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December 20, 2006
Silver bells for Nets arena
There will be no repeat of the Miracle on 33rd Street: This afternoon, in a meeting that took all of five minutes, New York state's Public Authorities Control Board voted to approve Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, including a new Brooklyn basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets. Since the project is being overseen by a state agency that is exempt from city oversight, today's vote was the final governmental approval necessary for the project to move forward.
There had been rumors as recently as yesterday that state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver would replay his role as stopper in last year's New York Jets stadium controversy, blocking the Brooklyn deal at least until his fellow Democrat Eliot Spitzer becomes governor next month. But despite increasing pressure for him to delay the vote, Silver instead rubber-stamped the plan, reportedly in exchange for two concessions: trimming the size of the project's "Miss Brooklyn" office tower so that it's no longer the borough's tallest building, and adding 200 units of affordable (or "affordable") condos. "The changes are positive, but they're small," Brooklyn assemblymember Jim Brennan told the New York Times following the PACB vote.
The battle now turns to the courts, where opponents have filed one lawsuit against the taking of land by eminent domain, and promised to file another against the project's environmental impact statement for being "fatally flawed." The nuances of the Supreme Court's Kelo decision just got much, much more important.