Park Slopers are counting on most of the traffic to remain on Atlantic, Flatbush and 4th Avenues.

To paraphrase Mel Brooks:
"It's springtime for Ratner, and Marty!
Brooklyn is happy and gay!"

Posted by lumi at 8:47 AM

Pastor of the People: David Dyson

dyson.jpgin conversation with Norman Kelley
Brooklyn Rail

Pastor of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Fort Greene and long-time social activist David Dyson draws support and inspiration from the New Testament teachings on social justice ("to advocate for the least, the lost, and the lonely"). Though his church has no official position on Ratner's master plan, which, if built, will only be a couple blocks away from the historic Fort Greene church, Dyson shares his own opinion based upon moral and ethical principles.

There’s not a church position on this. Our position here as a mainline Protestant church is really not to take positions on specific political issues or to endorse specific political candidates. Certainly we feel the gospel informs our positions on moral and ethical issues, and I personally have become very involved with this, because I’ve been very upset by how this project has come about. I just wrote a letter to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in which I said that I was not anti-development but that I was anti-corruption, anti-sweetheart deal, anti-eminent domain, anti-environmental chaos, anti-lack of transparency—in short, anti many of the things that have been the hallmark of the Atlantic Yards Project. I had a private meeting with Borough President Marty Markowitz, where he asked me why I had a burr under my saddle. I said it’s because one guy—Ratner, who I actually know a little bit—has this sort of private pipeline to this project. There’s no open bidding, there’s no transparency, there’s no community forum. The only people who are being brought in on a community level are being brought in as business partners, not as advocates for the welfare of the community. I told Marty that the deal is being handed on a silver platter to Bruce Ratner because he’s an old college buddy of George Pataki. I said that it just rubs those of us in our community the wrong way. It’s not merely a question of jobs, as our city councilwoman, Tish James, has pointed out many times. Any development scheme or idea is going to bring jobs. The question is about this particular development idea, which is so fraught with corruption, cronyism, and favoritism that I object to it from a moral and ethical standpoint.

Dyson on the support of Ratner's plan by felllow clergyman and partner in many civil rights issues Herbert Daughtry:

Q: Would you say that Ratner is playing the race card?

Dyson: Yes, and it’s very depressing. This project has actually split lifelong partners in the progressive movement. We feel that Reverend Daughtry and ACORN have been brought in by Ratner not as advocates for the community but as private business partners in the deal. We’re trying to prevent the misuse of eminent domain, trying to increase the number of affordable housing units, trying to decrease the number of high-rise luxury office buildings. Those are the kinds of issues that a community group should have, but the Reverend Daughtry—who’s also an old friend—and our friends at ACORN are trying to cut a personal deal so that they can be brokers over whatever little piece or crumb of this pie falls from Ratner’s table. Ratner has been to Brooklyn what Karl Rove was to Ohio and Florida—brilliantly able to play on people’s worst instincts in order to get what he wants in a way that he wants it.


Posted by lumi at 7:57 AM

Norman Siegel and the Race for Public Advocate

Brooklyn Rail
By Theodore Hamm

The race for NYC Public Advocate has seized the attention of Brooklynites concerned about overdevelopment in Brooklyn and Ratner's proposal. While Norman Siegel has been at the forefront of the fight against eminent domain abuse, incumbent Betsy Gottbaum can be characterized as in support of the Ratner's plan or just trying to stay out of the crossfire, the later being conduct unbecoming of a Public Advocate.


Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

In City's Push for Stadium, Silver's District Reaps Benefits

NY Times
By Jim Rutenberg & Charles V. Bagli

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is playing hard to get as his support is being sought in several key development projects. Mayor Bloomberg is nuturing their personal relationship and conceeding several key demands of the representative from Lower Manhattan. Will the campaigning result in a win for the Mayor's West Side Stadium project?

Playing the sought-after belle of the ball, Mr. Silver has been musing recently that he sees no need to rush consideration of the stadium plan. And with the stakes rising each day, he seems to be getting his way on matters he has long groused about.

Just a couple of months ago, Mr. Silver complained in an interview about a number of needs in his district - which includes much of Lower Manhattan - that he considered unmet by the city and the state. He expressed displeasure that plans for a badly needed elementary school were "stalled."


Posted by lumi at 7:27 AM

April 23, 2005

Fund allocation stalls Yonkers' Ridge Hill vote

From the Journal News:

YONKERS — State lawmakers yesterday again failed to resolve differences that have held up the proposed $8.7 million sale of the state-owned Ridge Hill property to an entity created by a city agency, holding a proposed $600 million development deal on the brink of collapse.

The state Public Authorities Control Board again did not meet and vote on the sale, a crucial element to a deal in which Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner would build the proposed Ridge Hill Village complex, featuring a mix of housing, retail and office space, on the 81-acre site. The vote, already postponed several times since March, is set for Tuesday.


Posted by amy at 11:58 PM

Clownshoe Blues

From the Gumby Fresh blog, a review of this week's New Yorker profile on Marty:

The clown-with-an-agenda argument is based on the idea that it was Marty who first approached Bruce Ratner with the idea of buying the New Jersey Nets and moving them to Brooklyn. So, Marty is apparently blissfully unaware of anyone, outside of Forest City Ratner, with flipping great wodges of cash to lay down in support of his adolescent fantasies. Myopically wedded to the idea of a self-sufficient Borough, he turns to the man that ruined its downtown, and has had a pretty good stab at doing the same to the Atlantic Terminals area, and asks if he would like to finish the job.

read the blog

Posted by amy at 11:53 PM

Chamber bows to Ratner


More news on the open and democratic methods of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and FCR. The stories of damage Ratner has already inflicted on local businesses are heart breaking. From the Brooklyn Papers:

Kowtowing to demands by developer Bruce Ratner, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce this week barred the public from an official Chamber function, a luncheon where Ratner’s controversial Atlantic Yards project was discussed.


Posted by amy at 1:43 AM

Mall plan makes waves in Coney

The Brooklyn Papers discusses other toys that Ratner played with, broke, and left out in the rain.

