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  #101  
Old Posted Sep 20, 2009, 10:02 PM
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That plaza with the "Barclays Arena" is a placeholder for Miss Brooklyn, but it may just grow on people enough that when the time comes to build, there will be more whining about it.
It's important to have a gathering place outside an arena for "pep rallys" and the like. They're doing that here at the Air Canada Centre - the west side outside the stadium had a former parking lot. Half of it is being covered in "Maple Leaf Square", and the other half a gathering place with massive high-def screens for "carless tailgate parties" and the like.
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  #102  
Old Posted Sep 21, 2009, 1:21 PM
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There's not really a lot of space outside of Madison Square Garden, but I do hope they find a way to keep some open space on the plaza as it is.

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  #103  
Old Posted Sep 23, 2009, 11:46 PM
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http://www.observer.com/2009/real-es...atlantic-yards

Russian Billionaire Prokhorov to Buy Stake in Nets, Atlantic Yards

By Eliot Brown
September 23, 2009


The Russians are coming! To Brooklyn.

The investment fund Onexim, headed by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, has agreed to a $200 million deal in which it will take a major stake in the NBA's Nets franchise and its new arena planned for Brooklyn, part of the larger $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project.

The news came Wednesday afternoon in the form of a joint announcement from Onexim and Forest City Ratner—the New York development company, led by Bruce Ratner, that also is a Nets owner—and comes a day after an Onexim blog post that stated the firm made an offer.

According to the joint statement, Onexim has signed a letter of intent to buy a 45 percent stake in the arena project, which Mr. Ratner has said will cost up to $900 million, and 80 percent of the Nets. Then, according to the statement, Onexim will also have an option to buy a 20 percent stake in the larger Atlantic Yards project, which calls for another 16 towers surrounding the arena, the vast majority of which are residential.

“I have a long-standing passion for basketball and pursuing interests that forward the development of the sport in Russia,” Mr. Prokhorov said in the statement.

The move is surely welcome news for Mr. Ratner, who has been frantically trying to pull together the final pieces of the project before the end of the year, when a crucial window for a tax exemption expires. For many months, he has been looking for additional investors in the project, surely not an easy sell given the financial crisis, the tens of millions in losses the Nets currently undergo each year, and the long list of broader uncertainties with the Atlantic Yards project.

But now it seems he has been victorious, and that presumably will help him with the next major step in the preparation: selling $700 million in tax-free bonds for the arena.

No word on when that will be—Mr. Ratner previously said he’d hoped to market the bonds later this month—though the state is required to give seven days’ notice before it approves this type of bond sale.

A few other thoughts on the investment:

It should be noted that the deal is contingent on the approval of the NBA’s Board of Governors, which the two companies said in their statements they expected some time in the first few months of 2010.

And while it’s unclear what the NBA board will do, it’s significant that the big financing hurdle for the project (the bonds) comes before any vote.

The folks at Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, who clearly have their own biases here, sought to raise red flags about Mr. Prokhorov and his ability to win approval from the NBA, bringing up a list of ties to sketchy dealings documented in the press, including a prostitution-related arrest.

Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for DDDB, issued a less than kind statement:

“We never thought the fight against the crooked Atlantic Yards deal could get more crooked or that it would require a degree in Kremlinology, but clearly Mr. Prokhorov is eyeing the Nets and this key piece of Brooklyn to build some Russian-NBA pipeline, and sow his wild playboy oats.”

Also unclear (though we’ve put the query to Forest City): How much of this $200 million injection will go directly toward the project? Forest City owns 23 percent of the Nets, so if the money is spread around to the other investors based on how much of the team they own, then Forest City itself will be taking in significantly less than $200 million. Will it be enough cash to get the project going?

(Forest City’s stake is not being bought out entirely, according to a Forest City spokesman, who said that it and the other existing investors will continue to hold 20 percent).

It also seems as though Forest City gave Mr. Prokhorov a pretty good deal on the team. The $200 million he’s paying for the 80 percent stake in the team certainly comes at a discount, given that Mr. Ratner bought them in 2004 for $300 million and Forbes puts their value last year at $295 million.

It seems there's Congressional pushback already. U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. sent a letter this afternoon to N.B.A. Commissioner Daniel Stern (who had a quote in the Forest City/Onexim statement supporting the deal) urging him to investigate the deal.

Given the high level of subsidy in the project (there's nearly $200 million in foregone federal taxes), Mr. Pascrell questioned the logic in letting a a foreign corporation be the beneficiary of such substantial public incentives.

"[T]hese taxpayer dollars will be directly subsidizing the profits and business risks of this foreign corporation, whose investment will be reportedly smaller then the public’s, instead of benefiting the taxpaying public," wrote Mr. Pascrell, whose district is adjacent to the Izod Center, where the Nets currently play. "Especially during these tough economic times, this is, at best, a questionable use of taxpayer money and it is a question that should be explored."
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  #104  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2009, 4:33 AM
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http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/nets/...5OpLLA2InXdwUI

Russian's purchase of Nets called 'unpatriotic' at home

By JIM HEINTZ, AP
September 24, 2009


MOSCOW -- Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov’s bid for the Nets may be a boon to the troubled basketball team, but some Russian legislators and analysts call it a blow to the nation’s sports.

