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Another lawsuit filed against Atlantic Yards project

Another lawsuit is filed in an attempt to halt the Atlantic Yards development and new Nets arena, but the biggest problem facing Bruce Ratner and crew may be the bond market.

Another lawsuit was filed today, as activists once again attempt to derail public financing of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn and its centerpiece New Jersey Nets (NBA) arena, Barclay Center.

The lawsuit argues public financing of the project should be halted because the main rationale behind the development — to eliminate blight in the area — will not be fully addressed by Ratner and crew. The original plan called for Ratner to pay $100 million to the Metropolitan Transit Authority for the land housing the project, but the terms were later amended; Ratner will not pay $20 million upfront and $80 million over the next 22 years. Because the terms have changed, the activists are arguing blight will not be eliminated until the end of the purchase agreement.

"ESDC willfully stuck its head in the sand regarding the new Ratner deal with the MTA," said lead attorney Jeffrey Baker in a statement from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. "That new deal guarantees that the project, contrary to the legal requirement to remove alleged 'blight,' will exacerbate the 'blight' and make it permanent."

Other arguments in the lawsuit have to do with the lack of affordable housing and the lack of a new appraisal after terms of the deal were changed.

Arguments in the case will be held in December. By then it could be a moot point.

Ratner and Empire State Development Corp. have until the end of December to float $700 million worth of bonds to finance construction of the $900-million arena. That's a pretty short turnaround for such a massive offering: to make things worse, the bond market is certainly in better shape than it was at the beginning of the year, but things are certainly not to normal. If the bonds aren't sold by the end of the year they lose their tax-exempt status — and that might be enough to kill the entire project.

RELATED STORIES: New Barclays Center designs unveiled, with plenty of flash and access; Ellerbe Becket to oversee Nets arena design; Ratner: We expect to build new Nets arena; Is new Nets arena dead? Yes, says architect; Will new Nets arena be scaled back?

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