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Borough Hall’s Director of Planning and Development Jon Benguiat raised some eyebrows last week when he suggested that Brooklyn might not become the new home of the New Jersey Nets after all.
Both New York and New Jersey media outlets reported last week that new team owner Bruce Ratner had entertained overtures from at least two foreign investment groups interested in buying the NBA franchise.
Last Monday, during a forum on Coney Island redevelopment at Borough Hall, Benguiat dropped a bombshell of his own when he said “We don’t know whether or not we’ll get the Nets.”
Borough President Marty Markowitz’s point man on major development projects later backed off from the comment explaining that it had more to do with the overall state of the economy than Atlantic Yards in particular.
Markowitz himself told the Courier, “The current state of the American economy underscores the importance of moving ahead with projects like Atlantic Yards, and I am confident the project will happen.”
The borough president insists that the controversial project would create union jobs and much-needed affordable housing, as well as “bring professional sports back to Downtown Brooklyn – becoming just the kind of investment magnet that Brooklyn and New York City need right now.”
Opponents of Ratner’s massive Atlantic Yards project, nevertheless, see signs that cracks are slowly developing.
“When even Borough Hall is admitting that bringing the Nets to Brooklyn is a long shot, it is long past time to stop Ratner’s pointless destruction of Prospect Heights and expenditure of hundreds of millions in public subsidies,” Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Spokesperson Daniel Goldstein said. “It’s time for Borough Hall, New York City and [New York] State to start working with the community’s UNITY plan to develop the rail yards with much needed affordable housing rather than Ratner’s frivolous billion dollar arena.”
Forest City Ratner spokesperson Joe DePlasco had this to say: “We’re confident that the arena will go forward and that the Nets will in fact come to Brooklyn.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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