“I can’t consider this action as anything other than unpatriotic,” Aslambek Aslakhanov, a member of the upper parliament chamber’s sports committee, said Thursday, according to the state news agency RIA Novosti. “We also have talented children here, but sports isn’t being developed. They’re not trying in order for us to return to our former sports ranking of best in the world.”


The collapse of the Soviet-era “Big Red Machine” that was a dominating force in Olympic Games has rankled many Russians, but the sports prowess has surged in recent years with an array of top tennis players and the recent victory in the World Ice Hockey Championships.

Prokhorov, Russia’s richest man, reached a tentative deal Wednesday to acquire 80 percent of the Nets’ shares and fund nearly half the cost of building a new arena. Prokhorov, who owns a share in the prominent Russian team CSKA, says he wants the deal partly as a way to get access to the NBA’s training methods and educate coaches on how to improve Russian basketball.

But the hundreds of millions of dollars could have been spent better in Russia, members of the Russian parliament said.

Viktor Ozerov, another upper-chamber legislator, said Prokhorov is sending his money in the wrong direction.

“I don’t deny that Mikhail Prokhorov has put money into developing sports in Russia, but I would have liked all the means he considered possible to have gone to specifically supporting sports in the fatherland,” Ozerov was quoted as saying.

The Kremlin hasn’t commented on Prokhorov’s move, but members of the upper parliament chamber, the Federation Council, commonly reflect the views of the Russian leadership.

Sergei Nechuvilin, who heads the sports management center at the Moscow Financial-Industrial Academy, said that based on other oligarchs’ sports ventures, Prokhorov’s buying the Nets won’t have much impact at home.

“(Roman) Abramovich obtained Chelsea, and that didn’t help the development of Russian soccer,” he told the news agency.

However, from a purely business standpoint, Prokhorov’s move makes more sense than buying a Russian team, Nechuvilin said.

“Any team in the NBA, like the top soccer clubs in Europe, is already well-formed and has a concrete sports product with a concrete audience. ... In buying a Russian club, it has to be understood that for a long period it will be the so-called investment period.

“If you buy a basketball or soccer team (in Russia), it’s necessary to build all the sports and commercial infrastructure from scratch,” he said.

The 6-foot-6 Prokhorov — who made his fortune in metals, real estate and insurance — says he was an avid basketball player in his youth.

The deal, although accepted by the Nets, still faces examination by the NBA before it goes up for a vote by the league’s governors.
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  #105  
Old Posted Sep 28, 2009, 2:13 PM
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http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/b...t38JVzXJ0b9ePM

Marty hails Nets' buyer

By RICH CALDER
September 28, 2009


Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz yesterday broke his silence over the anticipated sale of the New Jersey Nets, claiming he’s not red-faced over billionaire Russian playboy Mikhail Prokhorov taking the lead in the team’s expected move to Brooklyn.

"Brooklyn is the Russian capital of America, so Mr. Prokhorov will feel right at home here, and I have been assured he will put the interests of Brooklyn first when it comes to making [the planned] Barclays Center and its benefits to Brooklyn a reality," Markowitz told the Post.

The beep sought to dispute borough politicians and political operates sourced in Friday’s edition who said Markowitz behind closed doors is embarrassed and angry over developer Bruce Ratner’s announcement last week that he plans to sell a majority stake in the Nets to Prokhorov.

Prokhorov would also finance the long stalled-arena portion of Atlantic Yards, considered the legacy project of Markowitz’s political career, and potentially salvage the residential and commercial portions of it.
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  #106  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2009, 10:58 PM
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^^Russian's purchase of Nets called 'unpatriotic' at home


It's ironic but not surprising that the Post would print an article like this. Perhaps they looked in the mirror, saw Aslakhanov and said to themselves, "We can be douchier than him!"

The mind boggles. In the meantime, thank you very much Mr. Prokhorov, we'll take it!
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  #107  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2009, 11:26 PM
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http://www.observer.com/2009/real-es...s-heads-albany

Atlantic Yards Heads to Albany

By Eliot Brown
October 12, 2009


On Wednesday, Albany will host the start of a closing chapter in the saga of Atlantic Yards, the mammoth $4.9 billion housing, office and sports arena development proposed to rise near downtown Brooklyn.

Six years since the project was first publicly announced, opponents of the plan are slated to argue their case against eminent domain before the state’s highest court, the last main pending lawsuit that has the potential to kill the project (other suits are expected, though the likelihood of success is generally viewed as low). The suit, which challenges the use of eminent domain to build the project, completes the tour of project opponents who have brought their views to all branches of government, and thus far, have been spurned by all three (three governors have supported the project, as have the legislative leaders and the appellate division in the New York court system).

