Wednesday, April 19, 2006

So, Boymelgreen had a plan for the railyards?

Thanks to an astute reader who informed Curbed.com, and an architectural firm that doesn't delete pages regarding long-abandoned projects, we have a look at sketches of an effort to develop not only the Newswalk building between Pacific Street and Dean Street but also the adjacent railyards. According to the Baltimore-based Design Collective firm:
By acquiring air rights to develop over top of the adjacent Long Island Rail Road Yard, a newly-constructed deck would allow for retail on both sides of Pacific Street and for a new gateway to the project by extending the retail component to Atlantic Avenue. By physically fusing together the two neighborhoods at this social and geographic crossroad, News Walk has the potential to become New York's first truly integrated neighborhood, active, safe, and inviting 24 hours a day

Developer Shaya Boymelgreen wound up just renovating the former Daily News printing plant into Newswalk, which just happens to have been carved out of the Atlantic Yards plan.

Comments Curbed: We'll go out on a limb and guess that residents of Brooklyn probably didn't love this plan either. Hey, sometimes the devil you know, is better than the devil you don't.

Well, I'd never heard of it, and am not sure whether it was floated publicly. Surely the goal to knit together the neighborhoods (the page mentions Crown Heights and Park Slope but, strangely enough, not Fort Greene and Prospect Heights) is a sound one. And the scale of this plan is quite modest compared to Forest City Ratner's 16-tower Atlantic Yards proposal. Perhaps it was too modest to be economically successful, even though the only housing was market-rate.

Had it been discussed publicly, perhaps local officials would have urged an RFP for the railyards, rather than let them sit. A discussion of Brooklyn's housing and retail needs might have followed, and multiple bidders might have competed. And then Marty Markowitz and Charles Gargano wouldn't be making pronouncements about how "no one has done a thing about" the railyards.

Curbed observes, "there was a time when a different future was imagined for the Atlantic Yards." It's still worth repeating that Atlantic Yards is the name of the development, while the MTA calls the railyards Vanderbilt Yard.

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