Bruce quietly buying up Prospect
Over the past several months, developer Bruce Ratner has been quietly
plowing his way through Prospect Heights, purchasing everything property
owners are willing to sell.
So far he has bought up a crumbling furniture warehouse, a luxury condominium
building and, just recently, he closed on a four-story brick building
where he plans to build the tallest tower in Brooklyn.
The six-block stretch between Flatbush and Vanderbilt avenues, home to
upwards of 400 people, has never been so popular.
That’s because Ratner, principal of Forest City Ratner, is now looking
to construct Atlantic Yards, a residential, retail and commercial development
centered around a basketball arena to house his newly purchased New Jersey
Nets on that site.
Just last month the developer purchased 624 Pacific St., a four-story
brick building off Flatbush Avenue, which is home to four rent-stabilized
Each tenant living there received letters in the mail dated July 14 informing
them that that the building had been sold to an entity known as “Arena
Nominee Sub F, LLC,” and that rent checks should be sent to Forest
City Ratner’s main office at Metrotech.
The tenants, mostly artists and writers, are opposed to the project and
have placed anti-arena banners reading “No land grab” and “Hell
no we won’t go” along the outside of the building.
Will Lashley, a film and video editor who has lived in the building for
nine years, said he was concerned about what is going to happen.
“We have not been offered anything,” said Lashley, who has consulted
with an attorney about what will happen to them if Ratner wants to tear
down the building and put up another in its place.
“I don’t want to lose this apartment, what am I going to do.
It’s going to change my entire lifestyle. I might have to leave New
York altogether,” said Lashley who pays “well under $1,000”
for his one bedroom apartment.
The previous owner of 624 Pacific St., K.C. Shemtov, who described his
profession as “buy low, sell high,” is also negotiating to sell
his own offices just a few doors down at 640 Pacific St.
Shemtov declined to comment on the selling price for either building.
In order to build the 8-million-square-foot Atlantic Yards project, including
a 19,000-seat arena and 17 towers, Ratner will either have to buy-out
or ask the state to use eminent domain to condemn over 11 acres of private
The loudest objection to the plan has been over the issue of eminent domain
— the power of the state to condemn private land for public use —
and in order to quell those cries Ratner has taken to purchasing property
throughout Prospect Heights.
Just last week, Ratner finally closed on a deal with residents at the
posh Atlantic Art Building, a 32-unit luxury condominium at 636 Pacific
News of that deal made headlines a few months ago when word got out that,
as part of the agreement, owners were banned from speaking out against
the project and would have to designate two people to speak in favor of
One resident, Daniel Goldstein — a leader of Develop Don’t Destory
Brooklyn, a group opposed to the project — has refused to sell.
Ratner’s other purchases include a mattress and furniture warehouse
at 585 Dean St. that houses Frederick’s Furniture.
Several other buildings within the 21-acre footprint have also sold in
the past two months, but Ratner declined to confirm if he was the buyer.
The city’s Department of Finance takes several months to process
real estate transactions.
Tenants at 812 Pacific St., a four-story building at the eastern end of
the project near Vanderbilt Avenue, learned that the building had recently
“I’m not too thrilled about it,” said Maria Gonzalez, who
has lived in 810 Pacific St. for 31 years and is afraid that her building
is next. “There are lot of memories here.”
“We are not discussing that at this time,” said Joe DePlasco,
a spokesman for Ratner when asked this week about which properties the
developer had purchased.
While some developers have been selling their land, others have refused.
Henry Weinstein, who owns close to one acre of property including a 20,000-square-foot
vacant lot and a seven-floor storage facility on Carlton Avenue stretching
between Pacific and Dean streets, said he has no intention of selling.
©2004 Community News Group