Thor Equities is owned by Joseph Sitt, who redeveloped the Gallery at Metrotech, an ailing indoor shopping mall abutting the Fulton Street Mall in Downtown Brooklyn, after it was abandoned by Metrotech’s developer, Bruce Ratner. Sitt renamed his mall the Gallery at Fulton Street.


Posted by amy at 1:39 AM

Experts: Arena will burden Brooklyn

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Planning, transportation and budget experts say developer Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards basketball arena, housing and office skyscraper project could overburden transit lines, clog streets with traffic and reduce pedestrian access.

George Sweeting, deputy director of the Independent Budget Office (IBO), noted early on that, along with the $200 million that has been offered to the developer by the city and state for the project, Ratner’s Forest City Ratner Companies would also be eligible for tax exemptions by the city.

“Depending on what he’s eligible for, he won’t pay taxes for anywhere from 16 to 24 years,” said Sweeting, who clarified that any other developer would be eligible for the same breaks.

He also pointed out the sale of city land to Forest City Ratner for $1.


Posted by amy at 1:35 AM

Pols call for city review of Ratner’s arena

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Taking their first unified stance on developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards plan, a delegation of City Council members from Brooklyn gathered on the steps of City Hall to call for a city-level review of the basketball arena, housing and office skyscraper project.

Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the Prospect Heights neighborhood in which the 21-acre project would be built, led the brief press conference.

The project depends upon the state’s condemnation of up to 10 acres of private property as well as the purchase of development rights to build over Metropolitan Transportation Authority rail yards.


Posted by amy at 1:30 AM

April 22, 2005

The Anti-Moses And The First Community-Based Plan

Gotham Gazette
By Tom Angotti

Remembering the father of community-based planning, Walter Thabit.

In 1961, after more than 100 community meetings, Thabit completed the Alternate Plan for Cooper Square, which proposed that the original residents of the area should be the beneficiaries and not the victims of urban renewal. Community leaders Frances Goldin, Esther Rand and Thelma Burdick were joined by many others over a period of almost 50 years to implement the community’s vision for a stable neighborhood affordable to people with modest incomes.


Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

Rupture on Ridge Hill

The Journal News

...it is unreasonable to block the sale over disagreement on exactly how much money will go to the city. For one thing, the corporation has to pay off the debt it assumed in the transaction. And the city, not Albany, has a right to guide its own affairs.

Killing Ridge Hill would be a shame. The proposal — which includes residential, retail and office space, a hotel and conference center — would bring employment, sales-tax revenue, consumer benefits and housing, some of which would count toward Yonkers meeting a quota in its federal housing desegregation case.

Killing the project would hurt the developer, Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which has invested about $21 million so far since being chosen by the city in 2002 to develop the site. What a negative impact that kind of loss would have on the redevelopment boom Yonkers is finally experiencing.


Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

State set to vote on Ridge Hill sale today

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

State legislators yesterday continued intense negotiations to settle differences between city officials and Assembly Democrats that would allow an $8.7 million proposed sale of the state-owned Ridge Hill property to an entity created by a city agency.

The Public Authorities Control Board is scheduled to meet at 12:30 p.m. today to vote on the sale of the 81-acre property from the state to Ridge Hill Development Corp....

City and state officials characterized the vote, which must be unanimous, as crucial to the survival of the development deal. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Greenburgh, however, said the deadline was artificial, making it unclear yesterday whether the vote would be postponed again if there is no agreement.


Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

Nets losing $20M this season

The Newark Star-Ledger
By Matthew Futterman

The Nets are headed to the playoffs -- and a major financial loss.

Despite their late-season drive for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference and a recent sellout crowd at Continental Airlines Arena, the Nets will lose roughly $20 million this season, according to recent tax filings described to The Star-Ledger.

The team accrued the losses despite a massive sales and marketing effort that began in January when Brett Yormark took over as the team's chief executive. The Nets have tried everything -- from paying fans' tolls at the New Jersey Turnpike's Exit 16W to offering season tickets-holders scores of free tickets to putting greeters in the parking lot to make customers feel more welcome.

Edwin Steir, who serves on the team's management committee with owner Bruce Ratner, said he was satisfied with the long-term financial outlook for the team. Steir represents members of the team's former ownership group which still owns a 20-percent stake.


Posted by lumi at 7:39 AM

Frank is the glue that held Nets together

The Newark Star-Ledger
By Steve Politi

[Nets coach Lawrence] Frank was handed the keys to a Maserati when he took over as the interim coach after Byron Scott was fired, and Frank won 13 consecutive games -- a record for a coach at the start of his career. Then, a few months later, repo man Bruce Ratner left him with a '74 Dodge Dart, one with a cracked windshield to boot.

Everyone whined about the Nets' predicament -- everyone, that is, except Frank.


Posted by lumi at 7:32 AM

Ratner is thrilled with Nets comeback

Asbury Park Press

Another article where Ratner proves he was "bitten with the basketball bug."


Posted by lumi at 6:27 AM

April 21, 2005

Brooklyn neighborhood faces uncertain future

NY Newsday
By Luis Perez

Prospect Heights residents stand to loose their homes to Ratner's wrecking ball. Though Ratner knows of only one holdout, reporter Luis Perez found tenants, homeowners and landowners who want to keep their homes. Most neighborhood folks are concerned about Ratner's proposal and are upset with the Mayor, whose developer-friendly mentality has little concern for the average guy.

Come May 1, Craig Sterritt, 34, will leave his Pacific Street rental loft of 13 years, which Ratner now owns, for a higher-priced place in Harlem.

"The whole thing was put together in backrooom deals, treating the neighborhood as if it was the South Bronx in the late '70s," Sterritt, a medical writer and editor who is a lifelong Brooklynite, said of the arena project.

He scoffs at the thought that his neighborhood, which actually sits in the crossroads of Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, needs revamping.

"These megadevelopments strike me as a bad idea for the city," he said. "Particularly this one here, because of the way it literally puts up a wall dividing neighborhoods."


NoLandGrab: We're sorry to see Craig Sterrit go. He should keep his ear to the ground when he moves to Harlem -- Ratner's company has a seat on the 125th St. redevelopment council, the River-to-River Advisory Committee.

