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July 31, 2005

Down to the Wire for MTA Decision on Atlantic Yards?

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

If the Ratner bid is approved, neither the state nor the city’s legislative body will have input in development decisions, which have already been made in an agreement between the company and appointed boards that the mayor and governor have set up.

Extell has vowed to submit to the ULURP process, in which case the City Council would vote on zoning issues.


Posted by amy at 10:55 AM

Bensonhurst Group Wants Halt To All Development in Brooklyn

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

The letter leveled what in reality are three accusations at the Department of City Planning, complaining that neighborhood development throughout Brooklyn is progressing too rapidly, that the development does not reflect the aesthetic character of the borough, and that much of the new construction disregards safety considerations — such as the structural integrity of new buildings.

“Too many unethical builders and developers are not abiding by the current building codes, creating a very dangerous public safety situation,” the letter said. “Until realistic contextual rezoning plans have been seriously and expeditiously studied in the remainder of Brooklyn, we feel this immediate moratorium will be a saving grace for our residential, family communities.”


Posted by amy at 10:51 AM

MTA Tells Ratner: Come Up with More Money, or Else


From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Develop Don’t Destroy, one of Ratner’s main opponents, circulated a press release before the meeting that said the MTA should delay its vote until September because the agency spent at least two years of negotiating with FCRC, and less than two days reviewing the proposal submitted by Extell.

According to Extell supporters, the MTA hadn’t even met with the company.

The one dissenting board member, Mitchell Pally, said he would rather negotiate in September, “when we know all the facts.” He said he didn’t believe that Ratner, “knowing that Extell is waiting in the wings,” would be sufficiently pressured to come up with substantially more money.


Posted by amy at 10:45 AM


From the New York Post:

THE MTA's decision to grant developer Bruce Ratner an exclusive 45-day window to clinch a deal for its Downtown Brooklyn rail yards came only after some last-minute intervention by Mayor Bloomberg.

Sources said the mayor was infuriated by a report that the MTA planned to postpone a vote Wednesday on the mega-housing and basketball-arena project so it could hash out two competing bids, one by Ratner and another by Extell Development Corp.


Posted by amy at 10:41 AM

Gehry ushers in new brand of 'starchitects'


From the LA Times via Houston Chronicle:

While some directors given carte blanche from big studios are invigorated by the responsibility, others find it overwhelming or lose their creative focus. The same is true in architecture. And Gehry has tended to do his best work when he is constrained — by tight budgets, political squabbles or awkward sites — and his most disappointing when he is fully autonomous. That alone is a reason for a measure of wariness about this pair of projects, in which the developers have taken pains to smooth the architect's path.


Posted by amy at 10:35 AM

July 30, 2005

Ratner gets 45 days to up ante


From the Brooklyn Papers:

As it once was, so it shall be again, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board decided this week, when it cast aside the high bidder — who offered $150 million to develop the Long Island Rail Road storage yards at Atlantic Avenue — and instead voted to continue their exclusive negotiations with preferred developer Forest City Ratner.

The MTA board voted 11-1 on Wednesday to approve a resolution calling for exclusive negotiations with developer Bruce Ratner’s company, with the hopes of upping its bid by the board’s Sept. 29 meeting.


Posted by amy at 10:24 PM

Pols to MTA: Not so fast

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Two Brooklyn elected officials this week called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to extend the bidding process for development rights over the Atlantic Avenue rail yards, saying the city should first be allowed to come up with an overall plan for the site.

Brooklyn Heights Councilman David Yassky and Park Slope Assemblyman James Brennan, both of whom had previously been silent on the controversial development plan, this week fired off a letter to the MTA board calling for the bid process to be left open.


Posted by amy at 10:22 PM

Tish bows out of NY1 show

From the Brooklyn Papers:

City Councilwoman Letitia James refused an invitation to appear on a special cablecast of news station New York 1’s “Road to City Hall” last week — live from St. Francis College and focused on Brooklyn issues — because of what she said was an unbalanced presentation by the show’s producers on the Atlantic Yards project.


Posted by amy at 10:19 PM

July 29, 2005

Straight White Jewish Male Desperately Seeking Your Neighborhood

BruceRatner02.jpgBruce Ratner
AKA Bruce C Ratner

Born: 23-Jan-1945
Birthplace: Cleveland, OH

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight, Baby!
Occupation: 60's-style overdevelopment

Level of fame: Niche
Executive summary: New York City developer

To contribute to Bruce Ratner's NNDB profile and learn more about our favorite eminent domain addict with a subsidy abuse problem, click here.

Posted by lumi at 6:36 PM


The NY Sun
New York Desk

At a rally on the steps of City Hall yesterday, a State Senate leader, David Paterson, a Democrat, along with a small gathering of Harlem civic leaders and three City Council members, called for a state-wide blanket moratorium on the use of eminent domain following the recent Supreme Court decision that is widely interpreted as expanding the law’s reach.

The City Council majority leader, Bill Perkins, who is now running for Manhattan borough president, said he would introduce a council resolution to support the moratorium. Mr. Perkins accused Columbia of using the threat of eminent domain as a weapon in negotiations with the area’s small businesses and residents. Council Member Letitia James, of Brooklyn, an opponent of the proposed development of Atlantic Yards, accused the developer, Bruce Ratner, of using eminent domain as a form of coercion and said she expected the proposed moratorium to slow his project.


Posted by lumi at 7:50 AM

Ties Between Ratner, City Hall Visible in Tweed Sculpture

Wouldn't it be ironic if the walking-man LED public art installation on the steps of Tammany Hall was entitled "Bruce Walking" and was sponsored by Bruce Ratner and City Hall?

Daniel Hemmel, reporter from The NY Sun, makes the connection in another stranger-than-fiction episode in the fight over development of the Brooklyn railyards.

Bruce Ratner Walking

Asked this week if the exhibit’s title is linked to the developer’s first name, a Forest City Ratner spokesman, Joseph DePlasco, said: “We don’t comment on art.”

Ratner ally, Bertha Lewis, executive director of the group ACORN,the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, agreed “something should be done to recognize” the developer for his cooperation with the borough’s black communities.

A spokesman for the anti-Ratner group Develop Don’t Destroy, Daniel Goldstein, was less kind. He said it was fitting for “Bruce Walking” to be located at the steps of a building named for the notoriously corrupt 19th-century Tammany Hall leader William “Boss” Tweed. Both men, Mr. Goldstein charged, have benefited from “sweetheart backroom deals.”


Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

MTA Board Leans Towards Ratner

WNYC by Andrea Bernstein

Yesterday's report on the MTA Board's decision from WNYC contained some interesting points that were not brought up in other local coverage, an indication that Bernstein is covering the story of Bruce Ratner's proposal "from the ground up."

Bernstein clairifies that:

The MTA did not choose a developer for the Brooklyn rail yards at its board meeting yesterday. But it indicated a very strong preference for Forest City Ratner.

Bernstein adds some historical context:

Forest City Ratner has been working on a proposal for the Brooklyn rail yards –for two years. The 6 block has won the support of the governor, the Mayor, and other elected leaders. But stung by the controversy over the Jets stadium, the transit authority which owns the rail yards decided to auction them off. Forest City took advantage of its long lead time by putting in a far glossier, longer, and more detailed bid than its rival, Extell. Unfortunately for Forest City, its bid was also far lower – by $100 million. The MTA was not happy.

MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow muddled through an illogical explanation for the Board's action, claiming, "I’ve never sent two tenants a lease for the same space at the same time its just not right its not the way I like to do business."

Regarding the Kalikow quote, Berstein points out for WNYC's listeners:

This is of, course, not a lease. It’s a forty five day negotiation with one of the bidders on a multimillion dollar MTA property.


Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

Ferrer picks up support from Brooklyn council member

The Amsterdam News
by Tanagachi Mfuni

City Councilmember Letitia James endorses Mayoral Candidate Fernando Ferrer, citing Ferrer's concerns about Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project and the candidate's eductation plan as reasons for supporting Ferrer without reservations.


Posted by lumi at 7:03 AM

N.Y. Rail Yards Roundup: MTA on the Hot Seat

Commercial Property News
by Kristin Olson, Associate Editor

New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority truly is a hub of activity lately. Between the controversial and never-ending plan for a stadium to house the New York Jets over the West Side rail yards, the questionably under-priced sale of a rail yard in Downtown Brooklyn for a New Jersey Nets arena, and the sudden windfall, reports of which surfaced late yesterday, of an $833 million surplus of MTA funds, the Authority is hardly able to keep a low profile.


Posted by lumi at 6:58 AM

West Side Stadium Redux

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn shares MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow's concerns that government should avoid "immoral" actions and sums up what is really "immoral" about the who deal. Here's the list: * Using eminent domain & gag orders for Ratner's private arena * MTA raising fares and cutting service while negotiating with the low-bidder * MTA favoring preferred developer over open and fair process, AGAIN * More traffic and pollution at the worst intersection in Brooklyn * Over $1.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies with no vote * Skyscrapers overwhelming residential Brooklyn * Ignoring Security issues, because, hey, its Brooklyn


Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

July 28, 2005

Top 10 things the MTA learned from the West Side Stadium debacle

10. You really CAN raise fares and cut back service while subsidizing developers.
9. Picking the low bidder, gives hope to underdogs everywhere.
8. Voodoo economics isn't just an 80's thing.
7. Just because the public thinks you're a puppet, is no reason NOT to act like one.
6. A bird in the hand is worth more than three in the other hand.
5. Fuzzy math isn't very fuzzy wuzzy, was he? Not if you're a designated developer!
4. The best way to not select the low bidder is to "negotiate" with the low bidder.
3. Hey, it's not cronyism if no one gets paid off.
2. Negotiating with two bidders is "immoral," but sweetheart deals aren't.

...and the #1 thing that the MTA learned from the West Side Stadium debacle is,


Posted by lumi at 10:52 AM

MTA picks preferred developer over interests of public, again

kalikow01.jpgYou've probably already heard the news.

Today's coverage focuses on statements by MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow dismissing calls to negotiate with both bidders as "immoral," despite the fact that the MTA has selected the low bidder in this case.

The NY Times, M.T.A. to Deal Only With Ratner on Brooklyn Bid

...while M.T.A. officials seemed to like [Ratner's] plans, they still wanted more money.

NY Newsday, MTA selects Nets arena plan. Agency accepts lower cash bid from Forest City Ratner Cos. to develop Brooklyn’s Vanderbilt Yards.

Bob Liff, Extell's spokesman, said the firm's president, Gary Barnett, was "disappointed" with the decision but did not plan to file a lawsuit to challenge it. In a statement, Extell said it was "considering all of our options."

The vote also marks the second time this year that the MTA board has supported a bidder who offered less money to the cash-strapped agency.

When asked, Jim Stuckey of Forest City Ratner did not commit to offering more money but said the negotiations would lead to "a positive outcome."

Others, however, have been critical of the way the MTA has auctioned off its property rights. Assemb. Richard Brodsky (D-Hartsdale) said he'll be watching the negotiations closely to make sure that the agency gets "fair market value."

NY Daily News, B'klyn deal Ratner's to seal

Kalikow said Ratner is not in any position to shortchange the MTA. "Ratner knows that Extell is out there and if Ratner doesn't come up with money that we think is adequate, then I can recommend that we don't take it," he said.

The NY Sun, Board Wants Ratner To Increase His Bid. Transit Authority Appraiser: Yard Worth $214.5M.

The board member representing Suffolk County who cast the lone dissenting vote, Mitchell Pally, argued that the MTA would maximize the sale price by negotiating with both firms at the same time.

One of the four board members appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, Susan Kupferman, said the city’s delegation wanted to approve the Ratner bid without modification,but the Bloomberg appointees joined in supporting Mr. Kalikow’s resolution once it became clear that they could not push the Ratner plan through at yesterday’s meeting.

An executive vice president of Forest City Ratner, James Stuckey, would not say if his firm is willing to increase its cash offer, but he predicted that negotiations with the MTA would produce a “positive outcome.”

Metro, A Jump Ball in Brooklyn. Residents split on MTA's decision to negotiate over Atlantic Yards development.

Even members of the MTA’s board are split no the issue. Yesterday Mitchell Pally, the VP for governmental affairs for the Long Island Association, cast the only obte opposing the MTA’s exclusive negotiations with Ratner. Non-voting member Andrew Albert of the NYC Transit Riders Council, also dissented.

“I think it’s wrong to negotiate with one and not the other,” Pally said, adding that, “both bids are deficient.”

Bergen Record, Nets owner in exclusive talks for site

Arena opponents called the vote confirmation that political influence has tipped the MTA's decision-making process in favor of Ratner, whose plan to bring the Nets to Brooklyn has the support of Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The governor and the mayor effectively control the MTA board.

"It seems the MTA never had any intention of having a truly competitive process," said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a group of residents from the wealthier brownstone neighborhoods adjoining the rail yards.

Posted by lumi at 9:46 AM


Scenes from yesterday's MTA Board meeting from NY Newsday's Online Photo Gallery.


Posted by lumi at 9:35 AM

If I were Bruce Ratner....

What would you do with skillions of dollars to build on the Vanderbilt Railyards (a.k.a. Atlantic Yards, as in "Atlantic Mall" and "Atlantic Terminal Mall")?

Sound off in the Daily Heights Forum.

Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

July 27, 2005

MTA to Ratner: Sweeten our pot

Field of Schemes
by Neil deMause

DeMause makes a good point about the MTA's bizarre reverse-psychology negotiating strategy:

[MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow] didn't explain why the board was choosing to negotiate with the bidder who offered only $50 million, as opposed to the one who offered $150 million, if price was the main object...


Posted by lumi at 10:43 PM

Insta-Skyline, Baby! MTA To Negotiate Exclusively with Ratner

Curbed.com keeps it short and snarky:

And so it shall (probably) be: this afternoon, the MTA voted to exclusively choke more money from "negotiate" with Bruce Ratner for the Vanderbilt Yards tract in downtown Brooklyn. link

Gehry, Atlantic Yards Model

Curbed also makes fun of DDDb for their press release hitting the In Box in 12 mins. NLG got it in five. Maybe the Curbed guys need to check their server or something.

Posted by lumi at 10:24 PM

Brooklyn Residents Have Mixed Reactions To MTA's Decision To Negotiate With Ratner

report by Roger Clark

NY1 hits the streets of Prospect Heights to get local reaction to the MTA vote to exclusively negotiate with Ratner:

“We are actually moving out of the neighborhood, partially because of the arena project,” Don says.

“I think it's like overkill,” says Prospect Heights resident Jose Fonseca. “That stadium is just going to put so many people out of their homes.”

“We need this. We need this housing now, and we need the jobs now,” says Bertha Lewis of ACORN. “We need this project built.”

“[There will be] more job opportunities in the area, and no people would be outside as much because anymore because they would be working,” says another Brooklyn resident.

“The other plan sounds like it's just slightly smaller, but still very large buildings that don't belong in Brooklyn,” says Samantha Lindgren.


Posted by lumi at 8:58 PM

MTA Asks Ratner To Sweeten Bid For Atlantic Rail Yard


Coverage of the MTA's vote to enter into a 45-day exclusive negotiation period with Ratner:

The MTA has a mandate to get as much for the property as it can, and several board members said while they preferred the Ratner plan over Extell’s, his price was too low

Extell said in a statement it was disappointed the MTA decided to enter into exclusive negotiations with Ratner, and believe they should also have a chance to change their bid.

Ratner says he was pleased with the MTA's decision, and looks forward to providing even more benefits for the agency, transit riders and the surrounding communities.

report (dialup/broadband)

Posted by lumi at 8:49 PM

DDDb Press Release: The MTA Chooses Exclusive Negotiations with Low-ball Bidder Ratner

In Full Public View the MTA Abdicates Its Responsibility to the Public,
Puts Development at Vanderbilt Yards at Risk, and Ignores the High Bid from Extell

For Immediate Release: July 27, 2005

NEW YORK, NY—Today the MTA Board, led by Chairman Kalikow, voted to pass a resolution to negotiate exclusively with Forest City Ratner (FCR), for the Vanderbilt Yards, over the next 45 days. The resolution precludes negotiations with the other responder to the MTA Request For Proposals, Extell Development Company. The Board stated that it was "disappointed" with the low-ball offer from FCR of $50 million for the MTA's Vanderbilt Yards in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Extell had bid $150 million for the 8.4-acre property. The MTA spent less than two days evaluating the Extell bid, and has refused to meet with the company to allow them to make a presentation about their proposal. The Board also ignored Extell's compromise offer to sell one of the Yards' lots, at cost, to Mr. Ratner to build his proposed arena.

"It is unconscionable that the MTA Board has decided, in a pre-determined resolution, to hold negotiations with only one bidder, and the low bidder at that. The MTA has been negotiating with FCR for about two years, and even after that Mr. Ratner low-balled them. We expected the MTA to hold a legitimate bidding process," said Daniel Goldstein, Develop Don't Destroy Spokesperson. "Today they proved that they were always determined to award their property to Mr. Ratner, no matter what purchase price he offered. The only fair result of today's meeting would be to set forth on negotiations with both bidders. Instead the MTA, in full public view, demonstrated that their process was disingenuous from the start. In other words it was completely rigged."

Mr. Kalikow went through contortions to justify the resolution for exclusive negotiations. Most of the Board was silent in discussion before the vote. The only independent voices, non-voting member Mr. Albert and voting member Mr. Pelly, harshly criticized the decision claiming it was irresponsible and consisted of faulty logic if the Board is trying to reach their appraised price of the Yards, which is $214.5 million.

Mr. Goldstein continued, "We have fought for an open bidding process with transparency, and when we finally thought this would occur we were slapped in the face, along with all transit riders. It stinks of corruption, political favoritism, and meddling by the Mayor and Governor. But the MTA made a big mistake today, and took an irrational risk, as they strengthened the lawsuits we will bring against the use of eminent domain."

"In the US Supreme Court's recent Kelo decision Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, in a concurring majority opinion, described a situation where eminent domain would be prohibited. What he described was the designation of favored developer and no legislative planning process. With the MTA's troubling decision today, they made it clear that Mr. Ratner is the favored developer of the MTA, the Mayor and the Governor, and that is strong ammunition for us. To be clear, the fight against the FCR proposal is as strong as ever, if not stronger."

Pending eminent domain legislation, by the US Congress and Albany, may make it impossible for Ratner and the State to use eminent domain for his project, thus scuttling the entire development plan. Also, the the soon to be signed state Public Authorities Reform Act will require the MTA to get full market value for its properties, which could also scuttle the whole deal.

Goldstein concluded, "For the MTA to do right by its riders, and its fiduciary responsibilities, they must rescind their decision today and negotiate with both parties. Anyone can see that an exclusive negotiation would be unlikely to bring the highest price, would be a travesty of fairness, and an abdication of the Authority's responsibility to the public and the communities surrounding Vanderbilt Yards."

Posted by lumi at 5:21 PM

Hearing on Ratner Proposal Today in the MTA

Big Cities Big Boxes by Mary Campbell Gallagher

An eyewittness account of the MTA Board meeting.


Posted by lumi at 5:15 PM

MTA to negotiate exclusively with Ratner

NY Newsday
by Joshua Robin

The MTA voted this afternoon to negotiate exclusively with developers planning a basketball arena and high-density residential community on the authority's downtown Brooklyn rail yards, shutting out for now a rival bid that sought a more modest neighborhood on the site.

The 11-1 vote allows Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials to seek more money from developer Bruce Ratner for the Atlantic Avenue site, giving them 45 days to reach a new agreement.

If the deal isn't struck in that time, MTA officials could return to discussions with the rival developer, the Extell Development Co.


