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November 8, 2009

Tenacious B - Bruce Ratner must clear yet more do-or-die hurdles at Atlantic Yards

Crain's
By Theresa Agovino

This article about Bruce Ratner, although largely worshipful, shows the uncertainty of the proposed Atlantic Yards project.

Any day now, New York state's highest court will rule on whether eminent domain can be used to clear the site. If its use is barred, the Atlantic Yards project will most likely die. In addition, the developer faces a year-end deadline to sell $700 million worth of bonds for the arena in order to qualify for much-needed tax-free financing.

Here, even Ratner admits there's no need to build the mega-project:

Yet he doesn't know when many elements of the plan will progress, and he's agitated by questions about them. In light of a financial crisis that has hobbled many developers, Mr. Ratner refuses to discuss what the project will look like, whether or not it will include an office building and even who will design the first residential tower, which he's slated to break ground on early next year.

Initially, the project called for four office towers, but by early this year, only one was on the drawing boards. Asked when it will go up, Mr. Ratner responds with a question: “Can you tell me when we are going to need a new office tower?”

And here we see how public subsidies do not mean the public has any say in the project itself:

He has no intention of sharing the designs for the complex. “Why should people get to see plans?” he demands. “This isn't a public project. We will follow the guidelines.”

As you might expect, Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report gives a full assessment of this article: In profile, Crain's calls Ratner "tenacious;" wouldn't "desperate" and "strategic" also apply?

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Posted by steve at November 8, 2009 10:27 AM