Skip to main content

On Tuesday, big hearing in last Atlantic Yards case, regarding legitimacy of the timetable, need for more environmental review, and lawyer's fees

I'll have an analysis of the legal arguments beginning tomorrow, but first, the press releases/public statements.

From BrooklynSpeaks:
On Tuesday, March 15 at 2:30PM, NYS Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman will hear arguments on a petition by BrooklynSpeaks sponsors, local elected officials, and neighborhood residents seeking to reverse the Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESDC) approval of the Atlantic Yards 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP). Justice Friedman’s courtroom is located at 60 Centre Street, room 335.

On November 9, 2010, Justice Friedman ruled in favor of the BrooklynSpeaks petitioners, ordering the ESDC to explain its rationale for continuing to rely on its 2006 environmental impact statement (EIS) when it approved changes to Atlantic Yards in 2009 allowing construction to continue for 25 years or more. The 2006 EIS analyzed only the impacts of 10 years of construction.

In December 2010, the ESDC responded to the court with findings acknowledging that Atlantic Yards would not be completed in 10 years. The ESDC nevertheless claimed it believed a 10-year buildout would be possible when it approved the 2009 MGPP, even though a former CEO had stated publicly the project would take “decades,” and the agency was at the time negotiating a development agreement allowing Forest City Ratner 25 years or longer to complete construction. The ESDC’s findings also stated that the communities surrounding Atlantic Yards would suffer no additional impacts by extending the construction period by 15 years.

In January 2011, the BrooklynSpeaks sponsors filed a supplemental petition challenging these findings as not sufficient to show a rational basis for the agency’s refusal to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) prior to the approval of the 2009 MGPP. The BrooklynSpeaks petitioners have asked that the court reverse the approval and stay further construction at Atlantic Yards until an SEIS is completed.
From Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn:
On Tuesday, March 15, at 2:30 p.m., New York State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman will hear argument on the motion of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn to require the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner, and their lawyers, to pay DDDB for the costs of the additional legal work which DDDB's lawyers had to perform because ESDC and FCR improperly withheld a key contract from the court last year. Justice Friedman will also hear argument on the supplemental petition filed jointly by DDDB and BrooklynSpeaks challenging the failure of the ESDC and Ratner to consider the environmental impacts of the much more likely 25 year build-out of the Atlantic Yards Project.

We strongly encourage you, as a DDDB supporter, to attend the hearing on Tuesday. We believe it is particularly egregious that a grassroots organization such as ours has been forced to suffer financial consequences because of the misconduct of a state agency in failing to disclose terms of its agreement with Ratner that allows the 25 year build-out. And we believe it is simply wrong for the court to permit Ratner to benefit from this misconduct by allowing him to continue the project despite the fact that the impacts of the probable scenario have been completely ignored. We are again asking for the court to send this project back for the analysis that is required by law.

Here is the background for the arguments:

DDDB sued in 2009 to challenge ESDC's approval of the Modified General Project Plan for the Atlantic Yards Project, on the grounds that the Plan was premised upon a ten-year timeline for construction of the entire project even though Forest City was contractually permitted by the MTA to take 30 years to complete the purchase of the rights to the Vanderbilt Yard and construction of most of the project had been postponed indefinitely. ESDC and FCR responded that their development contract required FCR to build the project within ten years, but refused to disclose the contract to the court.

In March 2010, Justice Friedman ruled against DDDB, finding that ESDC's continuing use of the ten-year construction timeframe was sufficiently supported by the evidence in the record, "albeit, in this court's opinion, only minimally". Because ESDC had refused to make the development contract part of the record before the court, DDDB had to wait until the court issued its decision before it could submit the development contract to the court in a motion to reargue the case.

Once DDDB was able to put the actual ESDC-FCR development contract before the court, Justice Friedman determined that the contract did not impose any meaningful obligation on FCR to complete the project within ten years, and reversed her previous decision. In November 2010, the court ordered ESDC to reconsider its reliance on a ten-year construction timeframe for the project, and criticized ESDC for failing its legal obligation to disclose evidence to the court that contradicted the record. The ESDC, not surprisingly, quickly issued its "reconsideration", affirming its approval of the project.

ESDC’s findings were inherently inconsistent. It first found that relying upon the ten-year timeline was completely reasonable despite the 25-year time frame in the development contract. It then recognized that the ten-year deadline would not be reached and then it reviewed a new technical memorandum that purported to address the changes in potential impacts of a 25-year time frame and unsurprisingly found the impacts would not be greater or different than what was previously considered.

In December 2010, DDDB filed its motion to the court to award it the additional legal expenses incurred in making its motion to reargue the case, on the ground that the motion would not have been necessary if ESDC and FCR had disclosed their development agreement to the court as they were legally obligated to do.

The legal basis of DDDB's motion is a Court Rule which permits the court to assess legal expenses against a party or attorney whose litigation conduct "is completely without merit in law" or "is undertaken primarily to delay or prolong the resolution of the litigation, or to harass or maliciously injure another", or who "asserts material factual statements that are false."

In January, 2011, with the permission of the court, BrooklynSpeaks and DDDB filed an amended petition challenging the failure of the ESDC to consider the negative impacts of what we believe to be the more likely 25 year plus timeline of the buildout of the entire proposed Atlantic Yards Project. DDDB also challenges ESDC’s failure to hold a public hearing on the 2010 Technical Memorandum that supported its decision where ESDC held a hearing on the 2009 Modified GPP and Technical Memorandum.

Argument on both DDDB's motion for sanctions and the amended petition are scheduled for Tuesday:

Details:
Tuesday, March 15th, 2:30 PM
New York County Supreme Court
60 Centre Street
Room 335
Manhattan

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

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…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

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…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…