Status of the Proposal and Fight
  • Mr. Ratner owns the Nets.
  • He doesn't own the Atlantic Rail Yards.
  • He doesn't own most of the privately owned property he seeks to purchase or have condemned by the state.
  • He doesn't have the financing for his project.
  • The NBA has not voted to approve moving the team to Brooklyn

The call to keep the proposal under city review through ULURP (The Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) is gaining traction, while Ratner and his political supporters still push for a state run project. Community Boards 2, 6 and 8 have all unanimously called for ULURP. Councilwoman Tish James continues to lobby her colleagues to call for ULURP.

New York Public Interest Research Group Memo: ULURP SHOULD APPLY TO THE ATLANTIC YARDS PROJECT (June 18, 2004)

14 Organizations Join DDDB’s Call for Passage of Albany Legislation Bill Would Require City Review of Ratner’s Nets Arena Plan
Diverse Communities United in Demanding ULURP Review for 17 High-Rise Megadevelopment.

Mr. Ratner has not made his numbers clear to the public. An
independent economic study concludes that Forest City Ratner will seek taxpayer subsidies from the city and state somewhere between $1.1 billion and $690 million. He has yet to receive financing from City Hall or Albany. New York City's Independent Budget Office (IBO) has agreed to initiate a third-party economic analysis of the "Atlantic Yards Proposal."

Forest City Ratner seeks to acquire 11 acres of the MTA rail yards, and 13 acres of private property and city streets. Mr. Ratner's corporation has been out in the press saying that they own about 90% of the proposed site. This is not the case. Mr. Ratner does not own the rail yards, and he owns only about 20% of the private property he desires.

A rough schedule of the "process" we suspect to occur.

Soon, but we don't know when, a Memorandum of Understanding, an agreement between the city, state, Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation will set the approval process along the way.

That will be followed by a public scoping session which will outline the parameters of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that the project requires as part of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). SEQRA does not dictate any particular level of environmental protection. Rather, it imposes a procedure for considering environmental impacts, including those the public urges be considered. If the decision-making body fails to address the impacts it has been notified about in writing, then the procedure has been violated and can be challenged  in court.

The public scoping will be followed by a written Draft EIS, followed by a public hearing, followed by a final EIS. We can than challenge the EIS in court. We expect the final EIS to come out in Spring 2005, though it could be later.

If condemnation through eminent domain is to occur, it would be enacted at the end of the EIS process sometime in Summer 2005. New York State must notify stakeholders of condemnation, and we then have 30 days to challenge the condemnation.

This is a VERY rough schedule because, unfortunately, the developer and our political leaders have not made the planning process transparent, and much of the dealing has gone on in backrooms behind closed doors. Thats why we call Ratner's proposal a secret tax-payer subsidized sweetheart backroom deal. That is EXACTLY what it has been to date.

Mr. Ratner has announced that the Reverend Daughtry will be the primary negotiator of a Community Benefits Agreement. This CBA effort is proving especially rancorous, since the developer, Ratner, is defining who the community is and picking out who to negotiate with. The group of black clergy that was originally formed has kicked Rev. Daughtry out of their group for his "independent" dealings with Mr. Ratner.

Community Boards 2, 6, and 8 made very strong statements back in the early summer against the process being used since they were being shut out. It came to light 10 days ago that the chairs of the Boards have been sitting in on the negotiations for this farcical CBA, but strictly " an advisory position" since they won't be signing it. Some of the Board members are very upset by this tacit approval of the process and by the fact that the Chairs haven't said anything to any of them about it in the 3 months they've been secretly doing this. The Chairs have tried to silence the ranks by circulating a 2 sided list of wishes that they are calling a CBA and have asked the members for comment by Monday, October 25. CB2 has rebelled; 2 of the committees have denounced the process and said they wouldn't be a part of it until there were public hearings and all the financial information and plans were released. Good for them!

Also, this past week there have been several news stories about alternate homes for the Nets if the Brooklyn deal falls through, including a quote from Bruce Ratner himself!

"In an interview last week, Ratner said that if the Brooklyn deal fell through, he would make do in New Jersey. "I think it would be in a situation, we'd probably re-work the Meadowlands or re-do the arena somehow," he said. "I'm not as negative on the Meadowlands as some think."