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Court Rules Eminent Domain Can Be Used On Atlantic Yards Project

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The New York Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the state can use eminent domain to force the sale of businesses and residential properties to make way for the long-delayed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

A group consisting of tenants and owners against the plan was quick to call the ruling unconstitutional, claiming it benefits private interests instead of the public, as eminent domain requires.

The 6-1 decision paves the way for developer Bruce Ratner to move ahead with his nearly-$5 billion project.

“Once again the courts have made it clear that this project represents a significant public benefit for the people of Brooklyn and the entire city,” said Ratner in a statement.

But the opposing group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn says it will not give up.

"The fight against the Atlantic Yards project is far from over,” said the group in a statement. “The community has four outstanding lawsuits against the project and, meanwhile, the arena bond financing clock ticks louder and louder for Ratner."

"It's never been about affordable housing. It has never been about new jobs. This is a scam," said Brooklyn resident and plaintiff David Sheets.

The plan calls for office space, apartments and a new 18,000-seat basketball arena for the Nets.

"We're very happy that this project will be going forward," said Peter Davidson of the Empire State Development Corporation. "We just had a meeting right now which affirmed the right to issue bonds, to fund the project, and we are looking forward to a groundbreaking early next year."

The Empire State Development Corporation and Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed that the court decision will benefit the city.

"This is the beauty of development in New York City, a significant issue like this is contentious. People have different opinions, that's part of the process," said Davidson. "We're happy the court made this decision, we're very happy this project will be going forward."

"The state court rules in favor of the city because this is a project the city really needs," said Bloomberg. "It will help Brooklyn, it will help all of New York, it will give us another great venue for the big events that define New York."

The developer has an end-of-the-year deadline to receive a final go-ahead, in order to ensure tax-exempt financing.

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