Skip to main content

“Stop the Clock:” advocates urge PACB delay on Atlantic Yards

The signs said:
Atlantic Yards: Show Us the Money
Atlantic Yards: Not Ready for Approval
Atlantic Yards: Environment Matters


And that pretty much said it all, three years and a day after the project was announced. At a press conference yesterday at City Hall, a host of groups and individuals, some of them with different visions of the Atlantic Yards endgame, gathered to urge the Public Authorities Control Board to postpone its scheduled December 20 vote on the Atlantic Yards project. In front of them were posters with the project’s massive scale juxtaposed against its low-rise neighbors.

(Pictured in Village Voice photo: State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (l.) and City Council Member Letitia James. Posters pictured by Jonathan Barkey.)

The PACB, which is controlled by Governor George Pataki, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver must vote unanimously in order for the project to be approved, and there’s pressure on Silver to stall the project until the administration of incoming Governor Eliot Spitzer, a fellow Democrat.

Some ironies

There were more than a few ironies. As Neil de Mause wrote in the Village Voice’s Power Plays blog, “It isn't every day that a bunch of good-government groups hold a press conference to demand that an undemocratic, unelected state panel intervene to delay a public project.”

And both Silver and Spitzer basically support the project, so a delay of a few months might not lead to significant changes in Atlantic Yards.

Then again, the groups assembled hope that Silver and Spitzer will get up to speed on their many concerns, which they say have not been well considered by the undemocractic, unelected Empire State Development Corporation.

Reasons for delay

“A huge amount of information is still missing, and after PACB approval, there will be no legislative oversight of this project, the biggest sole-source land deal in NYC history," said Council Member Letitia James, who represents the area including the site, and who served as the MC for the press conference.

"The Atlantic Yards project would attract more than 20,000 cars per day and many thousands of transit riders to an area often choked with gridlock," said Gene Russianoff of NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign. Criticizing the ESDC’s environmental review, he warned that the agency’s plan would be “condemning downtown Brooklyn to traffic hell."

Good Jobs New York Project Director Bettina Damiani said, "The reasonable goals of economic development require a process that is transparent and accountable,” calling it “unconscionable” for the PACB to consider approving this project without further disclosure of subsidies.

“To rush into this decision is just foolhardy,” said City Council Member Tony Avella, who represents a district in Queens and chairs the zoning committee. “If allowed to go ahead as currently constituted, it’ll actually be a blight on Downtown Brooklyn.” (Locals would locate most of the Atlantic Yards site in Prospect Heights, actually.)

What are the chances?

Will the call to action be heard? James indicated that there had been communication with Spitzer, who likely can influence Silver’s vote, but wouldn’t provide details. Asked what she thought the chances of a delay were, she replied, “Keep hope alive.”

One person who did hear something was Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, an Atlantic Yards booster. He exited City Hall after the event had formally concluded, but there were enough people there to jeer him.

Other listed endorsers of Monday's call for stall included Natural Resources Defense Council, NYPIRG/Straphangers, Sierra Club, Fort Greene Association, Society for Clinton Hill, FROGG, Pratt Area Community Council, BrooklynSpeaks, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Assemblymember Annette Robinson, and the Reverend Clinton Miller of Brown Memorial Church, though not all were present.

Some oppose the project outright, while others want to see it changed significantly or have specific criticisms of the environmental review. Also calling for a delay, though not present, were Assemblymembers Jim Brennan and Joan Millman, who with Robinson sent a letter to Silver, and Assemblymember-elect Hakeem Jeffries, who on Friday sent a letter echoing similar concerns but adding that the project should be held until the eminent domain case is resolved.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…