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Steve Ettlinger

Steve Ettlinger

Posted: January 21, 2010 02:33 PM

Last Holdout of Atlantic Yards Speaks Out!

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Despite being delayed years beyond its original schedule and possibly on a 25 year build-out schedule, Forest City Ratner persists in pursuing its increasingly expensive dream of taking 22 acres of valuable real estate in Brooklyn with the use of eminent domain and close to a billion dollars in public subsidies. Why? Profit, mainly, of course--an estimated $1 billion (figured as 25% of the $4 billion project). But also chutzpah.

Due to my innate talent for recognizing when the pot is calling the kettle black, which is really the definition of chutzpah, I nearly laughed out loud in court on Tuesday 1/19, when Ratner's lawyer Jefferey Braun accused his adversaries (Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and a large coalition of co-petitioners of having chutzpah. It's the first time Forest City Ratner's folks have officially, on the record, stated both their immense sense of noblesse oblige and contempt for due process.

The act that caused Ratner's lawyer to articulate this epithet (and it was carefully articulated in a long, wordy bit of testimony) was actually a kind of standard move required by court rules--a request for a preliminary injunction placed to preserve the plaintiff's rights in this complex set of lawsuits. The judge is giving it due consideration, because it is reasonable.

A few months ago, Bruce Ratner rebuffed his antagonists' requests for information by saying, in Crains, "Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project." If it were really private, we wouldn't be in court and we might be placing Ratner in the same pantheon with the late, great Abe Pollin, the owner of the Washington Wizards, who built Washington DC's Verizon Center, which opened in 1997, with his own money.

So old-fashioned. Such a straightforward approach is the polar opposite of our chutzpah-filled holdout with his hand outs, Forest City Ratner.