Posted by lumi at 8:15 AM

Ridge Hill Sale Dies in Albany

The Journal News

Forest City Ratner's attempt to build a village in Yonkers was dealt a serious setback as the deadline passed for approval by the state's Public Authorities Control Board. The approval was held up as project supporters were trying to gain support of key Albany lawmakers. Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky "was insisting that all of $6.2 million in annual lease payments from Forest City Ratner Cos., the Brooklyn developer seeking approvals to build $600 million worth of housing, retail and hotel development at the 81-acre site, go directly to the city for its cash-strapped schools, rather than to Ridge Hill Development Corp., the entity created by the IDA that controls the site through a long-term lease."


Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

Forest City Enterprises face criticism over proposed mall development

Developers of mall try to allay fears
Area residents lay out wish list for proposal.

Forest City Enterprises executive Brian Ratner faced questions and concerns of residents over a proposed mall in Bethlehem Township, PA. Residents are worried about traffic spillover into residential neighborhoods, lack of green space, scale and context. [Yes, it sounds familiar.]

"I still don't understand why you're trying to put a city community in a suburban setting," Toursdale Drive resident Ed Lemon said. He then walked back to his seat to the sound of loud clapping.


The Morning Call, Summit too dense, neighbors say

Posted by lumi at 6:54 AM

Nets advance to post season despite Ratner's early missteps

After a dismal start to the season, the Nets squeeze into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Ratner should kiss Kidd, Franks and Thorn for saving his basketball-caring butt. Anti-arena activists trying to save homes and the low-rise complexion of Prospect Heights and surrounding neighborhoods need look no farther then the greatest point guard in the league, Jason Kidd, as a reminder that "it ain't over ..."

kidd3.jpg NY Post,
NY Newsday, Thorn is a pain in other teams' side
The NY Times, Carter Helps Push Nets Into the Playoffs
NY Daily News, It's a re-berth as Nets get in
NY Daily News, Filip Bondy, Wince from Vince but able to leave pain and past behind
Newark Star-Ledger, Nets 102, Celtics 93
Newark Star-Ledger, Carter scores 37 as Nets clinch playoffs
The Bergen Record, Kidd refuses to loose

Posted by lumi at 6:28 AM

April 20, 2005

DDDb Press Release: Brooklyn and Yonkers Citizens Unite To Fight $$$Billion Boondoggles

Bruce Ratner’s Secret, Backroom Deals with Empire State Development Corp Threaten Two Communities

YONKERS, NEW YORK—Community groups from Brooklyn and Yonkers today joined forces to fight a common enemy: MegaDeveloper Bruce Ratner, whose sweetheart deals with the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) threaten both their communities.

The alliance was kicked off in Yonkers today, at a lunchtime meeting of Yonkers Business Week 2005.  The meeting’s keynote speaker was ESDC Chairman Charles Gargano.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and Prospect Heights Action Coalition (PHAC) joined Yonkers’ Community First! Development Coalition and Stop Ridge Hill organizations to respond to Mr. Gargano’s remarks.

Speaking to reporters following the luncheon, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) Spokesperson Daniel Goldstein said, “The ESDC is an unaccountable state authority whose blatant disregard for anyone but billionaires would have a devastating impact on our communities.” 

DDDB represents residents of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and surrounding communities who oppose an arena and 17-skyscraper complex proposed by Bruce Ratner’s company, Forest City Ratner (FCR). FCR and the ESDC have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to pursue this project.

DDDB represents residents of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and surrounding communities who oppose an arena and 17-skyscraper complex proposed by Bruce Ratner’s company, Forest City Ratner (FCR). FCR and the ESDC have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to pursue this project.

“Brooklyn and Yonkers share the same problem,” Goldstein continued, “and so does every taxpayer in New York. The shady backroom deals that have been hatched between the ESDC and Forest City Ratner will cost taxpayers literally billions of dollars. These deals are fronted by shadowy local development corporations that don’t share information and don’t answer to the public. Brooklyn and Yonkers won’t quit until we’ve put a stop to these undemocratic, abusive, taxpayer-financed land grabs.”

To read an analysis of the cost of FCR’s Atlantic Yards proposal, go to http://www.dddb.net/dummies.

To read a letter by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi which raises his concerns about the Ridge Hill Development, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/20/nyregion/20yonkers.html.

Posted by lumi at 6:32 PM



Speaker Miller has introduced legislation to stop the Mayor Bloomberg's PILOT slush fund (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) financing of the Stadium. The legislation would ensure that all public dollars spent by the City goes through a public budget process. This includes the West Side Stadium proposal and Ratner's Nets arena.

Posted by lumi at 8:24 AM

Help fight the arena by supporting the only anti-arena candidate.

Brooklyn Born Activist Challenges Boro Prez....
and celebrates birthday in the heart of the area threatened by Ratner!

mattera.jpgGreen Party activist, Gloria Mattera, has announced her challenge to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Marty's support of the Ratner Arena/Complex and other wreckless development is outrageous! He does not have Brooklyn's best interests at heart!

Gloria ran for City Council in 2003 and won 20% of the vote against a "popular" incumbent, Bill de Blasio. She pushed the Republican into third place and had impressive returns in Windsor Terrace and Kensington in addition to her solid base in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. Gloria has the experience and party support to make a serious bid and get the anti-Ratner message heard.

Come meet the candidate and help celebrate her 48th birthday at Freddy's (a spot that won't be part of Brooklyn if Ratner has his way)

Friday, April 22nd
485 Dean Street @ 6th Ave

Feel free to call or email to RSVP or with any questions.

Rebecca White
Kings County Green Party Organization

Posted by lumi at 8:12 AM

Ridge Hill: Pols concerns could hold up land deal

The NY Times, State Comptroller Questions a Yonkers Development Plan
By Michael Slackman

The state's top financial watchdog, Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, has sharply criticized a plan by Yonkers officials to have a nonprofit corporation, which is free from government oversight and not answerable to voters, control $6.2 million a year generated by a development project.

The Journal News, Speaker may halt land deal
By Michael Gannon

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Greenburgh, yesterday said he and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, had advised Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, against signing off on the proposed $8.7 million sale of the property to Ridge Hill Development Corporation — the entity created by the Yonkers IDA to foster development of the site — unless written assurances were made that it directly benefit the city.

