All Articles Tagged "bruce ratner"
Every good story needs a well rendered setting. For the narrative charting his rise, the one Jay-Z’s been burnishing since his 1996 debut, this is Brooklyn. He may have deserted it for Manhattan, a place more suited to his appetite for luxury and glamour, but the frequency with which he continues to invoke the culture, lessons and aesthetics of the borough, portray a man unwilling to relinquish his status as its chief emissary.
So it made sense that when real estate tycoon and then-majority owner of the New Jersey Nets Bruce Ratner was drumming up support for Atlantic Yards, a $4.9 billion development project (to include the Barclay’s sports center) in the heart of Brooklyn, he had a sit-down with Mr. Carter.
The opportunity to not only be part of bringing professional sports back to
Brooklyn, but also cement his place in its textbook history, proved too tantalizing an offer to turn down. With an estimated stake of 1-1.5%, Jay-Z does not enjoy decision-making power, but the bragging rights are unparalleled, especially when Lebron James may potentially enter the equation.
On March 11, 2010 Atlantic Yards held its groundbreaking ceremony. Along with a fist pump, Jay-Z brought his comments to a close by saying “We did it again Brooklyn, shout out to B.I.G.” For many residents, however, his power move is anything but pro-Brooklyn. To make room for Barclay’s Center, the arena that would be home to the Nets, as well as the other commercial and residential space, Brooklynites have already been displaced.
“The number one concern about the project is that it is a corrupt, undemocratic project,” said Daniel Goldstein, the founder and former spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn. Goldstein spoke to The Atlanta Post the week before he reached an agreement with Bruce Ratner’s development company, Forest City Ratner, to sell his condominium (seized under eminent domain) and step down as spokesman for the anti-Atlantic Yards group. “It is the largest project in the history of Brooklyn that never underwent a single vote by a single elected official,” he said, referring to the fact that the majority of the 49 officeholders representing Brooklyn oppose the project.
Since Ratner purchased the New Jersey Nets in 2004, he’s been trying to move the team to Brooklyn, an effort many regard as nothing more than a plot to acquire prime real estate.
After years of litigation Ratner was successful in securing land rights to a large area near downtown when New York state rallied to his cause. Citing the project’s public benefit, the state not only exercised eminent domain on Ratner’s behalf, allowing him to purchase the rail yards occupying a portion of the site at below-market price, but also kicked in millions of dollars in subsidies. “It’s not about basketball,” said Goldstein. “It’s not about affordable housing. It’s not about removing the so-called blight. It’s not about any of that. It’s Forest City Ratner gaining 22 acres in the heart of Brooklyn.”
The controversy surrounding the use of eminent domain not only stems from the fact that it nullified public participation, but that it was approved by the State Supreme Court on the grounds that the area was “blighted,” which as anyone familiar with the locale knows, is far from the truth.
With the help of a consulting firm and the support of then-Governor George
Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Ratner was able to circumvent public approval, turn a deaf ear to outraged private property owners and obtain the coveted swath of land.
“Forest City Ratner is perhaps the most powerful developer in New York State,” said Goldstein. “It is the largest publicly traded development company in the country, and we have a mayor who is now on his third term, whose hallmark way of doing development in the city is through mega projects.”
The excitement of bringing a professional sports team to a city is overwhelming. Teams can bring out a sense of community spirit and unity which ultimately helps provide a little meaning in a complex world. Cities compete to bring teams to their town because the fans want them. Cities give teams extensive tax subsidies and even offer to use eminent domain to take property away from residents who are not willing to sell their homes in order to have the stadium built. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Well, sometimes it can be.