Bruce Ratner must have exhaled a sigh of relief when outspoken nemesis Daniel Goldstein finally agreed to vacate the last apartment in the footprint of his multi-billion dollar Atlantic Yards site last month, giving way for the humongous project to begin construction. But just because no one is physically in his way anymore doesn't mean Ratner doesn't have to contend with more ethereal concerns!
Property owner Peter Williams is suing the state, claiming that he owns the "air rights" over a Sixth avenue lot in the Atlantic Yards site. He says the state forgot to condemn it when they used eminent domain to seize the property from the rest of the site. Williams was one of the other last property holdouts who fought against the eminent domain seizures, and settled with Ratner for his apartment complex last month. But he has owned the air rights on his neighboring building since 2001, which he got in return for letting the building's owner route an emergency exit through his property. Other air rights were seized by the state, but not this one.
In his lawsuit, Williams contends, "If the [state and Ratner] want to acquire title [to the property], they must do so through legal means [such as eminent domain or a settlement deal]. It simply cannot take property it does not own." The result of this: if the court sides with Williams, it could take up to two years for the state to be able to "condemn" those air rights...and leave Ratner with more headaches. But though he says the state "screwed up," and he considers Ratner "a bully," Williams claims he's "not a martyr like Daniel Goldstein," and is open to a monetary settlement (although even Goldstein isn't as martyry as he used to seem).