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BROOKLYN, NY-New York State Supreme Court Judge Joan Madden has ruled against 26 community groups led by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn in their protest against the Atlantic Yards project. The challenge was towards the Empire State Development Corp.’s environmental review and approval of the Forest City Ratner project here.

The lawsuit was brought on by opponents of the Atlantic Yards project, who were opposing public approvals of the project. “We believe that the decision was wrongly decided and we are determined to appeal and win,” notes Jeffrey Baker of Young, Sommer, Ward, Ritzenberg, Baker & Moore, who is the lead attorney for the community plaintiffs.

Bruce Ratner, CEO and chairman of Forest City Ratner Cos., says in a prepared statement that “we are very pleased with Judge Madden’s decision, as it further clears the way for Atlantic Yards and the thousands of jobs, affordable housing units and world-class arena–the Barclays Center–that will accompany the project. After an exhaustive three-year review process, we are continuing to move full speed ahead on the project and today’s decision is a significant step forward.”

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s Daniel Goldstein explains that “we are disappointed by the court’s ruling.” He also notes that Atlantic Yards cannot move forward while the 13 plaintiffs, including homeowners, business owners and tenants, are in federal court in a separate case challenging “New York State’s unconstitutional use of eminent domain.” Goldstein continues that DDDB expects to prevail in that lawsuit as well as on the appeal of Judge Joan Madden’s decision.

Construction work on Atlantic Yards began in February 2007. According to Forest City Ratner, the Barclays Center is expected to open sometime in 2010. To date, roughly 50% of the structures on the site have been demolished or are in the process of being demolished. Twenty-five structures have been demolished and an additional eight buildings, including the former Ward Bread Building, are being demolished or are slated to be demolished in the short term, the company notes. There are 11 vacant lots and 28 other remaining buildings. More than $40 million worth of contracts have already been awarded to contractors for work on the site thus far.

As of now, the federal eminent domain lawsuit was dismissed in June , as GlobeSt.com reported; however. the opponents have filed an appeal. The Atlantic Yards project was first introduced in 2003. After revisions to the initial plan and much public debate, the current plan will take a 22-acre part of Brooklyn and transform it into a mixed-use area that will include a stadium for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. Architect Frank Gehry is the master designer for the entire project, which includes 16 high-rise buildings, more than 6,000 residential units, 247,000 sf of retail and eight acres of public parks.

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