A state appellate court struck down a crucial, but not final, legal challenge to Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project today, rejecting a challenge to the environmental review brought by project critics.
Ratner is still awaiting a key decision on a lawsuit that challenges the use of eminent domain for the project, which calls for the development of a Nets basketball arena and more than 6,000 apartments near downtown Brooklyn. The project has struggled in the economy and has been unable to proceed due to the legal challenges; at the same time, the developer is struggling to make the project financially feasible in the rough economic climate. Many observers expect the eminent domain lawsuit to ultimately be dismissed, given the relatively broad power New York eminent domain laws give to the state.
Opponents had higher hopes for the environmental suit. Environmental challenges have doomed large projects in the past—see Westway, the failed plan to remake Manhattan’s western edge—and a victory could have necessitated lengthy changes to be made by the developer, Forest City Ratner.