Few expect the opponents of the project—the appellants here are a group of property and business owners—to be successful at the Court of Appeals, as the argument is something of a reach. New York is considered one of the most lenient states when it comes to use of eminent domain, and a report released last week by a group highly skeptical of eminent domain, the Institute for Justice, found “New York is perhaps the worst state in the nation when it comes to eminent domain abuse.”

There are briefs aplenty for anyone interested in the legal arguments of the case, with the landowners appealing the unanimous lower court decision that found the use of eminent domain was justified given the clear public benefits of the project.

There were amicus briefs submitted by business owners facing eminent domain at Willets Point, the Institute for Justice and a collection of Brooklyn neighborhood and housing groups, all of which urged the court to find in favor of the landowners. The basic argument: the court has the ability to declare that eminent domain is not justified in this case, as have courts in many other states.

From the Willets Point business owners' brief:

This court has the opportunity, at a minimum, to restore the right of a reviewing court to determine whether in any particular case there has been abuse in the exercise of the power of eminent domain. It also has the ability to correct the eminent domain abuse which has been the hallmark of New York State.

The Bloomberg administration, which is using eminent domain for many of its economic development projects, weighed in on the side of the state, contending that takings are indeed allowed by law:

Because the public purposes of the Atlantic Yards project are so clear, Appellants resort to attacking the last 70 years of eminent domain jurisprudence and argue that the Public Use Clause of the State Constitution does not mean "public purpose," and that under the State Constitution property may not be condemned unless it can be used by each member of the public. Under Appellants’ interpretation, many public projects utilizing the City’s eminent domain power would be invalid, including Metrotech and Times Square.
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  #108  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2009, 10:28 PM
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Nets weighing a temporary move to Newark arena

October 22, 2009
STAR-LEDGER STAFF


The Nets are considering playing their regular season home games at the Prudential Center in Newark while a new arena is being built for them in Brooklyn, several team officials said last night.

After drawing large crowds for two preseason games in Newark -- including nearly 16,000 last night for a game against the New York Knicks -- the Nets are warming to the idea of spending a few years at the Prudential Center
as long as they can get out of their lease at the Meadowlands without having to pay an $8 million penalty.

A temporary move to Newark could happen as early as next season, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak for the club.

The team now plays at the Izod Center in East Rutherford and has said it will remain there until the move to Brooklyn, which could come as early as the 2011-12 season.

Brett Yormark, the team's CEO, would not discuss a move to Newark, saying only that he appreciated the fan support the team received for last night's game.

However, a number of other officials indicated the Nets have softened to the idea of making the temporary move to the Prudential Center as long as the state waives the penalty the team would have to pay to break its lease at the Izod Center.

The lease with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority runs through 2013 but the Nets can opt out at any time as long as they are moving to Brooklyn. Otherwise, they are subjected to the $8 million penalty.

Nets owner Bruce Ratner is reluctant to leave the Izod Center because a move to Newark could undermine the Brooklyn plans and give New York officials the impression they're playing one side against the other, the team officials said.


Ratner needs to break ground for the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn before the end of the year to beat a Dec. 31 Internal Revenue Service deadline for the issuance of tax-exempt bonds that will be used to fund construction costs. He also must come out on the right side of a New York State Court of Appeals decision about the legality of using eminent domain to acquire land at the site. That decision is expected next month.

The Nets have played two preseason games in Newark. The first game, on Oct. 13 against the Boston Celtics, drew 12,790, which officials said was roughly three times the size of a typical preseason crowd at the Izod Center. Last night's game against the Knicks drew 15,721.

The Prudential Center, which seats 18,342 for basketball, is home for the New Jersey Devils hockey team and Seton Hall University basketball team. The Nets have played in East Rutherford since 1981.

Last month, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov agreed to purchase 80 percent of the team and 45 percent of the proposed arena by pouring $200 million into the cash-depleted Brooklyn venture.

Under the agreement, Ratner's Forest City Enterprises group will retain controlling interest in the proposed Barclays Center but relinquish authority over basketball operations. It also will give Prokhorov's Onexim Group the right to purchase up to 20 percent of the Atlantic Yards Development Company, which will develop the area around the proposed $800 million arena.


Prokhorov was not at last night's game, but he sent a number of Onexim executives, who were seated at courtside opposite the Nets bench.
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  #109  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2009, 3:09 PM
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http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/n...raHkgtzU7fEXyN

Nets buyer & pals hoop it up
Q: How much does a Russian billionaire spend on lunch in NYC? A: 19G!




By RICH CALDER
October 23, 2009


Russia's richest man blew the equivalent of 552,000 rubles for lunch at one of the city's priciest restaurants as he celebrated his soon-to-be new career as a basketball baron, sources told The Post.

Billionaire playboy Mikhail Prokhorov, who is close to buying the Nets, took a half-dozen comrades to Nello on the Upper East Side Wednesday afternoon, following a meeting with NBA owners.

