The Empire State Development Corp. last week approved a modified general project plan for the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. The proposed project is a mixed-use development, primarily composed of apartment towers.

Developer Forest City Ratner Cos. seeks to use $700 million of tax-exempt bonds backed by payments in lieu of taxes to build an arena on the site for a professional basketball team. An ESDC spokeswoman said the issuer expects to market the bonds before the end of the year.

The Internal Revenue Service no longer permits this kind of PILOT bond financing for sports facilities but the Atlantic Yards project was grandfathered in, provided the bonds are sold by the end of 2009.

The project still faces a lawsuit over the state’s use of eminent domain to seize private property on behalf of the developer. Opponents of the project said last week that they may file an additional suit against the ESDC because they claim the corporation was required under state law to undertake a supplementary environmental-impact review.

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