Federal Eminent Domain Lawsuit Rejected

Yesterday, a federal judge dismissed the eminent domain lawsuit that opponents of the Atlantic Yards project had seen as their best shot at derailing the current plan. In ruling in Goldstein v. Pataki, U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis said that even if the benefits of the project (jobs, housing, etc.) fall short of what has been promoted by Ratner and the State, no reasonable juror would have grounds to conclude that the “sole purpose’ of the Project is to confer a private benefit. The judge also ruled that any claim that the condemnations would not benefit the public were baseless. The 13 plaintiffs, a mix of owners and renters, plan to appeal the decision. Speaking afterwards, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Matthew Brinckerhoff, said he thought his clients had a good shot on appeal: “It’s undisputed that no other developer was considered to do this project, that the genesis was Forest City Ratner, that they identified my clients’ properties [for eminent domain], and that the government, broadly speaking, agreed to do exactly what [the developer] asked for.”
Judge Rejects Main Argument of Effort to Stop AY [NY Times]
Judge Dismisses Federal ED Lawsuit; Appeal Planned [AY Report]
Federal Court Ruling Clears AY Obstacle [NY Sun]
Atlantic Yards suit dismissed [Metro]
Photo by Flatbush Gardener

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  • Start packing Goldstein.

  • Just $%#ing beautiful.

    Aside from the $2 billion in subsidies that’s going to Ratner, 15 years of construction and a lifetime of congestion, noise and pollution, according to the paper our utility bills get to go up 17% as a result of AY. Are there any politicians that are actually on our side???

  • No suprise here.

    Will AY opponents achieve anything before their legal options are exhausted? I seriously doubt it.

    This is hands down the most ineptly run community organizing campaign I have ever seen. All attempts – legal, political, public relations – have failed. It should be cited in texbooks on social advocacy as a prime example of how NOT to operate.


  • Yay! An awesome development is coming soon! I can’t wait.

  • “Aside from the $2 billion in subsidies that’s going to Ratner, 15 years of construction and a lifetime of congestion, noise and pollution, according to the paper our utility bills get to go up 17% as a result of AY.”

    None of these arguments have anything to do with eminent domain, though. The court is obligated to judge the merits of the ED case, and you may disagree with their decision, but it would be absolutely wrong for a court to decide the case because, as you argue, AY is bad for these unrelated reasons.

  • Let it be noted that alone among major media, only The New York Sun editorialized AGAINST this because of the asinine– & loathable– EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE.

    Ratner sycophants: why not take down the Atlantic Center Mall, already subsidized by the state & rebuild something better ** there **?

    What this is is a swift kick in the nuts to the fake liberal reputation of NYC, NY State & also– ALSO– evidence that there the real estate cabal is wholly bankrupt of scruples.

    That’s not a revelation, of course, but it IS sweet watching you motherfuckers try to justify this, or Kelso, etc etc. (The other side benefit is it’s made a lot of retards realize what what a piece of propagandistic shit the Times is; hello? it was BEFORE too, their city coverage has been a joke for almost 40 years.)

    When the far (real) left AND the far (real) right agree… they’re usually correct.

    Re: “pathetic” community opposition…

    what the fuck do you PROPOSE would have been a better alternative?

    The game was totally fixed, fucking Kelso went the bad way (THANKS TO THE FAKE ‘LIBERAL’ BLOC)… imperfect, yes, but very vey difficult, no thanks to yet another FAKE LIBERAL, grandstanding ego asswipe Spitzer.

    Why do I even care? I just do. Some call me a dreamer, ya’ll can call me

    Dan Doctoroff
    NYC 2012

  • Mr. Pathetic anonymous. Failed? In 2003 Ratner announced his project would include a functioning arena where the Nets would play starting in 2006. Here we are in 2007 and he doesn’t even own the property he needs to start consruction to build an arena by 2010.

    Nice absurdist propaganda.

  • woohoo! grow Brooklyn!

  • I think I’m going to hurl.

  • The renderings of the project just break my heart. I love my city and AY is like watching a loved one brutally injured but not being able to do anything to stop it. Yeah, Brooklyn will survive and even thrive, but this project is going to go down in history as a textbook example of how not to do large scale development. You won’t be able to say you weren’t warned.

  • 10:23,

    Your flawed logic is typical of AY opponents desperate for anything remotely resembling a victory.