He concluded that they had hit it off so well, he'll have no trouble getting them to approve his plan to buy the team.


The tab and tip totaled close to $19,000 for Prokhorov and his pals.

Besides pricey booze, the mogul from Moscow and the men and women in his party spared no expense on food.

Their check included $825 for three orders of truffle tagliolini; $600 for four orders of truffle carpaccio; $210 for three orders of veal chops with mushrooms; and $72 for six large waters.

Not to mention $15 for a bowl of chicken soup.

The lunch was topped off with a $5,000 bottle of vintage 1998 Chateau Petrus and two bottles of 2002 Montrachet Latour for $3,600.

Nello Balan, owner of the celebrity hotspot, said Prokhorov acted like the deal to buy majority ownership of the New Jersey Nets from developer Bruce Ratner and move the club to Brooklyn was already done.

"He was very happy to be in New York and was celebrating his new acquisition," Balan said.

"He said that as of January he would own the Nets, and is looking forward to being a very big part of New York."


Balan declined to disclose Prokhorov's exact tab. But a copy of the receipt obtained by The Post showed it totaled $15,007.87.

A source said Prokhorov was great with gratuities. He dropped a 25 percent tip of roughly $3,750.

Balan described Prokhorov as a "great guy," extremely polite, and a semi-regular at Nello who dines there every couple of months when he's in town.

Prokhorov declined comment, but NBA Commissioner David Stern confirmed yesterday's Post report that the Russian billionaire was warmly received by other NBA owners and that the Nets sale appears to be a slam-dunk.

"I look forward to the completion of the transaction" by the end of 2009, Stern said.


Prokhorov must gain approval of at least 23 of the NBA's 30 owners following an extensive league background check given to prospective new owners.

With an estimated fortune of $9.5 billion, Prokhorov is famed for his lavish lifestyle.

He was questioned -- but not charged -- in a prostitution investigation in France in 2007. Stern confirmed the well-publicized prostitution case isn't being raised by the league and called it a "non-issue" because Prokhorov wasn't arrested.

Prokhorov last month reached a tentative agreement with Ratner to pay $200 million up front and an unspecified amount of future funding to acquire an 80 percent stake in the Nets and a 45 percent share of the $800 million Barclays Center project in Brooklyn.

Balan, meanwhile, has his own plan for getting the city's economy up to speed.

"The city needs at least two more Russian billionaires to come in and spend money, whether it's on new buildings or on buying teams," he said.

Additional reporting by Edmund DeMarche
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  #110  
Old Posted Nov 20, 2009, 1:05 PM
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Dog pile on Ratner — another Yards suit is filed


A month ago, citizens viewed the new Atlantic Yards model. Today, some sued.


By Stephen Brown
November 1 9, 2009


A welter of community groups and politicians joined the legal pile-on on Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project on Thursday, claiming in a lawsuit that the state shirked its duties by approving major modifications to the project over the summer without a review of the environmental consequences.

Brooklyn Speaks, a coalition of eight community groups that has taken a backseat to other opposition efforts, filed the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court on the grounds that the June modifications allow Ratner to take far longer to build the $4-billion, 16 tower arena, residential and office complex — and a longer build-out time only worsens the “blight” in and around the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues that the project is supposed to remedy.

“The Empire State Development Corporation has ignored its statutory duty to act in the public interest,” said Assemblyman Jim Brennan (D-Park Slope), a member of the coalition. “By approving a modified Atlantic Yards project without so much as a new site plan, let alone a committed completion date, the agency has handed over to Forest City Ratner control of 22 acres of Brooklyn, no strings attached.

“The ESDC must address the likelihood that Atlantic Yards will continue to expand the kind of urban blight the agency now pretends the project will remove,” Brennan added.

The suit has some common ground with a suit filed in October by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and, as such, may be consolidated into one mega legal case.

“We are pleased that the opposition is getting bigger,” said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein said. “It was big before and it’s only getting bigger.”

An ESDC spokeswoman did not seem too intimidated by the growing chorus of opposition to the project. “This new lawsuit is similar to the lawsuit filed one month ago,” she said. “Repeating this claim, however, does not make it any more valid.
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  #111  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2009, 3:19 AM
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How can you file a lawsuit after so much time has passed? If Ratner wins the Eminent Domain case can he go ahead and break ground so that his financing is still intact despite this recent lawsuit?
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  #112  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2009, 4:17 AM
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Brooklyn Speaks, a coalition of eight community groups that has taken a backseat to other opposition efforts, filed the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court on the grounds that the June modifications allow Ratner to take far longer to build the $4-billion, 16 tower arena, residential and office complex — and a longer build-out time only worsens the “blight” in and around the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues that the project is supposed to remedy.

