Weak economy could slow Atlantic Yards project

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The slowing economy is likely to delay the office tower and three residential buildings of the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project Forest City Ratner Cos is developing in the New York borough of Brooklyn, the New York Times said on Friday.

“It may hold up the office building,” the Times reported Chief Executive Officer Bruce Ratner as saying. “And the bond market may slow the pace of the residential buildings.”

Ratner did not specify the kinds of delays possible.

His comments are his first public indication that the weakening economy has slowed the project, spanning 22 acres at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, the Times said.

Forest City Ratner is the New York subsidiary of Forest City Enterprises Inc FCEa.N.

Ratner told the Times he was confident that construction on a $950 million basketball arena for the Nets would start by the end of the year. The arena was to be surrounded by the office tower, known as Miss Brooklyn, and three residential buildings in the first phase of the project.

“Forest City Ranter remains committed to Atlantic Yards in its entirety and our investment in Brooklyn and the City is a long-term one,” Ratner said in a statement on Friday.

“Today’s business environment will not determine the final face of this project,” he added.

Spokesman Jeff Linton said the company plans to begin construction of the first residential building in 2009.

Reporting by Ilaina Jonas, editing by Richard Chang