Silver's blessing of the sale is needed. His is one of three votes on the Public Authorities Control Board, the state entity that must unanimously sign off on the sale. The board, also including representatives of Republican Gov. George Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Rensselaer, is scheduled to vote on the sale today.

NoLandGrab: Forest City Ratner (FCR) spokespersons are busy claiming to be a separate entity from the Ridge Hill Development Corporation (RHDC), whose structure and role is now under scrutiny, however there are many connections that indicate otherwise: * The former Mayor's twenty-something son-in-law left the payroll of the RHDC in a storm of protest, only to appear a year later on FCR's. * Last week, joint PR campaigns were launched by FCR and RHDC to drum up support for the deal in the local media. * Negotiations between the two groups have not been subject to the state's open-meetings law. Promises to make records public from quasi-governmental RHDC were made after public outcry for transparency.

This culture of corporate/government connections has left Brooklynites vulnerable to Ratner, a developer who refuses to meet with the entire community, and to a state that wields the coercive power of eminent domain for a private corporation, not public use. Lack of transparency in these two deal is so rampant that even the NYC's Independent Budget Office claims to not have enough information to analyze a deal that, politicians in support of the plan herald, is a fait accompli.

Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM


NY Post

Approval on West Side Stadium is slowed down by concerns raised by lawsuits.

Final approval for the West Side stadium is unlikely by the May deadline set by the Jets to land a 2010 Super Bowl because of a growing number of lawsuits filed against the project, a key state lawmaker warned yesterday.

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum joined the legal fray yesterday, filing the third lawsuit aimed at blocking the MTA's sale to the Jets of the air rights over the West Side rail yards.


Posted by lumi at 6:20 AM

April 19, 2005

MTA facing flurry of suits over Hudson Yards deal

A coallition of four groups has added to the chorus crying foul over the MTA's bidding process for the Hudson Yards.

The NY Times, Transit and Labor Groups Sue MTA Over Railyards

The suit by the four groups - the Straphangers Campaign, Common Cause/NY, the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign - said that a "flawed and unlawful" sales process had resulted in the authority's awarding the development rights to the Jets for $250 million, a price, they said, that shortchanged commuters.

Unlike a similar legal challenge filed earlier this month by a rival bidder, Cablevision, the new lawsuit asks the State Supreme Court to issue an order rejecting all the bids and to conduct a new auction.

Crain's NY Business, Transit union, groups sue over railyard award
WNYC, MTA Faces 2nd Lawsuit Over Stadium
NY1, Transit Groups, Union Sue MTA To Block West Side Stadium

Posted by lumi at 6:26 AM

April 18, 2005

MR. BROOKLYN. Marty Markowitz—the man, the plan, the arena.

The New Yorker
By Rebecca Mead

martynewyorker.jpgProfile of the President of the Booster Club of Brooklyn. Rebecca Mead rides shotgun through many of Brooklyn's neighborhoods as Marty takes a call from "Bruce" and slams Prospect Heights.

Here are some tidbits from the article that Marty managed to leave on the buffet table:

But his self-appointment as Brooklyn’s chief nostalgist deflects attention from the surprising fact that, if the Atlantic Yards development gets built, he will have wielded far more influence over the shaping of Brooklyn’s future than anyone expected of him.

That bid for office resulted in Markowitz’ being charged with failing to disclose campaign contribution from a loca businessman: he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor, paid a nearly eight-thousand-dollar fine, and performed seventy-five hours of community service

The project, designed by Frank Gehry, is slated to include several towers, the tallest of which, at six hundred and twenty feet, will loom more than a hundred feet above the [Williamsburg Savings Bank's] golden cupola. Markowitz claims to be confident that the older building will not be overshadowed—“From what I understand, there are ways in architecture to design a building in a way that enhances the view of the Williamsburgh building,”


Posted by lumi at 8:46 AM

LOWDOWN by Lloyd Grove

NY Daily News

A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP? Today's New Yorker gives Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz the star treatment, framing his enthusiastic support for billionaire Nets basketball team owner Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards project as either "a thrilling instance of Brooklyn's economic and cultural resurgence or a shocking capitulation to the interests of Ratner's multibillion-dollar development company." The two are glued to their phones and joined at the ear, The New Yorker reports, recounting one call from Ratner to Markowitz about potential problems with the project. "Markowitz, whenever he could get a word in, tried to be both conciliatory and upbeat," writes Rebecca Mead. "Finally he told Ratner to call someone in his office - better yet, he would have that someone call Ratner."


Posted by lumi at 8:33 AM

FCR Ridge Hill Update

The Journal News

Ratner's Ridge Hill development proposal is facing some stiff resistance in Yonkers. The themes are familiar to Brooklynites: promises with no guarnatees, lack of public input and oversight, public funding through tax breaks, political corruption and cronyism, and the arrogance of top-down urban planning.

New coalition tackles big development
Brooklyn activists travel to Yonkers to share ideas and learn more about what the citizens of Yonkers are facing. "'With Ratner, there's a pattern of coming in and imposing a development on the community without any say from that community,' said Patti Hagan, a founder of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition."

Ridge Hill ad blitz begins today
Forest City Ratner is running a 30-second TV commercial to run on the local cable stations just days after the Ridge Hill Development Corporation ran a full-page ad in the Journal News, in an attempt to change public opinion about the controversial development.

"Both Ratner and Ridge Hill Development officials, who have stressed they are separate and distinct organizations of late, said they were unaware of each other's efforts."

Editorial: Scrutinizing Ridge Hill
The Journal News editorial board encourages the Yonkers City Council to keep up the public meetings in order to make sure that Yonkers receives the promised benefits and addresses the concerns of nearby residents. The position of the editorial board looks ahead at the challenges that remain, but fails to scrutinize the corruption and backroom dealing that has already occured.

Posted by lumi at 8:00 AM

Ratner Should Look to Kidd for an Assist

The NY Times

It looks like Jason Kidd is running his own PR campaign as he is doing his best to make the playoffs despite Ratner's missteps.

If the Nets make the playoffs, Ratner will be the beneficiary of his first unearned miracle as a league owner.


