“Public-private partnerships are now one-sided arrangements in which the public actors no longer plan public spaces in the public interest,” said Elliott Sclar, a professor of urban planning at Columbia University. “Instead they facilitate private-sector developments of these spaces in exchange for slight public amenities. In this case, the public gets the chance to catch a train in the basement of a vertical shopping mall.”
The critics say that given the level of public investment, tax breaks and zoning bonuses involved in the project, the city and state should be giving greater priority to the public spaces.
Oh, that was about the Moynihan Station plan, from an article headlined Big Moynihan Station Plan Is Sputtering.
And what about AY?
Are the Atlantic Yards benefits "slight public amenities"? The courts haven't had to decide. Rather, as U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote in his decision last June dismissing the Atlantic Yards eminent domain challenge, "This case simply does not require the court to consider whether the Project is a good idea.. the issue before this court is whether the taking of Plaintiffs’ properties is rationally related to a conceivable public use."
The Empire State Development Corporation commented, "We are pleased by the decision, which reaffirms the Atlantic Yards project's many public benefits: affordable housing, a world-class sports venue, improved transportation and increased economic activity."
Well, the affordable housing is delayed, the sports venue would be, an appeals court acknowledged, "generously leased," the improved transportation would include a new subway entrance under a shopping venue, the "urban room," and increased economic activity would be offset to a significant (though never fully calculated) degree by subsidies and public costs.