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

AY down the memory hole: the Tish James summary (and how the next governor has both carrots and sticks regarding the project)

A young writer/organizer named Michael Lange has an interesting Substack newsletter, The Narrative Wars, with some deep dives, such as the 11/12/21 Tish James makes her move. Lange does good research, but isn't as surefooted as I'd like.

He writes:
Upon entering the council, James was eager to distinguish herself as a frequent critic of the Bloomberg administration, as she quickly cultivated a reputation as one of the body’s most outspoken members. During her first week in office, James inherited the Atlantic Yards development project, a.k.a. the Barclays Center, which consumed the lionshare of her work over the next decade. James emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of the project, vowing to fight eminent domain tooth and nail in court. However, the case was rejected at both the trial and appellate court levels, while the Supreme Court refused to even hear it, a dead-end for James’ efforts. Yet in recent years, James’ once steadfast opposition to Atlantic Yards has appeared to soften.
My comment:
With all due respect to a complicated story/person, the paragraph on Atlantic Yards doesn't do the issue justice. Atlantic Yards, a 15- or 16-tower-plus-arena development project announced in 2003 ≠ Barclays Center, which was named in 2007, and opened in 2012. Atlantic Yards has since renamed Pacific Park, and is less than half finished.

I wouldn't say it "consumed the lionshare of her work"--CMs have a lot to do, as this article suggests--but it surely was James's most prominent stance.

James didn't merely vow to fight eminent domain but more broadly fought for accountability, which is why she presided at the press conference announcing a separate challenge to the project's environmental review, and was a named petitioner in a case challenge the MTA's renegotiation of the deal regarding Vanderbilt Yard development rights.

She was not a party to the eminent domain cases and, while she was a prominent supporter of the petitioners, it would be unwise to call it a "dead-end" for her efforts. Regarding "the case was rejected at both the trial and appellate court levels, while the Supreme Court refused to even hear it, a dead-end for James’ efforts."

It's a little more complex than that. The federal eminent domain case was, yes, rejected at the trial and appellate court levels; the U.S. Supreme Court takes a bare fraction of cases appealed. 

The subsequent NY State eminent domain case started in the appellate division--because NYS eminent domain law vastly favors condemnors--but did make it to an appeal to NYS' highest court, the Court of Appeals, which, while rejecting the case, did ventilate some significant criticisms.

It's worth watching what she says about Atlantic Yards in her campaign because, yes, while her position seemed to soften, as I wrote in 2016, seemed to soften, by the time she was campaigning for AG she actually overstated her role in AY, as I wrote in 2018.

I'd add that Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is very much a live issue for the next governor, whether it be James, current occupant Kathy Hochul, or another candidate.

The governor controls Empire State Development, the state authority that oversee/shepherds the project, and could make it easier or tougher to build the crucial platform over the Vanderbilt Yard and/or transfer bulk from the unbuilt "Miss Brooklyn" (aka B1) tower flanking the arena across Flatbush Avenue to Site 5, longtime home to P.C. Richard and Modell's.

Also, the project facess a May 2025 deadline for 876 more units affordable housing and it looks ever likely that that deadline will not be met. Will the governor waive or extend the deadline? The $2,000 a month penalty for each missing unit could get burdensome. 

But enforcement of that longstanding penalty might also accomplish what it's supposed to do: push the developers into building.