Demolition delayed: Facing lawsuits, Ratner will wait for ruling

Bruce Ratner’s wrecking ball was stopped this week — and it was the developer himself who decided not to do the swinging.

At a Manhattan State Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday, Ratner agreed to delay demolition work on the Atlantic Yards site for at least four days, giving Justice Joan Madden time to rule on the latest courtroom attempt to delay the $4-billion, 16-tower residential, office and arena project.

Tuesday’s hearing centered on Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s request that the court halt demolitions for the 22-acre project until the court rules on the group’s larger lawsuit, which charges that the state’s environmental review of the project was incomplete, and must be redone.

Madden asked the developer to hold off on demolitions — which were to be begin on April 18 — until she could rule on the DDDB request for the temporary restraining order.

As a result, not only were Ratner’s demolitions called off, but so was a rally at the construction site planned by DDDB for the same day.

After the hearing, DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein called Ratner’s decision to delay the demolitions “gracious” — but the next day, the ardent Atlantic Yards opponent theatened that his group was ready to reschedule its protest if necessary.

Justice Madden was expected to rule on the restraining order by Friday — after this issue went to press. See www. BrooklynPaper.com for an update.

Earlier, in a related protest, more than 200 people rallied on Sunday against the planned demolitions, saying Ratner was planning to tear down buildings simply to build parking lots for construction workers.

“I thought this project was about getting jobs to people in the community,” Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D– Prospect Heights), who has been increasingly critical of the 16-tower arena, residential and office space project.

“This 1,400-car parking lot conjures up an image of people driving in from Westchester, Long Island and Staten Island. So if the [state] wants to help us get jobs to people in the community, there are some people … who live right across the street.”

Forest City Ratner Vice-President Bruce Bender defended the parking lot plan, saying in a statement that the state required the developer to provide “temporary, paid parking to construction workers to limit their use of on-street parking so they would not take already hard to find spots.”