Forest City, ESDC must pay Atlantic Yards foes’ legal fees

Atlantic Yards and ESDC's Kenneth Adams
Atlantic Yards and ESDC's Kenneth Adams

Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner and the state agency Empire State Development Corporation have been ordered to pay the legal fees of the community groups opposing them in the construction of the mega project.

A New York State Supreme Court judge decided last week to award money to attorneys who challenged the ESDC’s deal to extend the Atlantic Yards development time without conducting an environmental impact study.

Attorneys from the community coalitions Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and BrooklynSpeaks requested $300,000. Judge Marcy Friedman ordered that a special referee determine the fees.

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Last year, the New York State Appeals Court ruled that Forest City Ratner and ESDC must conduct a study for its time extension of 10 years to 25 years. The environmental survey would have included a public hearing.

The ESDC signed a development agreement with Forest City Ratner in 2009 that included the timetable switch. The agreement was revealed after the agency reapproved the $5 billion project, which led to lawsuits challenging the approval.

“Had the ESDC disclosed the terms of the development agreement that were being negotiated when the petitions were initially heard, or brought the agreement to the court’s attention promptly after it was executed, construction would not have been as advanced on the arena at the time of the court’s determination requiring” an environmental impact study, Judge Friedman wrote.

The ESDC had hoped that a third round of litigation would be the charm to overturn the rulings that required them to complete the study. [Atlantic Yards Report]Mark Maurer