Wednesday, May 17, 2006

ESDC's Gargano: "We didn't really have to use eminent domain" for Atlantic Yards (?!)

In a Q&A today with the tabloid Metro, headlined Letting a thousand projects bloom, Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) Chairman Charles Gargano, was asked:
What do you say to Brooklynites concerned about the Atlantic Yards?

His response:
The facts are that we didn’t really have to use eminent domain because there were friendly condemnations done. The amount of condemnation that we had to do was very small. I grew up in Park Slope, and another big blunder by the city was we lost the Brooklyn Dodgers. They wanted to build a new Ebbets Field at the Atlantic Yards. And because of that blunder in the ’50s, we have had a blighted look in the Atlantic Yards for nearly 50 years. There will always be people who object because everybody has different personal interests, and that’s OK. But I think what you have to do is do it for the majority.

Friendly condemnations? There have been some friendly buyouts or property owners, but no condemnations as of yet (unless he's conflating the demolition of Forest City Ratner-controlled properties with condemnation). Some owners haven't sold, and likely will hold out, forcing a battle over eminent domain.

The amount of condemnation we had to do? It sounds like he is practicing time travel; the ESDC hasn't condemned anything.

They wanted to build a new Ebbets Field at the Atlantic Yards? Actually, as Michael Shapiro writes in The Last Good Season (p. 42), the site offered was the deteriorating Fort Greene meat market, north of Atlantic Avenue (and the railyards) and just east of the Long Island Rail Road's Brooklyn terminal--in other words, part of what later became the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area (ATURA).

And because of that blunder...we have had a blighted look? How about the slow progress in urban renewal and the failure to issue an RFP for the railyard site?

I think what you have to do is do it for the majority.? Is that why there's been no RFP and no City Council oversight? How exactly do we know this is either desired by the majority or would benefit the majority?

Gargano seems to be even more gung-ho for the project than Forest City Ratner itself. Even before the recent paring back of the Atlantic Yards project by the developer, Gargano declared, "There is no need to scale down the project."

Oh, and it's not "the Atlantic Yards." That's Forest City Ratner's marketing term.

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