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Thread: Atlantic Yards Development - Commercial, Residential, Retail, NBA Arena

  1. #481





    June 24, 2005 -- Opponents of a deal that would raze homes to make room for a Nets arena in Brooklyn are reeling from a U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday that gives government and developers more room to use eminent domain.

    Lawyers had filed a brief on behalf of residents, businesses and property owners, urging the high court to overturn what they called "decades of abuse" of the power to seize private property for public use.

    But the court's narrow 5-4 ruling rejected the argument of individual property rights and cleared the way for state and local governments to push through development projects, even when homes and businesses stand in the way.

    "It's obviously disappointing to us," said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a civic group opposed to the development of a Nets arena and 17 office and apartment buildings along Atlantic Avenue.

    "The Supreme Court missed a historic moment to use eminent domain for its original purpose."

    City Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the area where the Nets project would be developed, said she will appeal to state lawmakers to intervene.

    __________________________________________________ __

    Unfair & un-American, biz cries

    Simon Liu faces the heartbreaking prospect of losing his fine art supply business in Bruce Ratner’s Nets arena plan.


    Nick Sprayregen has always dreamed of turning his family-owned business over to his kids just like his father did for him - but yesterday's Supreme Court decision put that dream in doubt.
    "It's unbelievably unfair," sighed Sprayregen, 41, who owns Tuck-It-Away storage in West Harlem, where Columbia University wants to expand its campus.

    "If we leave these buildings, we lose our customers and our business," he said.

    Sprayregan isn't alone.

    Property owners were also fuming in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, where billionaire developer Bruce Ratner wants to use eminent domain to build a 21-acre Nets arena and apartment complex.

    Some owners in the footprint have already sold their homes and businesses to Ratner, but for those remaining, yesterday's decision was a blow.

    "They're ruining our professional life," said Susan Goldberg, 49, who runs a successful fine art supply business at 645 Dean St. with her husband, Simon Liu. "It's taking away so much from our business."

    Ratner wants to raze their building to make way for a soaring, Frank Gehry-designed apartment tower.

    "I'm really disappointed. I thought if they sided with the folks in New London, we'd have some hope," Goldberg said of the court's decision.

    Liu started the business over 20 years ago when he needed a way to support his family.

    Their clients now include famous artists and museums, such as Chuck Close and the Museum of Modern Art.

    "I tell our kids that if we wanted to move and we wanted to sell our building, that would be one thing," Goldberg said. "But for somebody to come in and tell us to get out, that's just wrong."

    Liu spent yesterday looking for a new building but said everything is too expensive.

    Down the block, Henry Weinstein could lose an eight-story building he bought over 20 years ago. "It's un-American," seethed Weinstein, who recently renovated the old warehouse and plans to rent out office space.

    "How can you take property from one person and give it to another?" he asked.

  2. #482


    In terms of the court decision, this truly is a sad day. Unfortunetly, this will hurt the image of progressives and liberals beyond it's already damaged name.

    However, this will likely make the whole "NIMBY" issue very moot. I expect to see a lot of new construcion stemming from this.

    As for Ratner, if people get apartments inside the complex, I really don't see the problem. Also, for work space, you could always rent a studio.

  3. #483
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Quote Originally Posted by alex ballard
    Also, for work space, you could always rent a studio.
    In the Connecticut case people were offered max. $150,000 for property that was "market rate" valued @ ~ $350,000 > $500,000.

    Such an arbitrarily low buy-out figure certainly limits a persons options when that person is a property owner who has been forced to up and move.

    The option of renting a studio that will allow a businessperson to operate a business / place-of-work becomes problematic:

    (1) The businessperson is being forced to move away from the business' customer base

    (2) Rents are climbing like crazy so, along with moving and other re-location costs, business expenses go through the roof

    Combined these two can easily mean the death of that particular individual's business venture / dream / livelihood.

  4. #484
    Banned Member
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    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    Interesing split in the majority / minority opinions. I would've thought it would've been the reverse arguments from each group. But it does reveal the ambiguity of the written law. It isn't so much a situation where shoulders get shrugged and everyone saus, "Oh well", as much as it is a call to arms for property owners to force the writing and passsage of clearer legislative wording.

  5. #485



    Questions for Bruce Ratner
    Stadium, Anyone?

    Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON
    June 26, 2005

    Q: How do you explain the sudden vogue for stadiums and arenas? So many teams want a new home -- the Mets in Queens, the Yankees in the Bronx, the Jets with their doomed project in Manhattan. And you're building a new arena for the Nets in Brooklyn.

