NY Times Excerpt
Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn Clears Legal Hurdle
By CHARLES V. BAGLI
Published: November 24, 2009
The last major obstacle to a groundbreaking for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn fell Tuesday when New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, dismissed a challenge to the state’s use of eminent domain on behalf of the developer, Bruce C. Ratner.
Mr. Ratner, whose 22-acre development has been delayed for three years by a flurry of lawsuits, the collapse of the credit and real estate markets and a glut of luxury housing, plans to begin selling tax-free bonds next month to finance the development’s cornerstone project: an 18,000-seat basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues near downtown.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the state could exercise eminent domain in seizing the 22 acres, much of which sits within an urban redevelopment area, for Atlantic Yards. Critics of the project had argued that eminent domain on behalf of a private developer was improper and a violation of the state’s Constitution.
“Once again the courts have made it clear that this project represents a significant public benefit for the people of Brooklyn and the entire city,” Mr. Ratner said. “Our commitment to the entire project is as strong today as when we started six years ago. Today, however, this project is even more important given the need for jobs and economic development.”
The developer expects that construction of the arena will take about 28 months, enabling the Nets to move from East Rutherford, N.J., to Brooklyn about June 2012.