Up In The Air Again

Just when Bruce Ratner thought his Atlantic Yards project was safe at home comes another lawsuit crying foul at the Brooklyn development.

Peter Williams, who previously attempted to halt the development’s use of eminent domain as a member of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, has found a loophole that might throw a wrench into Ratner’s plans – the air above the site.

According to the suit, Williams owns the air rights to the lot where the 22-acre project featuring the Barclays Arena, offices and residential towers is set to be built.

While state agency Empire State Development Corp. seized much of the land for the project, he claims they forgot to do the same to secure the air rights.

“They screwed up,” he told the New York Daily News.

Without the air rights, Atlantic Yards won’t be able to “tower” any taller than four stories, the News said, and Ratner won’t be able to claim vacant possession on the site needed to sell the New Jersey Nets NBA team to a Russian billionaire.

In legal documents obtained by the paper, lawyers for the ESDC claimed the air rights were condemned along with the building underneath and are “not a separate property lot.”

Heading to court to secure the air rights over the site could set the long-awaited development back once more. However, it appears Williams is willing to negotiate – for the right price.

“It has real value,” he said. “Often air rights have more value than the actual property.”