    It has to do with the economics of sports. The high salaries of athletes drive the whole thing, because it creates a need for revenue. In the case of the Nets, we need an arena that has suites and luxury seating, and where you can put up advertisements all over the place.

    Since you're the principal owner of the Nets and paying Vince Carter $15 million a year, why not just slash players' salaries, lower ticket costs and preserve the old, historic stadiums?

    Is that a joke? We have to be competitive.

    You and your fellow investors bought the Nets last August for $300 million. Have you always loved basketball?

    I was never a basketball fan, but I wanted to bring a team to Brooklyn, a team that could be like the Brooklyn Dodgers. There's something intangible that a team contributes, something as intangible as a soul.

    When did you get so spiritual? I would think the arena serves your interests as a real-estate developer and will boost the value of the apartments, condominiums and stores that make up your development in progress, the Atlantic Yards.

    Not necessarily. Your friends who have bought brownstones in Park Slope and Fort Greene have inflated neighborhood values more than an arena would.

    Even though the arena is being designed by Frank Gehry? Look what his curving titanium museum did for Bilbao, Spain.

    Brooklyn is already a world-class destination. And it's a completely different building than Bilbao. It will have more glass and transparency. And it's obviously a different shape for basketball.

    What do you think of the Meadowlands, out in Jersey, where the Nets currently play?

    It's hard to get to the Meadowlands if you don't have a car. There's no train from New York, and you can't take the bus because when the game is done, you've got to wait.

    What's wrong with waiting for a bus?

    Nothing. I love waiting for buses! I love Port Authority! I spend my afternoons there! I love panhandlers!

    Shouldn't you be more bus-friendly as a former civil servant and the commissioner of consumer affairs under Mayor Koch? What led you to give that up for a career as a real-estate developer?

    At first I was very embarrassed to be in real estate. As someone who attended Columbia Law School in a socially conscious era and then worked in government, I was taught to be suspicious of businesspeople. But I try to run my business in a way that has some social value.

    How would you define the social value of the Nets?

    The players are terrific. They are of good character. They are incredibly charitable. They are family-oriented. They have integrity.

    You make them sound like Boy Scouts. But at least N.B.A. players don't appear to take steroids. Do you take steroids?

    Do I look like I take steroids? Is this the body of a steroid? This is not the body produced by human-growth hormones or, for that matter, even working out.

    You don't exercise?

    No. I ran in six marathons, and then I just got lazy. I don't work out. I like to walk.

    Do you collect sports memorabilia?

    I'm not a collector. Honestly, I like to throw stuff out. I'm not acquisition-oriented.

    Well, you and your fellow investors did acquire a whole team. Was that a complicated process?

    We were the highest bidder for the team. Like so many things in life, it was just a matter of money.

  6. #486


    Quote Originally Posted by NY TIMES
    Like so many things in life, it was just a matter of money.
    Like I said.

  7. #487

    Thumbs up

    New York Daily News:

    Ratner touts Net gains to nabe


    Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

    Developer Bruce Ratner promised free basketball tickets, a day-care center and affordable apartments yesterday as part of a deal to let him build a $3.5 billion arena and housing complex in downtown Brooklyn.

    "This ... is historic and something warm to my heart," Ratner said at a Brooklyn waterfront ceremony.

    The legally binding document - the first of its kind in the city - is based on the landmark Staples Center agreement in Los Angeles. While he still needs city approval, Ratner won the backing of eight community groups by signing the pact.

    Terms of the agreement, which was also signed by Mayor Bloomberg, require 35% of the 8,500 construction jobs to go to minority workers and another 10% to women.

    For each game, 54 tickets and one luxury box will be set aside for community residents. The arena also will be available to community groups for 10 events each year at "reasonable rent."

    Ratner bought the New Jersey Nets last year and hopes to move them to a 19,000-seat arena at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves.

    Critics charge too many businesses and residents will be displaced because of the controversial project.

    The largest private development in Brooklyn history also includes soaring office towers and up to 7,300 apartments in more than a dozen high-rise buildings.

    Half of the rental units are promised to low- and middle- income tenants, and a day-care center is planned.

    The city and state have pledged $200 million in public money for the development.

    The agreement was signed less than a week after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling upheld the right of government to condemn land for private development - which is what Ratner may need to build the 21-acre project.

    "The Atlantic Yards project will be the real crown on the county of Kings," Bloomberg said.

