Wednesday, December 12, 2007

After Doctoroff admits AY should've gone through ULURP, will Bloomy, Burden follow?

Departing Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff, who had in April said that Atlantic Yards was an "extreme case" regarding the failure to consult communities, now, in an interview in this week's New York Observer, admits that the process should've gone through city rather than state review:
“I am a huge believer in the ULURP process. I think it makes sense. It allows the issues to be aired in an appropriate way. If it happened again, and the state were to ask if I would encourage them to take Atlantic Yards through the ULURP process, I would say yes.”

Mr. Doctoroff pointed out that, by contrast, the plan now is to take Moynihan Station, a new transit complex in western midtown, through ULURP, even though the state has bought property and plans to lease it to a private developer. When Atlantic Yards—a basketball arena and apartment village in Brooklyn—avoided ULURP, the argument was that since the train yards on which it would be built were owned by the state, it should be handled exclusively by the state.


Note that the Observer's characterization isn't accurate; the arena and project would be built only partly on the train yards; state land would make up less than 40% of the 22-acre site.

And note that ULURP, while superior to the state review process, has its flaws; Municipal Art Society President Kent Barwick suggests a whole new process, calling ULURP "a complete sham."


Burden's defenses


Now that the second-most powerful figure in city government admits Atlantic Yards could've been handled better, will his boss, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and would his colleague and ostensible subordinate, Amanda Burden, chairperson of the New York City Planning Commission, do the same?

After all, Burden, who frequently invokes Jane Jacobs, said in February, "We’re a big city and we need big projects. And Atlantic Yards was a gaping hole in the heart of Brooklyn, and now will provide a sports facility, retail, and entertainment and it’s on top of a transit hub.”

In October, 2006, she said, "Any initiative that does not build consensus, that is not shaped by the… public review process, will be an inferior plan and, deservedly, will be voted down by the City Council and I." And she defended the plan for Atlantic Yards because the land was "owned by the state."

Not quite.

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