of Eminent Domain Begins in Atlantic Yards Plan
By Eliot Brown.
Special to the Sun
The state is pushing forward with its plans to use eminent domain in preparing
for the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project, the future home to a Nets basketball
arena and more than 6,000 apartments in the Prospect Heights neighborhood
Since late last week, property owners in the footprint of the project have been receiving letters from the state asking for financial information relating to property appraisals, an initial step in the land-taking process.
A spokesman for New York's Empire State Development Corporation, Errol Cockfield,
said the use of eminent domain was a ways off. The state will not proceed
while a lawsuit challenging eminent domain procedure law is pending, and other
suits could potentially delay the process as well, Mr. Cockfield said.
"This is an early step in a process that won't be ultimately resolved for
some time," Mr. Cockfield said...
More than seven months after its approval, the fate of the Atlantic Yards
project rests in the courts. There are several lawsuits challenging various
aspects of the public review and land takings processes associated with the
development. In June, a federal court judge tossed out the suit with perhaps
the most potential to block the project, though opponents are appealing the
ruling and vow that the state cannot proceed with any eminent domain until
the suit has wound its way through the multiple stage appeals process.
Also pending is a challenge to the environmental impact statement for the project, which, if successful, could require the Spitzer administration to do a new review for the development.
While the challenges could stave off any eminent domain proceedings for months,
perhaps into 2008, development company Forest City Ratner holds that it is
still on schedule to begin construction on the arena in the fall and open
by 2009, according to a spokesman. Documents from Forest City Ratner, provided
by Assemblyman James Brennan, show the premiere skyscraper in the complex,
the 511-foot Miss Brooklyn, was supposed to start this month, though there
are no visible signs of construction.