Monday, March 08, 2010

For the record: The vastly overoptimistic and misleading Atlantic Yards p.r. statements from December 2003 and BBall.net

Below are scans--in two parts--of the promotional material Forest City Ratner distributed when the project was announced in December 2003. (They distributed the packets at a meeting several months later that I attended.)

Much has changed, and much was impossible at the start.

The arena was supposed to open in 2006 (!) and the project was estimated to take ten years to build. Neither was remotely realistic.

There were supposed to be 10,000 office jobs, an enormous overstatement, given the lack of an office market in Brooklyn even then and Forest City Ratner's calculation of space per worker.

The view corridor of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank was supposed to be maintained. (Forest City Ratner later concluded that it was impossible to avoid having Building 1 block the clock tower, but now that building is indefinitely delayed.)

Architect Frank Gehry is gone. Ditto for landscape architect Laurie Olin--though perhaps he may be called back someday.

In May 2007, I called this line a jaw-dropping fib: The complex has been planned to look whole and complete during each phase of construction.

That was never possible and, given the uncertain plans and extended timetables, the concept of "whole and complete" is even more distant.

Rather, as a groundbreaking is scheduled for March 11 for an arena only--rather than the arena ringed by four towers--parking lots and continued blight are on the menu.

And, notably, the document was silent regarding the considerable direct subsidies, tax breaks, and other public support needed for the project.

The project was supposed to cost $2.5 billion--now, $4.9 billion--and the arena was to be "primarily privately funded," with no mention of the need for PILOTS (payments in lieu of taxes) and tax-exempt bonds for the arena and housing.

Atlantic Yards December 2003 Promotional Material, Part 1 (Text) Atlantic Yards December 2003 Promotional Material, Part 2 (Images)

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