    But Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York, a watchdog group that monitors how government subsidies are spent, said the eight groups that signed off on the deal don't fully represent the community.

    "It's a good-faith effort, but it falls short," she said. "Where are the unions? Where are the environmental groups?"

  8. #488

    Thumbs up

    This seems to be sailing smoothly. Thumbs up to Brooklyn!

  9. #489
    Banned Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    Quote Originally Posted by Stern
    ...The city and state have pledged $200 million in public money for the development...
    $200M here. $600M for the West Side Stadium. Hundreds of Millions for Yankee and Shea Stadiums.

    Time to increae the parking ticket quotas.

  10. #490
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    I think the increased spending will be financed primarily by the city's surplus of 3 billion.

  11. #491


    By the way.... has anyone noticed that the Brooklyn Papers is one of the most biased sources in the city (anti-development) ?

  12. #492
    Banned Member
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    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    Quote Originally Posted by bkmonkey
    By the way.... has anyone noticed that the Brooklyn Papers is one of the most biased sources in the city (anti-development) ?

    Actually, I read it regularly and I totally disagree with you. They are hardly anti-development. Are they critical of the community input process on Atlantic Yards? - Yes. Are they critical of closed door meetings by Community Boards and Public Authorities? - Yes. Yet, they support the Downtown rezoning. They support the CIDC plans. They supported the rezoning of Fourth Ave. They support the BAM cultural development. They support Brooklyn Waterfront Inclusionary Zoning. Not a record that indicates anti-development.

    Papers like that keep the politicians honest and the processes open. Biased? Because one doesn't hear an echo chamber of their own voice doesn't mean that there is bias.
    Last edited by BrooklynRider; June 30th, 2005 at 09:06 PM.

  13. #493


    The editor of the Brooklyn Papers is on record, saying he wishes that Brooklyn would stay the way it is. I see that as anti-development, and i think it trickles down a bit, just from reading their headlines, (I can always count on hearing about Atlantic Yards resistance if I read the Brooklyn Papers) They also recently had an article covering the Marty's explanation of two Brooklyn's (urban+suburban) from reading that article, one one side was really given.. that all of Brooklyn was one (surburban) and should not change

  14. #494


    I'm inclined to agree that the Brooklyn Papers are very biased. They may be on record as supporting some plans, but they do skew the news to their view. After 9/11 they reported that the Brooklyn Bridge Park was doomed due to dwindling City resources. The report was more wishful thinking on their part than reality. They've never liked the Park plan and will give headline treatment to any whacko that disagrees with it, but bury and community support deep in the end of the text of any article.

  15. #495


    They are getting desperate over at the Brooklyn Papers

    Mayor Bloomberg says the word of ‘great guy’ Ratner is enough on Atlantic Yards ‘Community Benefits’ Agreement
    Mayor Michael Bloomberg (left) signs his name to the Atlantic Yards community benefits agreement Monday as Bruce Ratner looks on at the press event at Fulton Ferry Landing.

    The Brooklyn Papers / Tom Callan

    By Jess Wisloski
    The Brooklyn Papers

    Trust Bruce.

    That’s the message an annoyed Mayor Michael Bloomberg barked in response to a question by a Brooklyn Papers reporter regarding developer Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards development.

    At a press conference at Fulton Ferry Landing Monday morning to announce the creation of a community benefits agreement (CBA) between Ratner’s Forest City Ratner Companies and a handful of community groups, the mayor interrupted Ratner, who was answering a question about the enforceability of such a non-governmental document.

    “It’s legally binding,” said Ratner, who seemed pleased to have been asked the question. “It has in some cases economic penalties, it has mediation, as well as the ability of community groups to litigate and get an orderable injunction, and we hope to see the goals fulfilled, and if we don’t, litigation can be used.”

    Bloomberg, however, cut him off in his explanation.

    “I would add something else — even more importantly, you have Bruce Ratner’s word,” he said.

    “That should be enough for you and for everybody else in the community,” said the mayor, directing his comments at the reporter who asked the question. “This is a guy who — if you don’t understand that, you don’t know how great this guy is, for Brooklyn and for New York City.”

    The announcement of the benefits agreement, proclaimed on a mayoral press release headlined, “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Forest City Ratner CEO and President Bruce Ratner and Civic Leaders sign Community Benefits Agreement,” came after months of concern from groups that were not participating in the negotiations that the document would be weak and have no enforcement mechanism.

