Serial eminent domain abuser and corporate welfare queen Bruce Ratner took out a full-page ad in today’s New York Times trumpeting his despicable Atlantic Yards stadium project in Brooklyn as a glorious opportunity for “building the community from the ground-up.” It’s an ugly yet revealing way to put it—though I suppose Ratner is feeling cocky about things since he's planning a ceremonial groundbreaking today at 1:30 PM. (I’ll be there and will report back later with scenes from the event and the protest.)
Here’s something you should never forget: The 22-acre footprint for Ratner’s proposed “urban utopia” isn’t a blank slate. Before Ratner partnered with the state government in order to seize private property via eminent domain, the area was home to private residences and successful businesses. Homeowner Daniel Goldstein, who has led the fight against this shameful eminent domain abuse, bought a condo for nearly $600,000. Now the government says his property is “blighted” and therefore ripe for condemnation. If that’s what qualifies as blight, no property in the state is safe.
So Goldstein will be displaced while Ratner collects an estimated (by NYC’s Independent Budget Office) $726 million in subsidies and tax breaks in order to build a basketball stadium for the worst team in professional basketball. And Goldstein isn’t the only one to lose everything to the state. The invaluable Atlantic Yards Report recently profiled several of the innocent Brooklyn residents who have had their lives ruined by this atrocious boondoggle. Here’s a little bit from Dan Saks, who finally moved out last December:
"Years of intermittent unannounced utility shut-offs, deafening construction noise just feet from our front window and extreme amounts of dust led us to feel that this was an environment too hostile and toxic to consider raising a family in," he said....
"Feeling like we had no alternatives we accepted their offer and left, fearing that we'd either be evicted with nothing or forced to postpone family planning on account of pro basketball," he reported.
And finally, it's worth repeating that it’s the taxpayers, including those who could care less about basketball, who are paying Ratner to bulldoze homes and businesses, ruin lives, and build a money-making stadium for Ratner's Nets to call home. Those same taxpayers are also helping Ratner to take out offensive full-page ads in the New York Times, which typically charges in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege. As usual, it’s the victims of eminent domain abuse that pay the real price.
For more on the fight against Ratner's Atlantic Yards, check out Reason.tv's "Billionaires vs. Brooklyn's Best Bar."