Skip to main content

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + project FAQ (pinned post)

AY down the memory hole: No, Barclays Center wasn't built on 22 acres, and eminent domain was not pursued by NYC (it was NYS)

Like a game of telephone, facts recede and Atlantic Yards falls down the memory hole. So maybe it seems like quibbling, but it's worth getting right.

From the Commercial Observer yesterday, Bill Would Require NYC to Be Notified of Certain Vacant Property Sales:
Kallos added that the legislation might help the city use eminent domain to build more important public projects, like schools, rather than projects like Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which was built on 22 acres of land taken through eminent domain, CBS reported. But, using eminent domain is a last resort, he added.

“I’m hoping this legislation will remind folks that the city, though [it] can speak softly, still carries a big stick,” he said. “The City of New York used eminent domain to build Barclays Center and to basically remove an entire city neighborhood, but we don’t use eminent domain to build schools. That seems strange to me. My hope is that this legislation will really put the screws to the city and make sure that they actually start doing their job and using their powers properly.”

The city didn't use eminent domain, that was New York State, via Empire State Development. That's relevant because the state project approval process was much easier than the city's land use process.

The construction of the arena didn't "remove an entire city neighborhood"--how could it?--but reshaped several blocks in northwest Prospect Heights and had larger ripple effects, including indirect displacement of lower-income residents, an adjoining neighborhoods.

And the Barclays Center was built as part of a 22-acre project, but not all of it was taken through eminent domain, nor has all of it been acquired--the developer is still paying for development rights over the railyard, and eminent domain for Site 5 remains stalled.

Here's that 9/28/12 CBS story:

The land for the Atlantic Yards development was acquired through eminent domain -- New York state seized 22 acres of land and under the threat of eminent domain, residents and businesses in the area were bought out.

Well, the sequence was first that, yes, under the threat of eminent domain, plus seeming generosity (assisted by taxpayer money), most property owners were bought out. A small number saw their property seized. 

Eminent domain was used to clear title even in "friendly condemnations," property that original developer Forest City Ratner bought. But it wasn't a simple seizure of 22 acres of land.