Skip to main content

The dialogue (imagined) behind yesterday's court non-drama; what if someone challenged Justice Friedman on the Development Agreement?

I wasn't privy to the discussions among lawyers yesterday before state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman, so I don't think this was the discussion that led to the lifting of a request for a stay on project construction.

I suspect the discussion was far more limited and politic.

But this is what might have happened had there been a law clerk in the room raising inconvenient arguments.

Dramatis personae include:
  • State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman (MF)
  • Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn attorney Jeff Baker (JBa)
  • BrooklynSpeaks attorney Al Butzel (AB)
  • Empire State Development Corporation Phil Karmel (PK)
  • Forest City Ratner attorney Jeffrey Braun (JBr)
  • Friedman's imaginary, impudent law clerk (LC)
MF: OK, so you asked for a stay--

JBa: Right.

MF: Until they completed a response and they--

PK: Did just that. We submitted it. AKRF works very fast.

AB: We just think it's vastly inadequate. They completely ignored the real impacts of 25 years of construction.

JBa: Not to mention that the meeting was illegal. That executive session--

JBr: They haven't submitted any papers on that.

MF: Don't you realize, I can only decide the case before me. I ordered them to deliver findings and they did.

JBa: Did you read those findings?

MF: It's not the court's job to evaluate those findings. I'm not an environmental analyst.

PK: It's the court's job to determine whether the agency acted rationally. We submit we did.

AB: Well, we submit that the agency does not deserve standard deference. Look at the record.

JBa: Did you watch the board meeting? You really need to have been there.

JBr: It should be pointed out that Mr. Baker's office is in Albany.

JBa: OK, I watched the webcast. And I distinctly heard this board member use the term "rubber stamp"--

MF: Gentlemen. Gentlemen. Do you really think I'm going to stop construction of a billion-dollar basketball arena just because you disagree about the impacts of a parking lot that will linger 25 years--and you haven't briefed it fully?

JBa: That's not--

AB: --the only thing.

MF: You need a little more meat on the record. You can file a supplemental petition next month, and we'll proceed from there. For now, please work on a stipulation. We'll announce that in open court.

The attorneys exit. The court session ensues. The parties leave.

LC: Judge, you really didn't have any choice, right?

MF: None whatsoever. The law in New York is the law. If they want the law changed, they should go to the legislature. Lotsa luck.

LC: But, really, judge, wasn't it kind of your fault? In court last January, when it mattered, the ESDC kept talking about this Development Agreement they'd signed that would ensure the project would get done in ten years, but it wasn't available.

MF: True.

LC: And then it emerged a week later, and the penalties were pretty weak. Baker and Butzel asked that you get it into the record and--

MF: I said no. And, in my decision in March, I said the ten-year timetable was rational, but barely.

LC: And then they filed for reargument, and there was finally an oral argument in late June and a decision last month. Meanwhile, Forest City broke ground on the arena, and made significant progress on excavation and even erecting steel.

MF: What can I say--the judicial process takes time.

LC: In your decision November 9, you admitted it was a "misapprehension" on your part to not let in the Development Agreement back in the winter.

MF: If I made a mistake, they're not going to push me. The only people who can tell me I made a mistake serve on the Appellate Division.

LC: But if you'd ruled differently in March Forest City might not have been able to draw down the bond proceeds and construct the arena.

MF: That's what the petitioners say. The briefs on this seem to clash.

LC: Still, the ESDC gets rewarded for its willingness to withhold the Development Agreement, and Forest City Ratner benefits too. Then, when the ESDC finally complies last week and makes findings on the 25-year buildout, the report's not available until after the time for public comment.

MF: It's not pretty, but that hasn't been fully briefed. My job is to approach the next set of briefs with an open mind.

LC: I'm beginning to think Mr. Butzel has a point. He says Atlantic Yards, "though wrapped in ESDC's gauze, is clearly a private development project proposed and being implemented by a private for-profit developer." Didn't you read that law review article about "judicial deference to unaccountable agencies"?

MF: C'mon, I already criticized the ESDC for "what appears to be yet another failure of transparency." Has any elected official--beyond Sen. Bill Perkins--said as much regarding the ESDC's performance with Atlantic Yards? Is anyone going to reform this agency? I rest my case.

LC: OK, let's have lunch.

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…

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…

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…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…