Forest City can do as it pleases, though the developer can't construct the first phase--or the project as a whole--until the pending court cases are resolved. (Here's Hunter College urban planning professor Tom Angotti's Gotham Gazette article, Atlantic Yards: A “Done Deal?”)
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn thinks the timing was keyed to Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy's recommendation that the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case be dismissed from federal court and sent to state court, where such cases have less of a chance. (The decision is up to Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who will be receiving legal briefs this month and will hold an oral argument on March 30.)
The action appears to be an attempt to intimidate the suit’s plaintiffs by threatening to knock down, or actually demolish, perfectly sound buildings adjacent to or near the plaintiffs’ homes and businesses.
Well, some of the buildings are more sound than others, but their demolition certainly would isolate plaintiffs and could make daily life uncomfortable. In the photo above, the two one-story structures at left would be demolished, leaving a vacant lot next to one of the two four-story buildings, 812 Pacific Street near Vanderbilt Avenue. That happens to be the home of several plaintiffs in the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case.
The arena block
Also planned for demolition is the low-slung building bordering 624 Pacific Street, home to several plaintiffs in a separate case challenging the demolition plan in state court. Two buildings on the other side of 624 Pacific were demolished last June.
If this demolition proceeds, the tenants at 624 Pacific will have vacant lots on both sides of their building. "I think they would like us to leave…," said tenant Leigh Anderson in June, "and this is essentially a war of attrition." That, apparently, remains true.