November 24, 2009
Atlantic Yards Wins
The New York Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the developer of the Atlantic Yards project to take and redevelop property in Brooklyn for mixed uses, high rises, and an NBA basketball arena. The New York Times has the breaking news in Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn Clears Legal Hurdle:
The last major obstacle to a groundbreaking for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn fell Tuesday when New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, dismissed a challenge to the state’s use of eminent domain on behalf of the developer, Bruce C. Ratner. . . .
The Court of Appeals ruled that the state could exercise eminent domain in seizing the 22 acres, much of which sits within an urban redevelopment area, for Atlantic Yards. Critics of the project had argued that eminent domain on behalf of a private developer was improper and a violation of the state’s Constitution.
Here is a link to the Court's opinion in Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corp., just released today. Commentary from the opposition at Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, and a great roundup of stories and links at No Land Grab.
Not a great shocker in the result, considering NY's state court precedent on eminent domain, and the fact that New York is one of the only states without any sort of post-Kelo law (purporting) to restrict economic development takings (again, see Ilya Somin's critique of post-Kelo reform attempts). However, this is another high-profile eminent domain case in the books to annoy takings opponents. It may have an effect on public opinion and the feasibility of future large-scale redevelopment projects that require delegation of the government's eminent domain power for private land assembly. Will it add to the impact of the Pfizer pullout in establishing, as the NY Times suggested, a turning point for eminent domain? New London, like Poletown, was a project that may have been doomed from the start. Atlantic Yards is a similar pie-in-the-sky comprehensive redevelopment project, but perhaps it has a better economic foundation, with participation of a major-league sports franchise and its location in the hip borough of Brooklyn. If it fails, it will surely add to the arguments against economic development takings. If it succeeds, it will probably just egg developers on.
UPDATE: Ilya Somin has a thorough analysis at the Volokh Conspiracy.
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You've put your finger on a key issue in redevelopment, Matt - overly ambitious projects that are economically doomed from the start. I spoke with a realtor here in Georgia yesterday who was critical of a redevelopment plan in a small Georgia city that has land assembly costs at over $400,000 per acre. Even in a good economy he saw that as an insurmountable obstacle. Now he feels it will never happen. Yet, redevelopment continues to be so important in addressing problems of sprawl. It will be interesting to see how these things get balanced.
Posted by: Jamie Baker Roskie | Nov 24, 2009 1:25:30 PM
For a while when this case was in its early stages I would confuse Atlantic Yards with Atlantic Station, in midtown Atlanta. And the two projects have a lot in common. Last time I was in Atlanta I walked around there; it seemed reasonably successful. http://www.atlanticstation.com/site.php.
Posted by: Matt Festa | Nov 24, 2009 2:18:33 PM