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Pols Sign On to Lawsuit Aimed At Blocking Ratner Demolition

Three lawmakers announced last week they are filing briefs in support of a lawsuit to stop the planned demolition of six buildings in the footprint of the proposed Atlantic Yards project. The elected officials include City Councilmember Letitia James, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Congressman Major Owens. The three represent the district where the proposed project is located, and have expressed opposition to the plan. “My colleagues and I stand 100 percent with the plaintiffs – the people who would be most impacted by Forest City Ratner’s project,” said James. “Our lawsuit asks for nothing more than what the state law requires – that the environmental review be conducted in a fair and methodical way, with objectivity and integrity,” she added. The lawsuit started about a month after Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) announced plans to demolish the six buildings, which the company owns. FCRC contends they are structurally unsound and pose chemical hazards such as being built utilizing asbestos. The properties include the Underberg Building at 608-620 Atlantic Avenue; 461, 463 and 585 Dean Street; and 620 and 622 Pacific Street. After announcing the demolition, FCRC reportedly first agreed to James’ demand for an independent engineer to review findings that the buildings need to be demolished. However, they later agreed to allow James to tour the buildings, but refused to have another engineer examine the sites. The groups signing onto the lawsuit include Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the Fort Greene Association, Boerum Hill Association, Society for Clinton Hill, Pratt Area Community Council, Fifth Avenue Committee and Prospect Heights Action Coalition. Additional plaintiffs include the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, East Pacific Block Association, and the Dean Street Block Association (4th to 5th Avenue). All have been highly critical of the project. Also named in the suit is the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) for allowing the demolition plans. The suit seeks the disqualification of ESDC’s special outside counsel, Sive, Paget & Riesel (SPR) on the grounds that SPR has previously represented FCRC on the Atlantic Yards proposal, constituting a serious conflict of interest. A FCRC spokesperson said the company has no comment on pending litigation.

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