Skip to main content

Atlantic Yards opponents gain procedural edge in court, with arguments delayed until September

The potential timetable for building the Atlantic Yards arena just got pushed back a bit more, with the 2011-12 season now a more likely best-case scenario.

Without explanation, a state appellate court has rejected the request by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) that the appellate arguments in the case challenging the Atlantic Yards environmental review be heard before this summer. (The decision, dated Feb. 26, was received today by the parties.)

Instead, the five-judge panel of the Appellate Division, First Department, ordered the petitioners, whose case was denied by Judge Joan Madden in a ruling January 11, to file their legal papers by July 7, in anticipation of the court hearing oral arguments in the September Term.

The defendants, as expected, did see the court deny the petitioners' motion for a preliminary injunction to block the demolition of the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

But the court's timetable for the appeal represented an implicit denial of fervent arguments made by the ESDC and FCR.

Arguments for speed

ESDC attorney Philip Karmel had argued, "Delay in construction would delay completion of the Project, postponing it significant public benefits. It is thus critically important that the appeal be perfected so as to be argued before this Court's customary summer recess."

FCR attorney Jeffrey Braun had written, "The issue presented by ESDC's cross-motion is straightforward: Is the public interest in the Atlantic Yards project of sufficient importance to compel the parties to brief this appeal on an expedited schedule that will allow this Court to hear the appeal this spring? The answer to this question is, resoundingly, yes."

Braun continued, "Petitioners make no commitments as to when they will perfect this appeal. Instead, all that they say is this: Currently, it is anticipated that the appeal will be perfected approximately three to four months after the Notice of Appeal was filed on January 18, 2008."

(That would be, at the latest, May 18, 2008.)

"Even if this equivocal non-commitment is viewed as a commitment, it would mean that, at the earliest, the appeal would be heard by this Court during its September 2008 term, which is approximately seven months from now," Braun stated. "This case should not be treated in such a lackadaisical manner."

Braun pointed to the apparent contradiction in the petitioners' asking for what they believe to be sufficient time to file the appeal and the contention that construction work on the site represents irreperable harm: "If the petitioners truly believed that the work was causing irreperable harm, they would be perfecting this appeal expeditiously and pressing for a prompt determination."

Precedent, or evaluation?

The court didn't offer any explanation for its procedural ruling, so it's unclear whether the judges were simply drawing on precedent regarding similar cases or making a judgment regarding the likelihood of the public benefits, given other factors also causing delay, such as the credit crisis and the difficulty in getting bond financing for the affordable housing.

It's not clear how much the timetable has been pushed back. It might take two years to build the arena, once construction starts, but it would be unwise to open the arena until bridges around it have been reconstructed, a three-year process likely not complete until January 2011.

In a best-case scenario, a ruling on behalf of the defendants next fall or winter, would have to be coupled with the U.S. Supreme Court's unwillingness to hear a challenge to the eminent domain case, as well as a dismissal of the emiment domain plaintiffs' effort to bring the case to state court.

That would have to be followed by condemnation proceedings to acquire remaining property and those buildings would have to be demolished.

Nets to Newark?

In other words, the 2011-12 season in Brooklyn may now be the realistic best-case scenario for the opening of the Barclays Center, leaving the Nets three more years in the Izod Center, where crowds have been sparse.

Could Bruce Ratner and fellow team owners be thinking a bit harder about the option of moving--[updated] at least temporarily--to the Prudential Center in Newark? It would cost them a significant penalty as of now, but state officials in New Jersey, thinking they might have a chance of keeping the Nets, might be amenable to negotiation.

Comments

  1. Don't the Atlantic Yard Opponents have a life? Brooklyn if still a city would be the 4th or 5th most populated city in the United States even today. These are the same people who rue plowing pristine rural land or rainforest but heaven help us if someone dares to put density where density and mass transit already exists.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…