WOW, seriously what are these people smoking?? It has already taken far longer for Ratner to clear all the hurdles (a few still pending). These are the same idiots that have filed lawsuit after lawsuit time and time again in an attempt to hault the entire project. Modifications were made due to the local bickering and the rising cost of the entire development. It defies logic. Until Ratner is able to break ground, the area will remain in blight, but who's to blame??

Bruce Ratner is one man building Brooklyn. On the other hand, the NIMBY's are the ones destroying it.
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Old Posted Nov 23, 2009, 8:05 AM
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WOW, seriously what are these people smoking?? It has already taken far longer for Ratner to clear all the hurdles (a few still pending). These are the same idiots that have filed lawsuit after lawsuit time and time again in an attempt to hault the entire project. Modifications were made due to the local bickering and the rising cost of the entire development. It defies logic. Until Ratner is able to break ground, the area will remain in blight, but who's to blame??

Bruce Ratner is one man building Brooklyn. On the other hand, the NIMBY's are the ones destroying it.
Bruce Ratner has basically taken a shit on the greater community surrounding this project at every step of the way. Most complicated is the issue residents take with Ratner's use of eminent domain, which took viable and occupied properties and demolished them. Now that land has been evacuated and cleared, the residents should have been guaranteed the product that Ratner promised when he took the properties over, but he hasn't done that, and the residents are rightflly pissed, because Ratner basically stole land to build something he never did.
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  #114  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2009, 5:22 PM
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A court has ruled Ratner can use eminent domain to proceed with his development. However; he still has to contend with 300 lawsuits pending.
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Old Posted Nov 30, 2009, 2:39 PM
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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/25/ny...ards.html?_r=1

Ruling Lets Atlantic Yards Seize Land



The Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn has been delayed for three years by a flurry of lawsuits,
the collapse of the credit and real estate markets and a glut of luxury housing.


By CHARLES V. BAGLI
November 24, 2009

After enduring three years of delays, several lawsuits and the collapse of the real estate market, the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn took a major step forward on Tuesday when New York’s highest court ruled that the state can seize private property for the 22-acre development.

The Court of Appeals ruled 6 to 1 that the state could exercise eminent domain in claiming businesses, public property and private homes for economic development projects like Atlantic Yards. In doing so, the court backed the state’s assessment that the area in question — where some holdouts had refused to sell their property — fit the legal definition of being blighted.

The ruling also had broader implications — reaffirming New York’s use of eminent domain even as many state legislatures seek to curb government’s power to condemn private property.

The project’s opponents had argued that eminent domain on behalf of the private developer, Bruce C. Ratner, was improper and unconstitutional. They vowed to continue their battle, but there was no question that a cloud of uncertainty that has hung over Atlantic Yards for more than a year had lifted.

Mr. Ratner called the court’s ruling a “light-switch” kind of decision for the long-stalled project. “I look at this as the last major hurdle; now we can proceed as we’ve wanted to for the last three years,” he said on Tuesday. “The courts have made it clear that this project represents a significant public benefit for the people of Brooklyn and the entire city.”

Mr. Ratner plans to begin selling tax-free bonds next month to finance the development’s cornerstone project: an 18,000-seat basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues near downtown.

Construction work is already under way at portions of the site. The developer expects that it will take about 28 months to build the arena, enabling the Nets to move from East Rutherford, N.J., to Brooklyn around June 2012.


Those opposed to the project said the decision, while a setback, was hardly the end of the fight.

“The fight against the Atlantic Yards project is far from over,” said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a community group that opposes the project. “The community has four outstanding lawsuits against the project and, meanwhile, the arena bond financing clock ticks louder and louder for Ratner. While this is a terrible day for tax-paying homeowners in New York, this is not the end of our fight to keep the government from stealing our homes and businesses.”

If construction begins in the coming weeks as expected, Atlantic Yards will stand out in a city where 530 construction projects are stalled, sitting lifeless and without adequate financing in virtually every neighborhood.

Atlantic Yards would transform a busy intersection of two thoroughfares dominated by a railroad cut where Long Island Rail Road trains are cleaned between rush periods. The billion-dollar arena would be the most expensive in the country and home to Brooklyn’s first major sports team since the Dodgers left after the 1957 baseball season. Plans also call for 16 high-rise towers on nearby blocks, mostly residential buildings with as many as 6,430 apartments.

The developer has said that he will start the first residential building six months after beginning the arena. But with so many new apartments sitting vacant, analysts say it could be many years before demand would justify building so many units in one neighborhood.

The arena would be built on an 8.5-acre railyard and on adjacent property, much of which Mr. Ratner has acquired.

Mr. Ratner is not expected to get possession of all the property until sometime next year. He and his underwriters, Goldman Sachs, plan to sell the bonds for the arena by mid-December. They must complete the bond sale by Dec. 31 to qualify for tax-free financing. Otherwise they would have to resort to conventional financing, which could be prohibitively expensive.

In the next few days, the developer is also hoping that the rating agencies will give his bonds an investment-grade rating and a lower interest rate. On Tuesday, a state-sponsored local development corporation authorized the sale of a combination of tax-exempt and taxable bonds.

