Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Net Gains Coming

According to the NY Times, it appears that the long awaited ground breaking for the Nets arena may finally be here: "The developer Bruce C. Ratner has told state and city officials that he plans to break ground in December on his long-delayed $4 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, which will feature thousands of apartments and offices in 16 towers built around a glamorous basketball arena for the Nets."

We can only hope so, since the arena and the team would be a huge boost, not only for the city, but for the thousands of young people that are playing ball in Brooklyn harboring the dream of playing professionally. It will be inspiring for these youngsters, and the Nets will be partnering with the amateur sports groups in the borough to channel the dreams into constructive directions for those majority of young people whose dreams are not commensurate with professional talent.

At the same time, the project will be a big economic boost for the city at a time when the both the mayor and the governor are looking to raise taxes to cover revenue shortfalls; but it hasn't been easy for FCRC (also our client): "But it is unclear whether Mr. Ratner will be able to meet his own deadline to start one of the most ambitious projects in Brooklyn in decades, given the softening economy, the crisis in the debt markets, rising costs and a persistent group of opponents who have filed one lawsuit after another."

There are those who have criticized us for alleged inconsistency over the issue of eminent domain because of our opposition to the efforts of Columbia. That being said, the two projects substantially differ in regards to their relationship to the public interest. Forest City's going to build thousands of affordable housing units, while Columbia resists doing anything substantive for the West Harlem community-and this is without factoring in the economic and social boost that the Nets relocation will bring to Brooklyn.

Still, much may depend on a favorable tax ruling that will give the developer the funds to proceed: "But that financing plan for the arena, known as Barclays Center, is dependent on a favorable ruling by the Treasury Department in the coming weeks that would allow Mr. Ratner to use tax-exempt bonds and a final victory over court challenges. If he is barred from using tax-exempt bonds, his costs will increase substantially for what would already be the most expensive arena in the world."

Let's hope it works out. We're looking forward to a vibrant partnership between the Nets, the borough of Brooklyn, and the city of New York.