Friday, March 28, 2008

If you read only the dailies, you're missing Atlantic Yards news

New Yorkers who limit themselves to newspapers--as opposed to, say, online compendiums and coverage at No Land Grab and AYR--might wind up with a very skewed view of the current status of the Atlantic Yards project, since they sure haven't read about the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) generous deadlines, 6+ years to build the arena, then 12+ years to build the first five towers.

Think about it. The New York Times broke the big news last Friday about the Atlantic Yards stall, but hasn't followed up with reporting about the ESDC's willingness to give developer Forest City Ratner a very long leash (though reporter Charles Bagli mentioned it on the Leonard Lopate show yesterday), nor the developer's plan to sell luxury suites.

The New York Post followed up Saturday with a brief article but Monday offered a much longer article about the suite deal. Nothing about the deadlines.

The New York Daily News offered no news article on the stall but ran two sympathetic columns, then a short article Monday about the suites. Nothing about the deadlines.

Online and Brooklyn

Online, the news was linked by the Gowanus Lounge and Curbed and picked up by Brownstoner (which has hired reporter Sarah Ryley from the Brooklyn Eagle).

On Wednesday, the Village Voice's Runnin' Scared blog picked up the story, adding this curious detail:
Yesterday, ESDC spokesperson Warner Johnston confirmed in a telephone call that the funding agreement was signed in September and posted on Friday, in response to numerous inquires from reporters.

That's curious because the ESDC didn't exactly send out a press release announcing that the document was available.

Yesterday, the Brooklyn Paper published a package of stories linked to the news, declaring Atlantic Yards dead; while the plan as announced is indeed dead, it's way to soon to count out some significant Forest City Ratner development.

I wrote a piece for the Brooklyn Downtown Star, published yesterday under the headline Atlantic Yards Stalled, But Arena Remains Goal that rounds up some of my previous reporting.

Marty in the Sun

The New York Sun ignored all this but offered a mostly positive profile Monday of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, headlined Mayor Marty? The Idea Entices From a Booth at Junior’s. The article noted that Markowitz is officially undecided, "but he is sure sounding a lot like a candidate." Then again, the departure of chief aide Greg Atkins offers some counter-evidence.

The Sun reported:
A run for mayor, however, could galvanize New Yorkers opposed to the Atlantic Yards development in downtown Brooklyn that Mr. Markowitz has trumpeted. A spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Daniel Goldstein, said his organization “would look forward to a Markowitz mayoral run as it would make certain the failing Atlantic Yards project and the other egregious overdevelopment he has overseen in Brooklyn would be major issues in the race, as they should be.”

Mr. Markowitz has said the project will bring affordable housing, in addition to a new city center and a professional basketball arena, to downtown Brooklyn. He appears to get as excited as a boy on a first trip to an amusement park when envisioning attending the first Brooklyn Nets game in the new stadium.


The lack of context is unfortunate, since Goldstein sounds like he's spinning hard when he calls AY "failing," but the news that broke last Friday offers some support for his contention. Similarly, Markowitz's sunniness should be contextualized by his expression of confidence in Forest City Ratner, despite Friday's news.

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