    1. Ratner announced the project would be up and running in 2006.

    2. It’s not up and running.

    3. Therefore, this delay is due solely to our efforts.

    A delay in and of itself is not proof that you are responsible for it. Correlation does not mean causation.


  • Actually what is wrong with the anti-AY group is exemplified in the above picture. Rather then projecting a reasonable view of the proposal, the future buildings are shown in one monolithic color, with no windows and from as unflattering an angel as possible.
    Even the most primitive person knows that AY will not look like this and can see through this clear propaganda. And this of course turns off the people who might be oppossed to AY and press their politicians to oppose it. But the AY-oppossition just appears to be a bunch of ‘sky-is-falling’ NIMBYs to the 98% of Brooklyn that has jobs, lives and families that are their main priority – and are only going to get involved in something like this if they really ‘buy in’.
    However, this court case is no suprise and anyone who thinks that it is, or that it represents the judiciary doing anything other then what is required is just delusional. The ED issue was already decided in Kelo and all this B.S. that Kelo (or Kennedy’s concurring) was a “victory” for anti-AY was ridiculous. Now you may not like the Kelo decision and think it is wrong but unfortunately for you it is DECIDED and no amount of spin, propaganda or protest is going to change that. AY opponents have ZERO chance on appeal and putting $ into an appeal is the equivalent of throwing $ down the toilet.
    The only hope the AY opponents have with the courts is with nuisance suits over processes and form and to delay, delay, delay, until either the economic or political realities change – which don’t appear to be imminent.
    If anti-AY folks were really serious about ED “abuse”, they’d be working harder to get state law changed to make ED use more difficult (too late for AY btw) and if they were really serious about the scale of AY, they’d concede phase 1 of the development and be working on the politicians to scale back phase 2 which is a decade away.
    Unfortunately for the anti-AY folks – this fight was always led by an individual who was essentially and simply opposed to ANY arena at the site and who was also out for personal aggrandizement, and therefore could not take a strategic (as opposed to emotional) approach.

  • Except, 11:46, it’s not about what really caused the delay but what the public perceives as the cause of the delay. And they’ll credit the AY opponents, sorry.

    The AY opposition strategy should go after Bloomberg. The AY opposition should emphasize how Bloomberg’s cronyism allowed ED abuse, and is giving away millons to Ratner. Trumpet it to the nation. Bloomberg aspires to run for President as an Independent. How do you think AY and its ED abuse would fly among his “base” the libertarian Republicans and the Independents? Not very well. Look at what their own newspaper, The NY Sun thought of it.

  • Also, I think it’s worth observing how the Doctoroff impersonator presents him/herself. It is precisely this type of hysteria and exaggeration that alienates many would-be supporters of the AY oppostion. Playing hardball and being extreme might provide catharsis, but it doesn’t produce real-life results.

  • “If anti-AY folks were really serious about ED “abuse”, they’d be working harder to get state law changed to make ED use more difficult”

    ED is a (US) Constitutional issue, not a state law issue, in the sense that the Constitution is what supposedly puts limits on what can be taken by way of ED. State laws can only be more *restrictive* than that. So changing state laws would be nice, but the opponents here should be focusing on the unconstitutionality of this use of ED, which they did… albeit poorly.

  • yeah, because architectural form renderings ALWAYS present their minute architectural detail, not. thats not what they are for, they created to show the height and bulk of the architectural forms.

    how different is the rendering above, than say, this one from bruce ratner:

    please tell us mr. strategist, what produces “real-life” results? threats followed by capitulation a la the Dems on the war funding bill? middle of the road ineffectuality by a group like BrooklynSpeaks?

    when the wealthiest development firm in the US comes into town to play hardball, don’t bring a wiffle ball bat.

  • 12:13 – its too late to argue the constitutionality of this use of ED – Kelo already decided it.”Constitutionality” is decided by the Supreme Court – and they decided it (on nearly identical facts)
    – that argument is OVER.

  • Dear Dan Doctoroff:

    The New York Sun is a conservative newspaper that is against ALL infringements on private property rights, including all rent ceiling regulations and forced acceptance of government subsidies as well as restrictive zoning.

    The question is, why aren’t the anti-AY folks fighting for property rights across the board? A free man should be able to do whatever he wants with his property. He should be allowed to rent his property to anyone under any terms he sees fit. He should be allowed to build whatever he wants on his property, including the largest and tallest building he deems economically feasible.

