In Arena’s Shadow, Holdouts at Atlantic Yards Site Must Now Leave
Last week was a busy one at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The rusticated arena lost its shot at hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention, but there was still plenty to cheer during its first N.B.A. All-Star celebration.
It was a busy week next door, too. Just across Sixth Avenue, past the prefab apartments and satellite trucks, sits a squat gray warehouse that has stood since the 1930s and has been home to Atlantic Wool since 1997.
Inside, Aaron Piller, the second-generation president, was hurriedly sorting, stacking and selling off thousands of rolls of fabric, from $2-a-yard T-shirt cotton to $100-a-yard cashmeres.
“The more I sell, the less I have to move, not that I know where I’m going,” Mr. Piller said on Wednesday.
Five years ago, Atlantic Yards’s most vocal opponent and obstacle, Daniel Goldstein, agreed to walk away from his three-bedroom condominium for $3 million. His building then came down so that Bruce C. Ratner’s arena-and-apartments complex could rise.
It is Mr. Piller and several other property owners who are keeping the bulldozers from their half-dozen buildings on the 22-acre site. But they all must be gone within the next month or two, by order of State Supreme Court, to make way for the second phase of the development.
The holdouts thought they had years ahead of them, given the expected delays from lawsuits and the reverberations of the recession. But last year Mr. Ratner’s firm, Forest City Ratner, sold a majority stake to Greenland Holdings, a company based in Shanghai. Greenland is eager to see the project, rebranded Pacific Park, completed in less than a decade; condemnations began last June. Those left must now leave.
“We’re so lucky to have found a partner who is impatient, just like we are, and their message to us is let’s get this done,” Forest City Ratner’s vice president for external affairs, Ashley Cotton, said in an interview. “We know our neighbors, we’re sympathetic to whatever experience they’re having, but this is really another enormous milestone on the path of Pacific Park.”
Jerry Campbell, one of two homeowners left, must soon hand over the keys to a pair of rowhouses that his grandfather bought in the 1940s and 1960s after immigrating from Barbados.
Sitting on a couch inside the tin-ceilinged living room of 493 Dean Street, the larger home, Mr. Campbell said he would gladly leave — if only his terms were met.
“I honestly had a firm belief in the rule of law and the project, which, as described, seemed a genuinely good thing for the neighborhood,” Mr. Campbell said, his Barbadian accent coming through (his mother moved back to Barbados and he grew up there). “As long as I could replace what I had afterward, I had no reason to object.”