“We anticipate having the ratings necessary to successfully market this transaction and fund the project by Tuesday,” said Greg Carey, a managing director of Goldman Sachs.

In the meantime, Mr. Ratner’s company, Forest City Ratner, completed construction of a $50 million temporary railyard, just to the east of the original one, and turned it over to the Long Island Rail Road on Monday. The company, which was the development partner for the Midtown headquarters for The New York Times Company, continues to do construction work on the railroad property while it awaits title to the rest of the 22-acre parcel.

Even in New York, where large-scale development is always a contentious affair, Atlantic Yards has been a long-running story of a tenacious developer and an equally implacable opposition. The development has been hobbled by a series of disputes ever since it gained state and city approvals in 2006.

Mr. Ratner bought the New Jersey Nets in 2004 for $300 million, not out of a love for basketball so much as a lever for a large real estate project. The developer promised great architecture with designs by Frank Gehry; lots of affordable housing for teachers, firefighters and construction workers; a larger and better railyard as a replacement; and for sports romantics, a professional basketball team.

But critics, led by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and some local elected officials, said the proposed towers would loom over the low-scale neighborhood and worsen traffic. Opponents resented that just as the area was improving, they were threatened with condemnation by a developer who got $305 million in subsidies from the state and the city, as well as tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks.

Since 2004, the project has lost some luster. Mr. Ratner scrapped Mr. Gehry’s designs for a glass-walled arena and 16 towers. He renegotiated his deal to buy the railroad land. Instead of paying $100 million at closing, he will make a $20 million down payment and pay the rest over time, while building a smaller permanent railyard than originally promised.

Now, he is selling a majority stake in the Nets to a Russian billionaire and basketball enthusiast, Mikhail D. Prokhorov.

The Nets, who are currently on a West Coast road trip, have started the season 0-13.



________________________________________

http://netsarescorching.com/2009/11/...y-in-brooklyn/

For the Nets, A First Victory in Brooklyn

by Mark Ginocchio
Nov 25, 2009

Victories have been extremely hard to come by for the Nets this season. But after an assist from the New York State Court of Appeals yesterday, the Nets earned a victory that could go a long way towards changing the fortunes of the franchise.

Yesterday’s ruling by New York state’s highest court still does not make the Nets proposed move to Brooklyn a definite – financing for the project is still a necessity for this move to happen, and this ideally must be accomplished before the end of the year, all in a down economy.

But make no mistake. Though opponents of the Atlantic Yards Development and the Barclays Arena will continue to talk about the number of lawsuits they have filed and will continue to file, yesterday’s ruling in favor of the developer’s use of eminent domain to acquire the property they need in Brooklyn to build this project was a critical blow to the opposition. Opponents can try attacking the way state agencies like the Empire State Development Corporation or the Metropolitan Transportation Authority do business, but if Bruce Ratner is able to get the financing his need to qualify for tax exempt bonds, Brooklyn will finally become a reality for the Nets organization.

In our comments section yesterday, one of our readers, calling all toasters, wrote: “LeBron or no, this is the most important day for the Nets in the last 3 decades. They should have a permeant home, a larger fan base, a wealthy owner, and (for once) some sparkle.”

While there are still a good chunk of Nets fans who would rather the team stay in New Jersey, those who believe that it’s in the organization’s long-term interest to build their future in Brooklyn likely shared this level of enthusiasm. In a season that has already seen its lion-share of frustration, anger and disappointment, the state’s court ruling was the most silver of linings. Brooklyn brings new possibilities to the organization: a state-of-the-art arena that, even without the grandiosity of architect Frank Gehry, should still be impressive. There’s also the ability to promise current players and free agents an opportunity to shine in the world’s biggest media market, in that market’s hippest borough.

Then there’s the promise of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. While there has been some buzz as of late that Prokhorov’s takeover of the team is not totally contingent on Brooklyn, having details of the move finalized by the end of the year, would certainly make the transition to new ownership a lot simpler. With Prokhorov, the Nets will have an owner who has a track record of spending to win – something the organization has sorely lacked during the Ratner era. While I agree with calling all toasters about the magnitude of yesterday’s decision, I think the organization’s most important day will ultimately be decided by NBA owners if and when they approve Prokhorov as the new Nets owner in the near future.

But until then, the focus remains on Brooklyn and the Atlantic Yards. As a resident of New York, it’s certainly disconcerting that there is legal precedent that a private developer can grab someone’s home for the sake of project that may, or may not “improve” the region. But from a basketball perspective, this ruling is as big as it gets. Now it’s up to Ratner and his team to push this project over the finish line – get the financing he needs so this organization can get out of the purgatorial state it has been for the past six years. The ball is now firmly in your court Ratner, and with the season sinking around you, it’s on you to finally deliver on your promises to bring the Nets to a better place.

