In the New York Post, columnist Andrea Peyser takes aim at those property owners who sued to try to stop their homes from being seized to build a new Nets arena and an associated development known as Atlantic Yards. She writes: "The Court of Appeals says the small knot of resisters who've refused to sell their properties to developer Bruce Ratner -- at handsome profits, I might add -- can be displaced by eminent domain. This is good news to the many New Yorkers who will win jobs and affordable homes, and bad news only to the selfish handful who'd refused to let their neighbors get a shot at prosperity. Smack in the middle of some of the richest real estate in the city sits Atlantic Yards, a spot so blighted, it's an outrage nothing has been built there in 40 years." As this New York Sun editorial points out, the 50% "affordable" housing that is part of the development was negotiated by ACORN, a group that the Post has been busy savaging elsewhere in its pages. It's not "selfish" for a man to resist the government seizing his own home that he worked to buy when the government is going to take that home and turn it over to a combination of rich folks such as Mr. Ratner and the Nets players and poor folks such as ACORN's "affordable" housing clients. Even the architecture critic for Bloomberg News, the wire service named after the mayor who enthusiastically backed the Atlantic Yards project, calls the latest design for the Nets arena in Brooklyn "a life-sucking eyesore."
A couple years back, Mr. Ratner was mailing out fliers to residents of affected neighborhoods with quotes from New York Times, New York Post, and New York Daily News editorials backing the project. The New York Sun, along with a community newspaper called the Brooklyn Papers, was the only paper that opposed the project. Now the Brooklyn Papers have been bought by the parent company of the New York Post, and the Sun has ceased daily print publication. The project's opponents seem to have exhausted their legal appeals, and Ms. Peyser calls them "selfish." Some of the area around Atlantic Yards is blighted, but some of it, including some of the property that the government wants to seize, is not blighted at all. To the extent that it is blighted, it is because of government ownership of the rail yards and because of Mr. Ratner's poorly designed shopping mall that already exists nearby. The announcement that Mr. Ratner is going to spend 10 years on a huge construction project that is 50% "affordable" housing served to freeze improvements that were already under way on their own organically in the surrounding blocks. If Mr. Ratner and the city and state government were to announce plans tomorrow to kick the New York Post's owner, Rupert Murdoch, out of his $44 million Fifth Avenue triplex and use the space for "affordable housing" and a basketball arena, would Mr. Murdoch be "selfish" to resist? Of course not. If ACORN and Mr. Ratner want to team up to build something in Brooklyn, more power to them, but instead of using the force of goverment to seize the private property of homeowners, let them pay a market-clearing price the way any other would-be property buyer does.
The Atlantic Yards Report has more.