Please note our new postal address when sending
contributions to the legal fund:
121 5th Avenue, PMB #150
Brooklyn, New York 11217
Our coalition consists of 21 community organizations and
there are 51 community organizations formally
aligned in opposition to the Ratner plan.
DDDB is a volunteer-run organization. We have over 5,000
subscribers to our email newsletter, and 7,000 petition
signers. Over 800 volunteers have registered with DDDB
to form our various teams, task-forces and committees
and we have over 150 block captains. We have a 20 person
volunteer legal team of local lawyers supplementing our
We are funded entirely by individual donations from the community at large
and through various fundraising events we and supporters have organized.
We have the financial support of well over 3,500 individual
Reports of Atlantic Yards' Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Yards Flounders and Faces Obstacles, But A Eulogy is Premature
Over one month ago it was reported that Forest City Ratner has indefinitely
halted all work on Atlantic Yards. During the past month a lot has happened
on the Atlantic Yards front.
The economy and some news reports may lead you to believe otherwise, but the
fact is that the Atlantic
Yards project is not dead. Far from it.
Forest City Ratner's project is wounded and floundering, but the developer is
continuing to make every effort to build some version of the development proposal
that would include an arena, controlling 22 acres in the heart of Brooklyn and
speculating on the land (and blighting the neighborhood) until they feel the
market can bear more skyscrapers and condominiums.
We can't let this happen.
Reports of the project's death are misleading. Ratner can only
be stopped if we keep the pressure on politically and especially in court
But, certainly, Ratner's development proposal is facing major
obstacles on multiple fronts, and has had nothing but bad news of late.
We'll list just a few examples:
> Forest City Ratner is facing the worst recession perhaps since
the Great Depression and a frozen credit market.
> The eminent domain lawsuit
organized by DDDB, and funded through thousands of donations from the community,
awaits an argument yet to be scheduled by the court. The project cannot be built
without the properties of the 10 brave plaintiffs—homeowners, tenants,
and businesses. Forest City Ratner doesn't own the land it needs to build the
project, not the arena, not the skyscraper superblocks.
> DDDB, along with 25 community-group co-plaintiffs, is awaiting a ruling
on our appeal of the case challenging
the state's designation of the project site as "blighted," as well
as the project's overall environmental review and approval. The
case was argued more than four months ago and we are cautiously optimistic
about the ruling.
(You can follow the status of the lawsuits here.)
Bye-bye World Famous Architect Frank Gehry – and Calls for a Cheaper Arena Design
> On January 8th the Daily
Street Journal, and NY
Times all reported on rumors that Frank Gehry is no longer working
on the Atlantic Yards project and that Ratner is desperately trying to reduce
the cost of the arena, currently priced at nearly $1 billion. Ratner denied
that the "starchitect" is off the project, but didn't exactly say
that he is still working on it either. Considering that Gehry was used as a
major Atlantic Yards marketing and political tool over the past 5 years, his
rumored and actual removal is a big
problem for the whole Ratner crew.
> A few days after Forest City Ratner announced they are trying to reduce
the cost of their billion dollar arena, the project's biggest political booster,
Borough President Markowitz, called
for...Ratner to reduce the cost of the arena and give it a more "brownstone
feel." (An arena with a "brownstone
Debts, Losses, Falling Stock Prices, and MTA
> Forest City Ratner has a $153
million bridge loan (accrued to $177 million) coming due to Gramercy Capital
Corporation in February. Gramercy, a public company, has
seen its stock drop from $22 to $1.28 during 2008. The loan was used by
Forest City to buy some of the properties they acquired under the threat of
> Forest City Enterprises, the Cleveland-based parent company of Forest City
Ratner, has seen its stock price
fall from $72 to $7.90 in the past year and a half.
> Forest City Ratner is still
carrying a $60 million loan taken in 2005, at interest rates reportedly
over 10%, to help cover operating losses on the New Jersey Nets basketball team.
> The New Jersey Nets, owned in part by Forest City Ratner, lost
well over $30 million in 2008.
> Barclays Bank, which signed on to a $400 million naming rights deal for
the Atlantic Yards arena, is
facing substantial problems.
> Forest City Ratner needs to float the arena bond before the end of 2009
or the IRS will no longer grant the triple tax exemption that the developer
is depending on—losing the tax exemption would cost them an estimated
> Numerous news outlets, most recently the NY Post, have reported
City Ratner is trying to renegotiate its agreement with the MTA to purchase
the Vanderbilt Rail Yard and build a "state-of-the-art" new rail yard.
The developer doesn't want to pay their low-ball $100 million bid (the 8.3-acre
yard was appraised at $214.5 million) up front and wants to build a much cheaper
rail yard than they had committed to constructing. The deal between Ratner and
the MTA has not closed and no money has exchanged hands on the purchase.
While it is a daunting set of factors working against Ratner, to date the Empire
State Development Corporation as lead agency and the Paterson Administration
have been completely hands off the state-sponsored debacle brewing at Flatbush
and Atlantic, leaving Forest City Ratner in the driver's seat. They have been
loath to intervene, and because of that, Ratner trudges onward in his speculative
blighting of Prospect Heights.
We strongly believe that it is high time for the state to take action, and start
over with the community's plan to develop
the rail yards, with truly affordable housing. We urge you to contact the
Governor and tell him it is time to pull the plug on the floundering Atlantic
Yards plan (mail and phone are best):
Governor David A. Paterson
Albany, NY 12224
Other elected officials are here.
Finally, we need (and appreciate) your financial
support more than ever to pursue the legal challenges to this ill-conceived
project. Without your help in stopping it once and for all, the Atlantic Yards
plan remains a daunting threat to our neighborhoods.
You can donate online at this link: www.dddb.net/donate.