Judge Won't Stop Arena Construction, Says Atlantic Yards Needs New EIS

Barclays Center - Midnight July 11

Although New York State Judge Marcy Friedman said the Empire State Development Corporation needed to provide a new environmental review of the overall Atlantic Yards project, she declined to stay any construction on either Barclays Center or any other upcoming phase of the $5 billion development.

No one, except for the staunchest critics, thought the judge would stop construction on the arena, now half done. It is still scheduled to open in September 2012.

Critics were spinning the decision as a victory for community groups opposed to the project. They also admitted  the judge had given ESDC and Forest City Ratner, in the words of critic Norman Oder, "significant breathing room". Friedman refused to issue a stay on Phase I construction, which includes the arena and three apartment towers, or other work on the project, adding it was "premature" to issue a stay regarding Phase II, which involves more residential construction.

Critics had charged that the delay in the project's buildout, from 10 to 25 years, requires a new EIS, which Friedman has now tasked the state agency to prepare. The ESDC, Bruce Ratner's partner in the project, hasn't yet said whether it will appeal the ruling but noted, "all components of this important project will continue". Mikhail Prokhorov, who currently controls 45% of the arena, also has an option to buy up to 20% of Atlantic Yards. He's expected to decide on that option in the next few months.

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