Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Atlantic Yards Movie

Perhaps I am late to the game on this one, but I just saw the trailer for a documentary about the Atlantic Yards controversy. The movie, called Battle of Brooklyn, tells the story of Brooklyn's use of eminent domain to build a sports arena. I am a big fan of eminent domain (hmm.. not sure if that is the right way to put it), but will likely see this movie that appears to focus on the protesters.

The main protester that the film follows actually agreed to a $3 million settlement and moved out. I wonder if they include that tidbit.

- Jessica Owley

Affordable Housing, Community Economic Development, Constitutional Law, Development, Economic Development, Eminent Domain, Environmental Justice, New York, Property Rights | Permalink

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Daniel Goldstein received a $3 million settlement after fighting the project for six years, and only after the state had already taken his home. The "tidbit" you condescendingly refer to came when the judge handling the condemnation insisted that he and the state and developer Forest City Ratner reach an accommodation before leaving his chambers. Forest City insisted on a gag order -- wanting to strip him of his Constitutional right to speak out against the Atlantic Yards project -- as a condition of the settlement, but he told them that he would rather end up with nothing than be stripped of his rights and dignity. And of course, his home, because of the development rights accorded to Forest City Ratner by the State of New York, was worth far more than $3 million to the developer.

So yes, you are a little late to this. You might also read Norman Oder's Atlantic Yards Report post today ( for some additional context.

Posted by: Eric McClure | Feb 18, 2011 7:37:05 PM

Eric -- Thanks for covering my laziness and adding some of the details.

I just meant late to the game in knowing about the documentary. I doubt there are any land use profs out there who haven't been avidly following this story... well at least not any of us in New York.

I just saw the trailer for the first time last week. Looks fascinating. What I can't tell from the trailer is whether the movie will cover the settlement agreement and the discussion of the gag order. I wasn't sure when the documentary was finished. I'll just have to wait for the Buffalo screening, I guess.

Posted by: Jessica Owley | Feb 18, 2011 7:52:24 PM

Yes. It is covered

Posted by: Mg | Feb 18, 2011 8:53:43 PM

Hi, I just saw a rough cut at a preview screening tonight at the ALI-ABA Eminent Domain law conference, and can report: (1) it does cover the settlement agreement (as well as a settlement agreement can be 'covered' without revealing confidential details); (2) the gag order proposal is the film's last chapter; and (3) the doc isn't completed.

I'll post a "review" and short interview I will do with the filmmakers on my blog in the next few days.


Posted by: Robert Thomas | Feb 18, 2011 9:09:36 PM

I've posted a podcast of the chat I had today with Michael Galinsky, one of the filmmakers behind "Battle of Brooklyn" here:

The ALI-ABA Eminent Domain conference also featured a rebuttal of sorts to the film, presented by the attorney who represented the ESDC. Also present was the NY judge who settled the case (now retired), who spoke a bit about the settlement process that ended up with Daniel Goldstein agreeing to leave.

When the movie is completed and released, I think it will be a must-see. It also could be a very good teaching tool, since it shows the forces at play behind many takings, and how the parties end up taking the positions they do.

Posted by: Robert Thomas | Feb 19, 2011 11:43:17 PM