More coverage:
AP, MTA negotiates with Nets over arena site

Posted by lumi at 2:40 PM

MTA to take additional 45 days to negotiate exclusively with Ratner

The MTA Board voted to take another 45 days to enter into exclusive negotiations with developer Bruce Ratner in order to secure a better deal for the Vanderbilt Railyards. If negotiations fail, then they reserve the right to negotiate with rival bidder, Extell.

1010 WINS News Radio is reporting that most of the speakers who showed up to testify at the MTA Board meeting, including Rev. Herbert Daughtry, were in support of the Ratner's plan.

NoLandGrab: The MTA has already taken two years to negotiate "exclusively" with Bruce Ratner, what's another 45 days going to accomplish? Clearly, this compromise vote is a feeble face-saving measure that will eventually lead to the preordained selection of Ratner as the developer of The Yards.

The MTA board has been making up the rules as they go along. This action brings up troubling issues of fairness and transparency. When the criteria and selection process is this convoluted and unpredictable, it should come as no surprise to the public that only one other company had the guts to submit a rival bid.

Posted by lumi at 12:47 PM

Dark-Horse Brooklyn Bidder

The NY Observer
by Matthew Schuerman and Michael Calderone

So, is Mr. Barnett bidding on Vanderbilt Yard, the eight-acre M.T.A. parcel in Central Brooklyn, just because it’s payback time? Is he just another James Dolan, the Cablevision C.E.O. who bankrolled the opposition fight on the West Side stadium and who, when it looked like he was losing, decided to bid on the land himself and proposed a housing-and-office complex for the site? That’s the $100 million question.

Then again, who else but a lone wolf would dare upset the apple cart of prearranged subsidies and Mayoral endorsements to actually respond to the M.T.A.’s request for proposals? No one else bothered.


Posted by lumi at 12:19 PM

Claiming the Yards for Ratner

The Brooklyn Downtown Star
by Emily Keller

Coverage of last weekend's "Nehemiah March," claiming the "Yards" for Ratner's plan.


Posted by lumi at 11:37 AM

Politicians who support Ratner's plan

letters.gifA pile of letters of support for the Ratner bid, collected by Forest City Ratner and submitted to the MTA on July 6, turned up when the MTA released the competing bids last week.

The NY Observer is reporting that many of the public officials "even wrote identical letters."

Here's the A-List of Public Officials who sent letters to accompany the Ratner bid with links to contact their offices to express outrage or support:
Mayor Micahel Bloomberg
Governor George Pataki
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz
US Senator Chuck Schumer
New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum
Congressman Edolphus Towns, House of Rep., 10th District
State Senator Carl Andrews, District 20
State Senator Martin Golden, District 22
State Senator Carl Kruger, District 27
State Senator Kevin Parker, District 21
Council Member Erik Martin Dilan, District 37
Council Member Lew Fidler, District 46
Council Member Mike Nelson, District 48
Council Member James Sanders, District 31
Council Member Bill de Blasio
Assembly Member Roger Green, District 57
Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol
Comptroller William Thompson

Posted by lumi at 10:31 AM

M.T.A. Is Expected to Postpone Vote on Railyard Bid

The NY Times is reporting that the MTA board is expected to vote to delay selection of a winning bid for the Atlantic Railyards:

The board was scheduled to review two dueling bids by developers at its meeting today and possibly vote, but a person who is close to the authority's chairman and to other board members said that the board instead intends to delay the vote so that higher bids can be submitted. The expected delay was confirmed by an executive with the authority, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is so controversial with neighborhood groups.


WNYC, Atlantic Yards Bids up for Discussion at MTA Meeting
WNYC's City reporter Andrea Bernstein is reporting that an MTA spokesman said that the MTA Board may postpone a decision, though Bloomberg's representatives to the Board "are expected to vote FOR a Raner proposal, a mayoral spokesman said."

Posted by lumi at 8:59 AM

MTA board to vote to agree to not decide?

Though The NY Times is reporting that the MTA board may postpone a decision allowing time for more bids to be submitted, the other local dalies are anticipating a vote between the Ratner and Extell bids.

The NY Sun, Crucial Vote on Atlantic Yards Today

A leader of the transit activist group the Straphangers Campaign, Neysa Pranger, said the board members must exercise “due diligence” in evaluating the proposals. “When they’re receiving orders from above, they might not do that,”she said. Governor Pataki,who has appointed six board members and who likewise has endorsed the Ratner project, will not follow Mr. Bloomberg’s lead in instructing his appointees to vote for the Ratner bid, according to a Pataki spokeswoman, Mollie Fullington.

When a mayoral spokeswoman, Jennifer Falk,was asked whether it was appropriate for Mr. Bloomberg to issue voting instructions to the four MTA board members he appointed, she said: “Yes, they are his appointees.”

NY Newsday, MTA zeroes in on B’klyn plan
Board scheduled to choose developer for Vanderbilt Yards, but community leaders seek delay in vote

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, which has 14 voting seats, received the Brooklyn bids July 6 but most board members were only briefed on the offers this week.

The NY Sun, Shortchanging the Taxpayers
The Sun calls for the bidding process to be reopened on grounds that neither plan gets fair market value for the railyards, a requirement of a recently passed bill sponsored by Assemblymember Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) that will not go into effect until next January. Brodsky is calling for the MTA board to respect the law anyway.

The NY Sun, Letter to the Editor
Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of Fifth Avenue Committee, urges the MTA board to postpone a decision, citing recently passed legislation, awaiting the Governor's signature, enacted "to bring real accountability to our state’s 730 public authorities."

As a public agency, the MTA must give residents the chance to participate in a process that could dramatically transform their lives. Brooklyn, and New York, deserve nothing less.

The NY Post, Steve Cuozzo

It would be tragic if the MTA lets the monkey wrench scuttle a vision as compelling as Ratner's for all its questions yet to be answered.

Dope on the Slope, Our MTA: Putting Passengers Last
Metro-North-riding Dopey Slopey gets hot and bothered by the prospect of the MTA voting in favor of the "eminent-domain addicted" developer's bid.

Posted by lumi at 7:34 AM


The NY Post
by Rich Calder

Jeffrey Baker, a lawyer for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, said in a letter to MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow that the agency shouldn't let Ratner build on the 8.3-acre Long Island Rail Road yard at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

Baker said the developer would be "hard-pressed" to obtain other land needed for his project because Ratner is relying on the state's eminent-domain powers to take it from homeowners.


Posted by lumi at 5:58 AM

BUILD Gets a Brick (Or Something) Through the Window

buildwindow.jpg With all of the news about the MTA's bid NLG didn't get around to checking the local blogs until this morning. Here's a serious neighborhood story we missed from DailyHeights (July 21).

"Whoa - no less than half an hour after I left [the Wed. night Daily Heights happy hour at] Soda, BUILD caught a brick (or something) through the window..."

NoLandGrab: You don't need a crash course in PR or ethics to know that violence/vandalism only emboldens you opponent and further radicalizes their POV.

NLG's view on eminent domain contends that property rights are civil rights — that would include the right to use and enjoy your property without fear of being harassed.

Posted by lumi at 5:42 AM

July 26, 2005

Controversial Vote Expected Tomorrow for Brooklyn Rail Yards Redevelopment

Commercial Property News
By Paul Rosta

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expected to vote tomorrow on the much-anticipated selection of a team for the controversial redevelopment of rail yards in Brooklyn. But even if the vote occurs as planned, the project faces stiff opposition from community groups.


Posted by lumi at 11:46 PM

DDDb Press Release: The Developer Has No Clothes

Ratner Rejection of Extell Arena Compromise Exposes Ratner Plan for What It Is:
An Arena as a Front for a Massive Land Grab

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesperson Daniel Goldstein said, "With Mr. Ratner's swift rejection of the Extell compromise, the developer has shown that he is much more interested in the enormous profits his land grab would bring to his firm, and not interested in bringing pro sports to Brooklyn or compromising with the community. Clearly if pro sports does not return to Brooklyn, it will be Mr. Ratner's inflexibility that will be at fault."

NEW YORK, NY—The NY Times is reporting today that:

"The real estate investment group [Extell Development Company] battling with the developer Bruce Ratner for control of the Atlantic rail-yard near Downtown Brooklyn offered a compromise yesterday that it said would allow both parties to declare victory: The group would incorporate Mr. Ratner's plan to build a glass-walled basketball arena for the Nets into its project."

"...Mr. Barnett [Extell CEO] said yesterday that if he won [the MTA bid], his company would resell a portion of the development rights for no additional cost to Mr. Ratner so that he could build the basketball arena, now expected to cost more than $500 million."

Mr. Ratner immediately rejected the compromise offer.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesperson Daniel Goldstein said, "With Mr. Ratner's swift rejection of the Extell compromise, the developer has shown that he is much more interested in the enormous profits his land grab would bring to his firm, and not interested in bringing pro sports to Brooklyn or compromising with the community. Clearly if pro sports does not return to Brooklyn, it will be Mr. Ratner's inflexibility that will be at fault."

Goldstein continued, "Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn remains opposed to eminent domain for a sports arena or any private development. However, we appreciate that Mr. Barnett, of Extell, is interested in opening a dialogue, and accommodating those politicians, and some Brooklynites, who are nostalgic to bring pro sports back to Brooklyn, and the majority of the community that wants to see sustainable, in-scale development. We are also pleased to see that if there is an arena proposal, it would go through the city's land use review oversight process known as ULURP, instead of bypassing it as Ratner has chosen to do."

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn has always said that it is interested in an open dialogue, and it believes a discussion about viable options for an arena in Brooklyn can finally begin.

Goldstein concluded, "We need Mr. Ratner to tell the truth. Thus far his track record doesn't lend us much hope for that. The truth is that his arena has always been a front for a land grab, and his rejection of this compromise offer proves that. Development needs to be about what is best for the community, not what is best for Bruce."

With this new compromise offer on the table, along with the two proposals offered by Extell and Forest City Ratner ($150 million in cash from Extell, versus $50 million in cash from Ratner), it is ever more necessary for the MTA Board to deliberate further and fairly, and hold their vote in September, not Wednesday after having seen for the bids only one day earlier for the first time.

Posted by lumi at 11:24 PM

Scene From the--er--Class Struggle in Brooklyn

The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman

More on the class wars being waged in Brooklyn -- it's trust-fund daddies against the working-class folks who have enough juice to hire PR firms and rent out office space.


NoLandGrab: Brooklynites are still trying to figure out who the trust fund daddy is. Since the attempted outing of Dan Goldstein turned out to be a canard (that means "duck" in trust-fund-daddy-ese), reporters are "flocking" to meetings hoping to spy a rebellious Trump or Hilton.

Posted by lumi at 11:06 PM

More support for Ratner

From The Real Estate Observer blog by Matthew Grace:

New York City Mayoral candidate C. Virginia Fields just came out in favor of Forest City Ratner's bid on the Atlantic Yards. Perhaps she's hoping for a donation to her rapidly dwindling war chest?

In her press release, Fields cites the positive aspects of the plan, affodable housing, jobs and other amentities to the community without addressing the impacts.


For more info on politicians' positions on Ratner's plan check out NLG: Pol Precinct.

Posted by lumi at 11:00 PM

Things nearly get physical at MTA Real Estate Committee meeting

A scuffle nearly broke out when Develop Don't Destroy Spokesperson Dan Goldstein got up to speak at the yesterday's MTA Real Estate Committee meeting. Jasmin Miller of BUILD called Goldstein, "Trust Fund Baby." Instead of saying "I know you are, but what am I," Goldstein leaned over and muttered an expletive.

Though the exchange of words were reported in The NY Sun, the ensuing attempt by three BUILD members to "get physical" with Goldstein and the fact that MTA security posted at the meeting stepped in to keep the peace, wasn't.

Passions remained high but opponents played nice in the hallway when the public was removed from the meeting room while the MTA committee members met for a private session.

Posted by lumi at 3:20 PM

DDDb Press Release: Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Attorney Warns MTA Ratner’s Bid is Contingent on Eminent Domain

DDDB’s Legal Counsel Informs MTA of Ratner's Legal Hurdles and Ramifications

NEW YORK, NY– Jeff Baker, attorney for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, of the Albany law firm Young, Sommer, Ward, Ritzenberg, Baker & Moore LLC, has sent a letter to the MTA's Chairman Peter Kalikow, and all the MTA Board members today. (text of the letter: http://www.dddb.net/eminentdomain)


In the letter to the MTA, Mr. Baker states:

"FCRC’s plan for the Yards contemplates the use of eminent domain to take property from individuals and businesses in the adjacent footprint area in the event that the company is unable to negotiate the private purchase of such property under the threat of condemnation. At present, DDDB members include certain property owners who have no intention of selling to FCRC and are committed to challenging FCRC’s proposed use of eminent domain in a court of law. Over the past two years, FCRC has indicated that it would either argue that the area is blighted or that an economic benefit would accrue to the city from its development in order to justify its invocation of eminent domain. As counsel for DDDB, it is my professional opinion that both proposed theories would meet vigorous opposition in court."

The letter concludes:

"As FCRC’s bid is contingent on the use of eminent domain, it is imperative that the MTA is aware of the significant challenges the company could face if it pursues its current plans. Therefore, I respectfully urge that you consider the ramifications to the MTA of accepting any bid which is contingent upon such a questionable use of the power of eminent domain and that the MTA Board carefully consider all bids before moving forward."

DDDB spokesperson, Daniel Goldstein said, "The MTA has a choice between Ratner's proposal which could face years of major legal hurdles and Extell's proposal which does not contemplate the use eminent domain and therefore would avoid such legal obstacles. The MTA must consider the huge risk they would be taking if they award their property to Mr. Ratner."

Goldstein continued, "Many of my neighbors and I have no intention of selling to FCRC and succumbing to his threats. That includes residents (homeowners and tenants of all incomes) and businesses. We want to stay in our homes and in our neighborhood. We strongly believe that the contemplated use of eminent domain for Mr. Ratner's project, already used as a threat, runs contrary to the Constitution's public use clause in the Fifth Amendment. It also appears to run afoul of the US Supreme Court's Kelo decision from last month. It is also clear to us that Mr. Ratner's desire for our homes and businesses is nothing but pure greed. The rail yards and property he already owns, the Atlantic Center Mall, are more than enough acres to build the project he has proposed. Taking our homes and businesses is an illegal land grab, and we intend to show that in the courts when the time comes."

Posted by lumi at 3:10 PM

Sharpton Backs Ratner’s Plan for Altantic Yards

Park Slope Courier
by Stephen Witt

However, Sharpton said the support is not so much for developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) as it for the those community activists and groups who signed onto the recent Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with FCRC.

“Anybody who says I came here tonight to support Ratner is a liar. I came here tonight to support Rev. Daughtry, [Assemblymember] Roger Green, [ACORN President] Bertha Lewis and those who signed the Community Benefits Agreement,” he added.

Sharpton Backs Ratner’s Plan for Altantic Yards by Stephen Witt

Rev. Al Sharpton came back to his native borough last week to show support for the controversial proposed Atlantic Yards project that would see affordable housing, jobs and NBA basketball.

However, Sharpton said the support is not so much for developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) as it for the those community activists and groups who signed onto the recent Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with FCRC.

“I’ve never supported Rater before, but I always said there much be a community benefits agreement in place,” Sharpton told a packed audience in the sweltering Duryea Presbyterian Church, 362 Sterling Place.

“Anybody who says I came here tonight to support Ratner is a liar. I came here tonight to support Rev. Daughtry, [Assemblymember] Roger Green, [ACORN President] Bertha Lewis and those who signed the Community Benefits Agreement,” he added.

Sharpton noted that a CBA is just a start and all the parties who signed it must live up to it.

Sharpton also had strong words for those African-American groups and elected officials who oppose the plan.

“It’s one thing to agree to disagree, it’s another thing to slander and disrespect those that made it possible for you to open your mouth in the first place,” he said.

“Let’s be straight up about this. If you don’t like some of the players, say that “You got personality differences,” say that “You think you should have been at the table,” and “your ego is bruised,” say that, but don’t walk around the community where half our men are sitting on stoops and can’t get jobs, and you stand in the way of them getting jobs,” Sharpton added.

Sharpton said he did back FCRC over the Extell Development Company big for the Atlantic Avenue rail yards, because Extell has partner before with the Carlyle Group.

Sharpton noted the Carlyle Group’s connections to the Bush and Bin Laden families, and that they have always opposed the black leadership in the civil rights movement.

Sharpton did express concerns about the threat of eminent domain in the FCRC project, but said there has never been such a hue and cry when predominately black areas are threatened with eminent domain.

The MTA will accept one of two bids and that bid should be the Ratner bid,” said Sharpton.

Joining Sharpton at the church rally were, among others, New York City comptroller William Thompson, State Sen. Carl Andrews and National Urban League President Marc Morial.

Morial, who is also the former mayor of New Orleans, said the CBA marks the beginning of a new movement for economic rights.

“It [the CBA] says we will be for it if it is for us,” said Morial, adding he hopes other cities in the nation take note of what is happening in Brooklyn.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Spokesperson Deniel Goldstein said via phone and email that Sharpton doesn’t believe in a competitive bidding process and believes that only Bruce Ratner and this project will create jobs for black men.

“These are outrageous things to say. Extell is not standing in the way of jobs. Their project would create the same jobs. And they are willing to negotiate a CBA just like Ratner has, though theirs would go through ULURP and therefore be a stronger document,” said Goldstein.

Goldstein added that race and class have nothing to do with the issue and there are plenty of people of color who don’t support the project.

Among those who oppose it are the five black ministers, who together with two white ministers, make up the Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition [DBLC] said Goldstein.

Rev. Dennis Dillon, chair of the DBLC and pastor of the Brooklyn Christian Center, 1061 Atlantic Ave., said those who signed the CBA were co-opted into doing so and that Sharpton is betraying the community.

Jobs should be developed through indigenous development such as franchises and dealerships, Dillon said.

But Thompson, who many think will be a strong candidate for mayor in four years, said he studied the proposed project, and spoke with the people who worked on the CBA, before fully endorsing it.

“This [Sharpton rally] reinforced my opinion that this project is good for Brooklyn and New York City in so many ways,” said Thompson.

“I don’t know that this is about race and class. I think this is about opportunity. Opportunity for for jobs and real business development. Opportunity for training. Opportunity for housing for people who wouldn’t have housing. So this isn’t about race and class, this is about access to opportunity for people who haven’t had it before in many ways.”

Posted by lumi at 11:57 AM

MTA May Vote On Atlantic Rail Yard Bids As Soon As Wednesday


The controversy over future development at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards site is heating up. With the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board set to award the site to one of two developers as soon as Wednesday, advocates on both side of the issue are trying to get their opinions heard. NY1’s Bobby Cuza filed this report.

transcript (dialup/broadband)

Posted by lumi at 8:40 AM

Development Rival Offers Compromise on Nets Arena

The NY Times
by Charles Bagli

The real estate investment group battling with the developer Bruce Ratner for control of the Atlantic railyard near Downtown Brooklyn offered a compromise yesterday that it said would allow both parties to declare victory: The group would incorporate Mr. Ratner's plan to build a glass-walled basketball arena for the Nets into its project.

Knowing that the city and the state want to provide a home in Brooklyn for the Nets of the National Basketball Association, Mr. Barnett said yesterday that if he won, his company would resell a portion of the development rights for no additional cost to Mr. Ratner so that he could build the basketball arena, now expected to cost more than $500 million.


NoLandGrab: This is an interesting move by Extell to broker a compromise, though it seems that Ratner is more interested in an all-or-nothing approach than finding a solution where nearly everyone wins.

