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December 1, 2006

Ratner agrees to do more for footprint renters, but lawyers remain wary

Atlantic Yards Report

Rent-regulated tenants remaining in the proposed Atlantic Yards footprint have recently learned of a somewhat better offer from Forest City Ratner (FCR), but lawyers for some tenants say the deal still isn't good enough.
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In some contracts, FCR agreed to pay the differential in rent for only three years, which would leave the tenants vulnerable, since the contract expire before the first Atlantic Yards residential building was finished. In August, FCR's Jim Stuckey said, "We will take care of them" but was unwilling to provide any proof.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) indicates that FCR has improved its offer. It states (p. 8):

The sponsors have also agreed to pay the difference, if any, in rent between the tenant's current rent and the rent for the comparable interim unit until such time as the tenant is relocated into a new unit in the proposed development. This agreement would terminate only if the project were abandoned or the tenant breached its obligations.

Does a breach include a gag order regarding opposition to the project? No longer, but the contents of such a breach remain under negotiation, according to Jennifer Levy of South Brooklyn Legal Services, who represents several tenants in the project footprint.
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Attorney George Locker, who also represents several rent-regulated tenants living in Ratner-owned properties in the project footprint, and has stated he will file a lawsuit in state court, said that he had not been told beforehand of the change: "The first inkling was when I read the FEIS." (Maybe that's because he's announced plans to sue.)

He's not deterred from his plans. "The new relocation language does not comply with the relocation requirements of the Urban Development Corporation Act," he charged. "Moreover, without seeing the new relocation agreement (if indeed there is one), I note that under the new language, the project could be abandoned, for any number of reasons, leaving my clients with nothing."

He added, "Further, relocation back into the project should not be contingent on whether there has been a breach of obligation... Each of these two conditions places all of the risk on my clients, when they should be asked to assume no risks."

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Posted by lumi at December 1, 2006 8:04 AM