Property Rights

Bruce Ratner Finally Admits It: "This isn't a public project"

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Last month, New York's highest court heard oral arguments in Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, which centered on the state's controversial use of eminent domain on behalf of real estate tycoon Bruce Ratner, who wants to build a basketball stadium, a hotel, and some office and apartment towers in central Brooklyn. As I've previously argued, it's a blatant case of eminent domain abuse.

And as it turns out, Bruce Ratner himself agrees with that judgement. In a startling interview with Crain's New York Business, Ratner finally admitted what his critics have maintained all along: "This isn't a public project." Here are the key paragraphs from Theresa Agovino's article (emphasis added):

In light of a financial crisis that has hobbled many developers, Mr. Ratner refuses to discuss what the project will look like, whether or not it will include an office building and even who will design the first residential tower, which he's slated to break ground on early next year.

Initially, the project called for four office towers, but by early this year, only one was on the drawing boards. Asked when it will go up, Mr. Ratner responds with a question: "Can you tell me when we are going to need a new office tower?"

He has no intention of sharing the designs for the complex. "Why should people get to see plans?" he demands. "This isn't a public project. We will follow the guidelines."

How dare those taxpayers ask to see how their money is being spent! Keep in mind that in addition to getting the state to forcibly seize private property on his behalf, Ratner has received at least $300 million in capital contributions from the city and state of New York, as well as a host of zoning overrides, low-cost financing, property and mortgage tax exemptions, and assorted taxpayer subsidies. As Daniel Goldstein, the lead plaintiff in the eminent domain lawsuit, aptly put it:

If Atlantic Yards  'isn't a public project,' as Ratner now proudly claims, then he should return the public's money and renounce his attempt to seize properties, like my home and my neighbors' homes, that, until today's sudden and uncharacteristic brush with honesty, Ratner always said he was taking for 'public use.'

Go here for more on Ratner's eminent domain abuse.

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  1. D’oh!

  2. Anytime an official attempts to seize personal properties for public use that person should be fired and never allowed to work in that state again.

  3. Why do you hate basketball, Mr. Root? Are you some sort of racist?

  4. We serfs must yield to our masters. We must remember them in prayer and pay them tribute. We must offer them Droit de seigneur. They are, after all, higher and more noble than any of us. They were granted the right to rule over us by God Almighty himself.

  5. This is a huge win! The courts will never

    (Rest of thread deleted and replaced by tax-funded Nets ad.)

  6. Every time I see “Bruce Ratner” I think “Brett Ratner” and I want him strangled for Rush Hour. But then I realize it’s the developer, not the director, and I just want him beaten senseless for being an eminent domain abusing asshole.

    1. You mean Rush Hour 3, don’t you? Rush Hour ruled.

      1. Rush Hour 3 was an exploration and character study of people thrown together from disparate cultures through traumatic events, and how they cope with the stresses of misunderstood individuality, yet have the yearning to be accepted into a group.

    2. Don’t forget “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!” from X-Men 3.

  7. I put some monkeyfoot/blue-ammonia-piss mojo on this Ratner fella. It will result in the Nets sucking balls for the next decade if the deal goes through.

  8. Dennis: “Do not make restaurant here. Bad decision.”
    Mac: “We will crush your skull with our weapons.”

    1. Dennis: “Do not make restaurant here. Bad decision.”
      Mac: “We will crush your skull with our weapons.”

      What does this mean, and why did you post it?

      1. Sunny on FX.

        1. But what’s the point of it? It doesn’t illuminate anything. It only adds unnecessary confusion to the conversation, and thus wastes people’s time.

          1. And Tom falls right into our little trap!
            Bwahahahahahah!

  9. In light of a financial crisis that has hobbled many developers, Mr. Ratner refuses to discuss what the project will look like,

    According to the SCOTUS’ highly expansive view of ED, even they said you have to have a comprehensive plan.

    IF the SCOTUS doesn’t slap this one down with at least a 7-2 ruling, I’ll weep for my country.

  10. Ratner’s eminent domain abuse.

    I would quibble that it’s not Ratner’s abuse. He’s taking advantage of eminent domain decisions by the city and state of New York. They’re the real villains.

    He’s the more obvious target, but if he doesn’t play the NY game, someone else will.

  11. I would quibble that it’s not Ratner’s abuse. He’s taking advantage of eminent domain decisions by the city and state of New York.

    Thanks for maintaining this perspective. Lest we forget, there is no eminent domain abuse from private parties, there are only willing and receptive government agents.

    That is all.

    1. ‘receptive’ being the key word. All interactions with the government involve penetration of some sort, usually unwelcome.

  12. Pfizer abandons site of infamous Kelo eminent domain taking:

    The private homes that New London, Conn., took away from Suzette Kelo and her neighbors have been torn down. Their former site is a wasteland of fields of weeds, a monument to the power of eminent domain.

    But now Pfizer, the drug company whose neighboring research facility had been the original cause of the homes’ seizure, has just announced that it is closing up shop in New London.

    To lure those jobs to New London a decade ago, the local government promised to demolish the older residential neighborhood adjacent to the land Pfizer was buying for next-to-nothing. Suzette Kelo fought the taking to the Supreme Court, and lost. Five justices found this redevelopment met the constitutional hurdle of “public use.”

    http://www.washingtonexaminer……80497.html

    1. None of this would have happened if Suzette Kelo had just rolled over and enjoyed it.

    2. Can she sue again? Sounds like a clear case of fraud to me. Maybe she can get a court to force Pfizer to build a facility there.

      1. No, because the Supreme Court also wrote, that while there has to be a comprehensive plan, the plan doesn’t have to be any good, come to fruition or even be viable.

  13. I would quibble that it’s not Ratner’s abuse. He’s taking advantage of eminent domain decisions by the city and state of New York.

    Thanks for maintaining this perspective. Lest we forget, there is no eminent domain abuse from private parties, there are only willing and receptive government agents.

    Buying political power is no less a crime than selling it.

    Err…rent seekers and their pet politicians should share the tar, feathers, and ride on a rail.

  14. It doesn’t illuminate anything. It only adds unnecessary confusion to the conversation, and thus wastes people’s time.

    You’re not from around here, apparently.

  15. I would wholeheartedly approve of Ratner building a two-hundred-story office tower, if he would promise to jump off the roof.

  16. “Why should people get to see plans?” he demands. Continuing, “Congress doesn’t show their plans!”

  17. Ratner’s got a Dec. 31 deadline to get this thing going. I think he’s getting a little testy with all the little people pointing out inconvenient truths about his little swindle.

  18. Ugh. Too much “little”. Preview!

    1. It could turn into a big problem for big business and their big plans!

      There, balanced it for you.

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