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Court to hear yards case

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The state’s highest court agreed last week to hear the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case.

The Court of Appeals decision comes about a week after developer Forest City Ratner Companies received two greenlights for its 22−acre arena⁄housing plan at the Flatbush and Atlantic avenues intersection.

The lead litigant in the case is Daniel Goldstein, spokesperson for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, along with eight property owners living in the footprint.

The high court’s decision comes after the state appellate court ruled unanimously in May for the state to condemn property to make way, in part, for affordable housing.

“This case provides an opportunity for the New York Court of Appeals to continue its proud tradition of interpreting this State’s Constitution in a manner that affords more protection to individual rights and liberties,” said Matthew Brinckerhoff, the lawyer representing the appellants.

The planned project includes an arena to house the NBA’s Nets, and about 6,000 residential units with half the rental units (2,250) being reserved for low− and moderate−income housing.

The Court’s decision came after the MTA last week voted to sell the eight−acre Vanderbilt Rail Yard portion of the project.

Under the deal, FCRC will pay $20 million down for the arena and four buildings (phase 1 of the project), and a remaining $80 million with interest over 22 years as it proceeds with the rest of the project.

Empire State Development Corporation spokesperson Warner Johnston said the agency does not comment on pending litigation, but confirmed that the Court of Appeals has granted their request for an expedited review.

“ESDC is pleased that the Court recognized the importance of resolving this matter quickly,” he said.

FCRC spokesperson Joe DePlasco said, “The Appellate Division ruled unanimously in May in favor of the use of eminent domain because of the public benefits associated with Atlantic Yards. We’re confident that the Court of Appeals will come to the same conclusion.”

FCRC needs to finance the project and begin construction by Dec. 31 to qualify for tax−exempt status, which would save the company millions of dollars in borrowing costs.

In order to do this, the company intends to sell about $650 million in bonds for the arena in late September, according to published reports.

DePlasco reiterated the company’s plans to break ground on the project this year.

The litigation comes after the ESDC approved a modified general plan for the entire project.

The ESDC also announced a 60−day public comment period complete with hearings on the modified general project plan.

The hearings are slated for July 29 and 30 with two sessions for each hearing − an afternoon hearing between 2−5 p.m., and an evening session from 6−8 p.m.

The hearings will take place at the New York City College of Technology’s Klitgord Auditorium, 285 Jay Street.

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