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Our coalition consists of 21 community organizations and there are 51 community organizations formally aligned in opposition to the Ratner plan.

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"Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."
Bruce Ratner in Crain's Nov. 8, 2009

Strategic Economic Development Would Mean Putting Atlantic Yards Out of Its Misery

Marisa Lago was named presidnet and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) about one month ago. Of course the ESDC is the unelected, unaccountable state development corporation "overseeing" Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. Ms. Lago gave her first commetns since she assumed the job earlier this week, the NY Sun reports:
New ESDC Chief Emphasizes Unity

The Empire State Development Corp. has been without a downstate president for seven months, but its new president and CEO, Marisa Lago, is not yet ready to say when the executive charged with overseeing New York City's economic development projects will be appointed.

Ms. Lago is working with the ESDC's chairman, Robert Wilmers, to find a downstate president to help coordinate financing and construction for a number of development projects, including Forest City Ratner's plans for 16 skyscrapers; an 18,000-seat basketball arena for the Nets; thousands of apartments at a site at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues; the redevelopment of Penn Station, and the proposed expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Ms. Lago declined to comment on the future of the Atlantic Yards Project and the redevelopment of Penn Station, both of which have been stalled. She said the timing of her appointment, which coincides with Wall Street's woes, made the ESDC's work that much more important.

"Sure, one can say it is great to be in flush times, there are more dollars. But on the other hand, the need for strategic economic development is actually keenest in a down economy," she said.

It is refreshing to hear that the ESDC has someone at the helm who understands that "strategic economic development" is a necessity in this very shaky "down economy."

The Atlantic Yards plan, proposed in 2003 in an entirely different economy, is in no way strategic in the economy we are in now, and will be in for years to come. Whatever Atlantic Yards is today (and nobody seems to know what it is, not even NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson) it is not strategic.

Strategic economic development would include the principle at the foundation of the UNITY Plan—the community's plan for the Vanderbilt Rail Yards—which is to divide the 8-acre rail yards into multiple, smaller and more manageable parcels to attract multiple developers through a legitimate RFP to pay more to the MTA than Ratner is willing to. The multiplicity of developers would finally detach the sound and strategic development of the yards from the vice grip Ratner has had on it for nearly 5 years thus radically reducing the overall risk. No longer would the development of the yards be dependent on Ratner's fiscal health and his desperate need to move the Nets team for which he overpaid.

Strategic economic development would not include fantasies about the health of the housing market, pr jargon and empty promises about "affordable housing" and jobs; strategic economic development would most certainly not include a taxpayer-subsidized, billion dollar basketball arena plagued by financing troubles, escalating construction costs, eminent domain opposition and litigation.

In actuality that kind of head-in-the-sand approach is pure folly.

It's not 2003 any more. Ms. Lago is correct.

Update—NoLandGrab points to the obvious which we missed:
Did Ms. Lago mean unity, or UNITY, as in the community-created UNITY Plan for the Vanderbilt Railyard? If it's the latter, we couldn't agree more.

Posted: 9.18.08
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Eminent Domain Case
Goldstein et al v. ESDC
[All case files]

November 24, 2009
Court of Appeals

[See ownership map]

EIS Lawsuit

DDDB et al v ESDC et al
Click for a summary of the lawsuit seeking to annul the review and approval the Atlantic Yards project.

Appeal briefs are here.

Appellate Divsion
Rules for ESDC
What would Atlantic Yards Look like?...
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Before and After views from around the project footprint revealing the massive scale of the proposed luxury apartment and sports complex.

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