Friday, April 03, 2009

With clock ticking from March to April, AY backers' estimates need revision

In recent months, two supporters of Atlantic Yards have suggested that March stood as a deadline for legal cases to be resolved.

While the case challenging the environmental review was dismissed, the plaintiffs are trying for an appeal. The eminent domain case is still pending.

David from Crain's

In January, Crain's New York Business Editorial Director Greg David told WNYC, "Having said that, there are a series of legal challenges pending at the appellate courts in New York. If those challenges are not dismissed before March, the project will be in trouble. If they are dismissed in March, the project will have a chance to go ahead if it can be financed. A year ago, it could've been financed. Can it be financed today? I have no idea."

David didn't explain why March is the deadline and, indeed, parent Forest City Enterprises says it's committed to the arena. But March is over.

The Nets' Yormark

Somewhat less emphatically, Nets CEO Brett Yormark said in December: "I wouldn't say that but I would say 2009 is the year. I say that for lots of different reasons. We've got really one piece of major litigation that remains... the eminent domain case. There will be a hearing in January, hopefully a favorable decision by the end of March."

The case was heard February 23, so it wasn't realistic to expect a decision in March.

Details needed

Still, project backers who still assert a 2009 groundbreaking and 2011 arena opening should be pressed to explain whether they would go forward while any case is pending, including that filed by George Locker and how long construction--once estimated at 32 months--would take.

And whether Forest City Ratner is prepared to pay $100 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Vanderbilt Yard--a commitment required before condemnation by the Empire State Development Corporation were to begin.

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