Sunday, July 17, 2011

Flagrantly ignorant, Daily News calls arena rising "huge plus for an underused neighborhood," ignores latest legal decision

It's no surprise that the New York Daily News, which has cheerleaded at every step for the Atlantic Yards project, would run yet another supportive editorial, today headlined The new Nets' arena rising in Brooklyn is shaping up as a huge plus for an underused neighborhood.

And it's no surprise that that the editorial would be flagrantly ignorant. Indeed, while it would be more defensible to argue that the arena might be, overall, good for Brooklyn--though that would require analysis of costs and benefits--it's "brutally weird" to call it a plus for a neighborhood that, according to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), will experience "significant adverse impacts."

(Also see what's wrong with the accompanying photo.)

Opening up

The editorial begins:
While opponents of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards development endlessly try to sue their way toward preserving an urban wasteland, one of the project's key elements is shaping up quite nicely.
The sentence implies that there's some kind of ongoing lawsuit--and there is--but the Daily News has ignored it.

It argued that the state was remiss is not studying the impacts of a 25-year buildout, and that the state should not have withheld a key document, the Development Agreement. The judge agreed. But to the Daily News, this never happened.

And the point of the lawsuit is not to preserve an urban wasteland, but to account for the impacts of a project on an existing neighborhood--residents who are already experiencing disruptions from a "rat tsunami" and rampant illegal parking.

Halfway mark

The editorial continues:
A new home for the pro basketball Nets is rising at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. Construction workers have reached the halfway mark on its steel skeleton and expect to start putting up its facade by the end of the month.

Enough of the place has been built to take its measure in a neighborhood that for decades had lain fallow despite spectacular mass transit. This will be an 18,000-seat arena in exactly the right place to well serve the borough and the metropolitan region.
The neighborhood had hardly lain fallow--as real estate articles have shown, Prospect Heights was steadily recovering.

What had not been developed was a railyard that had never been marketed to development, as well as some other properties--including MTA property at the tip of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues--that had not been marketed.

For the arena to take advantage of "spectacular mass transit," there should be no interim surface parking lot at the southeast corner of the Atlantic Yards site, which forces thousands of people to walk to and from the arena via the narrow sidewalks of residential Dean Street.

Fitting "seamlessly"

The editorial continues:
Designed so that half is below ground level and half above, the building will fit seamlessly into the bustle of the surrounding area, home to the nearby Atlantic Terminal Mall and Atlantic Center. It will neither clog the downtown Brooklyn commercial center to the north nor threaten the quality of life in residential communities to the south.

And, as a huge plus, the arena sits beside the convergence of nine subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. A couple more subway lines and myriad buses ply routes within a few blocks.
It won't threaten "quality of life"? That's exactly what the lawsuit was about. The Daily News pretends ignorance.

"Anti-development forces"

Using a phrase beloved by veteran project backer Errol Louis, the Daily News writes:
To look at it is, again, to rue the wrongheadedness of the anti-development forces that delayed builder Bruce Ratner's plans for the arena, plus thousands of units of housing, through unsuccessful lawsuit after unsuccessful lawsuit after unsuccessful lawsuit.
Except the last lawsuit has won, twice.

That doesn't make those suing "anti-development forces." It makes them citizens.

The arena

The editorial closes:
The schedule calls for the Nets to play the 2012-13 National Basketball Association season in the building, while college basketball, boxing, professional tennis, concerts, the circus and other users also take up residence.

Adding cultural luster, the Brooklyn Academy of Music plans to stage performances there for audiences far larger than can be accommodated in BAM's 2,000-seat home down the block.

Tell us again why anyone was against this - and while you're at it, explain to us why the die-hards insist on further legal attempts to hamstring Ratner as he pushes ahead with the housing, however slowly, in the face of national economic malaise.

High-mindedly, they say they want "transparency" and "accountability," when actually they are interested only in obstruction.
The three or four performances curated by BAM are as much a p.r. coup as anything else.

As noted, the housing has delayed by Ratner, not anyone else.

As for "transparency" and "accountability," guess who agreed? A judge. But that interferes with the Daily News's storyline, so they ignore it.

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