CNN/SI.com, Truth & Rumors
Bergen Record, Nets know what to do
Allentown Morning Call, Jason's not kidding about playoffs

Last night Kidd scored his 67th career triple-double to beat the 76'ers and put the Nets in control of its own destiny to make the playoffs.
NY Daily News, Kidd, Nets take charge
NY Newsday, Firm grip on playoffs, Kidd's triple-double, Carter's 43 points give N.J. tie with Cavaliers for No. 8 spot, but Nets also own the tiebreaker
WPVI.com, 76ers Stumble in Playoff Chase

Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

April 17, 2005

Mike Lupica: Shooting from the lip

NY Daily News

Our elected politicians rolled over for Caring Bruce Ratner in Brooklyn.

Then Mayor Money and his trusty aid, Shifty Doctoroff, did everything in their powers to give away the Hudson Railyards to the extremely needy Woody Johnson of the Jets.


Posted by lumi at 7:56 AM

April 16, 2005


From the Brooklyn Papers:

Borough President Marty Markowitz has hosted another closed-door meeting about developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards proposal, continuing his policy of shutting out community members who have prominently voiced opposition to the plan to build a basketball arena as well as 17 residential and office high-rise towers.


Posted by amy at 11:32 AM

April 15, 2005

Public Subsidies for Dummies or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Paying for Boondoggles for Billionaires

Did you sleep through Algebra 1? Do the Kim-Peebles and Zimbalist reports make your eyes bleed? Ratner says that the arena will be privately funded -- can it be true? What is a concerned Brooklynite to do?

Though the Memorandum of Understanding was supposed outline the financial structure of the deal it only revealed three hard numbers ($1 for City land and streets, $100 million from the City and $100 million from the State). Even the professionals at NYC's Independent Budget Office are scratching their heads trying to figure out the true cost of Ratner's proposal.

Enter a team of Nobel Prize-winning economists who have laid it out in black in white for the rest of us dummies who, on this day, the 15th of April, are reminded that we are paying for this boondoggle.


Posted by lumi at 6:18 AM

April 14, 2005

Brooklyn Brought to You By...

Stay Free Magazine Blog

Do the Brooklyn Nets hail the BRANDING or BLANDING of BROOKLYN?


Posted by lumi at 10:02 PM

The Ratner Plan Meets a Passel of Experts

The Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Theodore Ross

Report on the Boerum Hill Association forum on "urban planning, traffic, and financial ins-and-outs of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards development plan."


Posted by lumi at 9:15 AM


ratnercarter.jpgNY Post
By John Crudele

Exclusive interview or pr puff piece? This Bruce Ratner interview is certainly not a hard-hitting investigative profile.

Right off the bat, writer John Crudele is surprised that Ratner would not take a stand against the Jets stadium. Then again, the Post can't seem to find a sports venue deal it doesn't like.


Posted by lumi at 6:45 AM

April 13, 2005

DDDb Press Release: West Side Boondoggle is Just the Beginning

New Report Reveals $2 BILLION Cost to Public
of ESDC’s “Understanding” with Bruce Ratner

NEW YORK—As the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) rushed to rubber stamp the hotly-contested West Side Stadium today, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) released Anatomy of a Sweetheart Deal: The Atlantic Yards MOU for Dummies and Public Subsidies for Dummies —a report on the ESDC’s Memorandum of Understanding with Mega-Developer Bruce Ratner, and the cost to taxpayers of his proposed development.

The report analyzes subsidies described in the Memorandum signed by Ratner, the ESDC, and the City in March, and concludes that the 17-skyscrapers and arena proposed for Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (“Atlantic Yards”) would cost New York City and State Taxpayers close to $2 billion dollars, and potentially a lot more.

“The ESDC must think taxpayers really are dummies,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Spokesperson Daniel Goldstein. “This is an utter misuse of public dollars, and the biggest act of public theft since the days of the Robber Barons. With maximum public subsidies, no accountable political oversight, and no public input it makes what’s going on with the West Side Stadium look like some kind of warm-up act.”

To Download Anatomy of a Sweetheart Deal: The Atlantic Yards MOU for Dummies and Public Subsidies for Dummies, go to www.dddb.net/dummies.

Posted by lumi at 10:19 PM

West Side Stadium Watch

No suprises here. Brooklynites will get that deja-vu-all-over-again feeling when Ratner's Nets arena is approved by the same rubber-stamp board that voted on Tuesday to advance the West Side Stadium to the next stage in the approval process.

What next? Some call it "legislative approval," but it is really just approval by representatives of the proverbial "Three Men in a Room" (Gov. Pataki, Sen. Majority Leader Bruno and Assembly Speaker Silver). Silver's support is not guaranteed as the City is trying to mollify his disappointment with the lack of attention on Lower Manhattan redevelopment.

The NY Times, State Agency Votes for Jets Stadium, but in Legislature, Obstacles Remain
NY Newsday, State economic development board approves stadium
NY Daily News, Jets gain yards on stadium OK
Crain's New York Business, ESDC approves Jets stadium plan
Crain's New York Business Albany quarterbacks blitzed by city's stadium players

Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

April 12, 2005


Members of All Parties Oppose Public Funding of Stadiums

The Empire Page (press release)

Registered voters oppose the use of state tax dollars to build sports stadiums in general and the West Side Manhattan stadium in particular the Empire Page reported today based on a poll of 582 registered New York State voters (MoE +/- 4.1%) conducted between 4/3 and 4/7.


Only 22% of all registered voters, including 28% of Republicans, 18% of Democrats and 22% of independents support the use of state tax dollars to fund sports arenas. Geographically, voters in all parts of the state oppose such use including 65% of NYC residents, 64% of those living in the eastern half of upstate New York, 71% of those in the western half of upstate and 56% of those in the NYC suburbs.

Men favor such use only slightly more than women (23% to 21%) while 76% of those who describe themselves as Latino are opposed in contrast to African Americans - 66% of whom are opposed - or Whites - 64% of whom are opposed.

press release
link to poll data

Posted by lumi at 5:56 AM

10 things we learned about the NBA this week

Fox Sports

On the Nets:

...coach Lawrence Frank and the Nets have battled their way back into the playoff picture by winning 15 of 22 over the past six weeks.