Posted by lumi at 8:23 AM

Pass up Yards sale, boro pols urge MTA

NY Daily News
by Deborah Kolben

yasskybrennan.jpgAssemblymember James Brennan (D-Park Slope) and City Councilmember David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights) joined forces to send a letter to the MTA requesting that the public authority stop negotiations and hold off selling the Atlantic Railyards until a city-approved plan is in place.


"They've done this backwards. I think it's premature to agree on a sale price before there is an approved development plan."

Brennan, referring to both the Ratner and Extell plans:

"Each one of them is too big. They're stuffing between 15,000 and 18,000 people into less than 10 acres."


Posted by lumi at 7:46 AM

Nets score key votes in railyards bid battle

NY Daily News
by Pete Donohue and Michael Saul

Here's a surprise:

Mayor Bloomberg's four representatives on the MTA's board will vote to hold further negotiations with Forest City Ratner to build atop the Atlantic Ave. railyards in Brooklyn, a mayoral spokesman said yesterday.

Though the Mayor's reps are lined up to vote for Ratner's lowball bid over the Extell plan:

A source said at least two board members told MTA staffers they want more time to study the offers.


NoLandGrab: Here we go again. New Yorkers will recall that in March the Mayor's and Governor's representatives on the MTA board voted overwhelmingly to accept the low bid from a well-connected sports team owner.

More coverage, NY Newsday. "Support for Nets arena, Bloomberg's 4 representatives on MTA board expected to get behind $3.5B B'klyn development"

Posted by lumi at 7:33 AM


NY Post
by Rich Calder

The Post covers yesterday's MTA real-estate committee meeting where groups boosted Extell's bid over Ratner's. Extell's bid offers the MTA three times more than the Ratner's and doesn't require the use of eminent domain.


Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM

ATLANTIC YARDS: Ratner-Extell Fight Turns Ugly

The NY Sun
by Daniel Hemel

The fight over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s rail yard in downtown Brooklyn turned ugly yesterday morning as supporters and opponents of developer Bruce Ratner’s bid for the site exchanged bitter, profanity-laden personal attacks during a public meeting at the MTA’s Midtown headquarters.

Also, coverage on Brooklyn pols calling for a halt to sale of the railyards until a city-approved plan is in place and the possibility that State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's eventual vote could be crucial.


Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

Reverend Al and The Man, and a warning to the MTA

Fans For Fair Play

The specter of the Jets West Side Stadium debacle makes an encore appearance in Rev. Sharpton's support and the MTA's possible rush to pick the lower bid.

Sharpton's support:

...must be, at best, a seriously mixed blessing for [Forest City Ratner]. Sure, they get another tenuous toehold in the Black community, but they also get a guy who anyone can approach on the street and ask "hey, Reverend, that Jets stadium thingie you endorsed, how's that coming along?"

The MTA can ill-afford another fiasco like the Jets stadium. The Brooklyn process is the same deal. After being forced by an angry public to create an open bidding process, the favored bidder -- a sports-team-owning pal of the governor and mayor -- submits the worst bid, fraught with add-ons nicked from Peter to pretend to pay Paul. The MTA board's vote appears, at this stage, to be a slap-dash rush-job. The principles of fairness and democracy lose again.


Posted by lumi at 7:04 AM

Comparing Bids at Atlantic Yards

The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman

So, there's been some time now to evaluate the competing bids to develop the Atlantic Yards in downtown Brooklyn. Here's how it looks to The Real Estate.

Posted by lumi at 7:02 AM

Ruling on eminent domain triggers a firestorm of ire

Minneapolis Star Tribune
by Kenneth Harney, Washington Post Writers Group

Calling it a backlash would hardly do it justice. Calling it an unprecedented uprising to nullify a decision of the highest court of the land would be more accurate.

In the four weeks since the Supreme Court sanctioned the seizure of private homes by municipal governments for private "economic development," a firestorm of reaction has broken out in dozens of state legislatures and in Congress.


Posted by lumi at 6:47 AM

July 25, 2005

DDDb Press Release: Extell Bids $150 Million vs. Ratner’s $50 Million for the MTA’s Rail Yards in Brooklyn

DDDB Demands That MTA Deliberate for More Than Two Days and Postpone Vote Until Next Meeting in September

NEW YORK, NY– The Metropolitan Transportation Authority released the two bids on Atlantic yards late Friday afternoon. Extell Development Company has bid $150 million in cash for the MTA's Vanderbilt Yards (aka Atlantic Yards), while Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) has bid $50 million for the same 8.4-acre property. Extell has bid $56 per square foot, while Ratner has bid $15 per square foot. The MTA, also on Friday, appraised the Vanderbilt Yards at $214.5 million.

"The community prefers the Extell proposal by a large margin as it fulfills the key principles we have been fighting for over the past two years. And now Extell has outbid Ratner by a very large margin," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesperson, Daniel Goldstein. Goldstein added, "The MTA should take time to deliberate and evaluate the two bids, especially in light of the fact that both of the bids fall below the MTA’s appraised value of $214.5 million. They should not rush to vote this Wednesday, bur rather postpone their vote until their next meeting in September. If they vote on Wednesday, Board members will only have two days to evaluate these two bids and that is an insufficient and ludicrous amount of time. With the Hudson Yards bids the Board deliberated for ten days, and that was insufficient. Whatever the Board decides to do, it must be fair, transparent and judicious. The public will not accept secret, sweetheart deals."

FCRC has tried to muddy the waters regarding their purchase price for the rail yards by tacking on construction costs, sales tax revenue, and operating costs to their $50 million cash offer. Extell has simply stated that they will pay the MTA $150 million in cash at closing, while choosing to absorb the costs for the "add-ons" that FCRC has marketed as part of their purchase price.

Goldstein continued, "As we've expected for a long time now, Mr. Ratner thought he could get away with a sweetheart price for the rail yards, so he low-balled his bid and then tacked on construction costs as part of his purchase price. Mr. Ratner's 'add-ons' add nothing to his purchase price, as both developers are offering to fulfill those commitments. You can see all of this on our website breakdown of the bids at: www.dddb.net/bids."

Besides the $100 million difference between the two purchase prices, the proposed projects are vastly different. Extell proposes 11 buildings over the 8.4-acre Vanderbilt rail yards, ranging in height from 4 stories to 28 stories. They will not use eminent domain and they intend to go through the City's community and political development oversight process known as ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedures). Extell also plans to build a school, as well as over 4 acres of public open space.

Ratner proposes to build over the Vanderbilt rail yards as well as an additional 13 acres currently consisting of private homes, businesses, and city streets. The private property would be taken through a State invocation of eminent domain. The Ratner proposal would overwhelm the community with 20 skyscrapers ranging from 40 stories to 60 stories, as well as a 20,000-seat sports arena. Ratner's proposal would completely bypass City oversight, with a State takeover of the project.

Both developers offer 30% affordable housing. FCRC, as stated at a City Council hearing, plans to build a total of 7,300 units, with 2,250 designated as affordable. That is a 30% plan, not the much touted but false 50% plan.

To see how the bids stack up, visit: http://www.dddb.net/bids

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 10:13 AM

ATLANTIC YARDS: Supporters of Project Vow To Fight If MTA Decides To Reject Ratner Bid


The NY Sun
by Daniel Hemel

sharpton-daughtry.jpg Ratner supporters rallied to the call of Rev. Al Sharpton yesterday.

Though The Sun picked up the false claim by members of BUILD that Ratner was only using $100 million of public money (as opposed to the $200 million stated in public hearings and agreements with the City and State), the paper printed the erroneous claim that 3,000 affordable housing units were planned in the Ratner proposal. Only 2,250 units have been agreed upon.

Waving an ivory staff as he spoke before a crowd of about 140 yesterday afternoon, a community activist from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Atiim Ferguson, vowed to wage “a war in the streets” if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rejects the bid by the developer Bruce Ratner for the 8.4-acre rail yard in downtown Brooklyn.

An noteworthy observation in the article foreshadows the main concern of area residents if the arena is built:

Traffic slowed to a crawl along Atlantic Avenue yesterday as supporters of the Ratner bid walked from Rev. Daughtry’s church to the desolate rail yard site.


At yesterday's rally local Ratner supporters:
* demonstrated how traffic would back up on game day, * threatened violent street action, * exploited a near-tragic building collapse in Manhattan, and * resorted to being economical with the truth.

Will their efforts draw attention away from the fact that Extell's bid for the railyards is three times the size of Ratner's?

More coverage:
NY Daily News, Rev. Al rallies for arena

Posted by lumi at 9:15 AM

Oh Brooklyn, My Brooklyn

It's not so easy being a cheerleader for future-forward architecture when the future is right outside your window

by Karrie Jacobs

metropolis.jpg Thoughts about urban design are no longer abstract when you can watch big changes outside your own window. Champion of contemporary architecture, Karrie Jacobs, does some soul searching and reflection on her own backyard:

My concern is the potential return of 1960s-style urban renewal. Developer Bruce Ratner--whose accomplishments in Brooklyn include a cluster of truly hideous shopping centers and an Atlanta-style office park--is making headway in his bid to build a basketball arena for the Nets above the Long Island Rail Road tracks behind his malls, along with 17 residential and office towers in the surrounding area. He has retained architect Frank Gehry and landscape architect Laurie Olin to woo the cognoscenti. But do we judge Ratner's intentions by what he's built in the past or what he's promising for the future? When I look out my window I stare directly at one of his projects--a windowless high-rise multiplex with an Aztec-patterned facade--and question whether Ratner should be charged with redeveloping such a substantial chunk of the borough.

But I'm troubled that Brooklyn is being regarded as an opportunity rather than as a place. Ratner's development scheme, the Downtown plan drafted by the city, and the vision for the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront all seem to view the borough as a tabula rasa. It is that old urban-renewal thinking that overvalues the potential and understates the significance of what's already here--exactly the kind of thinking that engendered a 30-year backlash. It's not nostalgia or NIMBYism to want planning that intelligently integrates past, present, and future.


Posted by lumi at 9:03 AM

July 24, 2005

A Tale of Two Yards

The Downtown Brooklyn Star covers the recent Community Board 2 meeting where the Pacific Plan was presented.


Posted by amy at 11:12 AM

Brooklyn land bids: The winner is...?

Field of Schemes helps explain why you might be confused:

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released details of the competing bids for its Brooklyn rail yards site - and if you're hoping to understand what they mean, for godsakes don't read the local newspapers:

-The Daily News has New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner coming it at $50 million in cash, "but other planned extras balloon the bid to an estimated value of $369 million"; rival Extell Development, meanwhile, "is offering the MTA $150 million in cash while also planning to use up to $150 million in public funds." Ratner, reports the News, would require $200 million in city and state cash subsidies.

-The New York Times, meanwhile, counts only the cash bids, reporting that Extell's $150 million is "three times the amount Mr. Ratner bid for the property." The Times also notes that a law passed by the state legislature last month requires the MTA to take the highest offer for its land, and that while it hasn't yet taken effect, Richard Brodsky, chair of the state assembly's public authorities committee, says the MTA "ought to live by the law."


Posted by amy at 11:08 AM

Slam dunk for Brooklyn

The Daily News gets it wrong, wronger, and wrongest.

Posted by amy at 11:04 AM

July 23, 2005


Develop Don't Destroy takes the mystery out of the math. Bottom line: "3:1 For every dollar that Ratner has offered the struggling MTA, Extell has offered three."

Read it here before the media melts your brain.


Posted by amy at 11:14 AM

Railyard plans are detailed

From the Daily News:

Extell stressed in a statement yesterday that it "submitted a $150 million all-cash offer net to the MTA, which is three times the net amount offered by a competitive bidder."

Extell, whose tallest building would stand 28 stories, also noted that its mixed-use proposal "is less dense, lower-rise and contextual to the surrounding neighborhoods of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene." Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a coalition of community groups fighting Ratner's plan, said: "Extell is offering three times as much cash, therefore they should win the bidding."


Posted by amy at 11:07 AM

Doctoroff: Brooklyn key to economy

NLG: The real title of this article should be "Doctoroff: Lying and dogding questions key to economy" or possibly "Doctoroff: Brooklyn overdevelopment my new pet project now that I lost the Olympics..."

Read it in the Brooklyn Papers.

Posted by amy at 10:55 AM

MTA won’t show hand

From the Brooklyn Papers:

With the next MTA board meeting scheduled for this Wednesday, July 27, members of the community and civic groups fear the board members, the majority of whom are appointed by Gov. George Pataki, will go ahead and approve a bid without being adequately informed of the property’s true worth.


Posted by amy at 10:49 AM

Brooklyn Week: Parking A Major Concern For Drivers Borough Wide


From NY1:

Compounding parking problems are traffic tie-ups like the one at the corners of Atlantic, Flatbush and Fourth avenues, as drivers make their way to Downtown Brooklyn.

“It's very congested. It's very difficult to park in the Downtown Brooklyn are,” says one resident.

The parking and congestion issues are only going to be compounded by the new developments on the horizon like the city's Downtown Brooklyn plan and the proposed New Jersey Nets arena.

But you'll be comforted to know that "The Nets arena project doesn't have a specific plan to deal with parking and traffic..."


Posted by amy at 10:41 AM

New Jersey Eminent Domain Redevelopment: Forest City Ratner coming to Bloomfield

From the New Jersey Eminent Domain Law Blog:

The developer that would move the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn, Forest City Ratner, plans to bring in Toll Brothers to build 600 residential units along with retail in the Township of Bloomfield redevelopment project. The anchor for the revitalization of downtown Bloomfield would be a Stop & Shop grocery store in a 65,000 square foot shopping center with three stories of parking on top. This project will take advantage of Manhattan Midtown Direct rail service, now available on the New Jersey Transit Montclair line, which has resulted in a real estate boom in Montclair and Glen Ridge.

Yesterday over 50 concerned citizens, tenants, owners, and friends dressed in "Stop Eminent Domain Abuse" tee-shirts and gathered at the Essex County Courthouse for the first skirmish of the battle with Bloomfield on the right to take these properties through eminent domain proceedings. As reported in today's Star Ledger, the group has been fighting the project, which they said would illegally take their land and businesses.

Ratner must have epilepsy or something. He keeps having all these "seizures."

Posted by amy at 10:31 AM

Rival Bid Tops Ratner's Offer to Develop Brooklyn Site

extellratner.jpg The NY Times
by Charles Bagli

A rival bidder to Bruce Ratner, the developer, has made a $150 million cash offer for development rights at the Atlantic railyard in Downtown Brooklyn, three times the amount Mr. Ratner bid for the property, where he proposes a $3.5 billion tower complex that includes a basketball arena for the Nets, stores, parks and 6,000 apartments.


More coverage:

NY1: MTA Releases Details Of Competing Bids For Brooklyn Rail Yards

1010WINS: MTA Unveils Brooklyn Railyard Bid Details

Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

July 22, 2005

Barnett 3, Ratner 1

The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman

The MTA released the bids for the Vanderbilt Yard (a.k.a. Atlantic Yards) over in Brooklyn and it looks like the maverick Extell Development Co., run by Gary Barnett, outbid the Mayor’s favored player, Forest City Ratner. Extell is offering $150 million in cash, compared to $50 million offered by Forest City.

The Observer is reporting that Ratner's press release is padding their figures ($329.4 million) by including "the sales tax that the development will bring to the MTA over the long haul."


NoLandGrab: Since the Extell bid is three times higher, watch Ratner pulling out all the stops to spin this thing his way.

Posted by lumi at 10:57 PM

Barnett 3, Ratner 1

The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman

The MTA released the bids for the Vanderbilt Yard (a.k.a. Atlantic Yards) over in Brooklyn and it looks like the maverick Extell Development Co., run by Gary Barnett, outbid the Mayor’s favored player, Forest City Ratner. Extell is offering $150 million in cash, compared to $50 million offered by Forest City.

The Observer is reporting that Ratner's press release is padding their figures ($329.4 million) by including "the sales tax that the development will bring to the MTA over the long haul."


NoLandGrab: Since the Extell bid is three times higher, watch Ratner pull out all the stops to spin this thing his way.

Posted by lumi at 10:57 PM

MTA unveils Brooklyn railyard site bid details

NY Newsday, AP

You've been hearing about the competing bids and thinking, "Show me the money!"

Here's a comparison of the two bids as reported this evening by the AP.




Forest City Ratner

$50 million cash

$200 million

Extell Development Corp.

$150 million cash

$150 million


Posted by lumi at 7:13 PM

Easy Being Green for this Beep Candidate

The Brooklyn Downtown Star
Interview by Renee Collymore

The Star interviews the Green Party Candidate for Borough President, Gloria Mattera, and gets her views on the Green Party, "Party" Marty, education, affordable housing and community boards.

Gloria on Marty:

Markowitz is helping to rip the heart out of Brooklyn, and yet at the same time he views himself as the champion of the borough. He divides Brooklyn into urban and suburban, simply because he wants the poorer areas to become a construction site while at the same time preserving the charm of the more residential sections. I don’t have to tell you the racial implications of this. That’s why power plants and garbage dumps are built in neighborhoods where blacks and immigrants tend to live.

Click the link below to read the entire interview.

Brooklyn Star: As a candidate on the Green Party line, what issues best represents the mission of the Green Party?

Gloria Mattera: One of the main issues of the campaign is the overdevelopment in the borough and the part many local politicians play in catering to wealthy developers at the expense of communities. The four pillars of the Green Party are: Grassroots Democracy, Ecological Wisdom, Social & Economic Justice and Peace/Non-Violence. These four principles are embodied in the campaign message. Decisions on land use and its relation to affordable housing, public green space and a healthy environment need to be more inclusive and transparent. The billions of tax subsidy dollars handed to big real estate developers deprive local governments of the revenue needed to maintain the city infrastructure, reduce class sizes, shore-up the public health system and other essential services that improve the quality of life for most residents.

Although the Borough President has no authority in the area of national policy, I feel it is important to highlight the billions of dollars being spent on the current war in addition to building up the U.S. military while our cities and states are deprived of resources. I am very concerned about the aggressive presence of military recruiters in our high schools and campuses. I see the Borough President’s office acting as a resource for students and parents to learn more about the “opt-out” option by providing assistance and guidance to them.

BS: Have you picked up any major endorsements?

GM: Wherever we go, we have the ringing endorsement of the community. This, in my assessment, amounts to the most important endorsement of all. Major endorsers are mainly concerned about winning, and rarely confront incumbents. Institutional support for third party candidates out of the left is so very rare that it’s barely a consideration at this point. That said, I will seek endorsements, only I will do so selectively.

BS: How satisfied are you with the performance of current Borough President, Marty Markowitz?

GM: Not satisfied in the least. Markowitz is vain and pompous; his overtures to Ratner reveal his one-dimensional view of progress. If skyscrapers could produce a decent life for all, then why in New York City one of the most unequal cities in the U.S.? Markowitz has not spoken out against the abuse of eminent domain and he has supported the circumvention of the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).

Markowitz is helping to rip the heart out of Brooklyn, and yet at the same time he views himself as the champion of the borough. He divides Brooklyn into urban and suburban, simply because he wants the poorer areas to become a construction site while at the same time preserving the charm of the more residential sections. I don’t have to tell you the racial implications of this. That’s why power plants and garbage dumps are built in neighborhoods where blacks and immigrants tend to live.

BS: Understanding that you are a clear opponent of Bruce Ratner’s arena proposal, what are your plans for creating affordable housing, as well as thousands of employment opportunities for Brooklynites?

