Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Public input sought! A stop at the West Side yards storefront gallery

Last night I wandered over to the corner of 43rd and Vanderbilt Avenue to see the storefront exhibit set up by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) featuring scale models, videos, and other information provided by the five bidders for the Hudson Yards (aka West Side yards) development project.

Frankly, given the information available, it's almost impossible for a layperson to sort through the proposals. Someone should produce a matrix comparing key aspects of the project. Also, though it may have been because I stopped by late in the day, there were only two handouts, such as the brochure unfolded below from Brookfield Properties.

Still, the fact that public opinion is being solicited before a developer is anointed offers a distinct contrast to the sequence involving the Atlantic Yards project. And a layperson can at least offer an opinion about the general design of each proposals.

That doesn't mean the MTA will listen to comments offered in the brochure pictured above, or that public input will truly shape the project. Or that these massive projects are the best alternatives. Then again, the developers responded to a lengthy Request for Proposals, far more detailed than that belatedly issued for the MTA's Vanderbilt yard 18 months after Forest City Ratner's project for that property was endorsed by the city and state.

In other words, in comparison to the sequence involving Atlantic Yards, anything that suggests more transparency inevitably looks somewhat better.

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