Atlantic Yards Sponsors Choose to Fight Court Order on Environmental Review

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner Companies have served notice that they 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 that challenged ESDC’s 2009 approval of plan changes that increased project construction from 10 years to 25 years.

Filing of the appeal 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.

The court challenge to the plan was organized by the sponsors of the community coalition BrooklynSpeaks — which announced the sponsors’ decision — and by local elected officials and community members. The Park Slope Civic Council is one of the founding sponsors of BrooklynSpeaks.

“Brooklyn can’t wait 25 years for affordable housing at this site, and it shouldn’t have to,” said Michael Cairl, president of the Civic Council. “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.”

State legislators from the communities surrounding the Atlantic Yards project have previously called on ESDC to comply with the court order to reconsider the 2009 Modified General Project Plan. In a letter to ESDC chief executive officer Ken Adams from Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries and signed by Assemblymember Joan Millman, State Senator Eric Adams, and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, the officials pointed 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 noted the 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. Assemblymember Jim Brennan, chair of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, has written separately to Adams urging ESDC to 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,” Brennan stated.

“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,” said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. “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.”

For more information on the efforts of BrooklynSpeaks concerning Atlantic Yards, visit

from the September 2011 Civic News