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Arena, 2011? The three-year bridge reconstruction clock hasn't started

Now that Forest City Ratner admits that the Atlantic Yards arena wouldn't open for the 2009-10 season but instead would open a year later, it's time to recognize that the arena likely wouldn't open for at least three years and might not open until 2011.

For months, the developer pretended that it could open the new Brooklyn arena by the 2009 date proclaimed in Chapter 1, Project Description, of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS):
If approved, the proposed arena and new subway entrance are expected to be completed by fall 2009 for opening day of the Nets 2009 season. Construction of the other buildings on the arena block and Site 5, as well as the improved rail yard, is expected to be completed by 2010.

Both Forest City Ratner and the state were leading us astray, because the 2009 date was predicated on a construction schedule that was a year behind; some elements were supposed to have begun in November 2006, more than a month before the project was approved.

In other words, the ESDC board, when it voted to approve the FEIS and other documents last December, should've known that the "expected" dates were in question. As the construction delays continued, Forest City Ratner maintained the charade.

Bridge reconstruction = three years

Now the working assumption from Forest City Ratner is that the area would open in October 2010. But there are significant reasons to believe that the arena wouldn't be ready for opening day of the 2010-11 season and might be pushed back another year.

The Carlton Avenue Bridge would be closed for two years for reconstruction, but hasn't yet closed. (It's not mentioned in the current Atlantic Yards construction update.) I had thought it would be one year, as stated in the Construction Schedule attached to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, but the text of the FEIS says two years.
(Photo by Adrian Kinloch)

Two years after the closure, the Sixth Avenue bridge would be closed for another year for reconstruction. That suggests a three-year interval.

I asked the ESDC if my three-year estimate made sense and got this response from spokesman A.J. Carter: "The 6th Avenue Bridge will take one year to reconstruct, with the reconstruction beginning after the work on the Carlton Avenue Bridge is finished.

"Forest City Ratner tells us that while the arena might be able to open without the bridge in operation, the goal is to have the bridge open in coordination with the arena's opening."

Potential scenarios

So here are some potential outcomes, all predicated on the best-case (for project supporters) scenario that pending lawsuits are dismissed:

1) the arena opens "on time" in October 2010, as work speeds up on the bridges so they're finished in less than three years

2) the arena opens on time, but the Sixth Avenue bridge is closed; the potential traffic nightmare might be political suicide for local elected officials

3) the arena is delayed and doesn't open until sometime later in the season, which means the Nets would have to play some games at their current facility, the Izod Center (or perhaps the Prudential Center, if they move temporarily to Newark)

4) the arena doesn't open until 2011 (or later).


  1. 2009: New mayor and governor Spitzer acknowledges "mistakes were made" in planning of AY and development plan is under review

    2011: After dodging questions about what has become one of NYC's most troubled projects, former Mayor Bloomberg says "Bruce Ratner is a great developer and this is a great plan." He ignores follow-up questions about major traffic problems, construction accidents, condemnation of security from NYPD and hundreds of millions in cost overruns.

    2013: Dan Doctoroff, former deputy mayor and current real estate consultant, is indicted for receiving illicit funds from two developers during Bloomberg adminstration. Former Mayor Bloomberg says, "Dan did nothing wrong."

  2. 2014: A divided Supreme Court rules 6-3 that Atlantic Yards project does not violate eminent domain, however AY opponents proclaim victory, stating new ruling would make a project such as AY almost impossible to create in the future. AY project cost overruns exceed $1 billion, Governor Wiener orders investigation.

    2015: Forest City Ratner files suit against city, claiming city has failed to indemnify it from "unanticipated" costs.


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