No Land Grab has a compendium of reactions to Friday’s news that Bruce Ratner, developer for the Atlantic Yards project, says that his arena is behind schedule and the accompanying commercial and residential buildings may not be built for a while.
As I’ve written before, one of the most egregious presuppositions eminent domain advocates make in their argument for the use of the power against property owners is that whatever plan may be, it will actually be built. Normally, this seems just to be an assumed occurrence. Seldom does one read about local officials who take into consideration the wide range of economic possibilities. Rather officials assume that the economy will continue on an upward trajectory. While this may be true in the long term, eminent domain is used to maximize efficiency and to make sure those tax revenues come in as soon as possible. But when the economy slows, the complicated financing schemes that fund developments can totter and collapse. So, in places like Brooklyn, officials may find themselves having neglected variables and may end up with a lot of vacant land and less tax revenue. Given that, local officials really do gamble with their citizens’ livelihoods when they force them out of their homes and businesses, as they base their invocation of eminent domain on the probabilities of short-term economic stability.