Originally created 05/05/04

Nets owner says it will try to avoid eminent domain in Brooklyn



NEW YORK -- The real estate developer who purchased the New Jersey Nets and plans to move the team to Brooklyn will try to reach agreements with those who would be displaced by a new arena rather than try to remove them through eminent domain.

"We're looking to substantially modify our plan, if necessary," said Jim Stuckey, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner, speaking about the company's original proposal to force people out through government eminent domain laws.

At a City Council committee hearing Tuesday, the Bloomberg administration and the developer said they didn't know how many people would be displaced. Forest City Ratner previously had said 250 to 400, while opponents of the arena maintain that at least 870 residents would have to leave, in addition to 500 people who work in the neighborhood near downtown Brooklyn.

The sale of the Nets, who play in the Meadowlands sports complex in East Rutherford, N.J. - to developer Bruce Ratner, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner, was announced in January; the NBA has not given its approval.

Ratner wants to build a Frank Gehry-designed arena for the team over the Atlantic Yards rail depot, which is owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He is seeking to buy the air rights from the state-run MTA.

The $2.6 billion project would include 4,500 new housing units, more than 2 million feet of office space, including four new office towers, and 6 acres of open space. The development would include a running track, skating rink and promenade.

The Bloomberg administration says that the 19,000-seat arena could generate $20 million annually in tax revenue and that the entire project would create 14,400 construction jobs and 7,400 permanent jobs.

The 800,000-square-foot project, however, has angered some neighborhood residents, who fear the arena would worsen traffic, crowding and pollution and would force people and small businesses out by inappropriately applying the state's eminent domain rules. Three city blocks would be demolished.

Eminent domain laws allow governments to take private property for public use after its fair market value is paid.