    Before the mayor proclaimed his disbelief that trust in Ratner might not be enough to assuage public concern, Ratner explained that the agreement was legally enforceable, and had penalties and adjudication measures in place that would be overseen by an appointed group of community members.

    “Also, in the agreement, the developers have agreed to fund an independent monitoring agent,” added the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, citing one of the enforcement clauses in the contract. Daughtry, whose House of the Lord Church, on Atlantic Avenue near Bond Street, is four blocks outside the project site, joined the CBA negotiations midway and has been a staunch supporter of the Ratner plan.

    The press conference may have given the impression that the mayor had signed the document on behalf of the city, when, in the face of photographer flashbulbs and television cameras, Bloomberg signed his name on the same paper on which Ratner and the members of eight community groups involved in the negotiated agreement had signed.

    “He was not a signatory,” said Lupe Todd, a spokeswoman for Forest City Ratner. “He was a witness. The signers were eight people and Ratner, so technically, no, [Bloomberg] did not sign the CBA. He was a witness to the CBA.”

    Opponents of the Ratner plan were left fuming at what they believed to be a misleading public relations ploy by the mayor and public advocate on behalf of the developer.

    “I think that the press conference setting and signing was [Karl] Rove-ian in nature, where there are pictures of the mayor signing something that he’s not actually signed onto, giving the impression that the city would have oversight on this agreement,” fumed Daniel Goldstein, a condo owner in the project site, making an allusion to President Bush’s top political advisor.

    But Goldstein, an organizer of the anti-arena group Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, saved most of his wrath for Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum who, he charged, had sidestepped her role as public watchdog in attending Monday’s signing to show her support for Ratner. Gotbaum was a colleage of Ratner when they both worked in the administration of Mayor Ed Koch.

    Gotbaum, who led a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for allegedly mishandling the bidding process on another Bloomberg-supported project, the development of a football stadium over the Hudson Rail Yards in Manhattan, touted the Ratner undertaking.

    “This is a wonderful, wonderful example of what development should be all about,” said Gotbaum. “To bring all these different groups together to get everybody on board, to have negotiated like that, Bruce Ratner, I think we can only praise you to the highest.”

    Gotbaum faces a Democratic primary challenge this September from Norman Seigel, the former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who has been retained to represent property owners, like Goldstein, who may face eminent domain evictions to make way for the Ratner arena and skyscrapers.

    “I am impressed by the broad support for the Atlantic Yards project from community leaders, public officials and advocacy groups,” Gotbaum told The Brooklyn Papers at the press conference. “This rare display of unity is a sign of how strong and beneficial to Brooklyn the project is. I am confident that any remaining issues can be resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned.”

    Goldstein condemned her stance.

    “For the public advocate to come to this thing and endorse it and not sign onto it, is absurd,” he said. “She should be signing on to it to enforce it, not just cheerlead it.

    Gotbaum spokesman Daniel Browne responded, “She did not sign the agreement because she is not a party to the agreement. She endorsed it because she thinks it’s good for the community.”

    The mayor’s press office did not return calls seeking comment on the appearance that he had publicly signed the agreement.

    Asked about the mayor’s ceremonial signing of the document, Leonard Wasserman, chief of economic development for the city Law Department, affirmed that the “city is not a party to the CBA.”

    “I understand that the mayor signed the document — I was not involved in it at all, and the Law Department was not involved at all — but the mayor signed the document, in a ceremonial capacity, providing a sort of official endorsement of the good work of the private parties in reaching an accommodation on the issues between them,” he said.

    Should Ratner fail to make good on any of the many promises outlined in the CBA, the cost of any litigation to enforce the agreement would fall on the shoulders — and purses — of the largely faith-based non-profit organizations that signed on.

    “[Litigation] would be between Forest City Ratner and BUILD and all those people,” said Todd, referring to Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, one of the spearheading groups of the CBA.

    “The city is not involved at all, in any of that,” she added.

    Goldstein said he was disappointed to see the concerns of many in the community in which the project would be built overlooked for the sake of the CBA.

    In a press release issued by his organization on the same day as the signing, Goldstein wrote that 48 “known” community and civic groups, as well as “three of the district’s four elected officials” were concerned about or opposed to the project.

    “None of these groups have been involved in the ‘CBA’ negotiations, while all of the groups that have been involved [in negotiating] have supported the project from the beginning,” wrote Goldstein.

    “Those most directly affected by the proposed project have not been involved either,” he said. Among the 48 groups listed were the longstanding Park Slope Civic Council, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, the Fort Green Association, the Creative Industries Coalition and Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats

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