Saturday, July 29, 2006

Was ATURA planning for (part of) the AY site--or just a framework?

It's already been established that the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area (ATURA) would incorporate less than two-thirds of the proposed Atlantic Yards site, and an even smaller proportion of the properties subject to eminent domain.

So the incomplete coverage is an argument against ATURA being cited under the standard set in the Supreme Court's Kelo decision, which said that a community planning process was a prerequisite for the use of eminent domain.

(The project site is in blue, and ATURA in red, including the dark red, so the overlap is striped.)

But was ATURA actually a planning process? While it incorporated a broad area into a framework for urban renewal, the disposition of individual parcels was subject to specific planning decisions.

No look at the Vanderbilt Yard

And the main component of the Atlantic Yards plan that sits within ATURA, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, has been a functioning railyard. There had been proposals for decking over the site, including a possible campus for Baruch.

However, in recent years, there were no attempts to market the site, and no requests for proposals, as Winston Von Engel of the New York City Department of City Planning said in March.

"We didn't decide to take a look at the yards," Von Engel said at a meeting of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee. "They belong to the Long Island Rail Road. They use them heavily. They're critical to their operations. You do things in a step-by-step process. We concentrated on the Downtown Brooklyn development plan for Downtown Brooklyn. Forest City Ratner owns property across the way. And they saw the yards, and looked at those. We had not been considering the yards directly."

So there may have been a framework for planning, incorporating the northern segment 60+% of the Atlantic Yards site, but there was no specific planning. And there was no planning at all for the buildings on Dean and Pacific streets, some of which were renovated following rezonings.

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