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BROOKLYN, NY-After receiving preliminary approval from the Empire State Development Corp. last week, the $4-billion Atlantic Yards project went before the Public Authorities Control Board Wednesday and received its blessing.

The board, composed of Gov. George Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, has been unable to agree on other huge projects in the past, like Moynihan Station.

“I am gratified to have been joined by Majority Leader Bruno and Speaker Silver in supporting this important and exciting project,” says Pataki in a statement after the vote. “I look forward to seeing Bruce Ratner and Frank Gehry’s grand vision turned into reality and to eating a hot dog as I watch the Brooklyn Nets play in Brooklyn’s new arena in the 2009-2010 season.”

Developer Forest City Ratner first introduced its project in 2003. After revisions to the initial plan and much public debate, the current plan will take a 22-acre blighted part of Brooklyn and transform it into a mixed-use area that will include a stadium for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. “The Atlantic Yards project will bring professional sports back to Brooklyn for the first time since the departure of the Dodgers to Los Angeles nearly 50 years ago,” Pataki says.

Architect Frank Gehry is the master designer for the entire project, which includes 16 high-rise buildings, more than 6,000 residential units (including more than 2,000 affordable units), 247,000 sf of retail and eight acres of public parks.

The project is expected to generate 17,000 new residents, 15,000 construction jobs and 5,000 jobs once the project is complete. The project is also expected to generate $944 million in tax revenues for New York State.

Opponents to the project, such as community group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, were petitioning Silver to put-off voting on the project at least until January, when Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer takes office. Those against the project hoped to find an ally in Spitzer.

“Except for a few courageous and principled elected officials, the fix has been in for a long time on Atlantic Yards. Today’s vote is no surprise. The surprise for the PACB, the ESDC, Mr. Ratner and his supporters is that the constitutionality and legality of their illegitimate project has yet to be proved. Fortunately, we still have three branches of government,” says Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s Daniel Goldstein in a statement. “‘Day one’ is just around the corner, and we look to incoming Gov. Spitzer to make sure that everything truly will be different.”

On Oct. 26, 2006 several property owners, facing the threat of eminent domain being used to confiscate their land for the project, filed a lawsuit against a number of people and organizations including the governor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Forest City Ratner and the City of New York. The lawsuit claims the government refused to listen to community concerns, and is misusing its power by using eminent domain to allow the project to go forward.

“The federal eminent domain lawsuit brought by citizens protecting their constitutional rights is rock-solid, and without those plaintiffs’ properties, Atlantic Yards as we know it–an arena studded with 16 outmoded superblock towers–cannot be built,” Goldstein says in the release.

Eminent domain has yet to be used to seize needed land for the development, and many landowners have agreed to sell their property. The ESDC agreed to the use of eminent domain when it approved the latest Atlantic Yards plan last week.

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