8/27/2006

Now Ratner faces boot: New York NY Post, 8/22/06

By Patrick Gallahue

Foes of Brooklyn's proposed NBA arena have complained for years that the wrecking ball would knock Prospect Heights residents out of their homes - but now one opponent has the chance to give developer Bruce Ratner the boot.

Property owner Henry Weinstein, some of whose buildings could be condemned to make way for the Atlantic Yards arena and high-rise megaproject, is suing to get New Jersey Nets owner Ratner evicted from one of Weinstein's buildings.

"I want to kick them off my property," Weinstein said of Ratner and his Forest City Ratner Cos.

In 1999, Weinstein leased a former factory on Pacific Street to fellow developer Shaya Boymelgreen for 48 years.

This year, Boymelgreen turned the Pacific Street lease over to Ratner's development company, which could - with the state's aid - end up seizing Weinstein's building to put up the $4.2 billion professional basketball arena and residential complex.

Weinstein claims Ratner took over the lease so that he could tell the state he is in control of the property in making his case for the six-square-block project.

So Weinstein's suing Boymelgreen to cancel the lease.

"[This] has allowed Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) to claim leasehold interests in [Weinstein's] properties even as FCRC is threatening [Weinstein] with condemnation . . . in order to construct a basketball arena for the Nets," court papers read.

Ratner lawyer Jeff Braun dismissed the rival developer's claim.

"While Forest City Ratner is not a party to this lawsuit, Mr. Weinstein's claims completely lack any merit," Braun said.

"Mr. Boymelgreen assigned the leases to Forest City Ratner as permitted by the leases, and Mr. Weinstein unreasonably withheld his consent."

A lawyer for Boymelgreen declined to comment.

Weinstein said he doesn't object to the buildings or arena that would make up the Frank Gehry-designed Atlantic Yards.

He just doesn't want his and other private property seized via eminent domain.

"God knows I'm not against housing or economic development. I'm a developer myself," he said. "But constitutional rights are a much bigger issue."


New York Post: www.nypost.com