NEW YORK (AP) -A federal appeals court gave a green light Friday to a $4 billion, Frank Gehry-designed project that would bring a new arena for the NBA's New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit by a group of property owners and tenants facing eviction, agreeing with a lower court judge who had ruled that the seizure of the property under eminent domain would not be unconstitutional.
The appeals court wrote: ``For affected property owners, monetary compensation may understandably seem an imperfect substitute for the hardships of dislocation and the loss of a home or business.
``But federal judges may not intervene in such matters simply on the basis of our sympathies. Just as eminent domain has its costs, it has its benefits.''
The Atlantic Yards project envisions 16 skyscrapers, an 18,000-seat arena for the Nets and thousands of apartments rising from a stretch of Brooklyn now occupied by a rail yard and mostly industrial buildings.
The development planned by Nets principal owner Bruce Ratner has been approved by state officials and praised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as ``the most exciting private development Brooklyn has ever seen.''
Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, who argued for property owners opposed to the deal, said he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
``We're certainly disappointed,'' he said. ``We believe the decision is wrong. And we think it will present an opportunity for the Supreme Court to re-examine the use of eminent domain. This case is all about their ability to forcibly take my client's property.''
He said the plaintiffs will sue in state court if the federal case is rebuffed.
Ratner praised the decision, saying it was a victory for the public good and underscored the importance of ``investing in diverse communities.''
``Atlantic Yards will bring thousands of affordable homes and needed jobs to Brooklyn,'' he said. ``We believe, and the courts have repeatedly agreed, that these are real benefits that will have a significantly positive impact on the borough and the city.''
Ratner announced plans to develop the area in 2003. Three years later, the property owners sued, claiming the development would overwhelm existing neighborhoods and unfairly enrich Ratner.
Another legal appeal seeking to block the development is pending.
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