    90% of the buildings in this city were constructed before zoning laws and before rent control. There is a housing shortage in this city because of the abuse of property rights. The people suffer because New York City does not respect property rights.

  • Actually, the constitutionality of the use of ED in situations like this per recent decisions effectively defers to States to legislate restrictions so that situations that are not clear cut are more easily decided, so I think the point about lobbying for State law legislation on this point is a correct one.

  • Yes, “Boopsey”, and that wooden bat has been sooooooooo effective, hasn’t it?

  • 9:30, I didn’t actually argue that the ED lawsuit should’ve gone the other way because AY is a disaster in the making, I was merely voicing my dispeasure that AY is a disaster in the making and it’s now one step closer.

    Y’know, that and my already huge utility bill is going to go up 17% as a result of aforementoned disaster in the making.

  • It’s not extreme right or extreme left; (anarchist comes closest to the truth but a progressive will do the “dainty” Brownstoner crowd.) It just so happens people with principles are in agreement about Eminent Domain. Also it is FACT that the “liberal” bloc voted for the State in Kelso. Am I going too quickly for you? (Do you still read the Times “City” section & think it’s anything but crap?)

    Bloomberg? Cronyism? Yeah, and ??? This is all true, of course. How many people who are reading this– tell the truth– have read “The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutierriez”? Do you ever know who Eduardo Gutierrez ** is ** ?? The only dude who got this right at length was Chris Smith in New York mag, btw; that and the Sun editorial was all we had (besides crazy Norm Oder, etc).

    Without constitutional law on our side, the anti-Ratner fight was always going to be hugely difficult.

    Non-New Yorkers– which I suspect many of you are– simply do not understand or appreciate the full depths of state & local corruption. Add in all Ratner’s $$$… As others noted, DDDB has done pretty well on a fucking shoestring.

    The SAD part is most real New Yorkers are worn down & cynical as hell, i.e. what difference does it make?

    Also, anti-Ratner people– ask yourself where were YOU when the city gave those stadium deals away, esp. the Yankees. I know that’s not everyone but it’s a lot & why Ratner propaganda has been able to paint ya’ll as NIMBY.

    I know it’s not true but I’m a hardass too. Stay strong–

    Dan Doctoroff
    NYC 2012

  • DDDB had not done well. Stop with the propaganda. Aside from a few newspaper corrections, they haven’t scored a single victory.

    So, “Mr. Doctoroff” kindly slither off to listen to your CRASS cd’s and spraypaint your “anarchy” symbols while the rest of us lead lives of unabashed luxury and indulgence.

  • Anyone know how much the judge was paid?

  • 2:24 – Do you know anything about Judge Garaufis??? Do you know anything about our legal system????

    While Judge Garaufis might not be the smartest judge on the Federal Bench, there really is no one who would say he is corrupt or dis-interested in the community.

    The Judge had no choice but to rule this way, the controlling case is the recently decided Kelo case (have you read it), it has nearly identical facts to the AY issues.

  • from a reason mag blog;

    On a recent episode of the FX series The Riches, the sleazy developer who employs one of the main characters was able to fend off an eminent domain challenge by adding a skating rink to his project. Unfortunately, this is close enough to the current state of the law that I don’t think it counts as satire.

  • The real issue here is one of deep, pervasive corruption in nearly all aspects of New York State government, including Spitzer and his ‘new’ ESDC.
    Even the most just laws are meaningless when corrupt people are in charge.

  • 12:06 nailed it: AY opponents did not honestly illustrate the problem or propose a viable solution. If a developer and the government reach an agreement to invest billions of dollars to build housing and an arena over a hole in the ground, then the reasonable response is to find a way to make it work. Instead, the opponents got AY all mixed up with that whole basket of fashionable “leftie” issues. The project was never bad, its just too big, and instead of adjusting the scale, they polarized the community and FCR got exactly what it wanted.

  • I agree with 3:21 (I live near the site and have no axe to grind one way or another, by the way, before the anti- crowd start calling me stupid/corrupt/foreign.

    I have found the DDDB tactics increasingly hysterial and unpleasant, and I’m sure I’m not the only one

  • umm 321 taking private property and giving it to a developer is bad. Eminent domain abuse is one of the most serious problems in America today and over 35 states have enacted legislation restricting it. NEw York is one of the worst abusers and with its dysfunctional, corrupt government won’t even consider reigning this in.

