Atlantic Yards

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Coordinates: 40°41′03″N 73°58′38″W / 40.684226°N 73.977234°W / 40.684226; -73.977234

Under construction, summer 2011

The Atlantic Yards is a mixed-use commercial and residential development project of some 16 high-rise buildings, under construction in Prospect Heights, adjacent to Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene in Brooklyn, New York City. The project covers the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area, with parts extending into the adjacent brownstone neighborhood. Of the 22-acre (89,000 m2) project, 8.4 acres (34,000 m2) is located over a Long Island Rail Road train yard.

A major component of the project is the Barclays Center sports arena, which opened on 21 September 2012.


Abandoned plan of 2008
The Vanderbilt Railyards represents 8.4 acres (34,000 m2) of the 22-acre (89,000 m2) site (as seen in September 2006)

The Atlantic Yards project is being developed and overseen by Forest City Ratner Companies, an arm of Forest City Enterprises, of Cleveland, Ohio.

In March 2008, principal developer Bruce Ratner acknowledged that the slowing economy may delay construction of both the office and residential components of the project for several years.[1]

Groundbreaking occurred on March 11, 2010. The arena was opened to the public on September 21, 2012 and held its first event (a Jay-Z concert) on September 28, 2012.

Elements of the project[edit]

Barclays Center[edit]

The Brooklyn Nets, an NBA basketball team now owned primarily by Russia's second richest man Mikhail Prokhorov, began playing at the Barclays Center arena in 2012. Formerly the New Jersey Nets, the Nets re-branded themselves when they moved to the Barclays Center. Prokhorov is an avid basketball fan, and, with 80 percent ownership in the Nets, he has become the first Russian owner of a major U.S. professional sports franchise. The deal was necessary for Ratner,[citation needed] who was risking losing tax-exempt financing and the Barclays naming-rights deal if he did not break ground within three months' time.[2] The New York Islanders of the NHL will move to the Barclays Center in 2015.


Given the uncertainty of the financial markets, it is unclear when these units would be completed, what the amount of taxpayer subsidies per unit would be, or if there will be enough tax-exempt bond financing available. The development agreement signed in December 2009 allows for delays for subsidy unavailability.

Ground was broken on the first residential building at Atlantic Yards, B2, on December 18, 2012. The building will have 363 units, 50% of those units will be affordable. At 32 stories tall, B2 will be the tallest building in the world built using modular technology.[3]

The housing component of the project has been criticized for its urban density.[4]

Commercial space[edit]

One or two buildings in the Atlantic Yards project would be used for office space, though as of 2010 there is little office market. Retail space would be built at the ground level of buildings.


Looking down Platform B of Atlantic Terminal. LIRR train is on the right.

The project is sited above the train yards belonging to the adjacent Atlantic Terminal, from which it gets its name. Atlantic Terminal which serves the Atlantic Branch of the Long Island Rail Road. Formerly called Flatbush Avenue, Atlantic Terminal is the westernmost stop on the Long Island Rail Road's (LIRR) Atlantic Branch. It is the primary terminal for the Far Rockaway, Hempstead, and, on weekdays, West Hempstead Branches. By transferring at Jamaica, access is available to all other LIRR branches except the Port Washington Branch. The location is also served by a number of bus lines.

The development sits near the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue. It is one of the biggest, and the most congested, intersections in Brooklyn. The increase of car traffic to the area caused by extra housing and the construction of an arena has been frequently cited by critics as a major reason for their opposition to the project. According to the Environmental Impact Statement, the addition of more than 15,000 new residents would not significantly impact vehicular traffic[citation needed], a claim contested by the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods.[citation needed] While traffic was a concern to some it has been noted that there has not been an increase in traffic associated with the arena opening while there has been a large increase in subway and Long Island Railroad use.[5]

The Atlantic Yards project, at its western end, would be adjacent to the Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center subway station, the largest train station in Brooklyn and the third largest transit hub in New York City, serving nine different New York City Subway trains. The project features a new $76 million subway entrance near the front of Barclays Center.[6]

Land to be used[edit]

The proposed development is sited in an increasingly desirable neighborhood in New York City. Prospect Heights has seen remarkable explosion of real estate values.

The bulk of the 22-acre (89,000 m2) project site was a mixture of public streets, private homes and small businesses. Forest City Ratner bought much of this private property and has benefited from the state's use of eminent domain to acquire and close the streets.

The Public Authorities Control Board, which effectively ended the West Side Stadium plan, approved the state financing of the Atlantic Yards plan in December 2006.[7]

The area around the Atlantic Terminal has been slated for redevelopment in the past, but plans for the area emerged only piecemeal. In the mid-1950s, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley proposed that the city condemn a nearby site where he could then have built a new stadium for the ball club to replace Ebbets Field. City officials refused to condemn the property for subsequent sale to O'Malley on the grounds that they did not consider a privately financed baseball park to be an appropriate public purpose as defined under Title I of the Federal housing act of 1949. In 1958, O'Malley relocated the Dodgers to Los Angeles.


A room with ornate brown wooden paneling and oil portraits on the walls. At the left seven people wearing black robes sit behind a similarly decorated wooden bench, elevated slightly from the red-carpeted floor. On the right are several people in suits sitting at chairs behind tables. In the rear is a large window with red drapes.
The New York Court of Appeals hearing oral arguments in Goldstein's case in 2009.