...should Nets owner Bruce Ratner not get all he wants in Brooklyn, thus scuttling his plan for the Brooklyn Nets, it seems the New Jersey Devils are working hard on a plan for a new $310 million building on their side of the Hudson. And there isn't even an NHL season in sight. Perhaps the Nets will stay where they belong after all.


Posted by lumi at 5:42 AM

Say Goodbye to Sunlight? Plaza Condo May Loom at 30 Stories

Daily Heights has posted news of a proposed 30-story condo development on the corner of Plaza St. East and Eastern Parkway. The shadows cast by a 30-story building will not be long enough to reach Ratner's proposed 60-story skyscraper, but that makes for a lot of height in the Heights.


UPDATE: Today the Daily Heights is featuring Deb Kolben's story in this morning's NY Daily News which pegs the Meier building at 15 stories.

Posted by lumi at 5:31 AM

April 11, 2005

Budget Cutbacks in Subway Stir Upkeep Debate

The NY Times


Increased scrutiny of maintenance records show cutbacks, as riders grow uneasy about recent subway outages and accidents and transit fare hikes.


NoLandGrab: While the Pataki administration has starved the MTA, Ratner was given the development rights for the Atlantic Terminal and is gunning for a sweetheart deal for the Atlantic Railyards. Can the MTA get top dollar in real estate deals to help solve its budget woes?

Posted by lumi at 10:30 AM


Brooklyn Politics, by Erik Engquist

Bruce Ratner and several Ratnerites invaded Councilwoman Tish James’s turf on the morning of March 30, choosing a Starbucks across from her district office to meet with Daily News columnist Errol Louis.

Louis supports Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development plan while James has helped lead the opposition. So it made for an awkward moment when James herself walked into the coffee shop to find Ratner, Louis, Ratner’s right-hand man Bruce Bender, and Ratner press aide Lupè Todd. Minutes later, the pro-Ratner gang grew when ACORN’s Bertha Lewis and Jon Kest arrived. ACORN backed James’s election in 2003 but supports Atlantic Yards.

Posted by lumi at 8:40 AM

MTA MIA as Brooklyn Straphangers Rail

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Michael McLaughlin

Last Thursday... Councilwoman James convened open hearings to discuss MTA-proposed service changes and increased rates on city buses and trains. Commuters were also afforded the opportunity to testify about their experiences with the much-maligned agency. Although it was invited to participate, the Transit Authority did not send a representative to face the public and hear its complaints, a development that surprised absolutely no one.

Remarks from the panelists hit the MTA on all the familiar fronts, such as the potential dangers arising from closing ticket booths, the burden of fare hikes on the working class and its preoccupation with real-estate giveaways for sports stadiums.


Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

Ridge Hill development debate intensifies

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon

Ratner's Ridge Hill Village proposal in Yonkers is being scrutinized by residents and public officials in a slew of public meetings. Lack of transparency, inflated estimates of benefits to the city, the role of the quasi-governmental Ridge Hill Development Corporation and promises broken to nearby residents are breeding mistrust of the Ratner and his political supporters.


NoLandGrab: At least the Yonker's project is undergoing a real local public process, which is not happening in Brooklyn. Maybe if FCR had known that they would face so much local opposition, they would have done things differently.

Posted by lumi at 7:46 AM

April 8, 2005

$24M arena jackpot

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Shaya Boymelgreen, who had been moving forward recently with plans to develop a hotel that would have potentially thrown a monkey-wrench into Ratner’s plan, abruptly agreed last Thursday to sell his properties at 800 Pacific St. and 546 Vanderbilt Ave. to Ratner for $44 million. Boymelgreen had purchased the property in August for $20 million.
Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for the anti-Ratner arena group Develop—Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, who lives in a condominium within the footprint of the site, said Boymelgreen’s sale of the property to Ratner would not deter the group’s mission.

“We still intend to show the public that [Ratner’s] got a sweetheart deal from the city and the state,” Goldstein said.

Posted by amy at 10:51 PM

Winning games easier than luring away fans

NY Newsday Barbara Barker

Cablevision and the Knicks woes were highlighted last night by a Jason Kidd triple-double and a Nets 100-98 win, as the off court one-on-one competition for fans heats up.

The Knicks are in a downward spiral, and don't think the Nets' new owner, Bruce Ratner, doesn't want to take advantage of that.

The Nets, who hope to eventually move to Brooklyn, already have expanded their marketing strategy beyond New Jersey. They recently signed longtime voice of the Knicks Marv Albert to do their television games. And, leaving no pompon overturned, they recently hired away Petra Pope*, longtime choreographer of the Knicks City Dancers.


* Pope was hired as senior director of entertainment marketing. ("Point of no return: Steppin' Out," NY Daily News, April 2, 2005)

Posted by lumi at 6:50 AM

Councilwoman urges city to try for better Ridge Hill tax accord

The Jounal News

The latest in another controversial Forest City Ratner project. Skeptics in government want more taxes paid directly to Yonkers and disolution of the embattled Ridge Hill Development Corporation (immediately or after the debt on project is paid). The numbers and political positions are all speculative since "Forest City Ratner will not disclose how much revenue it expects to make at Ridge Hill."


Posted by lumi at 6:44 AM

New home for Devils in Newark to feature giant video screen

NY Newsday

Plans for the new NJ Devils arena in Newark are moving ahead. Newark Mayor Shape James would welcome Nets if deal falls though in Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 6:29 AM

Stadium plan far from adome deal, Silver tells Mike

NY Daily News

"I just think that the bulk of the public doesn't agree with him on this point," Silver (D-Manhattan) said on WFAN-AM radio yesterday.

Silver, who sits on the Public Authorities Control Board, said he fears that Bloomberg's plans to redevelop the far West Side will compete with the city's efforts to revive lower Manhattan following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Silver also wondered out loud whether the MTA got a fair price for the property and whether the stadium would be a traffic nightmare for West Siders.


Also, NY Newsday, "Bloomberg expects to get Albany's support on stadium plan"

Posted by lumi at 6:23 AM

April 7, 2005

NY Press Letter calls for Ratner to rejoin "Most Loathsome" List

WARNING: Mature Language

NY Press, Letters
Re: 50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers, 2005

loathsomebruce.gif Bruce Ratner needs to be one of the sucking blowjobs on this list for a second time [Ed. Note: He was 2004's #49] and much higher up. As someone who has his dick firmly crammed in the ass of the New York Times and his lips on Bloomberg's joint, he is a master of the underhanded land grab, making his greasy little deal happen totally under the radar. This man is single-handedly taking a corporate dump on one of the best, most neighborhood-oriented parts of Brooklyn in the name of "community development," aka lining his toilet bowl with fur.

