Big Loss for Atlantic Yards Foes as Environmental Lawsuit Dismissed (UPDATED: Foes—'We Expect to Prevail')

011108 ratner web Big Loss for Atlantic Yards Foes as Environmental Lawsuit Dismissed (UPDATED: Foes—'We Expect to Prevail')A state justice this afternoon dismissed one of two remaining major lawsuits brought by critics of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards project, clearing a potential stumbling block for the $4 billion complex, according to a spokesman for developer Forest City Ratner.

Project critics brought the suit in April, challenging the environmental impact statement, a required document in the state’s approval process (the project was given the green light in December 2006).

The critics’ hope was that the EIS would have been tossed out in court, forcing the Spitzer administration to take a fresh look at the project in order for it to proceed (Critics have long held that the complex was a sweetheart deal between the Pataki administration and Forest City).

An eminent domain lawsuit brought by critics is still pending in federal appeals court, though legal experts say the effort is unlikely to be ultimately successful.

UPDATE 5:45 p.m.: In a statement, Forest City CEO Bruce Ratner said the company is "continuing to move full speed ahead on the project, and today’s decision is a significant step forward." The project is now months behind schedule, based on dates in state documents, and last month, Forest City announced the new arena at the site would not be ready for the Nets until 2010, a year later than planned. Fifty percent of structures on the site are demolished or under demolition, and $40 million in contracts has been awarded, according to Forest City.

The plaintiffs in the suit are vowing to appeal today’s decision, as they have done with the eminent domain case on the federal level. "We expect to prevail in that lawsuit, as well as on the appeal of today’s decision," said a spokesman for plaintiff Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Daniel Goldstein.