Stop me if you’ve heard this before: New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner has won another court ruling over his proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, as the New York state appellate court ruled it wasn’t illegal to use eminent domain to seize property for the project.
Of course, this state lawsuit was only a last-ditch move by project opponents after their federal lawsuit failed. (Not to mention previous court setbacks.) Now their really final last ditch is an appeal to the state’s highest court, which is expected any day now.
While there’s always a chance this court will be unlike all other courts, the bigger question now appears to be: If all the lawsuits are cleared away, then what will Ratner do? Or, more to the point, what can he do? We’ve already noted that the economic crash has essentially doomed Ratner’s proposed office tower, that the apartment buildings might not happen for years, if ever, and that the original arena design has been abandoned as way too expensive; that leaves, um, an on-the-cheap arena surrounded by vacant lots?
The state senate is scheduled to hold its first-ever hearing on Atlantic Yards (only six-and-a-half years after it was first proposed) on May 29, and Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report has a list of proposed questions that should be asked:
- Is it guaranteed that Atlantic Yards will still include affordable housing, or can Ratner put off that portion of the project indefinitely without penalty?
- When will the state Metropolitan Transportation Authority get the $100 million Ratner promised to pay for development rights to its rail yards — money it could kind of use.
- Is Frank Gehry still working on this thing or what?
I’ll add one more question: Given that the entire economic landscape has changed since this plan was first proposed back in 2003, and that the design will apparently bear little resemblance to what was originally approved by the state back then, might it make sense for the state to just go back to square one and issue a new request for proposals for the site?