GM: Housing is expensive, and there are no easy solutions to the problem of housing shortages. However, if $1.5 billion can be given to Ratner in subsidies, then that money could some produce housing. I believe proposals made by groups like the Met Council need to be given more serious consideration, because rents are rising twice as fast as incomes in Brooklyn. The work of organizations like the Fifth Avenue Committee should be supported and championed as a model of what community groups can do to stop displacement of long time residents and create affordable housing.

Creative solutions are needed and all proposals considered, but the idea of expecting private developers to solve the housing crisis by linking development deals to the production of certain numbers of units is not going to work. Any developer of the Atlantic Yards will bring thousands of jobs and affordable housing to the area. Ratner should not have exclusive rights to the site for his basketball arena and primarily high end residential skyscrapers. There should be n open bidding process, with the MTA getting the best price possible for the sale of the yards.

BS: From the stand point of an educator, How effective has the public education system been in addressing the needs of the minority community?

GM: Public education has failed the minority community because the system is constantly under stress. Large class sizes, poorly paid and disrespected teachers—disrespected by the political establishment that is—and inadequate levels of school construction have contributed to this crisis. CUNY, too, is no longer friendly to low-income working class people, a disproportionate number of who are people of color and immigrants. Behind this neglect of education is the inherently racist notion that it’s not worth spending tax dollars on constituencies who will surely end up in low-skill, service economy jobs. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. The standardized, high stakes testing and “one-size-fits-all” curriculum culturally insensitive. The rich, cultural diversity of our student population needs to be acknowledged and nurtured through a varied method of tracking and assessment each individual student’s progress.

BS: What, if any, policy recommendations would you suggest to improve the education system?

GM: Firstly, the governor needs to stop obstructing the State Supreme Court’s decision that ordered the state to meet its obligations to young learners. This will infuse the education system with billions of dollars and thus reduce class sizes. Secondly, teachers need not just a contract but a pay hike of 30 per cent or more to stop the flight of teachers to the suburbs where they can earn more. There needs to be a commitment to recruit potential educators from communities of color. The institution of scholarships and loan forgiveness for young people entering the teaching profession would help diversify and increase the dwindling pool of teachers due to increased retirement.

GM: Teachers and parents need more authority in school governance at the local level. Parent councils with decision-making power are needed. The current system that has replaced local school boards has not empowered parents or given them a real voice in their child’s education.

Also, I would restore CUNY by slashing tuition and fees, or even phasing it out altogether. And the admissions tests need to be reconsidered, especially for adult learners. These tests are educationally useless and serve to discourage potential students.

BS: Which political prominents are you courting for support of your campaign?

GM: Although several Democratic politicians have vocally opposed the Ratner plan, no one stepped forward in that party to challenge Markowitz. The local Green Party has been an active member of the Develop Don’t Destroy from the early days of the coalition. My campaign is built on the strength and support of a grassroots movement that has grown out of the community opposition to irresponsible, deceptive overdevelopment throughout Brooklyn. I am working closely with several community groups including the Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Group.

BS: Upon election, will there be any plans to reconstruct the community boards?

GM: The City Charter has jurisdiction over the structure of Community Boards. The boards serve as an educational forum and provide a voice for residents. However, with the Borough President making all appointments, there is a danger that only a limited point of view will be represented. As Borough President, I would use the resources of my office to do a serious outreach campaign to recruit a diverse pool of residents from each community to serve on the boards. Meetings with community groups would be held to provide recommendations. Additional resources would be used to help provide child care and transportation assistance to facilitate board participation by working parents, the elderly or those who have difficulty traveling. Active participation in the community board is an important role for all members. Automatic re-appointment for many years deprives our local boards of new members who might be more representative of a changing community. Although there are no term limit provisions for community board members, the Borough President’s office should be cognizant of how many years members have served and make an effort to create a space for new ones.

The Green Party has advocated for elected community councils with increased decision-making authority. I would welcome a dialogue on this concept with other elected officials and communities.

BS: What is the statistical breakdown of Green Party members by ethnicity in Brooklyn?

GM: The Kings County Green Party does not have official statistics of membership by ethnicity at this time. People of color throughout Brooklyn are members of the party but more work needs to be done. Local activists have been committed to the goal of diversifying our party membership. In Brooklyn over the past few years, we have organized and attended meetings in several culturally diverse communities. In my campaign, I have reached out and recruited volunteers and supporters in East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and among the West African community citywide.

BS: What organizations have you contributed your services to, so that Brooklyn could be a better place?

GM: As an activist in my community, I have worked with local peace groups, Brooklyn Parents for Peace and the War Resisters League in the anti-war movement. As a coordinator in the Park Slope Greens, I have worked with other groups to promote environmental issues including Christmas tree recycling the year the Department of Sanitation cut that program. I have been a long time advocate in the single payer health care movement and a current board member of the NY Metro chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. In that capacity, I organized several forums and rallies in Brooklyn as well as other parts of the city.

Posted by lumi at 7:10 PM

How to Defeat Ratner and the Nets

Banana Nutrament

Banana Nutrament blogger Miguel suggests running a protest candidate for Beep.

We need a portly, white-haired simulacrum to step forward and deliver us into the Promised Land. We need our savior to tout Junior's cheesecake with demented glee and wear polo shirts to cop funerals. A man who differs in only one respect from our current figurehead, that he is AGAINST the razing of Prospect Heights and the political backscratching that is Ratner's profiteering from a gross abuse of eminent domain.

Desperately seeking "MARKY MARTOWITZ!"

markymartowitz.jpg [Can you pick out the real Beep? Hint: He's usually within arm's length from a buffet.]


Posted by lumi at 6:42 PM

Architects Live In Class Houses: Piano Vs. Gehry

Renzo Gets Times Tower, Columbia, Morgan Library; Mr. Bilbao in Brooklyn

The NY Observer
by Jason Horowitz

Hooray for Frank GehryThe Observer article about starchitects Renzo Piano and Frank Gehry coming to a neighborhood near you is interesting, but gets some key facts wrong about Gehry's progress in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Mr. Gehry still has to face community boards and landmark committees for Mr. Ratner’s $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project, with its Brooklyn Nets basketball stadium, 1.9 million square feet of office space, housing for roughly 15,000, and skyscrapers as high as 60 stories piercing the now-unperturbed Brooklyn skyline. Mr. Gehry said that, along with the tempting challenge of the undertaking, he was attracted to the idea of working for Mr. Ratner, who he called a like-minded “liberal do-gooder” intent on making a statement in Brooklyn.


NoLandGrab, "EARTH TO THE MEDIA:" Gehry's project has been taken over by New York State, there will be NO Community Board or Landmark hearings. NY State's hearings and Environmental Impact Statement only require that negative impacts be IDENTIFIED, NOT MITIGATED. Sorry to be so negative, but this stuff is serious.

EARTH TO GEHRY: Brooklynites are wary of the "like-minded 'liberal do-gooders,'" as they often become masters of unintended consequences (i.e. Robert Moses).

Posted by lumi at 8:15 AM

Starring Frank Gehry

By taking leading roles in billion-dollar projects in L.A. and New York, he has helped usher in the era of 'starchitects.'

LA Times
by Christopher Hawthorne

Gehry has been named lead architect on a massive project in each of America's two largest cities: one along Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, for the developer Related Cos., and the other atop the Atlantic Rail Yards in Brooklyn, with Forest City Ratner.

The combined budget of the projects tops $5 billion. Together, they suggest that we've entered an era in which ambitious developers are not just open to the notion of working with architecture's boldest talents but, in certain high-profile cases, are desperate to avoid working without them.

While some directors given carte blanche from big studios are invigorated by the responsibility, others find it overwhelming or lose their creative focus. The same is true in architecture. And Gehry has tended to do his best work when he is constrained — by tight budgets, political squabbles or awkward sites — and his most disappointing when he is fully autonomous. That alone is a reason for a measure of wariness about this pair of projects, in which the developers have taken pains to smooth the architect's path.


Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

The left seeks the redemption of Al Sharpton


Yesterday, civil rights attorney Norman Seigel and Green Party candidate for Brooklyn Borough President Gloria Mattera reached out to Rev. Al Sharpton, hoping to convince him to reverse his support for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal.

Read the reports below.

Posted by lumi at 7:57 AM

Mattera Calls for Sharpton to Join Her In Opposing the Ratner Arena Proposal


"I urge Reverend Sharpton to reconsider his decision to support the heavily subsidized Ratner Nets Arena proposal," said Gloria Mattera, Green Party candidate for Brooklyn Borough President, upon hearing that the Reverend Al Sharpton had announced his support for the project. "Our Brooklyn residents deserve leaders who will stand up for them against multibillionaire developers."

"Reverend Sharpton has in the past been a persuasive voice against big-money influence on local politics. I hope he will reconsider his decision and stand up for the majority of Brooklyn residents who oppose the Ratner development project," added Mattera.


Posted by lumi at 7:55 AM


The Crain’s Insider Fax Service

Civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel will try to convince the Rev. Al Sharpton to reverse his support for Forest City Ratner’s downtown Brooklyn development plan. The proposal will likely require the use of eminent domain. Siegel is fighting to change state law to limit the land takings. He says of Sharpton, “I’m not sure he understands that this is a civil rights issue.”

Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

ATLANTIC YARDS Report: Arena Vulnerable to Terrorists; Changes Urged for Gehry-Designed Ratner Project

The NY Sun
by Daniel Hemel

The high-rise urban hub and professional basketball arena proposed for downtown Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards would be vulnerable to a devastating terrorist attack because of design flaws in architect Frank Gehry’s plans for the site, according to a recent report co-authored by a Defense Department analyst that was released to The New York Sun.

The report recommends changes to the planned glass exterior of the sports arena. According to the authors, an estimated 80% of all casualties from terrorist attacks result from breaking glass. The report also charges that the sports arena and the towers slated for the Atlantic Yards site would not be set back sufficiently from the surrounding streets, “making them subject to the full force of car or truck bombs.” Similar concerns prompted the redesign of the Freedom Tower planned for Ground Zero.


Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

Vallone Introduces Bill Giving Police Veto Power Over Construction Projects

The NY Sun
by Daniel Hemel

...and speaking of security concerns in new construction in NYC:

A City Council member, Peter Vallone Jr., told The New York Sun yesterday that he will introduce legislation that will give the Police Department veto power over all proposals to construct buildings higher than seven stories in the five boroughs.


NoLandGrab: In light of the concerns over security and terrorism outlined in the security analysis of the Atlantic Yards, this measure could have a major effect on the design and cost of the Ratner plan.

Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

Bench Battle of 2 Lawrences Taking Shape

The NY Times
by Harvey Araton

A story about the coach of the NJ Nets and the speculative coach of the NY Knicks has some tidbits about Ratner's first year as owner of the Nets:

One year later, thanks mostly to Thorn's continued wizardry as the Nets' chief executive and the truly brainless trading of Vince Carter by Toronto to New Jersey, how's Ratner doing? Unavailable to pat himself on the back yesterday as he maintains a low profile to focus on the bidding for the Atlantic Avenue rail yards - where he intends to build his basketball arena and a zillion new apartments - Ratner let his basketball people do the talking.

NoLandGrab: Times writer Araton cites "a zillion new apartments." Last we counted it was more like TWO ZILLION.

While the Knicks' owner, James Dolan, has presided over the deconstruction of a once-proud franchise, Bruce Ratner has delivered on his promise not to gut the Nets as they assume lame-duck status in New Jersey, on their way to a planned relocation to Brooklyn.

"We will have a good team but talk is talk and doing is doing," Ratner told me last summer in the face of a full-frontal news media assault after the bean-counting decision to trade Kenyon Martin to Denver, about 20 minutes after he purchased the team.

One year later, thanks mostly to Thorn's continued wizardry as the Nets' chief executive and the truly brainless trading of Vince Carter by Toronto to New Jersey, how's Ratner doing? Unavailable to pat himself on the back yesterday as he maintains a low profile to focus on the bidding for the Atlantic Avenue rail yards - where he intends to build his basketball arena and a zillion new apartments - Ratner let his basketball people do the talking.

"I've got nothing but good things to say about him," Thorn said in a telephone interview. "He's a really good guy, he's accessible and he's allowed us to do just about everything we've had to put together what looks like, on paper, a pretty good team."

A year ago, Martin's departure marked the official breakup of a two-time finalist, Jason Kidd was determined to follow Martin's lead and even Thorn was said to be exploring his options.

"Our star player wasn't real positive about the future of the team, Alonzo Mourning wasn't a very positive influence on Jason or anyone," Thorn said. "It just didn't look very good."

Then came the Carter steal, the recovery of Kidd from knee surgery, the accelerated development of the rookie center, Nenad Krstic, the late-season run to qualify for the last playoff position in the Eastern Conference and, most recently, the apparent recruitment of Shareef Abdur-Rahim to be the starting power forward.

Whether Abdur-Rahim, who is not the athlete Martin is but is more skilled and statistically accomplished, is an upgrade at the position is debatable, but that's not the most pertinent question. This is: a year ago, would Thorn have traded Martin - who, separated from Kidd, was no maximum-salary player last season in Denver - and a broken-down Kerry Kittles for Carter, Abdur-Rahim and the Los Angeles Clippers' first-round draft pick next June that is not lottery protected?

"That one has some possibilities," Thorn said.


Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

July 21, 2005

Competing Bids For Atlantic Rail Yards The talk Of Brooklyn


Coverage of Atlantic Yards during NY1's "Brooklyn Week" with quotes and appearances from Forest City Ratner VP (and Park Slope resident) Bruce Bender, ACORN's Bertha Lewis, Extell spokesman Bob Liff, the photogenic Al Sharpton and Develop Don't Destroy's Dan Goldstein.

Bruce Bender

article (dialup/broadband)

NoLandGrab: Another PR coup for Ratner, this segment portrays a fight between Ratner with his African American friends vs. the white guys in glasses. (Disclaimer: NLG has nothing against white guys in glasses.)

Posted by lumi at 8:20 AM

Not-for-Sale Signs Are Starting To Bloom in Parts of Brooklyn

The NY Sun
by Daniel Hemel


Fed up with brokers who are making unsolicited offers for the neighborhood’s modest wood-frame houses, homeowners on the south side of Park Slope are placing signs in their windows that announce: “House Not For Sale.”

These signs are catching on in Prospect Heights as Develop Don't Destroy Dan Goldstein explains, "It’s the right way to tell people to leave you alone.”


Posted by lumi at 8:11 AM

MTA Uses Eminent Domain at Fulton St.

The NY Sun
by Jeremy Smerd

edlowman.jpgThe MTA has started eminent domain proceedings to sieze two properties, which include 120 tenants, in Lower Manhattan to make way for the $825 million Fulton St. Transit Center.

Though this instance of taking of private property seems clearly earmarked for "public use," the tenants, who are mostly small businesses, point out that the public authority might have alerted them to this plan before they pledged to rebuild their businesses after September 11th, 2001. Though property owners are to receive "fair market value," the tenants will only be compensated for the value of fixtures and be provided with "as much as $25 thousand for relocation costs."


NoLandGrab: Why do we care?

NY State is willing to use eminent domain to take property owned by small businesses and homeowners in Lower Manhattan, Prospect Heights and West Harlem. However, NY has NOT used eminent domain to take over Larry Silverstein's leases with the Port Authority for the World Trade Center site, thereby relenquishing leadership and control over planning and process over the important and symbolic opportunity to rebuild Lower Manhattan after September 11, 2001.

One of the main concerns of detractors of the recent US Supreme Court eminent domain decision is that eminent domain inordinately effects those who are not politically connected. Whether or not the action by the MTA in this article is a proper use of governmental powers, it clarifies the nature of how eminent domain is used in NY.

Posted by lumi at 7:35 AM

Ratner ‘Ratchets Up’ Campaign for Arena Plan

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Raanan Geberer

The Eagle covers the press conference where State Assemblymember Roger Green was "master of ceremonies" heralding the Ratner-Gehry project.

Meanwhile watchdog groups called for the MTA to release the competing bids for the railyards.


Posted by lumi at 7:13 AM

July 20, 2005

TONIGHT: NY1's Road to City Hall Live in Brooklyn

NY1 Road to City Hall is passing through Brooklyn.

Topics include education, crime and Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal.

Location: St. Francis College
Date: Wednesday, July 20
Time: 7 - 9pm

To attend you MUST reserve free tickets, call: (718) 489-5272

Special thanks to OnNYTurf for the heads up. Check out the entry for more details, guest line-up, and cool subway map link (via an OnNYTurf Google Maps hack).

Posted by lumi at 9:58 PM

Ratner Is Gaining as the Nets Owner Nuzzles Advocates

NY Observer
by Matthew Schuermann

An article about the "new synergy powering some of New York’s grandest development schemes: the picketer and the developer."

According to Schuermann:

Ms. Lewis brings such moral authority to Mr. Ratner’s plan to build 7.5 million square feet of apartments and offices, along with an arena for the Nets basketball team, that it will be hard for city and state officials to do anything to block it.

The article pays respect to the ACORN-Ratner relationship, but also sums up the most recent turns in the fight over how development of the railyards will proceed.


NoLandGrab: This article, along with yesterday's Village Voice article "The Battle of Brooklyn" (July 19), is a wave of PR parading the ACORN-Ratner relationship in the NYC media.

Bertha's keeping busy fulfilling paragraph 3 of the Housing MOU.

Posted by lumi at 12:55 PM

The Brooklyn Standard Sighting -- 7th Ave. F

The Brooklyn StandardThis morning folks in Park Slope headed to the Smiling Pizza entrance of the 7th Ave. F train stop were treated to copies of the Ratner rag, The Brooklyn Standard.

When asked about peoples' response to the free publication, the person handing them out replied that some people were VERY interested and asked for more than one copy.

Recently, it has become fashionable for Brooklynites to use The Brooklyn Standard to line their hamster cages and use as "brown matter" for composting bins.

For those who missed the freebies, the trashcan on the subway platform was filled to the rim.

Know of any more sightings? Send in your sightings and anecdotes to sightings@nolandgrab.org.

Posted by lumi at 12:13 PM

N.Y. Should Mimic Utah’s Property Bill

The NY Sun
by Jamal Watson, executive editor of the New York Amsterdam News

Jamal Watson outlines the case for banning the use of eminent domain in NY for economic development purposes.

Over the past decade, working-class communities of color have become ripe for wealthy white developers looking to further gentrify neighborhoods that no one wanted to invest in just a decade ago. Too often, many of those who live in these communities lack the adequate political clout to fight off well-endowed developers who spend lots of money trying to convince local politicians that knocking down a home to make room for a large-scale project would be in the best interest of the city.

Now that the [Supreme] court has effectively given states jurisdiction over how best to deal with the eminent domain issue, New York should follow the lead of other states, such as Utah, that recently signed into law a bill banning the use of eminent domain for economic development for once and for all.

Though it's too long to fit on a t-shirt, here's an eloquent quote from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Dan Goldstein regarding the use of eminent domain in Prospect Heights:

“If Ratner uses eminent domain, it will be up to him to make the case that the neighborhood is blighted, which it is patently not, or the project makes economic sense, which is pure fantasy.”


Posted by lumi at 7:20 AM

Senior Executives at Forest City Adopt Rule 10b5-1 Stock Trading Plans (in other words, arrange to sell shares)

Business Wire

The Company's Co-Chairmen Albert Ratner and Sam Miller; President and Chief Executive Officer Charles Ratner; Executive Vice Presidents Jim Ratner, Ron Ratner and Brian Ratner; Forest City Washington President Deborah Ratner-Salzberg; along with other family members have agreed to sell approximately 2 million shares of the Company's stock under written Rule 10b5-1 sales plans.

press release

Posted by lumi at 7:13 AM

Pitt to Film Gehry Documentary


Brad Pitt, a longtime fan of architect Frank Gehry, will be filming a documentary "recording the progress of Gehry's $450 million project on the historic King Alfred site in Hove, England."


