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September 28, 2007

No love for ‘UNITY’ from city, state

UNITY2007-BP.jpgThe Brooklyn Paper

City and state officials say they don’t intend to consider a community-based alternative development plan for the Prospect Heights site of Bruce Ratner’s controversial Atlantic Yards project that was unveiled this week.

The so-called UNITY proposal includes mostly affordable apartments, no arena and doesn’t require condemning land via eminent domain. But to be anything more than a few planners’ dream of ideal, community-driven development, support from city and state officials is necessary.

That support is not there.

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NoLandGrab: This is news?

From day one, every move made by the City and State has furthered the goal of delivering the Atlantic Yards project into Bruce Ratner hands, via zoning overrides, subsidies, eminent domain and political favoritism.

Real news would have been if the ESDC and City had pulled up stakes on Atlantic Yards and started looking at the UNITY community-based plan.

Another piece in The Brooklyn Paper, "UNITY Plan: Why now?," explores two what-if scenarios that might make City and State officials (heck, maybe even Ratner?) take another look at some of the ideas in the UNITY 2007 plan.

But isn’t the Atlantic Yards deal done?

Yes, if you ask city and state officials. But even they admit that the real-estate market is a volatile beast.

But isn’t the real estate market hot hot hot?

Not exactly. Financial markets are tightening, making it harder for Ratner to line up investors. At the same time, tighter money means higher mortgage rates for his potential luxury buyers. Plus, there is a glut of luxury units coming on line, a factor that has already started to squeeze profit margins for high-end builders. any delays in construction cost Ratner $4.15 million a month in carrying costs.

Is there any other way the plan can be stopped?

Two lawsuits are percolating through the legal system: One is an eminent domain lawsuit charging that state planners abused the state’s condemnation power to line Ratner’s pockets. It was dismissed earlier this summer, but the federal appeal will be heard on Oct. 9. The other pending lawsuit challenges the project’s environmental review. It’s awaiting judgment in state court.

Posted by lumi at September 28, 2007 12:07 PM