The NY State Court of Appeals, the highest in the state, dismissed a lawsuit challenging the use of eminent domain for developer Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. The NY Times calls the lawsuit the "last major obstacle" for Ratner, "whose 22-acre development has been delayed for three years by a flurry of lawsuits, the collapse of the credit and real estate markets and a glut of luxury housing, plans to begin selling tax-free bonds next month to finance the development’s cornerstone project: an 18,000-seat basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues near downtown."
The Atlantic Yards Report breaks down the 6-1 decision: The court essentially said "it's not the role of the courts to intervene in agency decisions, given the wide latitude in state law," but a dissenting judge said, "[T]he majority is much too deferential to the self-serving determination by Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) that petitioners live in a 'blighted' area, and are accordingly subject to having their homes seized and turned over to a private developer....It is clear to me from the record that the elimination of blight, in the sense of substandard and unsanitary conditions that present a danger to public safety, was never the bona fide purpose of the development at issue in this case."
Ratner issued a statement about his $4.9 billion project, "Once again the courts have made it clear that this project represents a significant public benefit for the people of Brooklyn and the entire city." And so did Daniel Goldstein, whose group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn has argued against the project and a homeowner who lives in the footprint of the project (the lawsuit is titled "Goldstein, et al. vs. New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a/ Empire State Development Corporation"): "The fight against the Atlantic Yards project is far from over,. The community has four outstanding lawsuits against the project and, meanwhile, the arena bond financing clock ticks louder and louder for Ratner. While this is a terrible day for taxpaying homeowners in New York, this is not the end of our fight to keep the government from stealing our homes and businesses."
Update: Here's a statement from Warner Johnston, of the Empire State Development Corporation: "Today the State's highest court, like every other court that has considered the issue, upheld the use of eminent domain to facilitate development of the Atlantic Yards Project. Empire State Development is as committed as ever to seeing the completion of this Project. With this major hurdle overcome, we can now move forward with development which will accomplish its goals of eliminating blight, and bringing transportation improvements, an arena, open space, affordable housing and thousands of jobs to the people of Brooklyn and the State of New York."