Bruce Ratner and his Atlantic Yards project are really getting it in the neck this week. Tomorrow an appeal by landholders of the eminent domain seizure of their properties for the sports, shopping, office and residential mega-plan gets going in court. And now Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, state senator Velmanette Montgomery, assemblymembers Jim Brennan and Joan Millman, city councilmember Letitia James, NYPIRG/Straphangers Campaign, and Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn have mobbed up to file suit in State Supreme Court against the MTA for “giving Forest City Ratner just about a free ride” by giving him the land.
The plaintiffs claim the MTA “violated the Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005” by eschewing independent appraisal and competitive bids on the property, and want the deal with Ratner voided…
DDDB’s Daniel Goldstein makes his case at Reason: “‘Public use,’ required for eminent domain…has transmogrified into some amorphous, highly speculative ‘public benefit’ or ‘public purpose,’ which could be anything a developer with government ‘partners’ declares it to be.” While land seizures for schools or hospitals produce a clear benefit, Goldstein says that with an “economic development” scheme like Atlantic Yards “we have no idea what we’ll get except for false hopes, false dreams, and happy talk, along with a land grab windfall for the developer and theft of homes.”
The Wall Street Journal approves: “The Brooklyn case offers the courts a chance to tell the political class and its developer friends that they can’t trample over private property rights.”
“The real question now,” says Neil deMause, ” is whether another lawsuit will make it too expensive for Ratner to get bond insurance so he can start selling arena bonds this month as planned.” Maybe the Nets had just better get used to playing in the Prudential Center.