How Brooklyn’s stadium deal was done

From left: Bruce Ratner and the interior of Barclays
From left: Bruce Ratner and the interior of Barclays

Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in Brooklyn will open tomorrow with a week of concerts by Jay-Z and the debut of the 675,000-square-foot, 22-acre project owes itself to Bruce Ratner’s purchase of the then New Jersey Nets, the New York Times reported. Ratner bought the team in 2004 for $300 million and not because he was a basketball fan — it was his way to bring sports back to Brooklyn and make way for the nearly $5 billion project.

But it was not just the team to whom Ratner had to sell in his pitch. The project also included a residential component with affordable housing, which both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki both strongly supported. Those projects helped pave the way for the use of eminent domain and flushed the project with $305 million in grants.

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The residential component is behind schedule —18 months, in fact — with the groundbreaking of the first of 15 residential towers slated for November. Construction will take place over the next 25 years and may include an office property or hotel.

Of course, the project has its share of critics One of them is Candace Carpentor, a spokesperson for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which represents neighboring areas’ residents. “He garnered political support and taxpayer favors with the promise of huge benefits, including 2,250 affordable-housing units and 10,000 permanent jobs,” she told the Times. “But the only benefit we have received is a traffic-choking, noise-generating, taxpayer-money-losing white elephant and acres of vacant lots where a thriving, multiethnic community once stood.” [NYT] — Zachary Kussin