“The deal appears to make it more likely that Forest City can take advantage of the tax-free Liberty Bonds by year's end and attract other investors,” says Neysa Pranger, director of public affairs for Regional Plan Association. “But there's still a way to go.”
Liberty Bonds, which were aimed at the revitalization of Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11, have never been mentioned as a source for Atlantic Yards arena financing. It would be controversial, to say the least, to see "federal assistance made available to New York to support the Lower Manhattan rebuilding effort" helping a Russian oligarch.
Liberty Bonds are aimed at commercial property (i.e., offices):
The financing may be for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction and/or renovation of non-residential real property within the New York Liberty Zone and, under limited circumstances, elsewhere within The City of New York.
And it looks like the program is over, supplanted by stimulus funding.
Liberty Bonds were supposed to be for Lower Manhattan:
The “New York Liberty Zone” or “Zone” is the area located on or south of Canal Street, East Broadway (east of its intersection with Canal Street), and Grand Street (east of its intersection with East Broadway), in the Borough of Manhattan.
But there's a loophole:
The Project facility must be located in the New York Liberty Zone; (under certain circumstances, a Project may be located outside the Zone but within the City).
Forest City Ratner, however, did manage a coup, gaining Liberty Bonds for the Bank of New York Tower at the Atlantic Terminal Mall, which is in Brooklyn, not Lower Manhattan. Here's the press release.