Goldstein has been the most vociferous opponent to Atlantic Yards, a massive infill development project that used eminent domain to reclaim several buildings. He was the last holdout, the lone tenant in his building after every other was bought out by the developer, Forest City Ratner. Along with the $3 million, Goldstein has agreed to step down as spokesperson for his anti-Atlantic Yards organization, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, but not to leave the opposition or stop speaking out against the project, something he's been doing for years. Goldstein and his compatriots took their fight all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming that seizing private property for a private development was an abuse of eminent domain.
The court did not agree. As of March 1st, ownership of his home was transferred to the Empire State Development Corp., which told him to pack up his wife and kid and move out by May 7. Yesterday he reached a settlement with the developer, who will give him $3 million to do so; he initially was offered $510,000 by the state to leave.
Certainly, his legacy will be profoundly altered, and plenty have dismissed him as more sellout than holdout. His agreement to a variation on the gag order -- stepping down as DDDB's spokesman -- garnered him a fresh round of derision, too, but it's done nothing to quell his sharp tongue. "It wasn't enough, I guess, for Ratner to decimate my neighborhood, take my home, and kick me out," Goldstein said in a statement. "They also felt they had to cut out my tongue."
He goes on to clarify what happened: "I did not sell my home today. I had no home to sell as the state took my home on March 1st.... My home was seized by the government to give to a private developer. What I did do was agree to leave my home rather quickly in return for a payment. What I did do was what I needed to do as a responsible husband and father to make sure that my family could make an orderly transition to a new home in Brooklyn."
What has he given up in exchange for his three million bucks? A chance at martyrdom, and perhaps his acceptance of such a large sum will hurt the cause in the long run -- people will hold out in other eminent domain abuse cases not to stand up for what's right but to attempt to wrest a larger check from developers.
But what has Goldstein gained? Enough cash for a mint brownstone in a landmark neighborhood ... where eminent domain will almost certainly never threaten to take it.
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