NoLandGrab: For high drama and big bucks, the $450 million King Alfred project is small potatoes compared to the $3.5 BILLION Gehry Yards.

Posted by lumi at 6:22 AM

July 19, 2005

Critics of Nets arena urge delay

The Bergen Record
by John Brennan

A coalition of transportation, community and environmental groups says the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board should delay a vote on whether to award development rights above its Brooklyn rail yards to New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner.


Posted by lumi at 11:03 PM

The Battle of Brooklyn

Grassroots groups split on whether arena plan scores for boro

The Village Voice by Jarrett Murphy

railyards.jpgThe Voice portrays the Battle of Brooklyn as a fight between community groups over Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan. In the near corner we have Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and it's coalition of community groups in the far corner are Ratner supporters ACORN, BUILD and Rev. Daughtry.

As the best known of the groups involved, ACORN will play a particularly important role in selling the Atlantic Yards deal (a recent picture of Lewis smooching Mayor Bloomberg, for example, was priceless publicity for hizzoner). For several years Ratner, like several other city business figures, has donated money to ACORN, but officials at the group scoff at the idea that they've been bought off.

Critics, however, say ACORN has bought into the dubious notion that it faced a choice between joining with Ratner or being left with nothing for Brooklyn's low-income people. In fact, the deal's opponents say, it's possible that a smaller-scale development could have generated similar community gains


Posted by lumi at 10:40 PM

Metro, News Briefs


Two short pieces in today's Metro, one about Assemblymember Green support of Ratner's plan and the other about watchdog groups calling for the unveiling of the two bids for the MTA railyard property.


Posted by lumi at 7:19 PM

Sharpton & Thompson support Ratner-Gehry proposal

sharpton02.jpgThe Observer's Matthew Schuerman wasn't blowing smoke when he reported on their blog yesterday that Sharpton was about to pledge his allegance to Ratner's proposal.

This morning, the Daily News and NY Times are carrying the story with quotes from a written statement provided by Sharpton.

Though both papers carried the story, they played down the positive effect that a Sharpton endorsement would have, noting that he was also a staunch supporter of the Jets West Side Stadium.

The NY Daily News ("Sharpton jumps on Nets arena bandwagon") is carrying quotes from Brooklyn "God Squad" representative Rev. Clinton Miller:

"[Sharpton] should have called some of the preachers who were involved for the last two years," said the Rev. Clinton Miller of Brown Memorial Baptist Church. "It's misguiding, and it makes it seem that African-Americans should be behind this project."

The News also reports that City Comptroller Williiam Thompson is backing the proposal:

[Sharpton] is expected to join city Controller [sic] William Thompson and other supporters at a pro-arena rally at Brooklyn's Duryea Presbyterian Church on Sterling Place today.

NoLandGrab: The Thompson endorsement puts the Comptroller and Public Advocate (Gotbaum) squarely in Ratner's camp. These two officials were elected to advocate for the City's and Public's best interest. That leaves a handful of elected pols and a large coalition of neighborhood groups to speak out against Ratner and Gehry's unpopular plan.

The NY Times ("Sharpton Backs Developer's Plan for Brooklyn Arena and Towers") also has an update on the MTA railyard bids (emphasis added):

Tom Kelly, a transportation authority spokesman, said that a decision on the proposals could come next week at the earliest, but he cautioned that it could take months longer.

Also, NY1, Al Sharpton Backs Nets' Brooklyn Arena Plan

Posted by lumi at 6:40 AM

The Atlantic Yards' 'Extellent' Adventure

The Brooklyn Downtown Star
by Emily Keller

The Star's report on last week's press conference where local pols and community groups cautiously hailed the submission of an alternate bid for the Atlantic Railyards by the Extell Development Corporation.


Posted by lumi at 5:58 AM

Collapsed Manhattan Building Was Owned by Ratner Rival

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle coverage of the Manhattan Extell building collapse.

No, there wasn't another collapse, it just takes a few days for The Eagle to post their news on their web site.


Posted by lumi at 5:32 AM

July 18, 2005

Sweet Al

sharpton.jpgThe Real Estate Observer by Matthew Schuerman

What were the chances that Ratner and Gehry's Atlantic Yards controversy would roll along without Al Sharpton getting involved?

This is no joke. The Real Estate Observer is reporting that Al Sharpton is going to step up to the plate to bat for Ratner's Atlantic Yard proposal. As of now, Sharpton is batting 0 for 1 for taxpayer-subsidized development controversies, after throwing his support behind the ill-fated Jets stadium.

The pronouncement that Sharpton will make his annoucement was made today by State Assemblyman Roger Green who "plead guilty to to padding his travel expenses last year." Fortunately for Green's constituents, is was only a misdemeanor (not a felony) and he was able to run again.


Posted by lumi at 10:34 PM

The Brooklyn Standard at Pacific & Bergen St. Stations

Brooklyn Pravda DistributionThere were reports today that Forest City Ratner's publication, The Brooklyn Standard, was being distributed during the morning rush at Pacific St. station and all four corners of the Bergen St. station.

Dubbed The Brooklyn "Pravda" by area residents because of its central planning theme, the project being pushed by the make-believe tabloid is giving the Park Slope Food Coop a run for "Best of Brooklyn: Socialism."

Seriously, please be very courteous to the guys hired to hand out copies of The Brooklyn Standard [unless it's henchmen Bruce Bender or "Joey from Cobble Hill" (aka Joe DePlasco), then be civil] and send all letters to the editor to:

The Brooklyn Standard
c/o Forest City Ratner Companies
1 MetroTech Center North
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Posted by lumi at 10:03 PM

Institute of Justice Press Release: Homeowners Ask U.S. Supreme Court: Rehear Eminent Domain Case

Homes, Small Businesses & Even VFW Post Could be Condemned for Private Development If Case is Not Reconsidered

The Intistute of Justice is petitioning the US Supreme Court on the behalf of the Fort Trumbull homeowners for a rehearing of the case of Kelo v. New London.

Short of actually rehearing the entire case, the property owners ask the Court as the second basis for the rehearing to at the very least “vacate” the judgment of the Connecticut Supreme Court and allow more evidence to be submitted about the takings in this case. The Court announced new standards in the use of eminent domain for economic development in Kelo and four years have passed since the trial in the case. Petitioners ask the Supreme Court to allow for reexamination of facts in the trial court in light of the new standards it announced.

press release

Posted by lumi at 9:55 PM

DDDb Press Release: We Demand MTA Accountability and Transparency

45 Community and Watchdog Groups Call on MTA to Release Ratner and Extell Bids for Vanderbilt Yards, Act Fairly and Deliberatively by Postponing Board Action Until September

NEW YORK, NY– "With a project of this magnitude on land owned and operated by a public authority it is imperative that there be absolute transparency and accountability" stated Doug Israel, policy and advocacy director of Citizens Union, "and the decision-making process must be informed and deliberative, with input from the public.

Forty-five organizations, including such heavy hitters as the Regional Plan Association, NYPIRG/Straphangers, Citizens Union, The National Taxpayer’s Union, The Sierra Club and Tri-State Transportation Campaign faxed and mailed letters to the MTA leadership on Friday, July 15. The letter was sent to MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow.

Copies of the letter were sent to Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky–who fought for transparency with the dispensation of the Hudson Yards–, State Senator Vincent Leibell whose Public Authorities Reform Act of 2005 (Assembly counterpart, Brodsky) will have an effect on the RFP process for Vanderbilt Yards. Copies were also sent to MTA Executive Director Katherine Lapp, MTA Director of Real Estate Roco Krsulic, and the entire MTA board.

“The people will not accept a repeat of the West Side process. We are expressing very clearly to the MTA that there are two legitimate proposals that they must give equal consideration. The MTA and Ratner have been negotiating for two years, the least they can do is refrain from rushing to a decision in two weeks. Also, the land they are dispensing is public land and therefore the bids should be made public before a decision is made,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesperson, Daniel Goldstein.

To view the letter and co-signers go to: http://www.dddb.net/mtaletter

Posted by lumi at 9:51 PM

Open bidding urged for Atlantic Ave. site

NY Daily News
by Deborah Koben

Fearing a repeat of the West Side stadium mess in Manhattan, a coalition of advocacy groups is demanding that the MTA publicize bids for the Atlantic Ave. railyards.

"We really want the MTA to get the value of the property," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.

The watchdog group signed off on a letter to the MTA last week along with 35 other groups.


Posted by lumi at 12:03 PM

The NY Times: Delirous Pile Up of Letters

A Plan for Skycrapers in Downtown Brooklyn
The NY Times

The City section carried several letters to the editor in response to the City Editorial ("Skyscrapers Grow in Brooklyn") about the Ratner-Gehry design for Atlantic Yards, the Extell bid and the Times's coverage of the whole affair.

The letter writers take issue with the Times's "admiring tone" in their coverage of the project, the failure to mention Ratner's requirement that eminent domain be used, the lack of public process and lack of "analytical thinking."

More than one author takes the Times to task for brushing aside serious concerns over Ratner-Gehry's ideas by characterizing them as "adventurous."


NoLandGrab: The Times printed letters in response to the weekend City Editorial, but it seems that none were published from the July 5th coverage ("Seeking First to Reinvent the Sports Arena, and Then Brooklyn" and "Instant Skyline Added to Brooklyn Arena Plan") that spurned such outrage.

Posted by lumi at 9:24 AM

Eminent Domain Backlash

The Chicago Tribune

The national backlash against the Supreme Court's eminent domain ruling focuses on saving homes in New London and recent measures proposed by state legislatures.

Connecticut case lit fires of rage

In New London, the local paper is filled with letters decrying the decision written by people from across the country. City officials have received death threats, and on July 5, hundreds of people came from as far away as Kentucky to rally for the homeowners.

Not so fast on eminent domain

The Institute for Justice, the libertarian public interest law firm that represented the New London homeowners, says legislators in at least 20 states are pushing bills to restrict the use of eminent domain.

That should open a broad debate on how far the government should be allowed to go in seizing private property. The court has spoken, but on this issue, the people will ultimately rule.

Posted by lumi at 9:02 AM

U.N. moves to plan B to find temp space

Crain's NY Business reporter Julie Satow reports that the United Nations is one again in the market for "swing space" to relocate their operations while their current facilities are being rennovated.

Talk of the U.N. temporarily moving to Brooklyn was quashed when a plan was formulated to relocate to the Robert Moses Playground just south of its Turtle Bay headquarters. Albany lawmakers put the brakes on that plan and now the real estate hunt is back on.

Several Downtown Brooklyn locations are considered possiblities, including space potentially being built by Ratner.


Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM

Marty mayor bid? It's possible

NY Daily News

While there is no Marty for Mayor campaign yet, plenty of people are already talking about it.

"This could work for him," said political consultant Gerry O'Brien. "He has a real personality, which makes him stand out. ... When you see the usual kind of blow-dried, prepackaged candidate, people's eyes glaze over."

Since becoming borough president in 2001, Markowitz has become known as the borough's chief cheerleader.

But he also has taken on more serious projects, like being a consistent champion of developer Bruce Ratner's quest...


NoLandGrab: What the??? This is a good way to send feelers out through the press.

MESSAGE TO MARTY: More Brooklynites remember that if elected BP you promised not to seek higher office, than remember your promise to bring professional sports back to Brooklyn.

MESSAGE TO THE DAILY NEWS: Just because they send out a press release, doesn't mean you have to take it seriously.

Posted by lumi at 8:14 AM

July 17, 2005

Not a Slam Dunk


Brooklyn Daily Eagle editorial gives a more balanced look than their Courthouse News section:

Whatever gets built there ought to stress street life and the shops and gathering places that make for neighborhood feeling. Architecture, however brilliant, can’t do that by itself. Ouroussoff would like to see an essentially free hand for Gehry – “locate real talent, encourage it to break the rules, get out of the way” – which is putting a lot of faith in someone for whom this would be the first time he has designed more than an individual building. The plan – both plans – still need to be presented in more detail and to be studied from the ground up.


Posted by amy at 12:12 PM

Ratner a Buyer, Not a Seller, in Year Two


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle exposes the MTA bid as specious...only a "formality"? Smells like a lawsuit...:

As Ratner awaits the MTA’s decision on his bid for the Atlantic Rail Yards, just another formality on the path to bringing big-time pro sports back to Brooklyn for the first time since the Dodgers left town in 1957, Thorn and Stefanski will continue to reshape his image as owner.

It’s already a much prettier picture than the one he entered last season with.

article Then again, if the Eagle is so in love with Bruce, you'd think they'd get a "prettier picture" of him to go with the loving text...

Posted by amy at 12:02 PM

Ry's playland? Not in Chavez Ravine

The Daily News talks to musician Ry Cooder about eminent domain abuse:

"If you link any project to the piety of patriotism," Cooder says, "you can get away with murder."

Cooder is outraged by the recent Supreme Court decision that eases the way for local governments to seize private property to generate tax revenue. If Nets owner Bruce Ratner can use eminent domain to clear parts of Brooklyn for his proposed arena and $2.5 billion development, Cooder predicts the area will look like much of Southern California - a series of sterile malls and chain restaurants.


Posted by amy at 11:50 AM

July 16, 2005

Ten Better Places for a Football Stadium

"The Mets, the Jets, the Nets, the Yanks — new stadia all around! But where to put them? Architect and urbanist Michael Sorkin surveyed the five boroughs for sites to consider."



Posted by amy at 9:10 PM

Revised Atlantic Yards Plan Offers a Dramatic Vision for Brooklyn


Architectural Record:

The project’s developers were quick to respond to the complaints of several local groups, who bemoaned the project’s disruptive effect on their neighborhood. “This country’s growing, this city’s growing,” noted Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) Executive Vice-President Jim Stuckey. “If all you do is replace in kind, you’re a net loser.”

article On the other hand, if you propose to destroy a neighborhood with overwhelming and publicly despised development plans, you won't be allowed to develop AT ALL [see failed West Side Stadium plans] and then I believe you're a NETS LOSER!

Posted by amy at 11:00 AM

Eminent domain fight

From the Brooklyn Papers:

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling last month affirming the right of governments to take private property in the name of economic development, bills are gaining momentum in both the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate that would bar federal tax dollars from being used for projects that employ eminent domain.

The legislation could cut affordable housing subsidies to developer Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards plan, which proposes to build a 19,000-seat basketball arena and 17-tower office and residential complex at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, and which threatens the use of eminent domain for up to 13 acres of private property.


Posted by amy at 10:52 AM

Downtown development more than just the Nets

Brian Ketcham's Viewpoint, in the Brooklyn Papers:

Brooklyn is facing development double the size of the Hudson Yards, more than seven times the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Yet, none of the planning and public largess that has gone into those Manhattan projects is evident in Brooklyn. The consequence is that the city is making no commitment to providing the infrastructure to support tens millions of square feet of new development...

...The test of our resolve is the proposal by Forest City Ratner to build a sports and entertainment arena as the enticement for the right to plop 17 towers, dwarfing Co-op City, at the borough’s most congested crossroads. The giddy unquestioning embrace (or deafening silence) of most of our elected officials of what may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back portends that we will forfeit our last chance for a transparent environmental assessment that honestly defines conditions for showering subsidies on the best use of a major public asset. It will be a tragic loss to everyone.


Posted by amy at 10:46 AM


The Brooklyn Papers tells us how it ain't just ugly - it's a death trap:

“Built-in design flaws” of the Ratner buildings — designed by noted architect Frank Gehry — include “a perimeter of high-rise towers surrounding an open central green area with only five street entrances to the entire 24-acre complex,” according to the report, which was based on recent overhead renderings released by Forest City Ratner, the developer’s company. It also cites underground parking in the plan as an attraction to terrorist bomb plotters.

The concerns about lack of building setbacks in the report find that buildings abutting sidewalks in such close proximity serves in “maximizing the blast effects of any car or truck bomb passing by,” stating the result could be “widespread physical destruction and loss of life.”


Posted by amy at 10:42 AM

A tale of two neighborhoods for company at center of collapse

From Newsday:

Residents on the Upper West Side have expressed concern that Extell's plans are totally out of character with the neighborhood.

That is not the case in downtown Brooklyn, where Extell's plan for the MTA yard is "very much along the lines of what a large part of the community wants," said Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for Develop -- Don't Destroy Brooklyn.


Posted by amy at 10:39 AM

July 15, 2005

Developer Reviled on Upper West Side, Loved in Brooklyn

The NY Sun
by Jeremy Smerd

On the Upper West Side, residents have begun to lob the same criticisms at Extell’s development at Broadway and West 99th Street that the Brooklyn opponents of Forest City Ratner have used: that Extell’s high-rises would ruin the intimate flavor of the neighborhood.

Much to the chagrin of area Upper West Side residents, Extell purchased the air development rights from St. Michael’s Church on Amsterdam and 99th Street, which are transferable to Extell’s development, allowing them to build higher than normal zoning would allow.


NoLandGrab: As much as Brooklynites would like for Extell to save them from the arrogant vision of Ratner and Gehry, the West Side neighborhood activists have a point.

The difference between the two is that Extell appears to be working within NYC's planning guidelines and Forest City Ratner needs NY State to take over the project to skirt local zoning regulations.

Posted by lumi at 7:53 AM

Demolition collapse at Extell site in Manhattan

extellcollapse.jpgThe one-story demolition site on Broadway at 99 and 100th Streets collapsed into the street, injuring and trapping several people. Five people, including one baby, were taken to local hospitals and several firefighters were treated for injuries.

The site is owned by the Extell Development Corporation which recently made news for its alternate bid on the MTA's railyard property at Atlantic and Flatbush Aves. in Brooklyn, the $1.8 billion purchase of the Trump Place developement on the West Side, and neighborhood protests at the site of the collapse just a day before the collapse occurred.

Violations were issued to the demolition company, which an Extell spokesman pointed out was a reputable company using union labor. Regardless of who is ultimately responsible, there is a stop work order issued on the site and many questions linger.

Here are the headlines: * The NY Times, One-Story Building Collapses Into Busy Block of Manhattan
* NY Daily News, Protest hours before wall fell
* NY1, Site Of Building Collapse Also A Bone Of Contention For Upper West Side Residents (dialup/broadband)
* NY Sun, Building Collapse on Broadway Traps 4 People in Rubble Nine Hospitalized, Including an Infant

Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM

Blogosphere: "All the News Printed to Fit"

The Brooklyn StandardThe Brooklyn Standard (dubbed "Brooklyn Pravda" by the locals for its Central Planning theme) was being distributed by hand on the streets yesterday morning setting off this second flurry of blog postings and comments.

Gothamist, Ratner Starts Spreading His News
Daily Heights Forums, The Brooklyn Standard???
Gumby Fresh, One for the Hamster Cage

For the first wave of coverage on The Brooklyn Standard, check out NLG's posts in June on the NY Sun and the NY Daily News articles.

Also, it should have been a bad omen for the roll out of the extravagant Gehry model when Curbed.com poked fun at the cover photo, comparing it to lingerie advertising.

Posted by lumi at 6:45 AM

July 14, 2005

NY State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky sponsors Eminent Domain bill


Not enough is being done to protect private property owners facing the seizure of their land by local governments pushing economic development projects, a state assemblyman said yesterday in announcing a bill to change New York’s eminent domain law.

NY Newsday, Eminent domain protections sought

The measure also would require eminent domain be used for economic development purposes only to forward a comprehensive plan developed in public meetings and approved by local legislators.

* Institute of Justice Press Release, Grassroots Groundswell Grows Against Eminent Domain Abuse

Posted by lumi at 8:59 AM


Ratner’s Atlantic Yards plan finally gets the attention in deserves.

