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January 5, 2010

The look ahead for 2010: the final endgame and, likely, a very changed landscape

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder ponders what the new year might hold for Bruce Ratner's now-more-than-six-year-old Atlantic Yards project, and the now-more-than-six-year-old fight to stop it.

At the end of 2008, with Atlantic Yards stalled, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) solicited donations by asserting that Victory is Within Sight. At the end of 2009, following the master closing on the project and a near-final victory for developer Forest City Ratner and its government partners, DDDB's pitch was more subdued.

After all, it looks like a done deal--but not quite. Even though the master closing has been completed and the bonds have been sold, they've been placed in escrow for a year, an unusual deal kink set up to both meet Internal Revenue Service deadlines (terms grandfathered in to the end of 2009) and leave room to overcome legal and financial hurdles, even as construction activities--if not yet full vertical construction--proceed.

While developer Forest City Ratner and its government partners have the clear upper hand in getting final funding and control of the land, the challenges raise serious questions, and likely will persist at least past visible signs of project progress, such as street closings.

(And what happens if the opponents win and everything gets reversed? A very interesting mess.)

Durable fight

For the opposition, it has hardly been a flawless fight. But the six-year struggle has been remarkably durable, compared to, say, the challenge to the new Yankee Stadium, sited in a community with fewer resources in both time and money. The AY challenge is one that other community activists in the city have begun to look to for inspiration and advice.

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Posted by eric at January 5, 2010 12:31 PM