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April 22, 2010

Atlantic Yards opponent takes $3m to vacate site

That whole Zimbabwe sanctions thing notwithstanding, the path to construction of the Nets' new arena in Brooklyn seems to be getting smoother of late. First, Freddy's Bar, which has been a main gathering point for arena opponents and even installed chains last year so patrons could help it resist eviction, announced it was moving to a new location, though owners promised to continue to fight the project. And then yesterday, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn leader Dan Goldstein agreed to take $3 million from developer Forest City Ratner in exchange for vacating his condo apartment by May 7.

Though the New York Times wrote that Goldstein also agreed to a "highly modified form of the gag agreement that Forest City had initially imposed on those it bought out," and quoted him as saying he's no longer allowed to "actively oppose the project," Goldstein himself released a statement that said he only agreed to no longer call himself a "spokesman" for DDDb:

For nearly 3 hours of talks mediated by Judge Gerges I refused to accept any kind of gag order. I would not have taken any amount of money to do that, and I did not.
I did agree to give up my title as "DDDB spokesman", but that's just a title. And I did agree to remove my name from one outstanding lawsuit which remains in court despite that. Otherwise I can do and say whatever else I want, and my agreement explicitly states that I have maintained my First Amendment rights.

Atlantic Yards Report notes that about one-quarter of Goldstein's windfall will go to attorney fees, and that "given that he did more than anyone [to fight the project], it's hard to fault his decision," though it does note that by withdrawing from the lawsuit against the eminent domain seizures, Goldstein weakens that effort's slim chance of success.

More broadly, coming on top of Freddy's relocation announcement, AYR notes that Goldstein's buyout deal is "an acknowledgment by a vocal opponent of the inevitability of the arena."

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