Appeals Court Will Hear Atlantic Yards Suit

The eminent domain case will be heard in October

Bruce Ratner may have inked a cushy financing deal with the MTA to forge ahead with his Atlantic Yards development, but he is still facing legal challenges from community leaders and residents to stop construction on the mega-project.

New York’s highest court, The New York State Court of Appeals, will hear the eminent domain case against the Forest City Ratner company in October.

"We are gratified that the state’s high court will hear this important case about whether our state’s constitution protects the homes of its citizens from the wrecking ball of greed wielded by influential developers and the public officials who do their bidding," said Matthew Brinckerhoff, the lawyer representing the appellants. 

The homes and businesses of nine property owners and tenants have been slated for government seizure to accommodate the development at the intersection of Atlantic and Pacific Streets. Activists have rallied against the plan because they say it will mar the character and aesthetic of Brooklyn and because of its use of taxpayer subsidies.

The Atlantic Yards plans, though scaled down because of the economic downturn, will consist of the Barclay’s arena for the New Jersey Nets as well as several skyscrapers. Ratner maintains that the project will bring jobs and affordable housing to downtown Brooklyn.

The original eminent domain case was organized by the community coalition group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which argues that eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards proposal violates the state Constitution.

A court unanimously dismissed the case in May. Ratner told the media that the decision "is really the last hurdle" to breaking ground on the project.

Last week, Ratner cleared another major hurdle. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the rail yards where Ratner plans to build, agreed to allow the developer to pay $20 million up front with $80 million in deferred payments.

Ratner agreed in 2005 to pay $100 million cash for the Vanderbilt Railyards.

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