David Tierski, Brooklyn


Posted by lumi at 7:09 AM

D.C. Council Challenges Stadium Report

Gandhi's Cost Estimate for Anacostia Land Called Inaccurate
The Washington Post

The DC City Council will re-examine the cost-of-acquisition figures for the land slated for new Washington National's ballpark. Property owners claim they are being lowballed by the city and will fight condemnation in the courts if the matter is not resolved.


Posted by lumi at 6:42 AM

April 5, 2005

Live: Update on UNITY, Alternative Plan for Atlantic Yards

DailyHeights.com reporting on the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council's presentation of the UNITY development plan. Marshall Brown continues to champion community-based development.

Development can't just be about money ... we have been working with Tish James and community groups for the past year on this idea: urban planning ... specific goals: shift discussion away from the arena and back toward our community. We have been "somewhat" successful but now the goals need to change a bit.


Posted by lumi at 8:52 AM

NYC Planning Information Portal

Want to find out more about the large-scale development proposals effecting your neighborhood? Search by Community Board, or just type in your address. Links to more information and articles.

From the "NYC Planning Portal, ABOUT" page:

The NYC Planning Portal is a web-based tool that improves access to information about major urban planning projects in New York City. Unlike traditional media web sites, the Portal is organized by both planning issue and neighborhood. Unlike government agency and advocacy websites, the Portal links to organizations with viewpoints on all sides of each issue.


Posted by lumi at 8:38 AM

New York Games: MTA picked lowest bid, intentionally

Anatomy of a deal...

By changing the rules midcourse for the favored bidder, the MTA has created many angles for the coming lawsuits.


Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM

April 4, 2005


NY Post: Ratner's NY Times tower might be rejected for Brownfield money.

New state guidelines threaten to yank hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits from some of the city's biggest new developments, including the New York Times tower planned for Eighth Avenue in Midtown.

Under the state's 2003 brownfield law, which gives tax breaks for cleaning and building on contaminated land, the Times is in line for up to $170 million in breaks.

But now the Department of Environmental Conservation can reject properties whose cleanup costs are not "significant" compared to the total cost of the project, a criterion written specifically for the Times, observers contend.

A spokesperson for Forest City Ratner, the developer of the $850 million Times building, had no comment.

Under brownfield rules, a project receives tax credits based on the total cost of the project, not just the cleanup, which balloons the New York Times credits.


NoLandGrab: This may have repercussions for the cost of Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, where Forest City Ratner has declared that they would seek money avaiable from the NYS Brownfield trust.

The original intention of the program, which was approved after the State Superfund was bankrupt in March 2001, was to aid clean up of sites that would not otherwise be developed, not sites where large developers are spending millions of dollars just for the opportunity. One of the dangers of approving applications for large projects like IKEA, FCR/NY Times, and Related/Bronx Terminal Market is that it would bankrupt the trust before the project was able to fulfill its original purpose.

For more info, read:
The Center for Brownfields Innitiative, Green Lady
Morgan Lewis (Environmental Attorneys), State Law Developments, New York Brownfield Legislation Enacted, (HTML version)

Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

The News Interview: Bruce Ratner

NY Daily News

Developer Brucer Ratner, President of Forest City Ratner Companies, is principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, which he plans to relocate to Brooklyn. Ratner met with the Editorial Board.


Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

Government approach to eminent domain needs to be reassessed

The Desert Sun (Palm Springs), Op-Ed

Palm Springs resident James K. Lewis looks to Madison's "Federalist Papers" and Hamilton ("the champion of federal authority") to settle the questions of what is a "public use."

Posted by lumi at 7:41 AM

April 3, 2005

Leviev, Boymelgreen sell 2 Brooklyn properties for $44m

Details on the Boymelgreen sale from Globes Online.

Posted by amy at 11:43 AM

Just a Few Pinstripes Can Make a Place Look Rich

The New York Times shows the sudden wage increase in a borough with a sports team:

Most striking, he thought, was that Brooklyn's annual average of $32,882 was $3,000 less than the average wage for the Bronx, even though the Bronx had, and still has, fewer jobs and a higher unemployment rate. (This January, the rate was 8 percent, compared with 6.7 percent in Brooklyn.)

Perplexed, Mr. Peers brought in some colleagues, and in examining the numbers more closely, they discovered the reason for the discrepancy. "The Bronx has a lot less jobs," Mr. Peers said. "But if 10 of them are Yankees making $50 million a year, that's going to affect the average wage."


For officials at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, this realization amounted to one more reason to bring the Nets basketball franchise to their borough. "George Steinbrenner pays well," Mr. Peers conceded. Maybe, he mused, Bruce Ratner would, too, someday.

Posted by amy at 11:39 AM

April 2, 2005

Holdout Sells to Developer of Brooklyn Arena Project

From the New York Times:

The developer Bruce C. Ratner removed a potential obstacle to his proposed $2.5 billion sports and housing complex at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn this week by agreeing to buy two buildings owned by a rival developer who had vowed to block his plans.

Mr. Ratner's Forest City Ratner Companies agreed on Thursday to pay $44 million to Leviev Boymelgreen, a Brooklyn-based development company headed by Shaya Boymelgreen, which owns the two commercial properties, including a former bakery, at 800 Pacific Street and 546 Vanderbilt Avenue.


The purchase of Mr. Boymelgreen's property is not the last hurdle that Mr. Ratner must clear. Holdouts among other building or apartment owners may force condemnation proceedings. In addition, approval for the project is needed from the state's Public Authorities Board and from the transportation authority to buy or lease the railyards.

Posted by amy at 1:11 AM

What Does the Atlantic Yards Mean for Boerum Hill?

