Consider the New York Times's coverage Friday of the Coney Island rezoning:
[Deputy Mayor Dan] Doctoroff said yesterday that the city wanted to find an experienced, world-class amusement park operator to run the district, which is “a very different business than building a shopping center.”
“He doesn’t have the experience to do it,” Mr. Doctoroff said, adding that the city expected Mr. Sitt to play a role in building housing or retail just outside the amusement park.
And what if the city (and state) had said that Forest City Ratner, experienced, yes, in mixed-use developments with office space and retail, but not in building an arena and housing, wasn't appropriate for the Atlantic Yards project?
A retort might be: Sure, few developers are experienced building arenas, and Forest City Ratner's parent company has experience building housing, though not in New York.
The point is: were there a political reason for the city to resist the project, Doctoroff and his confreres could have raised the issue, perhaps even arguing that large affordable housing projects (as this is portrayed) should be built by parties with a track record in such projects.