Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The murmurings of a scaleback, but not of a 50% goal

Everyone expected the Atlantic Yards plan to be reduced somewhat as part of the endgame as state approval approached, and that discussion has now reached the press. A New York Sun article today headlined Pressure Mounts to Curb the Size of Atlantic Yards states:
State officials have discussed with the developer, Forest City Ratner, a reduction in the size of the project, a source said.

Presumably this downsizing, likely to come before the end of the public comment period September 22, would be aimed not simply at the Empire State Development Corporation, but at the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), the body that would then have to give unanimous approval. (PACB member Sheldon Silver killed the West Side Stadium last year.)

And the Department of City Planning, heretofore publicly silent on the project, apparently will weigh in, the Sun said:
City officials said yesterday that the Department of City Planning is drafting written testimony that it will submit to the ESDC that will include comments about the proposed height and how the project fits in the context of the low-rise neighborhood.

It's still bigger

The Sun acknowledged that the project has grown in size, quoting Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn:
Mr. Goldstein said the latest proposal is about 700,000 square feet bigger than the 8 million square feet that was originally proposed in December 2003. Opponents contend that the developer increased the total square footage to about 9.1 million square feet last September, and then in March scaled back plans by about 5%, or 475,000 square feet, to its current total size of about 8.7 million square feet.

Opponents contend? The press shouldn't have to attribute factual information to a partisan side. It makes it sound like proponents and neutrals would disagree about baseline data.

Goldstein called the scaleback discussion strategic:
"They shoot for the sun so they can get the moon. When they get the moon, they act like they have listened to the criticism and responded," Mr. Goldstein said.

How much would a legitimate reduction be? If the project would be twice as dense as the next most dense census tract in the country, shouldn't 50 percent be a rough ceiling for discussion?

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