NY Press
by Aaron Naparstek

brooklynbrooklyn.jpgNaparstek's column wraps up last week's events that delivered a big headache to Forest City Ratner. The roll out of architect Frank Gehry's latest model sparked strong reactions including Naparstek's comparison to Las Vegas's New York New York Hotel & Casino.

NoLandGrab: The photo comparison indicates that Naparstek has a point.

Suddenly, momentum is shifting in the Atlantic Yards debate. For months now, Bruce Ratner’s plan to build 17 high-rise towers and a luxury sports arena in Brooklyn has steamed ahead, resistance seemingly futile. Three events, in quick succession, have changed the game and put the politically connected developer on the defensive.


Posted by lumi at 8:22 AM

Ratner rival ripped over W. Side project

The NY Daily News
by Tanyanyika Samuels and Dave Goldiner

Neighborhood activists rallied last night against an upper West Side skyscraper plan from Extell Development - the company that won praise for countering Bruce Ratner's Nets arena mega-project in Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 8:06 AM

July 13, 2005

Eminent Domain: What The Supreme Court Ruling Means To NYC

Brad LanderGotham Gazette
by Brad Lander,
Dir. of Pratt Institute of Community & Environmental Devlopment (PICED)

Lander reviews the Kelo v. New London Supreme Court ruling as it relates to development in NYC.

Though it is Lander's view that current projects employing eminent domain in NYC "don’t have too much reason for concern," he points out that political backlash to the high court's decision is an opportunity to introduce more thought and accountability in NYC's urban planning process.

We need a better, more consistent process to insure that publicly-supported private development: * helps to reduce income inequality * creates jobs that enable people to support their families and move toward the middle class * creates affordable housing * lives better within its “environmental footprint” * addresses the challenges of traffic and transit * helps create better neighborhoods * and makes those neighborhoods places of opportunity.

This is a lot to ask, but it is a fair trade for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in subsidy and the power to take people’s homes.


NoLandGrab: What's interesting about Lander's principles is that most of them are represented in the Extell bid for the Atlantic Railyards, which doesn't even require the use of eminent domain.

Posted by lumi at 9:03 AM

Brooklyn-Queens Mall Throw-Down

mallwars.jpgThe Battle of the Boroughs is being waged on the pages of the Queens Ledger and Brooklyn Downtown Star.

In the Mall Wars, the glass-and-class of the Queens Center Mall outscores the "labyrinthine interior" of Ratner's Atlantic Center.

The Atlantic Center, orginally designed less for shopping and more to thwart local thieves and thugs, got a boost from its "glitzier" neighbor, the Atlantic Terminal, though it was not enough to edge out a win.


Posted by lumi at 8:42 AM


Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn:

There is good reason these days for residents of Brooklyn's neighborhoods to feel a bit paranoid.

Gehry isn't the only architect that's scary. OBKB dogs Brooklyn architect Henry Radusky, who manages to sneak past the City's zoning codes by claiming to build "faculty housing" in order to add extra stories to his projects.


NoLandGrab: Though this allowance has been declared null and void, it could be added to the Ratner divide-and-conquer-the-nabes playbook.

Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

MARTY: In his own words


Marty on the bids:

I expect the MTA to make the best possible comprehensive deal for the State, New York City, Brooklyn, and public transit. That deal should produce significant tax revenue, jobs, and housing, for this an future generations of Brooklynites. It should also include an arena.


Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

Tallest Courthouse Opens in Brooklyn

330jayst02.jpgWNYC Newsroom

A prelude to plans for a brand new tallest building in Brooklyn, Forest City Ratner recently completed the new State Supreme Courthouse at 330 Jay St. Also known as 12 Metrotech Center, the building is being billed as the country's tallest courthouse.


Posted by lumi at 7:43 AM

July 12, 2005

Legislation in Congress Could Bar Forest City Ratner From Subsidies



Momentum is gathering in both the House and the Senate behind bills that could bar a development firm, Forest City Ratner, from receiving federal subsidies for its proposed high-rise hub in the Atlantic Yards area in downtown Brooklyn.

If Mr. Ratner and his firm lose eligibility for tax-exempt bonds and Low Income Housing credits as a result of the Sensenbrenner and Cornyn bills, “At a minimum, it would make it very difficult for him to advance the affordable housing element of his plan," [Brad] Lander said.


Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

Revitalizing Cities

The NY Times
Letter to the Editor
Nathan Glazer, professor emeritus of sociology at Harvard University

In response to N. Ouroussoff's appraisal of Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards plan (NY Times, July 5, 2005, "Seeking First to Reinvent the Sports Arena, and Then Brooklyn"):

The towers are not improved by the architect Frank Gehry's outlandish notion of slanting them so they look as if they are ready to tip over, which I assume is what attracts Mr. Ouroussoff. Ms. Jacobs was attacking "catastrophic" development, the erasing of history and complexity by master conceptions, the obliteration of the multifarious city at one blow by a massive single use.

The situation is only made worse by the necessity to take private property by eminent domain, while getting state and city subsidies, too.


Posted by lumi at 6:27 AM

Blogosphere: Reponse to July Surprise

POSTCARD FROM THE SLOPE, Just Like in the Movies
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn compares the 11th hour Extell bid to a Frank Capra movie, because "It doesn't hurt to dream."

The Real Estate Observer, Downsizing Ratner
Matthew Schuerman links coverage of the bids received for the Atlantic Railyards. In response to the Times wanting to see details of each competing plan leaked, Schuerman claims, "An MTA spokesman tells The Real Estate it will release details of the two offers once it briefs its board members--maybe as soon as this week."

Sensory Impact, That Sinking Feeling
NLG's Amy stumbles across sinking furniture to go with a rising city.

Posted by lumi at 6:26 AM

July 11, 2005

Rail Yard Redux

NY Newsday
by Dan Janison

So here's the Metropolitan Transportation Authority once again targeting old rail-yard space for sale to one company and finding another firm coming forward to bid on it.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Something similar happened with the pro football arena plan on Manhattan's West Side (now defunct). This time, it affects the plan surrounding a pro basketball arena in Downtown Brooklyn.

Here again, foes of the City Hall-backed plan are allying themselves with the alternative bidder, in this case Extell Development Co., whose proposal is touted as less intrusive.

Commenting on the deja vu, Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James, a leading opponent of the city-sized project, said, "Development in the city of New York is top-down, versus bottom-up. That's the problem."

Stay tuned. This issue once looked like a blowout for Nets owner Bruce Ratner's enterprise. Now that people have seen the massive scope of the Ratner plan, there may be a jump ball coming up.


Posted by lumi at 7:27 AM

July 10, 2005

Skyscrapers Grow in Brooklyn

New York Times Op-Ed:

Reports that there are now competing bids to develop Brooklyn's downtown should be good news for the city and for anyone who uses public transportation. Assuming open and fair competition, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority - which practically gave away the rights to build a football stadium over its rail yards in Manhattan - might actually get something approaching market value for the development rights over its rail yards at Atlantic Avenue. It is not a promising sign, though, that the monetary details of the two bids on the MTA property have not been disclosed by either bidder. A little sunlight in such an important transaction should be a minimum requirement.


Posted by amy at 3:24 PM

New Brooklyn proposal faces uphill battle

From Crain's New York Business:

"The new plan really frames the choice in a compelling and challenging way," says Brad Lander, director of the Pratt Institute Center of Community and Environmental Development in Brooklyn. "There's something compelling about saying, `Let's not blow the neighborhood out of scale.' "


Posted by amy at 11:32 AM

BCAT's Reporter Roundtable

BCAT's Reporter Roundtable hosted Brooklyn Rail's Brian Carreira for a discussion of Atlantic Yards that will air this week. Here is the full schedule:


Day Time Time Warner/ Cablevision
Monday 10:30am 56/69
Wednesday 10:30am/6:30pm* 56/69
Thursday 12:00pm/8:00pm 56/69

*(also seen on Manhattan Neighborhood Network - TW ch. 34, RCN ch. 109)

Posted by amy at 11:28 AM

Eminent Disdain

New York Times Op-Ed:

WITH all the debate over who will replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, one of the most shocking Supreme Court decisions in recent history has disappeared from the headlines. And that's a shame because it's a ruling that has huge implications for urban communities.


Posted by amy at 11:15 AM

July 9, 2005

Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Community Development on the Vanderbilt Rail Yards

Letter to the MTA from Develop Don't Destroy:

Dear Mr. Kalikow:

We are writing on behalf of the communities surrounding the Vanderbilt Rail Yards. We are encouraged that you released an RFP to allow for open bidding on this very valuable development site - we agree that New Yorkers deserve the best value from this asset. We are also pleased that one of your four stated goals is to consider "the interests of the surrounding community." However, we are concerned that without a series of public hearings to ascertain these interests, the MTA has no way of determining them. The community has therefore taken upon itself the responsibility to develop Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Community Development on the Vanderbilt Rail Yards (see attached).

In December 2003, residents of Brooklyn heard for the first time that Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) was making development plans for the stated rail yards. In cooperation with City Council Member Letitia James and the Atlantic Yards Development Workshop, a team of architects and urban designers, came together in March 2004 with hundreds of citizens, elected officials (State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Congressman Major Owens), designers and developers to imagine a community-based model for urban design and development at the site and to look at issues such as affordable housing, ecology, public open space, traffic, retail, jobs, environmental impact and infra-structure.

The UNITY Plan, a community-based vision for development on the rail yards, evolved out of this workshop. Since December 6, 2004 the UNITY plan has been presented at 10 community forums/workshops to gather input from the community. The designers of the UNITY plan also incorporated the input gathered at the one and only true public hearing held pertaining to the development of the yards, where all members of the public were invited to speak on May 4, 2004.

In early 2005, over a dozen organizations from the communities surrounding the Vanderbilt Rail Yards took up the task of putting together Guiding Principles for development over the Rail Yards based on the principals embodied in the UNITY plan. The community's initial goal was to finalize these Principles and Guidelines so that they could be submitted the MTA to be included with the RFP - so that developer-respondents would know how to meet Goal b of the RFP: Consideration of the interests of the surrounding community. However, the guidelines were not finalized until 2 weeks after your RFP was released - and a few more weeks were required for each community group to vote on whether to endorse them. At this point a sufficient number of community groups have endorsed these guidelines for them to be considered as truly representative of the community's interests.

To-date, these Principles and Guidelines have been endorsed by 19 community-based organizations (as well as 3 out of the 4 local elected officials representing the district where the yards are located). Many other groups are still in the process of considering them. We expect that the number of endorsements will continue to grow over the next few weeks and the updated list of endorsing groups will be maintained on a website (a pdf file of the Principles and Guidelines can be found here too): http://www.dddb.net/principles

In summary, these guidelines were born out of a very large community-based development workshop; incorporated input, from the community, given during the only public hearing related to the development of the yards; vetted through ten additional community forums/workshops; and eventually drawn up by over ten community organizations through several meetings.

To date, 48 organizations (see attached list) have publicly expressed deep concern or outright opposition to the Forest City Ratner Proposal for the yards, because it violates so many of the principles and guidelines that the community considers to be responsible development.

As you are aware, neither MTA nor any other governmental agency has undertaken the required environmental review under SEQRA or CEQR, which is a prerequisite for determining governmental action, including the disposition of the Vanderbilt Rail Yards. That environmental review includes the impacts on community character and the overall impacts on the surrounding area. We call on MTA to use these community-generated Principles and Guidelines during its bid negotiations and in its SEQRA review to ensure that the interests of the surrounding community are considered.


Daniel Goldstein Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn On behalf of endorsers of the Guidelines:

Three of the four elected officials representing the district where Vanderbilt Yards are located have endorsed these Principles:
· U.S. Congressman Major Owens (11th Congressional District)
· State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (18th Senate District)
· City Councilmember Letitia James (35th Council District)

The following Community Organizations have endorsed these Principles:
· Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association
· Boerum Hill Association
· Boerum Hill For Organic Development
· Brooklyn Bears Community Garden
· Brooklyn Vision
· Cambridge Place Action Coalition
· Develop Don't Destroy - Brooklyn
· East Pacific Block Association
· Fans For Fair Play
· Fifth Avenue Committee
· Fort Greene Association
· New York Preservation Alliance
· Park Slope Greens
· Park Slope Neighbors
· Pratt Area Community Council
· Prospect Heights Action Coalition
· Sierra Club - Atlantic Chapter
· South Portland Block Association
· Warren Street St. Marks Community Garden
NOTE: for an up to date list of endorsers, please visit:

cc: Katherine Lapp, Executive Director, MTA Roco Krsulic, Director of Real Estate, MTA Jim Stuckey, Executive VP, Forest City Ratner

Posted by amy at 12:37 PM

Ratner, Extell Bids Reveal Radically Different Visions for Brooklyn, NY

From RISMedia:

"This plan couldn't be more different than Bruce Ratner's," said DDDb's Goldstein. "It respects the existing communities, doesn't rip off taxpayers, doesn't displace residents and businesses, and is much more within the context of the surrounding neighborhoods."

"In addition, Extell is offering to go through the inclusive and multi-leveled city land use review process (ULURP), which means that—far from being a backroom sweetheart deal, like Bruce Ratner wants—Extell's proposal would have real community input, oversight by Community Boards and City Planning, and be voted on by our City Council."


Posted by amy at 12:33 PM

Second Development Plan for Atlantic Yards

From WNYC:

REPORTER: Brooklyn Congressman Anthony Weiner - who is running for Mayor - says the smaller complex proposed by the Extell Development Company could ultimately strengthen developer Bruce Ratner's proposal.

WEINER: I think many people are a little bit concerned that this hasn't been the kind of thing - we've only seen one vision and a vision that I support. now I think we'll have a little sense of contrast. I don't know what the MTA will do but I think the more competition the better.

article NLG: Yes, Mr. Weiner, perhaps an alternate bid will strengthen Ratner's plan, just like Cablevision's bid for the West Side, and London's bid for the Olympics :) But who needs to make sense - you make a honey of a hot dog.

Posted by amy at 12:23 PM

Ratner Plan’s Magnitude Amounts to a New Downtown

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

When developer Bruce Ratner revealed the scope of his plans for the Atlantic Yards area in December 2003, it became obvious to anyone that a new Brooklyn Downtown was indeed in the works.

But more than that, looking at the plan made public this week, it is evident that the Ratner proposal amounts to a new city as part of a new city downtown within an even larger city.


Posted by amy at 12:17 PM

July 8, 2005

Homage or insult?


Posted by amy at 10:55 PM


The Slatin Report
extelyards-01.jpg Containing some previously unreported items, Peter Slatin compares the rival bids for the railyards that "reflect starkly contrasting development philosophies and divergent approaches to the Brooklyn neighborhoods in question."

A rumor about the still secret price tag offered by the two developers:

"[S]ources close to Extell claim that their bid price may exceed that of the more firmly entrenched opposing bid. No confirmation of that was available from the MTA, which, unlike its actions on the Hudson Rail Yards, declined to reveal the bids for this public land."

And, another rumor about what is driving Ratner's plan:

Sources have told The Slatin Report that the scale of Ratner's project is being driven not by the requirements of the district nor by a compelling urban vision, but rather by the high price being paid for the sports franchise and the need to create additional revenue streams.

Though Slatin cautions about comparing the MTA bid process for the Brooklyn yards to the Hudson Railyards:

"one parallel is worth highlighting: what has created the opportunity for Extell to acquire and develop a unique parcel of public land has been Ratner's apparent overreaching vision, an insistent belief in its absolute rightness and a connection to political power that feels like entitlement and brushes aside community. "


Posted by lumi at 8:51 PM

Eminent-Domain Ruling Knits Rivals

The Wall Street Journal
by Joi Preciphs

Nationwide backlash to the eminent domain ruling is causing Congress to act.

The conservative Republican from Texas and liberal Democrat from California have joined in pushing back against the court's ruling on the government's power of eminent domain. Mr. DeLay sees a broad threat to private-property rights, while Ms. Waters sees trouble for minority neighborhoods that have often lost out in urban redevelopment battles.

That left-right combination resulted in a 231-189 House vote last week to strike back. In an amendment to an appropriations bill, the House said it would bar cities and states from using Treasury Department, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development funds on commercial projects that use eminent domain to acquire land.

In the Senate, Republican John Cornyn of Texas has introduced similar legislation. Seventeen fellow Republicans and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida are co-sponsors.


NoLandGrab: If Congress passes this bill, that will mean NO FEDERAL MONEY FOR RATNER, should he win the MTA bid.

Posted by lumi at 6:51 PM

City Journal (Manhattan Institute) Eminent Domain Articles

Imminent domain?
by Nicole Gelinas

The [Supreme] court’s ruling is a blank check to big-spending Gotham, the land of the perennial multi-billion-dollar budget deficit. It will fuse three potent political and fiscal forces that already drive Gotham’s pols and create a municipal raze-and-tax-and-spend monster.

Public Benefit?
by Steve Malanga

Kelo’s distortion of the meaning of the Fifth Amendment’s “takings” clause is troubling enough. What makes the decision even more infuriating is that the public benefit promised by urban economic development programs rarely materializes—in fact, such initiatives often become tax eaters—a public burden rather than a public benefit. Throughout the country, cities have liberally used eminent domain to take land in order to build publicly subsidized mega-projects that have wasted tax dollars and distorted the private marketplace. Regrettably, the Supreme Court’s decision is already encouraging local governments to advance yet more such plans.

Posted by lumi at 6:51 PM


The NY Observer Real Estate Blog checks up on Brooklyn Paper's Ed Weintrob's claims on WNYC's Brian Leher Show that Baruch College once had plans to develop on the now coveted Atlantic Railyard property.

Not only are the claims true, but NYO also unearthed a blast from the past (or is it deja vu all over again, and again...)?

Incidentally, at the time, Brooklyn Beep Sebastian Leone was pushing for an indoor sports stadium for the parcel between Atlantic and Hanson. Paul Kerrigan, chairman of the Fort Greene Nonprofit Improvement Corporation, asked at the public hearing for Baruch: "Will we continue to be threatened with a megalomaniac white elephant of a sports stadium that would devastate our community and surrounding area?"


Posted by lumi at 6:18 PM

Ratner foes hunted bids for Nets site

Daily News staff reporter Deborah Kolben's story about, "how a band of Prospect Heights activists tried to attract rival developers to bid for the downtown Brooklyn site where Bruce Ratner wants."

NoLandGrab: This band of activists took it upon themselves in earnest to do the legwork usually done by the offering public authority. In this case, the public authority is the MTA, which only published one public notice in The NY Times and another in a weekly real estate trade publication. The notice was brought to the attention of area activists by a neighborhood property owner who accidentally stumbled upon the listing.

The MTA's response? Kolben reports:

The MTA advertised in newspapers and sent the offer to a list of developers, said MTA spokesman Tom Kelly.

NLG: We'd sure like to see the list of developers who received notice of the request for proposals. Like the Husdon Yards debacle, the financially strapped MTA is conducting a very secretive public process.


Posted by lumi at 8:56 AM

Another Brooklyn contender

More reports about the Extell bid for the Atlantic Rail Yards.

FOS, Another Brooklyn contender
Field of Schemes comments that it's deja vu all over again when a "competing bid emerges" on "deadline day." FOS also reports that at the City Hall press conference held by supporters of the Extell bid, "a Ratner flunky in dark glasses and stiletto heels stalked about collecting the names of reporters in attendance."

The NY Sun, BROOKLYN DEVELOPMENT: Ratner’s Atlantic Yards Foes Delighted by Extell Bid Entry
The NY Sun reports on yesterday's City Hall press conference in support of the Extell bid. Quotes from Councilmember James and DDDb's Goldstein. The Mayor's Office and Marty Markowitz are still supporting the Ratner plan.

