Brooklyn’s controversial Atlantic Yards development must undergo further environmental review in light of delays that have pushed the project’s expected completion date from 2019 to 2035. A unanimous April 12 ruling by the Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed a July 2011 decision by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman (See Profile), who ordered the Empire State Development Corp. (ESDC), the public authority overseeing the project, to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement for the new schedule (NYLJ, July 15, 2011). “We agree with Supreme Court that ESDC’s use of a 10-year build date under these circumstances lacks a rational basis and is arbitrary and capricious,” the panel wrote.
Although the ESDC prepared a memorandum looking at the effects of the delay, it “contained no comparison of the environmental impacts of ‘intense’ construction over a 10-year period with the environmental impacts of construction that continues for 25 years,” wrote the panel of Justices Angela Mazzarelli (See Profile), David Friedman (See Profile), Rolando Acosta (See Profile), Helen Freedman (See Profile) and Sheila Abdus-Salaam (See Profile).
The case, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn v. Empire State Development, 116323/09, was filed by community groups challenging the approval of the project. “The ruling gives Governor Andrew Cuomo the opportunity and impetus to reconsider and change the course of the project, instead of continuing to allow roughly 14 acres of demolished properties to be held hostage by a developer who has no feasible plan or financial wherewithal to build the desperately needed affordable housing he promised,” Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s cofounder Daniel Goldstein said in a press release.
“Although Empire State Development is disappointed with the decision, we are fully committed to building a world-class development that will bring thousands of jobs and affordable housing to Brooklyn,” Arana Hankin, director of Atlantic Yards for Empire State Development, said in a statement. She noted that the decision does not prevent a new arena for the Nets from opening this fall or affect any associated development in the project’s first phase. “We will continue working toward the full build-out of the project,” she said.