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February 27, 2009

Appellate Court Decision - Media Wrapup

amNY - Atlantic Yards wins legal victory
By Jason Fink

The $4 billion Atlantic Yards project cleared a hurdle Thursday when a state appellate court dismissed a legal challenge by the development’s opponents.

The ruling upheld a lower court decision that the state acted properly in approving the project’s environmental impact study. A separate case challenging the state’s use of eminent domain in taking land for the project, slated to include an arena for the Nets, is also being heard by the appellate court.

Developer Bruce Ratner, who has been locked in a long-running battle with community groups over the project, said in a published report that it’s “time to put these cases behind us and get to work.”

The group that brought the case vowed to take it to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

“The Court of Appeals is the only court that can break the chain of previous cases, and we eagerly await our opportunity to argue before it," Jeffrey S. Baker, the attorney for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, said in a statement on the group’s Web site.

Crain's New York - Atlantic Yards developer wins key legal victory
By Theresa Agovino

Forest City Ratner Cos. scored a major victory towards building its Atlantic Yards mega development on Thursday when a state appellate court unanimously ruled that the Empire State Development Corp. appropriately reviewed and approved the project.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a nonprofit community group, which brought the suit, said it would appeal. The group challenged the environmental review process and alleged that the site shouldn’t have been designated as blighted.

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The 22-acre development has faces more than legal challenges. Financing for the project is a major hurdle. Banks have virtually stopped lending, especially for huge projects like Atlantic Yards. The estimated cost of the Frank Gehry-designed complex has ballooned to $4 billion from $2.5 billion. The cost of the arena alone, the future home of the Nets basketball team, jumped 40% to $1 billion.

NY1 News - Court Greenlights Atlantic Yards Review

An appellate court unanimously upheld a state supreme court ruling Thursday that the environmental review process for Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards was completed correctly.

In a statement, developer Bruce Ratner of Forrest City Ratner said the decision validates the environmental review process. He added it is time to get work on the basketball arena and 16 high-rise buildings that would encompass the $4 billion project.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz agreed with the court's decision and say the project will create jobs and affordable housing.

An opponent of the project, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, says it will take its case to the state Court of Appeals.

The group says the project won't create long-term jobs.

AP (via Newsday) - Court tosses Atlantic Yards environmental lawsuit

A state appeals court has upheld a lower court's ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed by a coalition of community groups opposed to the massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

The appeals court decision, issued Thursday, says the state's environmental review of traffic, crowds, potential terrorism and other concerns satisfied legal requirements. The $4 billion, 22-acre development includes an arena for the New Jersey Nets, office towers and thousands of apartments near downtown Brooklyn.

Project developer Forest City Ratner and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are applauding the ruling. A spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn says the coalition might appeal.

The project still faces another lawsuit challenging the state's right to use eminent domain to demolish more than a dozen properties.

NorthJersey.com - Nets' Brooklyn move clears hurdle
By John Brennan

The proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn — scheduled to be the Nets' future home — earned a court victory Thursday when a New York appellate panel rejected a lawsuit by community activists who oppose the plan.

The suit, which is unrelated to a case heard last week involving the use of eminent domain at the site, charged that the Empire State Development Corp.'s environmental review of the site was inadequate. The groups — led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn — contended, among other complaints, that the state agency did not analyze the risk of a terrorist attack at the site and that the proposed construction schedule was "irrational."

Three judges, however, wrote in a 13-page majority opinion that "our power to review the substantive adequacy of an [environmental impact statement] is extremely limited."

City Room (NY Times Blog) - Legal Victory for Atlantic Yards Developer
By Charles V. Bagli

The developer Bruce C. Ratner chalked up a legal victory for his proposed Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn on Thursday when a state appellate court ruled against opponents who had challenged the $4 billion project on environmental grounds.

In the opinion, the court agreed with a lower State Supreme Court decision that the state had acted properly in reviewing and approving the project, which includes an arena for the Nets and up to 6,000 apartments on 22 acres. Still, the project has a number of other roadblocks to clear, including another lawsuit, before it can break ground.

Mr. Ratner, however, was elated. “Once again the courts have decided in favor of Atlantic Yards,” he said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “This project has been reviewed as thoroughly as any in the city and now it is time to put these cases behind us and get to work.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and state officials also issued statements lauding the court decision.

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Although the court reached a unanimous decision, Judge James M. Catterson broke with his colleagues, saying that the state’s urban redevelopment law “is ultimately being used as a tool of the developer to displace and destroy neighborhoods that are ‘underutilized.’” But, he said he was hesitant to end the longstanding practice of deferring to the state’s economic development authority.

NoLandGrab: Some of these articles quote Bruce Ratner as saying “This project has been reviewed as thoroughly as any in the city and now it is time to put these cases behind us and get to work.” He's clearly hoping that nobody recalls that this is a State project, and has thus bypassed all city review. Also, with another lawsuit pending and enormous economic problems facing the project, it's going to be awfully hard to begin any work on the project.

Posted by steve at February 27, 2009 3:41 AM