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http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/..._brooklyn.html

A Net gain for Brooklyn: High court did right by the city in Atlantic Yards lawsuit

Editorials
November 27th 2009


The state's highest court has given a crucial go-ahead to plans to build a pro basketball arena and a major housing development at one of Brooklyn's great crossroads. Good for the judges. Good for New York.

There is much to like in the Court of Appeals decision regarding the Atlantic Yards project, starting with new hopes that the Nets will have a home in the city for the 2011 season and that thousands of apartments will rise on land that has been fallow for more than four decades.

By a 6-to-1 vote, the court dealt a small band of opponents a 26th straight defeat in their legal war of attrition against a project that grew only more critical as a jobs producer with the economic downturn. Hats off to developer Bruce Ratner for persevering through six years worth of regulatory approvals and lawsuits.

It is to New York's shame that moving even the worthiest projects off the drawing boards is so difficult in a town that prides itself on getting big things done. All you need are some chanting pickets and a stack of summonses.


On the upside, the court rendered expeditious judgment, positioning Ratner to meet a year-end deadline for financing the start of construction and - even more important - established a wise standard for the use of eminent domain in New York State.

Lawyers for a handful of property owners - among the few who have not sold to Ratner at handsome prices - had asked the court for nothing less than a radical reinterpretation of the state Constitution. Many feared the panel would take an aggressively activist approach in keeping with a recent tendency to flex its judicial muscle.

Didn't happen. The panel declined to repudiate the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial Kelo decision, upholding the taking of a Connecticut home to make way for a now-abandoned commercial development.

Instead, the majority threaded a fine needle. It affirmed that New York may take property by eminent domain only for public use - except when an area has been deemed to be blighted. The court also established that it would not second-guess a blight finding that was reasonable.

The Atlantic Yards zone, at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Aves., fit the blight definition well beyond reason.

With the small exception of a slice occupied by the complaining property owners, the tract has been a designated urban renewal area since 1968 and has stood vacant for all that time. Much of it is occupied by a below-grade cut for the Long Island Rail Road.

Now, if New York is lucky, Ratner will get to work on the arena, perhaps to be home court for Lebron James (we can dream), followed by 6,000 residential units - a third of them affordable - and 8 acres of open space. The public interest has been served.
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Old Posted Nov 30, 2009, 8:14 PM
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The Nets have more wins in this project than they do for their season.
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Old Posted Dec 1, 2009, 9:01 PM
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Originally Posted by NYC4Life View Post
The Nets have more wins in this project than they do for their season.
That is true. It is clear that the NIMBYs will be calling for the arena's demolition long after it's built. Hey, why give up a losing battle?


http://www.observer.com/2009/politic...-rating-mostly

Nets Arena Wins Needed Bond Rating, Mostly

By Eliot Brown
December 1, 2009

In a major boost to the proposed new Nets arena for Brooklyn, credit ratings agency Moody's gave the proposed financing for the project an investment-grade rating, a large hurdle that developer and team owner Bruce Ratner had been struggling to overcome in recent weeks.

Moody's sent out a press release Tuesday afternoon announcing that it had assigned a rating of Aaa3, the lowest notch above "junk" grade bonds, to $500 million in tax-free bonds for the arena.

This does not appear to be all of what Mr. Ratner had hoped. Last week, a state development agency said it expected $600 million in tax-free bonds, which itself was lower than executives had initially said they wanted (the arena's costs have been estimated between $800 million and $900 million). The less there is in tax-free bonds used to finance the project, the more expensive it gets for the development firm, Forest City Ratner, which has been scrambling to cut costs on the project for over a year.

The next (and most important) step is to actually sell the bonds to investors in the next couple of weeks. The bonds must be sold and a set of other loose ends tied up before the end of the month in order to qualify for an Internal Revenue Service deadline on the tax-free debt.

In its report on the bonds, Moody's laid out a number of notable risks with the project: the fact that the team is relocating to a new location, that the finances of the team are poor (more than $70 million in pre-tax losses a year, according to SEC filings made by Forest City), "uncertain demand for premium seating," and uncertainties over sponsorships, other events and ticket sales. Sports facilities traditionally take in the bulk of their revenue from a small percentage of seats and luxury boxes, meaning that the ability to sign up corporations to fill the luxury seats will be integral to making the arena a financial success.

The deal's structure, however, is considered to be generally secure, as far as private sports deals go. The owners must give Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs)-the city is making the arena exempt from property taxes, providing hundreds of millions in savings to the developer-which pay off the debt service.

Should the project actually go forward, it would be the fifth new professional sports arena or stadium to open since 2007 in the area, all with substantial public subsidy, as is common with sports facilities. This year the Yankees and Mets opened their new ballparks; the Giants and Jets have a new stadium set to open next year; and the Prudential Center opened in downtown Newark in 2007.