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

An educational presentation—What Does the Atlantic Yards Mean for Boerum Hill? will be made on Tuesday, April 5, at 7 p.m. at the Belarusian Church at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Bond Street. The event is sponsored by the Boerum Hill Association. A panel of experts will help neighbors understand the impact of the proposed Nets arena project on the community. Developer Bruce Ratner’s project would tap the talents of world-renowned architect Frank Gehry in designing a complex that incorporates housing, retail, and the basketball arena.

The speakers at the Boerum Hill forum will include Dr. Robert E. Paaswell, Director of CUNY’s Urban Transportation Research Center; George Sweeting, Deputy Director of the Independent Budget Office for Education, Health, Social Services, Economics & Tax Policy; and Alex Marshall, author of How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl and the Roads Not taken.

Jo Anne Simon is a former Boerum Hill Association president and chair of the association’s Atlantic Yards Task Force. She urges “everyone to find out the facts about the Atlantic Yards proposal. As folks have seen with the West Side Stadium, nothing is written in stone. We know many in our community would like the Atlantic Yards proposal to go away. Regardless, Boerum Hill will engage in any and all processes available to the public to examine the proposal and assist in making whatever ultimately happens at Atlantic Yards address the area’s needs in a meaningful way.”

Posted by amy at 1:06 AM

A New Brooklyn Voice


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle plugs the new magazine for Brooklyn, The Brooklynite, and its

"seemingly obligatory pieces that promote selected shops and eateries (including a bar threatened with extinction by the Ratner project)."

That there's Freddy's they're talkin' 'bout. And we have to say WE HOPE that the largest development ever planned in this borough is obligatory news. What are we supposed to talk about, tourism in Sheepshead Bay?


Posted by amy at 12:53 AM

Expanding Downtown Confronts Residential Neighborhoods Already Changing from Within


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle discusses the history of development in what they call "Downtown Brooklyn" as well as Ratner's unpopular role within it.

Fort Greene and Prospect Heights have not been prepared for the change coming their way. What is happening is that downtown Brooklyn is expanding eastward in a big way. A new culture center, the Downtown Brooklyn Plan and the Atlantic Yards proposal are all, in comparison with other past projects, rather overwhelming.


Posted by amy at 12:43 AM

April 1, 2005

Poling Precinct

Where does your elected representative stand on Ratner's plan?

It might not be Christmas, but NoLandGrab knows who's naughty or nice.

Find out if your representatives are behaving -- their heads are color-coded from red (naughty) to green (nice).


Then click on their names to tell them what you want to put in their stocking.

Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers

NY Press50most.gif

It's full of your favorite cast of characters. Many of the people on this list are trying to outdo one another giving free real estate to last year's #49 Most Loathsome.

Brooklyn scores pretty high on the loathsome meter, even fan favorite Charles Barron gets spanked for not pulling the trigger in his Mayoral run.

read on

#49. Daniel Doctoroff, Deputy Mayor
Everything about the [NYC2012] proposal was insane: the West Side Parking Lot, the security nightmare we'll have to pay for, the stadium subsidy heist, the traffic nightmares that'll begin years before the games show up. Most loathsome of all was Doctoroff's repeated use of 9/11 imagery to guilt trip the IOC.

#35. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
We're as happy as anyone that Spitzer is taking on giants of corruption and winning, but let's peek under the tights. Spitzer is less a ballsy bulldog than a run-of-the-mill politicking pussy.

#27. Charles Barron, City Council, District 42 (Sorry Charlie.)
The media has spared little expense painting him as the next Al Sharpton (when they acknowledge him at all), but when we interviewed him, we found him to be one of the smartest, most articulate, most honest politicians we've ever met. So why did he make it onto this list? Because he's a quitter who dropped out of the mayor's race in deference to the much softer C. Virginia Fields, claiming that two black candidates would split support.

#21. Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President
Once upon a time, when the Board of Estimate ruled graft and contracts in New York, the five borough presidents had power. Today, it's a no-show job. The bad news with Markowitz is that he shows up, and so do his 116 employees, his multi-million-dollar budget and his four SUVs equipped with police sirens. Not content with doing nothing, Markowitz finds time to advocate for the downtrodden, such as Ikea, Home Depot and developer Bruce Ratner in their noble quest to cannibalize mom-and-pop neighborhoods. The porcine oaf is also known for racing around the city in HOV lanes with police lights flashing, en route to handing out a plaque. Markowitz is up for reelection next year. Instead, he should save taxpayers millions of dollars and fire himself, fire his employees and turn Borough Hall into a methadone clinic. At least then we'd have a better class of people hanging around the place.

#19. Tony Danza, Host, The Tony Danza Show (and shamless promotion hack)
Yet in a city clogged with Italian restaurants, who does Danza pick to sponsor his food segments? The Olive Garden. Was Papa Gino's too busy?

#14. Amanda Burden
Burden gets loathsome points for dating Charlie Rose, but earns her way onto the list in her own right for heading up a rubber-stamp commission that betrays the true mandate of the city land-use approval process.

#11. Gifford Miller, Speaker, City Council
With just three years as speaker under his belt, Miller, 35, has compensated for his lack of political experience and ability to accomplish anything meaningful by quickly learning how to play quid pro quo.

#9. Anthony Weiner, Democratic Congressman, 9th District
His career highlights include thumbs-up photo ops with Jim Brady and Ehud Barak, and an award from the National Organization to Insure a Sound-Controlled Environment.

#1. Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York Cityloathsomebloomie.gif
There's something for everyone to hate in the born-again Republican mayor: shuttered firehouses; pushing cops to harass people to meet ticket quotas; his 18 percent property tax hike; his retarded and dishonest Olympics pursuit (and his hilarious call on New Yorkers to visit Greece to show support for the same); his exclusion of parents from any decisions on the future of their kids' schools; "Snapple loves New York, and New York loves Snapple!"; his complicity in abuse of eminent domain statutes; his initial refusal to investigate Guy Velellaís release (changing his mind only after the media shitstorm); his support for the secret 22 percent pay raise given by Pataki to the MTA's loathsome Katie Lapp; his "tort reform," which forces local property owners to pay the damages when someone gets hurt on a broken sidewalk; his vulgar efforts to buy off journalists and political parties to serve his needs (such as the $250,000 he gave to the Independence party, without whose ballot line he can't win).

Posted by lumi at 6:10 AM