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February 2, 2010

Who's in charge? Untangling the street closing mystery and the government's long leash for Forest City Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

At this point, the headline of Norman Oder's latest installment is a rhetorical question. We know who is in charge, we really only want to understand, "Why?" and "How come?"

Forest City Ratner waited well over two days to change digital signs warning that Fifth Avenue between Atlantic and Flatbush avenues would close on February 1--despite a judge's decision last Friday to defer any decision on transferring title to properties and streets in the Atlantic Yards footprint to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).

So a lot of people walking and driving this weekend had a right to be confused when the street turned out to be open this morning.

(Photo looking north on Fifth Avenue below Flatbush Avenue, by Tracy Collins.)

And no one really knew who was in charge.

Was it the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT)? Not really, even though FCR said it would have to ask for DOT permission to close the streets without a judicial order. After all, I couldn't even get an on-the-record statement out of DOT.

Was it the ESDC? Maybe, given that an ESDC attorney said in court that no request for street closure would be made until title had been vested. But I couldn't get any further statement from the ESDC last Friday.

Was it the developer? Well, it appears that FCR has a pretty long leash, if it can place signs on streets and sidewalks and decide when the message gets changed.

The entire episode illustrates the precariousness and difficulty of public-private partnerships.

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Posted by lumi at February 2, 2010 5:19 AM