A state judge has ruled that a back-room deal between Bruce Ratner and another big-time developer for control of a key piece of real estate in the Atlantic Yards footprint was “improper.”
Judge Ira Harkavy issued an unequivocal ruling on March 1 in favor of Henry Weinstein, who owns a Pacific Street building that Ratner needs to tear down to make room for his 16-tower arena, residential and office-space complex.
Weinstein had rented office space in the building to developer Shaya Boymelgreen — but then Boymelgreen sold his 48-year lease to Ratner, a deal that paved the way for the building to be condemned by the state for Ratner’s benefit.
But Harkavy ruled that Boymelgreen had no right to transfer the lease without Weinstein’s permission.
“The leases in question here clearly and unambiguously required tenants to ‘first’ obtain the written consent of the landlords before any assignment of the leases,” Harkavy wrote.
It is unclear what the implications of Harkavy’s ruling are for Ratner, who has begun demoliton work for Atlantic Yards.
The ruling means that control of the building returns to Weinstein, who is one of 13 tenants and property owners that are suing Ratner and state officials over the wrongful use of eminent domain to clear land and turn it over to Ratner.
Atlantic Yards opponents say the transfer of lease allowed Ratner to misrepresent how much property he controlled in the Atlantic Yards footprint when he was making his case for the project’s approval with the Empire State Development Corporation and Public Authorities Control Board. Both bodies have since approved the project.
Had the state not believed Ratner controlled the building, it might have been less quick to invoke eminent domain, opponents say.
Forest City Ratner would not comment on the judge’s decision.
But in an interview with The Brooklyn Paper, Boymelgreen said he will appeal the judge’s ruling decision.
“[I was told] that we lost our lease [and] that Ratner … lost the lease that we sold him,” said Boymelgreen.
“We’ll appeal, of course, and that will take a long time,” added Boymelgreen. “[Weinstein] always wants a dollar more. … When the lawyers start costing him more than he’ll get, then he will stop.”