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Sheldon Silver Could Say No

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Forest City Ratner has been in an ongoing battle to get its proposed Atlantic Yards project approved. Opposition groups like Develop Don't Destroy and No Land Grab continue to oppose the project, even as it inches closer to reality having gained many of the key approvals it needs.

But the New York Times today raises an interesting twist to the story, which is that the fate of the project could end up in hands of Sheldon Silver, the state Assembly speaker.

Sheldon Silver could always just say no.

That is the nightmare facing Forest City Ratner, the real estate developer whose $4 billion Atlantic Yards project must now be approved by an obscure state oversight board on which Mr. Silver, the state Assembly speaker, controls one of three votes.

Over three years, Forest City has assembled an astonishingly wide and deep political coalition behind the Brooklyn project, ranging from outgoing Gov. George E. Pataki to Acorn, the liberal advocacy group for low-income people. The developer has endured thousands of pages of studies and reviews, staged hundreds of meetings and hearings, beat back lawsuits and persisted in the face of a growing and energetic coalition of opponents and critics.

But now — once again — the fate of a multibillion-dollar project comes down to Mr. Silver, a politician who has not hesitated to delay or halt grand development plans when he deems it appropriate.

It was Mr. Silver, along with Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, who effectively killed the West Side Stadium last year by withholding his vote on the Public Authorities Control Board. And in October, Mr. Silver delayed another major project, the $900 million Moynihan Station, questioning the financing behind it.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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