Reuters (WSJ), NY MTA receives second bid for Brooklyn rail yards
The Reuters report quotes Extell spokesperson Bob Liff as saying that the Extell plan would only call for $100 million from the city, as opposed to $100 million from the City and State for the Ratner plan.

The Bergen Record, Nets owner has rival for Brooklyn site

Posted by lumi at 8:25 AM

Brooklyn Prez Prefer's Ratner's Rail Yard Plan

WNYC Newsroom

Marty Markowitz

[Brooklyn BP Marty] Markowitz says he can understand why neighbors in Prospect Heights would prefer the Extell Development Company's smaller plan to build two thousand units of housing. But he says it won't do as much for Brooklyn as developer Bruce Ratner's plan.

MARKOWITZ: It doesn't produce the jobs that we desperately need in the borough. It doesn't produce a significant amount of affordable housing, it does not. There's no arena which means no national sports team for Brooklyn or venue for national and international events or boro wide events.


Posted by lumi at 7:38 AM

TODAY, The Brian Lehrer Show: Another Vision for the Atlantic Yards


A dark horse proposal has emerged as a bidder for the Atlantic Rail Yards site in Brooklyn. Rather than the 60-story high rises and a basketball arena proposed by Forrest City Ratner, Extell wants to build 28-story apartment buildings and no stadium.

Can't See the Towers for the Arena?

Ed Weintrob, founder and publisher of The Brooklyn Papers, -says New York media have missed the story on the planned Brooklyn arena.



Posted by lumi at 7:19 AM

County planners slam Ridge Hill proposal

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon

Westchester County planners yesterday dealt the developer of the proposed $600 million Ridge Hill Village project a significant blow, reiterating previous criticism of the project on the eve of a crucial zoning hearing.

Some of the "specific concerns" echo familiar voices in the past of those who have oppsed the development of other Ratner projects, especially the concerns over public/private open space:

• The project directs development away from existing downtown centers and commercial areas.

• Public access rights to open spaces in the proposal are unclear or inadequate and the plan does not provide adequate recreation and senior facilities.

• Ratner proposes only 10 percent of its housing units be designated affordable, rather than the 20 required in other multifamily zoning districts in Yonkers.

• The plan does not provide adequate public transportation options for accessing the site.


Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

Dope vs. Gehry: Smackdown!!!

Gehry-V-Dope.jpgThe Dope on the Slope

Dopey Slopey is insulted by the comparisons made between his parody post in April on Atlantic Yards and Gehry's sketchy architectural sketch.

It's a jump ball -- DOPE wants his day in court of public opinion! Check it out and you decide.

Commentators get extra points for using common architectural terms like "horizontal thrust," "billowing clouds," and "invisible pressure," and for writing in iambic pentameter.


Posted by lumi at 6:49 AM

July 7, 2005

DDDb Press Release: Ratner, Extell Bids Reveal Radically Different Visions for Brooklyn

Community Groups and Pols Express Cautious Optimism Over New Plan

NEW YORK, NY—Brooklyn community groups and politicians are greeting a new plan for development at the MTA’s Atlantic Avenue Railyards with what they described as ‘cautious optimism.’

“From what we’ve seen of the Extell Development Company’s plan,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDb) spokesman, Daniel Goldstein, “it appears to respond to the desires of this community. Their bid appears to meet many of the foundation principles the community has established for developing the Yards.”

Two Different Visions

Extell Development Company entered a proposal to the MTA for their 8.5-acre Atlantic Avenue Rail Yards this Wednesday, the day on which bidding was closed.

“This plan couldn’t be more different than Bruce Ratner’s,” said DDDb’s Goldstein. “It respects the existing communities, doesn’t rip off taxpayers, doesn’t displace residents and businesses, and is much more within the context of the surrounding neighborhoods.”

“In addition, Extell is offering to go through the inclusive and multi-leveled City land use review process (ULURP), which means that—far from being a backroom sweetheart deal, like Bruce Ratner wants—Extell’s proposal would have real community input, oversight by Community Boards and City Planning, and be voted on by our City Council.”

The Extell plan provides for affordable housing, jobs for minority- and women-owned contractors, a new community center or school and significant amounts of open parkland. Buildings would reach a top height of 28 stories, as opposed to the 50-60 story buildings in Bruce Ratner’s proposal.

What About the Arena?

What the Extell plan conspicuously lacks is a sports arena. “We have always said that bringing pro sports back to Brooklyn is a fine idea,” said Goldstein. “But when Bruce Ratner says that his destructive, taxpayer-subsidized sweetheart deal is the only way to do it, that’s a con job. There are viable options for an arena in Brooklyn, and maybe now that debate can occur.”

“If Brooklyn doesn’t get a pro sports team,” Goldstein concluded, “it will only be due to Bruce Ratner’s hubris and greed.”

A Dark Horse Bid

Asked about the MTA’s bidding process for Atlantic Yards, Goldstein replied, “It was a joke. They barely advertised their RFP, which is why Develop Don’t Destroy took it upon ourselves to send the RFP to about 100 developers.”

“Extell contacted us and asked what the community would want to see developed on the rail yards. Before they went to the drawing board, we showed them the UNITY community development plan—which grew out of 15 months of community meetings and presentations—as well as principles for development that have the endorsement of 20 community groups and our three locally elected officials.”

“Extell seemed to want to make an effort to respond as best they could to those guidelines. Now we invite and urge all interested community groups to join the process and hold their feet to the fire over the coming months.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Principles for Responsible Community Development on the Vanderbilt Rail Yards: www.dddb.net/principles

Posted by lumi at 6:42 PM

Surprise competing bid for the MTA railyards

extel.jpgNew Yorkers woke up to news of a competing to build on the MTA's Vanderbuilt ("Atlantic") Railyard property.

The Extell plan proposes 1,940 residential units and 116,000 square feet of retail space in 11 buildings that would not be higher than 28 stories and 167,137 square feet of parks and open spacw.

Key features that differentiate the Extell bid from Ratner's controversial Gehry desiged plan are: * NO use of eminent domain, * No superblocks (project footprint limited to the railyard property), * No arena, * No skyscrapers, * Proposal will be submitted to local review process (ULURP), * Widespread community-based support, * Support of elected representatives from Prospect Heights, * Only 30% affordable housing planned.

The MTA has not commented on details of either plan, including how much each company has bid.

The Daily News reports that:

The bids could be voted on as early as the next MTA board meeting on July 27, said agency spokesman Tom Kelly.

Neither developer disclosed how much they bid for the 8.4-acre stretch of railyard along Atlantic Ave.

Ratner already has spent $100 million on architects and buying land.

NY Daily News, Rival for Bruce in B'klyn battle
The NY Times, Brooklyn Plan Draws a Rival, and It's Smaller
NY1, Surprise Competing Bid Entered for Brooklyn Rail Yards dialup/broadband
NY Newsday, Surprise competitor for Ratner's proposed Nets site
AP (San Jose Mecury News), Brooklyn developer faces new competition
Metro NY, Nets face competing bid from developer
GothamGazette.com, Bid for Brooklyn Railyards
The Newark Star-Ledger, Firm makes rival bid for proposed arena site

Posted by lumi at 6:55 AM

No medal but a silver lining

NY Daily News
by Mike Lupica

Ratner is doing hardly anything different with his arena plan than Mayor Bloomberg and Doctoroff and the Jets were trying to do with the Hudson Railyards. He has just managed to fly under radar because the Jets and their West Side stadium became the main event.

But Ratner gets a sweetheart land deal, one of the sweetheart deals in the history of the city, and if you think it is about bringing pro basketball to Brooklyn then you are the kind of dream sucker Ratner needed to look like a hero. A hero of his own bank account. Take a look at his project and how it continues to grow. He just needed a sports team to make it work.


Posted by lumi at 6:00 AM

July 6, 2005

Brooklyn Plan Draws a Rival, and It's Smaller

The NY Times
by Diane Cardwell

A rival of the developer Bruce C. Ratner submitted a competing bid yesterday to buy and develop the site of a proposed Nets basketball arena in Brooklyn, throwing up the first significant obstacle to Mr. Ratner's ambitious plan to create a dense urban hub at the eastern edge of Downtown Brooklyn.

The plan, which would not include a sports arena, was drafted in close consultation with community advocates who oppose Mr. Ratner's project. It portends a potential replay of the heated and costly battle between Cablevision and the Jets football team over a proposal, now scuttled, for a stadium on the Far West Side of Manhattan.


Posted by lumi at 11:58 PM

Gehry: Bumped Out Again?

The New York Observer
by Matthew Schuerman


All those protesters who have trailed Brooklyn Beep Marty Markowitz over the past 18 months chanting "Not a done deal" were right. A surprise bidder, Gary Barnett’s Extell Development Corp., made an offer today (Wednesday) on the MTA’s Atlantic Yards and might bump off Frank Gehry’s Crystal City.

The MTA press office wouldn’t say how much they were offering, or what Extell had in mind, but somehow we don’t think he’ll want to put in that organic dairy farm the neighbors pitched.


Posted by lumi at 11:52 PM

House Votes on Eminent Domain

*Stripping Home Owners of Property Rights Will not be Federally Funded in Spite of Supreme Court Ruling *

By Family Research Council

[A] House [of Representatives] measure, which passed 231-189, denies federal money to any city or state project that used eminent domain to force people to sell their property to make way for more profitable private projects.


NoLandGrab: If the Senate could pass the same measure, Ratner would loose access to federal affordable housing construction subsidies, Liberty Bonds and perhaps a few as yet unnamed sources of subsidies.

Posted by lumi at 11:45 PM

Scary Gehry: Haiku

A haiku of excepts from N. Ouroussoff's Times piece on Gehry's new design:

reinvent Brooklyn
clashing, undulating forms
get out of the way

Please send any original haiku submissions on Gehry's new design to haiku@nolandgrab.org.

Posted by lumi at 9:43 AM

Brooklynites Take In a Big Development Plan, and Speak Up

The NY Times
by Robert F. Worth

gehrymodel-05.jpgThe Times hits the streets looking for reaction to yesterday's Times Exclusive Unveiling of Gehry's new "expanded" Atlantic Yards design. Opinions were mixed:

Many Brooklynites said they were shocked simply by the scale of the $3.5 billion development, the largest proposed outside Manhattan in decades.

Several of them called the project an aesthetic disaster that would mar the borough's distinctive low-roofed charm, further clog the streets and make the subways even more difficult to navigate. Some took issue with the jazzy, unconventional designs, by the architect Frank Gehry and the developer Bruce C. Ratner, while others worried that the project could harm the area's small businesses and drive steep housing prices still higher.


Posted by lumi at 9:01 AM

Project Footprint expanded

After representatives from Forest City Ratner met and listened to the community the project footprint has EXPANDED during the past year.

Here's an overlay comparison of the two plans (old footprint in blue and the expansion over Flatbush Ave. in red). Yes folks, that's FLATBUSH AVE. running through the densest portion of the new site plan.


The area in green is the Brooklyn Bears Community Garden that fought for its survival against Ratner once before. There is no word on what designs Ratner has for the cherished green space, though community activists have recounted tales of Ratner trying to "steal their air rights."

Posted by lumi at 8:22 AM

New Brooklyn, NY

NY Newsday, Editorial

The Newsday editorial board hasn't changed its mind about Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project on the eve of the MTA deadline:

We can only tell you that if the MTA ultimately chooses Ratner's bid, downtown Brooklyn will never be the same. This, in our view, would be a very healthy thing.

It could morph into one of America's major downtowns - maybe. As we mentioned, Ratner's price has to make sense from the standpoint of the fiscally challenged MTA. The plan could face protracted lawsuits. And city planners must ensure that Ratner's build-out doesn't overwhelm the neighborhood's transportation capacity.


Posted by lumi at 8:12 AM

WNYC reports on MTA deadline

WNYC public radio reported at the top of the news hour that developers have until 5:30PM today to submit their bids for the Vanderbilt ("Atlantic") Railyards.

Also, NY1, Bids On Atlantic Rail Yards In Brooklyn Due Wednesday

Posted by lumi at 8:07 AM

A vision soars in Brooklyn

Yeas, nays over plan for Nets

NY Daily News
by Deborah Kolben & Paul H.B. Shin

gehrymodel-06.jpgAn update by the only local daily paper that has provided regular news coverage on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal. The article covers: * public reaction to Gehry's latest design, * the MTA Railyard bid deadline, * the most recent tally of property controlled by Ratner, and * a list of the remaining hurdles for the project.


NoLandGrab: We mention that The News has provided regular coverage of the project because, as other media organizations begin to cover the issue, it will take a while for reporters to get up to speed. Expect misinformation and lots of high-priced PR spin during the next couple of weeks.

Generally, the Daily News has been accurate during the past year or so.

Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

NYC eliminated in second round of IOC vote for 2012 Olympic Games

Though NYC didn't stand a chance (see newyorkgames.org for reasons why), the city's bid was eliminated in the second round of IOC voting, placing NYC behind Madrid, which was eliminated in the third.

New Yorkers needn't place the blame on the stadium debacle. The vote indicates some international resentment of American foreign policy and the fact that neither the City nor State had pledged to cover cost overruns.

Activists opposing Gehry's massive Atlantic Yards project are partially relieved since the proposed arena was to be the site of the gymnastics competition should the City have won the bid. Now New Yorkers can go back to discussing Atlantic Yards based upon its own merit.

Posted by lumi at 7:26 AM

Dope on the Slope: Mmmmmmmm, Instant Skyline

Dope on the Slope has published the secret recipe for Instant Skyline, breakfast of world-class architects, developers and their political lackeys. Dig in!

Serving Suggestion: Garnish with homemade PR blurbs in the NY Times and willfully ignorant politicians. For extra nuttiness, you may wish to add of dollop of ACORN butter.

The real question is...

who ordered this dish?


Posted by lumi at 6:53 AM

"A Delirious Pile-up of Forms"

Dope on the Slope delivers a scathing "appraisal" of "professional sycophant and architectural creationist" Nicky O's homage to Gehry's Atlantic Yards design in The Times.


Posted by lumi at 6:13 AM

July 5, 2005

Property seizure backlash

Christian Science Monitor
by Adam Karlin

In the wake of the Kelo ruling, property-rights crusaders have responded through grass-roots activism and elected officials. Bills and amendments that would limit use of eminent domain were generated in state legislatures and Congress within days of the Supreme Court decision.


Posted by lumi at 8:19 PM

Gehry's Insta-Skyline: The Insta-Reviews

gehrymodel-04.jpgCurbed.com compiled reviews of the Times piece where Nicolai Ouroussoff gets all wet for Gehry's latest designs for Brooklyn.

Also check out Curbed's own entry as they stoke Brooklynite's inferiority complex in "Forget Manhattan, Brooklyn is the New Texas."

Posted by lumi at 7:35 PM

Nets expected to win Brooklyn railyard bid war

NY Newsday
by Joshua Robin

Bids are due on Wednesday for the MTA's Vanderbuilt ("Atlantic") Railyards. Ratner spokesperson Joe DePlasco would not comment on the Forest City Ratner bid (widely expected the only and winning bid) for the site where the MTA was publicly pressued into auctioning off the property due to the same public scrutiny of the now-dead Hudson Railyards-West Side Stadium project.

Newsday also reports that MTA spokesperson Tom Kelly stated that the appraiser hired by the MTA is "still assessing the site's value," and "that the Authority will release the results upon completion [of what?]. A date when the developer would be selected has not been announced."

Read the article and don't forget to vote in the poll on the right-hand side.

NoLandGrab, Been There Done That: Is the MTA really making up the rules as they go along, again? Check out Doug Hamilton's essay, "The Farce is With Us" on the "grave shortcomings of this process." This is a must read for opinion leaders and decision makers.

Posted by lumi at 8:33 AM

Instant Skyline Added to Brooklyn Arena Plan

Gehry, Atlantic Yards ModelThe NY Times
by Diane Cardwell

Bruce Ratner unveils Gehry's latest plan.

What's new? Check out the high-rise building on the tip of Park Slope.

The Times also reports that: * the plan has the support of Bruno and Silver's representatives on the Public Authorities Control Board, * Gehry refers to the tallest building in the plan as "Miss Brooklyn" (as in you'll sure miss Brooklyn), and * there "is far less organized political opposition than that which faced the defeated West Side stadium plan."


NY Newsday, Nets owner unveils design for massive development in Brooklyn

Posted by lumi at 7:56 AM

Seeking First to Reinvent the Sports Arena, and Then Brooklyn

The NY Times
by Nicolai Ouroussoff

scary gehryThis "appraisal" of Gehry's latest Atlantic Yards design will make area residents uncomfortable by its pompous tone -- you know, the tone of architects use when they talk about people as if they weren't really there. In his non-critical piece, Ouroussoff concludes:

Mr. Gehry's intuitive approach to planning - his ability to pick up subtle cues from the existing context - virtually guarantees that the development will be better than what New Yorkers are used to.

Ouroussoff's description of the Nets arena could also describe the sentiments of residents surronding the project:

[A] slight arch in the rows of seats on either side of the court adds to the impression that the entire room is being squeezed and is buckling under invisible pressure.

Brooklynites sitting in traffic on Flatbush Ave. will be able to contemplate a signature Gehry expression:

A cascading glass roof would envelop a vast public room at the tower's base, so that as you arrived by car along Flatbush Avenue, your eye would travel up a delirious pileup of forms, which become a visual counterpoint to the horizontal thrust of the avenue.

And, if life in NYC isn't already fraught with tension (which is why many residents seek the comfort of Brooklyn's familiar neighborhoods), Gehry's free-jazz-meets-Kenny-G architechture is seeking to reinvent how we live, work, and play:

The idea is to create a skyline that is fraught with visual tension, where the spaces between the towers are as charged as the forms themselves. That tension, Mr. Gehry hopes, will carry down to the ground, imbuing the gardens with a distinct urban character. In this way, he is also seeking to break down and reassemble conventional social orthodoxies. [Note: We are not sure it is prudent to "reassemble conventional social orthodoxies" during a Republican administration.]

NoLandGrab: If you didn't have the right glasses to major in architecture, where students pontificate about tall buildings that "echo" and "talk" to one another, read the rest of the article for a real taste of what you missed.

Oh, and The Grey Lady DID include a disclosure of their business partnership with Forest City Ratner this time (not that we're counting).

Article after the jump...

Frank Gehry's new design for a 21-acre corridor of high-rise towers anchored by the 19,000-seat Nets arena in Brooklyn may be the most important urban development plan proposed in New York City in decades. If it is approved, it will radically alter the Brooklyn skyline, reaffirming the borough's emergence as a legitimate cultural rival to Manhattan.

More significant, however, Mr. Gehry's towering composition of clashing, undulating forms is an intriguing attempt to overturn a half-century's worth of failed urban planning ideas. What is unfolding is an urban model of remarkable richness and texture, one that could begin to inject energy into the bloodless formulas that are slowly draining our cities of their vitality. It is a stark contrast to the proposed development of the West Side of Manhattan, where the abandoned Jets stadium was only the most visible aspect of what seemed doomed to become another urban wasteland.

From the dehumanizing Modernist superblocks of the 1960's to the cloying artificiality of postmodern visions like Battery Park City, architects have labored to come up with a formula for large-scale housing development that is not cold, sterile and lifeless. Mostly, they have failed.

Mr. Gehry, for his part, has never worked on such a colossal scale. And the construction of an arena, in particular, is more apt to create a black hole in a city's fabric than to ignite a major urban revival.

