April 20, 2010
ESDC/FCR say eviction delay past May 17 would "cripple" Atlantic Yards, but claims of continued losses and jeopardized benefits seem overblown
Atlantic Yards Report
On the eve of a crucial court hearing regarding the fate of condemnees still in the Atlantic Yards footprint, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner (FCR) are arguing that the failure to evict those occupants by May 17 would cause "enormous harm" and significant financial losses to the developer.
It is unclear how many of the six households (15 people) and three businesses yet to reach agreements with the developer will resist the condemnation, but a response to those legal arguments--likely stating that this is unusually swift for a condemnation cast--will be filed tomorrow, before a 10 a.m. hearing before state Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges at Supreme Court in Brooklyn, 320 Jay Street.
According to my preliminary analysis, several ESDC/FCR claims overstate the damage anticipated, emphasize the costs without acknowledging significant subsidies, and fail to provide sufficient detail to establish the argument for speed.
(Also see my coverage of FCR's claims regarding Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's legal strategy and alternative condos offered project opponent Daniel Goldstein. Note that, beyond those totaled above, some other businesses and residents remain in the footprint, but have reached agreements to leave.)
ESDC attorney Charles Webb summarizes the argument made in an affidavit from the developer:
Delay in achieving vacant possession would halt work on the Project, causing enormous harm by (i) prolonging the time in which FCRC must carry the real property and the Project's overhead without generating income, which costs FCRC $6,700,000 per month, (b) prolonging the Nets basketball team's operating losses of approximately $35 million a per year arising from its New Jersey location, and (c) jeopardizing the delivery of 2,250 affordable housing units, and significant public amenities, including a new transit entrance and eight acres of publicly accessible open space.
NoLandGrab: The ESDC's and Forest City's claims about financial hardship are completely undermined by their penny-wise, pound-foolish obstinacy when it comes to buying out Daniel Goldstein...
Maybe it is getting a little personal.
Not only have the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and its real estate consultants low-balled Atlantic Yards uber-opponent Daniel Goldstein regarding the value of his Pacific Street condominium, the only alternative apartments it has shown him are either part of a lawsuit-plagued complex or very close to the Atlantic Yards construction zone.
And while the ESDC's consultant provided a list of only five condos, a simple search of a real estate web site turns up dozens of potential purchases in Prospect Heights and adjacent neighborhoods.
The alternative apartments are listed in an affidavit that's part of an ESDC package of legal papers aiming to convince state Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges to evict all condemnees from the Atlantic Yards footprint by May 17. A hearing will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Supreme Court in Brooklyn, 320 Jay Street.
Goldstein, the spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), and his family are the last remaining occupants of a 31-unit condo building at 636 Pacific Street, a former warehouse converted in 2002.
The condo is in a crucial spot on the arena block, and Forest City Ratner, which is funding the condemnations, wants him out of there as soon as possible so his building can be demolished for construction.
So it would be in the interest of the state and FCR to ease his departure as quickly as possible, with an offer closer to market price and a longer list of alternatives. That hasn't happened.
NLG: Here's hoping that their mean-spirited parsimony costs Forest City many millions more.
Posted by eric at April 20, 2010 11:41 AM