Atlantic Yards' Community Bent Might Be Sacrificed For Stadium

04/04/2011 03:58 pm ET | Updated Jun 04, 2011

In a 2004 press release, Forest City Enterprises pitched the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project as a development that would "become an integral part of the local community, hosting local sporting events, concerts, family entertainment, and corporate and special events."

It will also be home to the lowly Nets basketball team.

Brooklyn Atlantic Yards is a long-term development project expected to include, when completed, 2.1 million square feet of commercial office space; 300,000 square feet of retail space; 4.4 million square feet of residential space, consisting of approximately 4,500 units of affordable, middle-income and market-rate housing; and six acres of parks and open space.

Taxpayers have chipped in $305 million so far for the $4.9 billion project, largely because it was sold as an 'integral part of the local community'. It now appears that all those rosy ambitions may not happen at all.

Documents filed last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission by developer Bruce Ratner and his Forest City Enterprises warn that the non-arena portions of the plan could experience "further delays" leading to most or all of the rest of the 22-acre, $4.9 billion project being scrapped.

Risks to investors cited in the SEC filings include the potential of rising construction costs and financing rates, loss of arena sponsorships and inability to meet government-approved construction deadlines.

Councilwoman Letitia James, who has long opposed the project, said the SEC filings provide more fodder for critics. She also lashed out at Forest City CEO Bruce Ratner.

"It was all just a mirage," James said. "He underestimated the economy and opposition, and now all we're getting is an arena and a large parking lot."

In March, Ratner announced that his company would pursue plans to erect "the world's tallest prefabricated steel structure." The 34-story tower would fulfill Ratner's obligation to include affordable housing as part of the site. However, the move enraged unions because it would cut hundreds of lucrative union jobs.

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