In a Huffington Post blog, Daniel Goldstein called Atlantic Yards[8] "a corrupt land grab," "a taxpayer ripoff," "a bait and switch of epic proportions," and "a complete failure of democracy." Goldstein, who co-founded Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and was the last remaining homeowner (the condo apartment he owned is where the arena's center court is now located) had his home taken by eminent domain by New York State on March 1, 2010 after nearly 8 years of court battles. At that time New York State took sole ownership of his home and moved to evict him, his wife and toddler daughter. At his eviction hearing on April 21, 2010 Brooklyn judge Abraham Gerges forced the Empire State Development Corporation and Mr. Goldstein to settle on an imminent eviction date (May 7) and the constitutionally required just compensation for the home they had seized. The compensation was for $3 million, $760,000 of which went to Mr. Goldstein's attorney Mike Rikon.

FCR eventually boosted its bid to $100 million, and said the overall value of its bid was higher than the appraised value, which was validated by the courts.

Forest City Ratner offered the condo owners in 636 Pacific St. $850/sq. foot, the condo owners at 24 Sixth Ave (Spalding Buildings) $650/sq. foot and undisclosed amounts to renters. Sellers of condos signed a nondisclosure agreement, termed a "gag order" by opponents.[9]

Public opinion[edit]


The project has been endorsed by three governors during its pendency since 2003 (George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer, and David Paterson), and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who control the state agencies—Empire State Development Corporation and Metropolitan Transportation Authority—that are key to the project. The most fervent public support has come from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who saw the project as the opportunity to bring professional sports back to Brooklyn.[10] U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, former Congressman Edolphus Towns, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, former State Senator Carl Kruger,[11] and former Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. have also supported the project.

The project received crucial support from affordable-housing advocates, because at least 30% of the project's units would be reserved for tenants that are low-, moderate- or middle-income.[12] One of the more prominent members of this group has been ACORN, which signed the Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding with developer Forest City Ratner in 2005.

Construction workers have been another group of strong supporters for the project.[12]

Anchor of Fox's Good Day New York, Rosanna Scotto, a native of the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn, is a supporter of the project.[13]


The most vocal and organized opposition group is a nonprofit named Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which has been joined by several neighborhood and civic groups in lawsuits[14] challenging the environmental review. Two of the four elected representatives whose districts include in the project site oppose the project, notably now [[New York City Public Advocate== Letitia James and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. (Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries has been closer to the fence, while U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke is a supporter.[citation needed])

Other neighborhood organizations that are critical of the project are gathered under the banner of BrooklynSpeaks,[15] which initially eschewed a litigation strategy but in 2009 finally went to court, in a case combined with one filed by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn charging that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) failed to consider the impact of an additional fifteen years of construction on the surrounding neighborhood when it approved a renegotiated project plan in September 2009. In November 2010, New York State Supreme Court Judge Marcy Friedman ruled[16] in favor of the petitioners, ordering the ESDC to either provide a justification for its continued use of the original ten-year construction schedule, or otherwise conduct a supplemental environmental impact study. BrooklynSpeaks and DDDB subsequently sought a stay of construction in advance of ESDC's response to the Court order.[17]

Newark mayor Cory Booker campaigned for the New Jersey Nets to abandon plans to play at Atlantic Yards, and instead relocate permanently to the Prudential Center in downtown Newark, already home to the New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall Pirates; however, he later embraced[18] the team's interim move to Newark, from fall 2010 to 2012.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [Slow Economy Likely to Stall Atlantic Yards] By CHARLES V. BAGLI New York Times March 21, 2008
  2. ^ James, Ian. "New Jersey Nets Sold to Russian Billionaire". BET-US. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  3. ^ Trefethen, Sarah (2012-12-19). "Ratner ‘knocking up’ Atlantic Yards". Real Estate Weekly. Retrieved 2013-02-20. 
  4. ^ Schuerman, Matthew (2006-07-18). "Prisoner of Atlantic Avenue". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  5. ^ Berger, Joesph (2013-02-19). "Neighbors Predicted Chaos. Now They’re Just Irked.". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  6. ^ Sheftell, Jason (2012-09-13). "First look at the $76 million Barclays Center subway station". Daily News. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  7. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (2006-12-21). "State Approves Major Complex for Brooklyn". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  8. ^ Goldstein, Daniel (2010-03-12). "What Is Atlantic Yards? A Complete Failure of Democracy". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  9. ^ Gallahue, Patrick (2004-06-16). "Tout of bounds". New York Post. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  10. ^ "Brooklyn Borough President". 2010-03-11. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  11. ^ "Nets Helped Clear Path for Builder in Brooklyn". The New York Times. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Bagli, Charles V. (2011-03-17). "With Federal Case and Modular Building Plan, New Attention for Atlantic Yards Project". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  13. ^ Bondy, Stefan (7 August 2012). "Spike Lee WILL NOT wear that Brooklyn Nets cap". New York Daily News. 
  14. ^ "Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  15. ^ "Atlantic Yards must work for Brooklyn". BrooklynSpeaks. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "sponsors file for stay of construction at Atlantic Yards site". BrooklynSpeaks. 2010-11-29. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  18. ^ "The New Jersey Nets Are Welcomed To The Prudential Center" (Press release). City of Newark, NJ. 2010-03-05. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2012-02-25. 

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