Ratner Locks Land Deal for Atlantic Yards - NBC New York

Ratner Locks Land Deal for Atlantic Yards

Developer gets what amounts to a big price break

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    Ratner Locks Land Deal for Atlantic Yards
    Frank Gehry won't be designing the arena, but Atlantic Yards is charging ahead.

    A controversial plan to bring shopping, condos and the New Jersey Nets to downtown Brooklyn has cleared another major hurdle, after developer Bruce Ratner got approval for a land deal that was necessary to keep the project on track.

    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted Wednesday 10-2 to give Nets owner Bruce Ratner what amounts to a big price break on the Atlantic Yards development.

    On Wednesday evening, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns rail yards where Ratner plans to build, announced a new pact to sell development rights.

    The revised agreement would call for Mr. Ratner to pay $20 million up front for the property, and $80 million in deferred payments for the air rights.  

    Critics of the arena have been outraged by the deal, which they say lines Ratner's pockets at the expense of both the transit agency and people losing their homes to the project.

    “Too much has happened on this project,” Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association, told Crain's New York. "The horse is out of the barn on this one.”

    The project lost star architect Frank Gehry this year and amid the recession, the plan has been scaled back.

    Instead of a 22-acre mega-plex featuring office space and housing, the newly scaled back project may be little more than a basketball arena and a lone residential tower. So much for the 2,500 units of affordable housing.

    Ratner is desperate to break ground by the end of the year; otherwise he'll lose millions in tax-free financing.

    "There is no way they'll have the land they need to build this by the end of the year," Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, told The New York Post.

    “This was a classic bait-and-switch,” Councilwoman Letitia James, a Brooklyn Democrat, told Crain's New York. “They [Forest City] made promises so they could get their arena."