Mr. Gehry begins by reinventing the arena. To minimize the deadening effect of the obligatory rings of corporate seats, Mr. Gehry partly hides them under a cantilevered portion of the arena's upper tier. And a slight arch in the rows of seats on either side of the court adds to the impression that the entire room is being squeezed and is buckling under invisible pressure.

Such touches reaffirm that Mr. Gehry, at 76, is an architect with a remarkably subtle hand. Yet what makes the design an original achievement is the cleverness with which he anchors the arena in the surrounding neighborhood. Located on a triangular lot at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, the arena's form is buried inside a cluster of soaring commercial and residential towers. At certain points the towers part to reveal the arena's bulging facade behind them. Pedestrians would be able to peer directly into the main concourse level, creating a surprising fishbowl effect.

The tallest of the towers, roughly 60 stories, would echo the more somber Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, now the borough's highest building. A cascading glass roof would envelop a vast public room at the tower's base, so that as you arrived by car along Flatbush Avenue, your eye would travel up a delirious pileup of forms, which become a visual counterpoint to the horizontal thrust of the avenue.

The striking collision of urban forms is a well-worn Gehry theme, and it ripples through the entire complex. Extending east from the arena, the bulk of the residential buildings are organized in two uneven rows that frame a long internal courtyard. The buildings are broken down into smaller components, like building blocks stacked on top of one another. The blocks are then carefully arranged in response to various site conditions, pulling apart in places to frame passageways through the site; elsewhere, they are used to frame a series of more private gardens.

Mr. Gehry is still fiddling with these forms. His earliest sketches have a palpable tension, as if he were ripping open the city to release its hidden energy. The towers in a more recent model seem clunkier and more brooding. This past weekend, a group of three undulating glass towers suddenly appeared. Anchored by lower brick buildings on both sides, they resemble great big billowing clouds.

Anyone who has followed Mr. Gehry's thought process understands this back-and-forth. It is his struggle to gain an intuitive feel for the site, to find the ideal compositional balance between the forms. The idea is to create a skyline that is fraught with visual tension, where the spaces between the towers are as charged as the forms themselves. That tension, Mr. Gehry hopes, will carry down to the ground, imbuing the gardens with a distinct urban character. In this way, he is also seeking to break down and reassemble conventional social orthodoxies.

There are those - especially acolytes of the urbanist Jane Jacobs - who will complain about the development's humongous size. But cities attain their beauty from their mix of scales; one could see the development's thrusting forms as a representation of Brooklyn's cultural flowering.

What is more, Mr. Gehry has gone to great lengths to fuse his design with its surroundings. The tallest of the towers, for example, are mostly set along Atlantic Avenue, where they face a mix of retail malls and low-income housing. Along Dean Street, the buildings' low, stocky forms are more in keeping with the rows of brownstones that extend south into Park Slope.

A more important issue, by contrast, is the site's current lack of permeability. Because the development would be built on top of the Atlantic Avenue railyards, the gardens are several feet above ground level, an arrangement that threatens to isolate them from the street grid. In the current version of the plan, shallow steps would lead up to the gardens from the sidewalk. Olin Partnership, the landscape architect, has suggested that the same effect could be accomplished with a more gradual slope - a significant improvement - but the key will be to create a balance in which the gardens feel like a smooth extension of the public realm.

Even so, Mr. Gehry's intuitive approach to planning - his ability to pick up subtle cues from the existing context - virtually guarantees that the development will be better than what New Yorkers are used to. The last project here that was touted as a breakthrough in urban planning was Battery Park City. As it turns out, it was as isolated from urban reality as its Modernist predecessors. Conceived by a cadre of government bureaucrats and planners, it produced a suburban vision of deadening uniformity.

By comparison, Forest City Ratner Companies, a relatively conventional developer known for building Brooklyn's unremarkable MetroTech complex, has seemingly undergone an architectural conversion, entrusting a 7.8-million-square-foot project to a single architectural talent who is known for creating unorthodox designs. It seems like a gutsy decision. But Bruce C. Ratner, the company's chief executive and the development partner of The New York Times in building the newspaper's new headquarters in Manhattan, has apparently realized that the tired old models are no longer a guarantee of cultural or financial success. He seems willing, within limits, to allow Mr. Gehry the freedom to play with new ideas.

This is no small miracle. Even in this early stage of development, the design proves that Mr. Gehry can handle the challenge better than most. His approach is a blow against the formulaic ways of thinking that are evidence of the city's sagging level of cultural ambition. It suggests another development model: locate real talent, encourage it to break the rules, get out of the way.

Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

Wooing Communities

The Journal News, Editorial

An editorial report on Forest City Ratner's efforts to woo Yonkers and Brooklyn with money for schools, Nets tickets and employment guarnatees.


Posted by lumi at 5:59 AM

July 4, 2005

Eminent Domain Outcry

Hands Off My HomeHappy Fourth!

While we ponder our great experiment in democracy, the Institue of Justice has called upon Americans to raise their voice in support of citizens who are under seige of government taking of their homes and businesses.

The question that enters our mind here at NoLandGrab is, "Would the Founding Fathers approve of the recent US Supreme Court eminent domain ruling?" The answer is found in whether or not you think that those who fought for and formed our nation were staunch idealists or pragmatists.

Though this is a matter for debate we offer you this, John Adams wrote:

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is no force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist."

Read "NH Property Owners Have Thwarted Eminent Domain" for an honest and moving portrayal of a reluctanct eminent domain hero whose property, ironically, was saved by the NH State Supreme Court when Justice Souter was serving on the bench (Souter was of five Supreme Court Justices who voted in the majority in Kelo v. New London).

Posted by lumi at 7:53 AM

New York Olympic Bid Moves Queens Out of Manhattan's Shadow

by David M. Levitt

Read this article to catch up with the the Mets Shea Stadium replacement deal. Burried three-quarters of the way down was this tidbit regarding Forest City Ratner's desire to develop the surrounding commuinty.

`Valuable Property'

Construction of a new stadium "will put a focus on redevelopment of Willets Point, an area that sorely needs it,'' U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks, a Queens Democrat, said in an interview. "That area is too valuable a property to allow a junkyard to be there.''

Thirteen developers gave the city's Economic Development Corp. expressions of interest for the area last November. They include Forest City Ratner, which also is planning a $3.5 billion downtown Brooklyn development that includes a new arena for basketball's Nets.

The proposals include stores, restaurants, recreational facilities inspired by Manhattan's Chelsea Piers complex on the Hudson River, waterfront housing, and a hotel and conference center, an idea central to one of the applicants, the Queens Chamber of Commerce.


Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

Nets put free agent plans in motion

The Bergen Record
By Al Iannazzone

Unlike last summer, the Nets plan to be very aggressive in free agency. Owner Bruce Ratner has given them the OK to upgrade the team. The Nets have a $5 million trade exception that they must use before July 29 and the $4.9 million midlevel exception.


Posted by lumi at 7:45 AM

Dispute over space at proposed Beekman St. school

Downtown Express
by Ronda Kaysen

Members of Manhattan Community Board 1 are questioning details of the plans for the K-8 public school in Forest City Ratner's Frank Gehry-designed mixed-use downtown Manhattan development at Beekman Pl.

A neighboring hospital has concerns about use of the public plaza adjacent to the hospital for outdoor playground space and the facilities might not be sufficient for amount of children expected on enroll. All this for the most expensive public school ever built in NYC.


Posted by lumi at 7:39 AM

July 3, 2005

Eminent domain now is thievery

Norwich Bulletin

A call to "stand up and take notice" and take action.

If a developer decides he has a better idea for the property you own, wham! It's going to be demolished, like it or not. Land grabs will be common occurrences; as a matter of fact, it already is happening.

One by one, our freedoms are being taken away. This is how radicals are born and revolutions begin. We all need to do whatever we can to help those families in New London.

I vow to do whatever I can to help. If it means forming a human chain, I will be there.


Posted by amy at 11:29 AM

July 2, 2005

BCAT - Reporter's Roundtable Premier Saturday July 2nd, 9pm

The Meaning of the Supreme Court's Kelo Decision on eminent domain and public use: The Decision's Ramifications on the Atlantic Yards Proposal Panel:

Daniel Goldstein - Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Brad Lander - Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (PICCED)

Errol Louis - New York Daily News

David Reiss, Brooklyn Law School

Premiers Saturday, 9pm Time Warner/Cablevision, 56/69

Click here for full schedule

Posted by amy at 9:27 AM

It’s all about money

Brooklyn Papers

Ed Weintrob

Paper founder

The issue is that taxpayers are being asked to pay for Ratner’s game. An honest discussion will put the public price tag at $1 billion or more, not $100 million (a token down payment referenced by the Manhattan news media). Tax breaks associated with the New Jersey Nets component of the project — a very small part of the overall plan — alone amount to $300 million; the gifting of the MTA’s rail yards (yes, they will be “sold” — but in an essentially non-competitive 11th-hour bidding process); hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure costs (some will be masked as railroad improvements if the MTA moves its tracks to make way for an arena) — incredibly lavish subsidies to pay Ratner for the so-called “affordable” housing component of his project (no, Ratner is not paying for the “affordable” housing — you are), and more, lots more — all amount to virtually a blank check.


Posted by amy at 9:23 AM

Ratner commits to select groups

The Brooklyn Papers

By Jess Wisloski

An "agreement" among agreeing parties isn't surprising. Atlantic Yards community benefits agreement, or CBA, is a contract "between the developer and community groups that have supported his project."

No city entity is bound by the document and the legally binding agreement would be subject only to privately financed litigation between the community groups that signed it and Ratner.


Posted by amy at 9:14 AM

Ratner execs move in on Freddy’s

The Brooklyn Papers

By Jess Wisloski

Yost’s bar, Freddy’s Bar & Backroom, sits in the middle of Ratner’s development site at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue. Several anti-Ratner arena events have been held there and members of the project’s opposition regularly meet in the old bar. Now the building housing the former speakeasy is about to become another Ratner acquisition, but the bar may not sink so quickly. He was told by his landlord this month that the property would soon be Ratner’s.

“Whatever that means for Freddy’s Bar, I don’t know,” he said. “They haven’t contacted me other than the one boiler-plate letter.”


Posted by amy at 9:02 AM


Brooklyn Papers

By Jess Wisloski

At a press conference at Fulton Ferry Landing Monday morning to announce the creation of a community benefits agreement (CBA) between Ratner’s Forest City Ratner Companies and a handful of community groups, the mayor interrupted Ratner, who was answering a question about the enforceability of such a non-governmental document. “I would add something else — even more importantly, you have Bruce Ratner’s word,” he said. “That should be enough for you and for everybody else in the community,” said the mayor, directing his comments at the reporter who asked the question.


Posted by amy at 8:50 AM

July 1, 2005

Hey Marty! Most New Yorkers are OPPOSED to the Nets arena complex.

The NY Times polled 901 New Yorkers between June 21-26 on the current political climate and state of the city. The result of questions 73 & 74 should come as no surprise to those who speak to ordinary taxpaying residents in Brooklyn.

(complete poll here [pdf] see questions 73 and 74, sidebar to The NY Times, "Big Issues Lift Mayor's Rating to a New High")

# 73. Do you favor or oppose building a new arena in Brooklyn for the Nets?

  Favor Oppose DK/NA
4/16-21/04 45 42 14
6/21-26/05 37 45 17

# 74. IF FAVOR, ASK: What if a new arena in Brooklyn cost $200 million in public funds? Then do you think the city should or should not build a new arena in Brooklyn?
  Favor Oppose DK/NA
6/21-26/05 18 16 3

NoLandGrab: Add the 16% of respondents who OPPOSE the arena being built with the $200 million of public money pledged by NYC and NYS (Question #74) to the 45% who outright OPPPOSE the Nets arena (Question #73). This equals a total of 61% of respondents who oppose Bruce Ratner's arena proposal.

Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM

Lawmakers Introduce Bills To Protect Private Property After Court Ruling

NY Sun
by Jesse J. Holland, AP

In a legislative backlash to the US Supreme Court's eminent domain ruling in the case of Kelo v. New London, members of the US House of Representatives are seeking to pass legislation that would prohibit the federal government to seize land for private development and to curb the use of federal funds and grants for development of property seized by state and local goverments for private development purposes.


NoLandGrab: Passage of legislation blocking the use of federal funds for projects using eminent domain for economic revitalization purposes could have bearing on Bruce Ratner's Nets arena complex since Forest City Ratner will have to apply for federal housing grants and subsidies for the construction of affordable housing.

Posted by lumi at 7:02 AM

The Buyouts vs. the Holdouts

The NY Times
by Motoko Rich

A look at homeowners who have chosen to stay and fight government seizure of their property for private developments -- homeowners in New London, CT are joined by those in Brooklyn, Buffalo, Norwood (OH) and Long Branch (NJ) as the national campaign to save peoples homes turns attention to the local fights to pass state and municipal laws to prohibit eminent domain being used for economic development purposes.

Note: This article not only contained a disclosure of the Ratner-Times business relationship as development partners in the new NY Times headquarters, but also provided a summary of eminent domain action taken.


Posted by lumi at 6:39 AM

Figuring Out What's 'Just' In Cases of Eminent Domain

Wall St. Jounal, Fiscally Fit
by Terri Cullen

When residents of New London, Conn., took their battle to save their homes from the threat of eminent domain to the U.S. Supreme Court, and lost last week, it got me thinking: Dollars and cents, did these homeowners get a raw deal?

It turns out, a similar showdown has been brewing in my own backyard in the Jersey shore city of Long Branch. So I drove 20 miles south to meet some of the people whose property is in line to be seized by the city and see whether the cash offers – required by the U.S. Constitution to be "just compensation" -- were really just.

Rose LaRosa lives in an oceanfront neighborhood in Long Branch in a home her father bought in 1942 after her brother died in World War II. Her cottage sits one block from the beach, and every year as a child her family would make the trip down from their main home in a rough and tumble neighborhood in Newark, N.J., to spend summers on the shore. Eventually, the LaRosas retired, winterized the cottage and moved to Long Branch full time. When her mother died in 1984, she left the home to Rose.

That home now sits in the shadow of a massive redevelopment project in a Long Branch neighborhood that that has christened itself MTOTSA, an abbreviation of the three roads (Marine Terrace, Ocean Terrace and Seaview Avenue) where homes are targeted to be bulldozed under eminent domain to make way for luxury condos.

There's no question, this redevelopment project is transforming the Long Branch waterfront – which in some areas had become home to vacant buildings, drug dealers, liquor stores and strip joints. In addition to 283 new condos and townhouses, the development includes a four-acre beachfront public park and re-establishes the boardwalk. Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider says the project already has attracted interest from new businesses.

The development is well underway and the city has approved the condemnation of many homes, including those in MTOTSA neighborhood. Some MTOTSA owners accepted the town's offers. But a determined group of homeowners intends to claim that this is a case of eminent-domain abuse, and that the city has no right to take their homes. Few could argue, however, that last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision helps their position.

If these homeowners lose, they'll end up with either cash or one of the new condos in the project. The town and developers think the homeowners are getting a good deal. As Ms. LaRosa served up coffee and custard pie in her sunny dining room, she and her neighbors made clear they disagree. "What they're offering in return isn't nearly enough to afford to buy another home, let alone one this close to beach," says Josephine Vendetti.

In cases of eminent domain, community leaders work with developers to propose a plan to seize property and make improvements to encourage economic development. Once local government approves the plan, the town offers to compensate displaced property owners. Though the town cuts the checks, the compensation typically comes out of the developer's pocket. The amount offered is determined through an appraisal process similar to the type performed when a consumer buys a home. In this case, property owners may also swap their existing home for a unit in the new development.

Ms. LaRosa, arguably, is the owner with the most to lose -- or gain -- financially if the town takes her home. Because hers is the largest of the condemned properties, her offer from the town, according to the mayor, is the biggest of those received by the homeowners involved in the dispute: $625,000. Her parcel includes her four-bedroom home, an attached three-bedroom apartment and a separate three-bedroom home, all on the same lot. (Ms. LaRosa also owns a rental home in Toms River, N.J., that was her place of residence before her parents died.)

Most MTOTSA homeowners have received offers in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, though depending on the size and condition of the property some owners were offered more and some less. Looking at comparable home prices now – and what homes were selling for in 2000, prior to demolition and construction of the first phase of the condo development – these offers appear to be fair, were the homeowners selling of their own volition without the threat of condemnation.

In 2000, the median price for a single-family oceanfront home in Long Branch was $290,950, according to Vito Muolo, a realtor with Mancini Realty in Long Branch. In that year, the highest-priced home, a large Victorian, sold for $600,000. The lowest-priced home sold for $169,900.

In the first six months of 2005, in the midst of the development project, the median price was $465,000 ($566,000 was the high, and $346,000 the low). Mr. Muolo notes however, that it's tough to make comparisons because there were so few comparable homes in Long Branch sold in 2005. "The town took them all," he says.

The Vendettis, who have been looking at homes in the area, say they have had a hard time finding comparable homes for less than $500,000. "With what we're being offered for our home, we can't afford that," Carmen Vendetti says. "So now after paying off our home's mortgage, we're facing the possibility of having to take out a mortgage on a new home."

Though home valuation isn't a science, my take is the appraised values seem fair, based strictly on fair market value. But the appraisals don't reflect real expenses incurred, let alone the emotional toll, of moving to a new home against your will. Greg Russo, senior vice president with Applied Cos. in Hoboken, N.J., which is joint-developing the project with Matzel & Mumford Corp., a division of K. Hovnanian, in Middletown, N.J., says in every case where owners tried to negotiate a better price, he agreed to pay more than the appraised value, though he declined to offer details.

What about moving into the new units? Some longer-term residents also have received offers to swap their home for units in the new development. If the property to be seized is worth less than the condo, homeowners owe nothing; if it's worth more than the condo, the developer will pay the difference, Mr. Russo says. Homeowners would be allowed to remain in their homes until their condos – in an earlier phase of the development – were ready for them to move in, he says.

Those who accepted the offer also would have annual maintenance fees waived for 10 years, and for up to five years homeowners would pay what they're currently paying in taxes, Mr. Russo says. After the fifth year, taxes would be rise to what other condo-owners pay. On an average condo in the $600,000 range, taxes range between $12,000 to $13,000, according to Glenn Ward, sales and marketing director at Matzel & Mumford. The maintenance fee on condos is $343 a month.

None of the MTOTSA homeowners I spoke with, who are mostly retired blue-collar workers, felt they would be able to manage the costs of a owning a luxury condo once the initial period ends. And there's a chance if they accept the swap offer, and home prices flatten out or decline in Monmouth County – which has seen some of the biggest home-price gains in the nation over the last five years – they may end up owning a property worth far less should they need to sell.

For the homeowners, the stakes couldn't be higher. Mr. Russo says that it's possible owners who choose to fight on to keep their homes, rather than settle now, may walk away with offers less generous than those currently being floated because the incentive to avoid litigation will be gone. "They will lose some leverage," he says.

The MTOTSA residents recently hired an attorney, who will argue in state court, with the assistance of counsel from the Institute for Justice, to prevent the homes from being seized.

Bottom line, their experiences provide a cautionary tale for homeowners, who need to pay attention to development proposals in their communities and aggressively participate in the political process to protect their homes. As this article explains, unless you live in a large, established community, where there would be immense political and economic opposition to eminent domain, you could be vulnerable.

Mr. Schneider, the mayor, concedes the project may never have seen the light of day had the community fought the redevelopment plans from the start. "If they had gotten proper legal representation and put together a plan to oppose this project when we began to study it in 1995, it's likely this project never would have passed."

Write to me at fiscallyfit@wsj.com.

Posted by lumi at 5:29 AM