Appellate Division Upholds Court Decision Critical of Atlantic Yards

April 12, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Says 10-Year
Building Schedule
‘Lacks Rational Basis’

BROOKLYN — In a unanimous decision, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court yesterday upheld Justice Marcy Friedman’s ruling in July 2011 that the Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESDC) 2009 approval of Atlantic Yards’ Modified General Project Plan violated state environmental law.

Critics for the project are arguing for more oversight of Atlantic Yards — but in the meantime, work on the first phase of the projects, Barclays Arena, is nearly complete.

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Justice Friedman’s order that the ESDC conduct additional environmental analyses and revisit the project plan will remain in effect, according to BrooklynSpeaks, a coalition of civic and community organizations in the neighborhoods surrounding Atlantic Yards.

In short, the decision says that recent statements by the developer that various portions of the projects may not be completed until 2020 (for Phase II), that the platform on which six of the 11 Phase II buildings may not be finished until 2025, and that some buildings could be delayed until 2035 mean that ESDC’s use of an estimated 10-year “build date” for the project  “lacked a rational basis and was arbitrary and capricious.”

Forest City Ratner, the developer of Atlantic Yards, said in a statement, “While we are disappointed with the decision, Forest City Ratner is deeply committed to moving forward with the Atlantic Yards project and delivering needed jobs and affordable housing to Brooklyn. The decision does not affect the first phase of the project, and we remain on track to open the world-class Barclays Center arena in September and moving forward with construction of the first residential building.”

The second phase of the project would consist of high-rise residential towers with some retail and commercial space. As of yet, no construction has begun on the towers, even though the Atlantic Yards website says, “The company plans to begin construction of the [first residential] building in early 2012.” When Forest City Ratner’s promised units of affordable housing will be built is also a sticking point.

“Now that the Appellate Division has upheld the lower court’s decision, we strongly urge Governor Cuomo to act to restore credibility to this process, and direct his agency to conduct a thorough and transparent assessment of the environmental impact of this project on central Brooklyn that involves our communities in a meaningful way,” said Jo Anne Simon, 52nd A.D. Democratic district leader and a supporter of BrooklynSpeaks.

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