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don't destroy

BROOKLYN     Press Release Main Page

For Immediate Release: July 13, 2011


Court Rules NY State Must Undertake
Supplemental Review of Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project

Presents Golden Opportunity for Governor Cuomo to
Fix the Atlantic Yards Debacle

New York, New York— Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project and its purported benefits were never feasible, it was all smoke and mirrors. In the past year it has become clear to everyone that the project the developer promised and New York State approved is never going to happen. Rather, parking lots and a demolition zone would persist for decades.

But now, because of a Supreme Court ruling, there is a way out of this debacle and a golden opportunity for Governor Cuomo and his Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to fix the big Atlantic Yards mess in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Today New York State Supreme Court Judge Marcy Friedman issued a stinging decision against the Empire State Development Corporation. Judge Friedman ruled that the "ESDC's use of the 10 year build date in approving the 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) lacked a rational basis and was arbitrary and capricious," and that the ESDC failed to evaluate the impact of extensive delays, at least 25 years, in the build-out of Phase II of the project.

She ordered the state agency to conduct a new phase of environmental review of the project, including a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). She also ordered further findings on whether to approve the MGPP for Phase II of the project, which is the bulk of the project. The SEIS will require extensive findings by the ESDC and public hearings.

The petitioners in the lawsuit, 26 ommunity and neighborhood organizations led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), were very pleased about the ruling and the changes it must usher in politically.

"While the Court felt it could only reverse the approvals for Phase II and require a new environmental review, it is time for Governor Cuomo to assert control over the ESDC and the project site and require a complete reassessment of the Atlantic Yards project," said DDDB attorney Jeffrey S. Baker. "We regret that the Arena is going forward. However, the project was never justified in phases. All of the purported benefits would have come from full development, not a stand-alone arena and a couple of high-rises."

"DDDB has always argued that the claimed benefits were illusory and would never occur and the community would be burdened by a poorly conceived project. It is now clear that the timeframes and benefits of the original project were never even remotely feasible," said DDDB Legal Director Candace Carponter. "We call on Governor Cuomo to ensure that the ESDC do an honest, unbiased analysis of the redevelopment of Atlantic Yards and consider a project that truly provides affordable housing, public opens space and meaningful benefits in a timely and financially feasible manner. ESDC should look at all aspects of the project, except the arena, and utilize the Unity Plan or other similar community inspired approaches to redevelop the area."

Referring to the Ratner tail wagging the State dog, Carponter added, "Governor Cuomo and the ESDC should establish their independence from Forest City Ratner and engage in true planning that involves the community and locally elected officials, and no longer act as Bruce Ratner's lap dog."

In her ruling Judge Friedman agreed that the intolerable situation of surface parking would persist for a "generation" at the site.

"Legally we know the Court has found that ESDC t misled the public and required ESDC to commence a supplemental review of the project because of the bogus timeframe ESDC clung on to," said DDDB co-founder Daniel Goldstein. "But politically it is time to end Ratner's control of the site and move towards a UNITY plan style solution: divide the non-arena portion of the site into multiple parcels so that multiple developers can build a project that responds to the community's needs and concerns and brings true benefits. It has now been proven, in and out of Court, that Ratner simply cannot and will not do the job he promised his supporters and elected officials he'd do."

"The community is eager to meet with the Governor and his new head of the ESDC Kenneth Adams to discuss how we can all move the redevelopment of the site in the right direction," Goldstein said.

DDDB has always stated that ESDC has not undertaken an honest appraisal of the project, especially after the changes in 2009. ESDC and Forest City Ratner claim that the courts have always ruled in their favor. However this is the second decision in a row against ESDC and Forest City Ratner.

Candace Carponter said, "One must wonder if things might have been substantially different if ESDC and FCRC were honest in 2009 and had not mislead the Court about the schedule for the project. In that case construction of the arena would not have progressed and the Court could have required a full review of the entire project. Because of ESDC's actions, we may never know."

In her ruling Judge Friedman makes it clear that she cannot enjoin the arena Phase 1 part of the project and that there is no need to enjoin work on Phase 2 as even Forest City Ratner admits that no work will be done there any time soon. If there is any movement on Phase II part of the site, the ruling allows the petitioners to move for an injunction.

DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them
DDDB is 501c3 non-profit corporation supported by over 4,500 individual donors from the community.