Judge Orders Another Look at Atlantic Yards
July 13th, 2011
Opponents of the massive Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn have filed suit after suit to try to block the arena and residential complex -– largely without much success. Meanwhile Bruce Ratner has moved ahead on his project, reaping government help, razing buildings and building much of a basketball arena for the still New Jersey Nets.
Now, though, Ratner’s rivals have won a victory. Today Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn announced that state Supreme Court Judge Marcy Friedman has ordered the Empire State Development Corp. to conduct additional environmental review of the project, including a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. (The ruling is available here.)
In her decision, the judge found that the state development corporation was “arbitrary and capricious” when it based its approval of plans on a 10-year construction timetable. That timetable – probably never realistic – was smashed by Ratner’s various woes and the recession. But the judge said, the state made no effort to evaluate what effect lengthy delays – and perhaps 25 years of construction – could have. Opponents have said this extended schedule could litter the heart of Brooklyn with vacant spaces, construction sites and parking lots for decades. Ratner has repeatedly altered the project but the state has not subjected his changes to any evaluation.
The judge did not halt construction of the arena – although that has morphed too — from a Frank Gehry landmark to a generic box. And Norman Oder writes in Atlantic Yards report, the judge did give the state and the developer, “significant breathing room” by not issuing a stay to top Phase II.
But the ruling – if it stands up on appeal — does require more hearings, inquiry and study, and opponents hope, could open the way for a re-evaluation of Atlantic Yards by the Cuomo administration.
“Now, because of a Supreme Court ruling, there is a way out of this debacle and a golden opportunity for Gov. Cuomo and his Empire State Development Corp. (ESDC) to fix the big Atlantic Yards mess,” Develop don’t Destroy said in a press release.
In a statement issued by BrooklynSpeaks, local Democratic Party leader JoAnn Simon assailed the state agency for violating the law. ” “We expect an investigation into how this was allowed and call on Gov. Cuomo to now take decisive action in reforming oversight of Atlantic Yards, ESDC’s largest project.”By Gail Robinson on July 13, 2011, 4:49 pm
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