Friday, July 03, 2009

MediaStorm's "Hold Out" and a bit of fact-checking

Don't expect the brief video Hold Out, by the multimedia company MediaStorm, to provide a full sketch of the Atlantic Yards development, and don't even expect main character David Sheets (right), a crusty and compelling Dean Street resident and regular at Freddy's Bar & Backroom, to have all the facts.

Backed by an ominous soundtrack, Sheets, a rent-stabilized tenant and plaintiff in the eminent domain case, offers his incredulity at the plans for Atlantic Yards, his deep frustration at the utility and other work that made life on Dean Street hell last year, his lament at the community lost, and his commitment to fighting the project until the end. It's a highly sympathetic portrait.

Tracy Collins comments, "I feel that it does put a much needed human face to those directly in the path of the developer Forest City Ratner’s wrecking ball."

Some fact-checking

Do note, however, that the overview text asserts that, when announced in 2003, Atlantic Yards would cost nearly five billion dollars. That's the tab now, but it was $2.5 million when announced.

Also note that, at 22 acres and nearly 8 million square feet, Atlantic Yards would not be "three times the size of Rockefeller Center," as Sheets asserts, but rather (corrected) a little more than half the 15 million square feet. The key difference: AY would be mostly housing, while Rock Center is mostly commercial space.

Nor would the arena be twice the size of Madison Square Garden, as Sheets states, but, at 800,000 square feet, would be fractionally smaller than MSG's 820,000 sf.

Others shown

Also pictured (clockwise from top left in graphic; click to enlarge), though not fully identified, are some other holdouts, some of whom are also eminent domain plaintiffs:
  • Donald O'Finn, manager at Freddy's
  • Daniel Goldstein, Sita, and Shabnam Merchant, residents on Pacific Street (Goldstein is the spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn)
  • Joe Pastore, a Dean Street resident (who's actually agreed to move)
  • David Sheets
  • Jerry Campbell, owner of two houses on Dean Street
  • Henry Weinstein, an owner of property on Pacific Street and Carlton Avenue
Eminent domain

O'Finn declares, "If you own something, somebody else shouldn't be able to take it if you don't want to give it to them. Bottom line. Bottom line."

The unspoken rebuttal, of course, is that eminent domain for "public use," a term that has devolved to "public purpose," is legal. And whether Atlantic Yards would truly represent a public purpose remains a debate pending in court--and, no matter the resolution, a debate likely to last well beyond the court's decision.

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