    Parksloper hysterical and unpleasant how? Who has called you stupid, corrupt or (?) foreign? AY opponents have called gargano corrupt – he was – ratner – he is, and the process that led us here in the first place.

    321: your’re being disingenuous, the MTA did not even CONSIDER higher bids that were lower density. UNITY and EXCEL both submitted low density plans that didn’t use eminent domain. Ratner is a well connected but amoral incompetent(just look at metrotech) crook whose greed knows no bounds. you might find that out for yourself oneday.

    the ‘whole in the ground’ is another dishonest statement by you – that (the yards) is only about 30-40% of the ‘footprint.

  • Me

    Wake up.

    There are lots of examples of anyone who disagrees with the DDDB crowd being called all those things and worse.

    Take this message exchange. Here are some quotes:

    Foreign: “Non-New Yorkers– which I suspect many of you are”

    Stupid: “The other side benefit is it’s made a lot of retards realize what what a piece of propagandistic shit the Times is”

    Corrupt: “Anyone know how much the judge was paid?”

    This kind of thing makes me think your arguments can’t be very good because you so quickly descend to name-calling and paranoia.

  • 4:27,

    Eminent domain abuse is one of the most serious problems in America?

    Oh yea, forget HIV, child abuse, poverty, uninsured millions, etc.

    What kind of bubble are you living in?

    Drama, exaggeration, hysterics. Keep it coming, because this is why you are FAILING.

  • parksloper: are that judge? So how are YOU being called corrupt.
    regarding the NY: the poster’s style was a bit rough, but many people still think its ‘the paper of record’ even after blair, miller and as some of us are aware- they actually whitewashed stalin’s crimes – (and the reporter that did so is still proudly displayed as a pulizter winner)

    Anon 4:56
    Yes, those problems are serious so are property rights because once property rights are taken away war on the middle class accelerates, and control of property is centralized. That’s not healthy for a democracy.

    your statement is analogous to saying “what’s the big deal about restricting the press, when children are dying of AIDs”

  • DDDB leaders and supporters, please consider 3:21 Anonymous, especially 4:50 Parksloper and 4:56 Anonymous. Coalition-building is predicated on inclusiveness. I also agree it’s too bad the project will be built this big. But DDDB sucked the air out of the room and resembled just another progressive cause. CBN came along one year too late, and it was never truly independent.

  • Is this brownstoner.com

    or backseater.com ?

  • 6:41 DDDB’s results speak for itself

  • This is awesome news! It’s a serious shot in the arms for those fringe nabes east of Flatbush Avenue and will accelerate gentrification in such a way that will ultimately reduce crime, improve local public schools, attract better goods and services to the community and, more importantly, drive up property values. This is truly a great day!

    And for those constantly citing the Extell plan as being better, please don’t be fooled. I have friends who are senior executives at Extell. Extell is one of the largest luxury condo builders in NYC. The reason why Extell sided with DDDB was because the company desperately wanted in on the deal. They hated the fact that Ratner got the biggest development project in Brooklyn’s history and wanted a piece of the action at whatever cost.

    If Extell had won or got in there first, it would’ve been the same large scale high rise development with the exception of the arena. Who is anyone fooling here? I seriously hope that no one truly believes that a sophisticated company such as Extell was planning to pay $150 million for the rail yards alone and 100’s of million more to build out the development site simply to build some low scale, low density housing for low to middle income families. How stupid can you be?

    Extell’s intention from the very start was to use the community groups to stop Ratner and hopefully steal the project away from him so that they could build their own high density, high scale version of AY. Check out their website. These guys don’t do low and boring. Never have and never will. Sorry for busting your bubble guys… :-(


  • Dear Norman Oder,

    I’m so tired of you and your AY Report website. Can you please go back to your day job? Get a life, dude! You’re infatuated with AY and Ratner and you’re wasting your entire life analyzing something that is so inevitable that no one cares about with the exception of your nutty NIMBY friends.

    Do you have a wife? Go make love to her. A family? Reach out to them and catch up on old times. Children? Give them a hug and tell them that you love them. Seriously, go spend some time with love ones or anything else but your obsession with AY is borderline psychotic. I’m sure that this is not the first time that you’ve heard this. Take it to heart. Get yourself a real life and smell the roses.

  • ahh, the joker pro-development crew was out in full force today here on brownstoner! keep on truckin’ as you support heavy political corruption, misuse of tax money, and emminent domain abuse.

  • D-O-N-E-D-E-A-L!!!