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January 20, 2010

In court argument over ESDC project approval, questions about the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard deal and the mysterious development agreement

Atlantic Yards Report

Well, if you'd read the papers in the lawsuits challenging the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) approval of the 2009 Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan (MGPP), the two-hour-plus argument in court yesterday wasn't all too surprising.

But the reason some 70 people--mainly Atlantic Yards opponents including Council Member Letitia James), but also ESDC officials and Forest City Ratner executives--packed a state Supreme Court courtroom in Lower Manhattan is that the courts remain a wild card, a potential, if unlikely, brake on state power in such cases.

Justice Marcy Friedman asked marginally tougher questions of the ESDC attorney, but evinced no particular sympathies, maintaining a serious and skeptical mien throughout the proceeding.

She did not rule on a requested preliminary injunction that would stop current activities--demolition, railyard work, environmental remediation--but indicated she'd rule on the case in a few months, before significant construction.

So it's unlikely anything other than a symbolic groundbreaking would be held in the near future. Should the lawsuits succeed, the ESDC's Modified General Project Plan for AY would be annulled, as would be the subsequent resolutions and contracts--essentially setting the project back and, given the snag in arena bonds, dealing it a serious if not fatal blow.

(Photos and set by Tracy Collins)

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Posted by lumi at January 20, 2010 5:56 AM