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February 08, 2007
Nets arena court battle begins, Knicks arena next?
Yesterday was the first court hearing in the battle over New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner's proposed multi-billion-dollar Atlantic Yards project, which would include a basketball arena, an office skyscraper, and several apartment towers - plus the use of state eminent domain powers to seize private land, and at minimum $305 million in public "infrastructure" funds. I wasn't there, but Atlantic Yards Report's Norman Oder was, and submitted an extensive report that begins:
The marathon hearing in the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case yesterday at times felt like a law school seminar, as Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy tossed hypothetical situations at lawyers for the plaintiffs and the defendants. Given a case that tests the boundaries of the law, Levy challenged them to suggest rules for determining when the balance of public and private purposes behind a project is so wrong that a court must intervene - and seemed unwilling to swiftly dismiss the case, as the lawyers for the defense hope.
Levy will issue his recommendation of whether to dismiss the case or allow it to continue to trial in several weeks.
Across the East River, meanwhile, there are rumblings anew of a new Madison Square Garden to be the new home of the Knicks and Rangers (and Liberty, if anyone still pays attention to them) inside the new Moynihan Station train station, which in turn would be inside the landmarked Farley Post Office building. (The current Madison Square Garden, which sits atop Penn Station, would be razed, making way for both office towers and another new station entrance.) There's nothing close to a finance plan yet, though the New York Observer's Matt Schuerman does note that new Empire State Development Corporation chief Patrick Foye has "come to believe that the private developers need to share some of the approximately $1 billion cost of ripping Penn Station open to the sky." Now all we need to know is what he means by "some."