Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner to fight court order to revisit 2009 Atlantic Yards Plan

BROOKLYN, September 13, 2011: Today, BrooklynSpeaks announced that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) have served notice that the two plan to fight a July court decision ordering further environmental review of the Atlantic Yards project. The decision came after nearly two years of litigation by BrooklynSpeaks’ sponsors, local elected officials and community members, which challenged ESDC’s 2009 approval of plan changes increasing the duration of project construction from 10 to 25 years.

State legislators from the communities surrounding the Atlantic Yards project have previously called on the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to comply with the court order to reconsider the 2009 Modified General Project Plan. In a letter to ESDC CEO Ken Adams from Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and signed by Assembly Member Joan Millman, State Senator Eric Adams and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, the officials point to troubling facts. “More than seven years have passed since Atlantic Yards’ announcement, and almost five years have passed since its original plan was approved. In that time, we have seen the promises of affordable housing and local jobs move nearly a generation into the future,” they wrote. The legislators also note extended use of the site for 1,100 surface parking spaces, and the removal of project elements intended to reduce the impact of locating an arena in a residential neighborhood, as critical changes introduced with the 2009 plan. Assemblyman Jim Brennan, Chair of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, has written separately to CEO Adams urging ESDC not appeal the July decision. “I believe that it is in the interest of the whole Brooklyn community to comply with Judge Friedman’s order,” Assemblyman Brennan stated.

Filing of the appeal by FCRC and ESDC stays ESDC’s obligation to comply with the court order, thus delaying changes to the Atlantic Yards plan that would accelerate the delivery of affordable housing, create more jobs, and reduce the impacts of the additional 15 years of construction cited in the court’s decision.

Michael Cairl, President of the Park Slope Civic Council, said, “Brooklyn can’t wait 25 years for affordable housing at this site, and it shouldn’t have to. It’s time for ESDC to look at Atlantic Yards with a fresh pair of eyes, take advantage of the parcels that can support development now, and start building affordable housing for which there is demand right now.”

Said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, “The 2009 Atlantic Yards plan may have been negotiated under the previous administration, but the July court decision makes it Governor Cuomo’s problem now. We expected the Governor to follow through on his promises to reform State government, turn around delayed development at Atlantic Yards, and make this project work for Brooklyn and for New York State. Instead, it looks like he’s willing to continue to run interference for Forest City Ratner, and keep the community and its elected representatives tied up in court while Brooklynites wait for jobs and housing.”