There are at least three other lawsuits outstanding that, if successful, would threaten the larger Atlantic Yards project, of which the Nets arena is a centerpiece. One of those, challenging the environmental review, was dismissed by the state's top court today.
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Sell those bonds and get a shovel in that ground already! The NIMBYs have all but lost the war.
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http://www.observer.com/2009/real-es...-naming-rights

Did Barclays Get a Discount on Nets Naming Rights?



By Eliot Brown
December 3, 2009


Are the naming rights for Bruce Ratner's planned Nets arena worth what they used to be?

In January 2007, Mr. Ratner, Nets owner and developer of the planned $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, trumpeted a record-setting naming rights deal for the new $900 million basketball arena that would be the centerpiece of the project.

While Mr. Ratner's firm never released an exact number, it was widely reported that British bank Barclays would pay nearly $400 million over a 20-year deal to slap its name on the venue, which, at the time, was to be designed by stararchitect Frank Gehry. The move was a huge win for Mr. Ratner, a record price that would bring in a big injection of funds with a well-respected name.

But now, after a historic economic crash, lengthy project delays, and the dropping of Mr. Gehry as project architect, there's reason to think the deal is less than it once was.

According to documents related to the arena's financing that were released Thursday, Barclays will pay $10 million a year to the arena's owner for the 20-year deal. Looking solely at this, it would seem to make it a half-off discount, but there are a number of other untold fees paid directly to the Nets as part of the naming rights, according to the documents. Forest City Ratner declined to provide those numbers, and a spokesman for Barclays declined to comment.

"Naming rights agreements always include the arena, team and hospitality assets. Ours are the same," Joe DePlasco, a Forest City spokesman, said in a statement.


Whatever the fees paid directly to the team, it's hard to think that they're twice $10 million a year. After all, a consultant's study attached to the documents refers repeatedly to the transaction as a $200 million naming rights deal, and uses that number as a basis of comparison for other naming rights deals.

IF THERE WAS INDEED a revision, it came either at the end of 2008 or earlier this year. The original 2007 contract expired at the end of 2008, but was extended after Barclays and Mr. Ratner's firm, Forest City Ratner, renegotiated. At that time, new terms were not released, though Barclays released a statement saying it was "unwavering in its commitment" to the project. The financial documents released now say the deal was again amended in August 2009.

The language in those documents—a preliminary offering statement for $500 million in tax-free bonds, for which Mr. Ratner is now attempting to find buyers—say that Barclays will pay $10 million a year, which is by far the largest committed revenue stream so far. The offering statement lists $35 million in contracts that have been signed thus far for various other sponsorships and suite licenses, including the naming rights deal.

Based on numbers compiled by a market study—which is attached to the bond documents—the Barclays Center deal is the largest ever for an arena with just an NBA team, but is more comparable to a few other arenas that host both NBA and NHL teams. In 2010 dollars, Atlanta's Philips Arena has a 20-year contract worth $256 million, according to the market study's author, CSL, and Boston's TD Banknorth Garden is worth $185 million. When the size of a metro area is taken into account, according to CSL, the Nets naming rights deal is only the 11th-largest of NBA-only arenas.

The whole 772-page document is here (the naming rights bit starts on p104), complete with market studies and estimates.

A few other tidbits: The developer forecasts $23 million a year from luxury boxes and suites, and $32 million a year from concessions. There's also a planned $1 "green building fee" to be tacked on to every event ticket—Nets or otherwise—which is estimated to bring in $1.9 million a year.

Mr. Ratner must sell his $500 million in bonds before an I.R.S.-imposed deadline of Dec. 31. His bonds were rated investment grade by two ratings agencies earlier this week, and now the company will market and try to sell the bonds to investors. There are also at least three other lawsuits pending, though officials and others involved with the project are doubtful that the litigation will be successful.
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Old Posted Dec 15, 2009, 11:09 PM
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http://www.observer.com/2009/real-es...ing-nets-arena

Ratner Wins Bond Financing for Nets Arena

By Eliot Brown
December 15, 2009

Doubts are fading for Bruce Ratner's new Nets arena planned for Brooklyn.

Mr. Ratner, owner of the Nets, has successfully marketed $511 million in tax-free bonds to build the arena, clearing the largest remaining hurdle to the project. Mr. Ratner's firm, Forest City Ratner, announced the news Tuesday afternoon, saying the bonds were priced at 6.48 percent.

The bond sale comes amid a last-minute race to finalize numerous parts of the larger Atlantic Yards project before the end of the year, when an IRS exemption expires. Since the summer, Mr. Ratner has redesigned the arena; renegotiated a land sale in a deal rather favorable to him; renegotiated a subsidy deal with the state; nearly finalized a revised subsidy deal with the city; tentatively sold the Nets and 45 percent of the arena development to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov; and now sold $511 million in tax-free bonds.

He still needs to raise $146 million in taxable bonds, and put in more than $200 million in equity from Forest City. The arena is to cost more than $900 million, and is planned to be the first component to rise on the 22-acre Atlantic Yards site.

There are numerous lawsuits and legal actions outstanding that challenge the project.
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