So, Ratner gets credit for Brooklyn's revival? Puh-leeze.
The tie-less developer
He thought he’d never pull it off.
Bruce Ratner doesn’t walk. He bounces. In a hard hat, rumpled suit and never a tie, Ratner vibrates giddily amid buzzing saws and deafening drills, before leaping amid never-sat-in seats covered in dusty plastic.
|Ratner at April 30 press conference|
The justification: entertainment
We’re in the brand-new crux of the known universe, Barclays Center, now under construction, talking about the rise of Brooklyn.You could say the same thing about Broadway shows and movies. Do they get Ratner's level of public support? Ah, but they didn't promise "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops."
“It’s incredible!’’ enthused Ratner, 67, the hyperactive developer and CEO of Forest City Ratner.
“We’ve got Barbra Streisand!’’ said Ratner (who lives in Manhattan). “This is like the Dodgers and Yankees.
“It’s going to take people away from all of the tsuris in their daily lives. ‘Disney on Ice!’ Completely take you to another place with the person next to you.’’
Ratner's big lift
When Barclays is christened this fall as home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, Ratner will have pulled off the seemingly impossible. Almost single-handedly, he’ll have brought the Borough of Kings, long neglected and overshadowed by Manhattan, back to buzzworthy health.Right. When GQ dubbed Brooklyn "the coolest city on the planet," because of its indie food scene, there were exactly zero mentions of Ratner. And he had everything to do with the historic districts, right?
Arena = soul?
“A young person can go to Brooklyn to see hometown [rapper] Jay-Z. A family who lives in the projects will walk here or take the bus. This is the soul of Brooklyn.’’Yeah, like the relatively affordable tickets were kept from re-sellers. According to SeatGeek.com, those $29 seats ($37.50 with fees), now range from $55 to $118.
We’re sitting near “Vom 2’’ — short for “vomitorium,’’ which architects insist on calling the entrances in deference to ancient Rome, not modern beer guzzling. Behind us is a gigantic window proudly overlooking the borough. When La Streisand helps inaugurate the center with two concerts, she’ll look on her Flatbush birthplace.
|From arena to Streisand home|
That's nearly four miles by foot. (It's 3.3 miles to 457 Schenectady Avenue, where she was born and lived briefly.)
That this project was nearly 10 years in the making speaks to the selfishness of a gaggle of well-heeled spoiled brats and celebs. People who would protest the opening of a drugstore (as they did in my neighborhood) and care not a bit about Brooklyn.Ah, the "selfishness" of locals who've shown, via the latest lawsuit, that Ratner and the state helped deceive the public.
“I was confident I was going to get it done,’’ said Ratner, “but there were a few moments when I said to myself, ‘I don’t think this is going to happen.’ ’’
The low point came in late 2008, when “the world came apart.’’ The economy tanked and Ratner was hit by slow-moving lawsuits that might have stalled the project indefinitely.
“It was crazy. A lot of newcomers from outside New York’’ fought the arena. He tries not to be bitter.
Could Peyser even consider that it was maybe selfish for Ratner to hog subsidies, tax breaks, naming rights, a zoning override and more? The New York City Independent Budget Office called the arena a net loss to the city.
"Newcomers from outside New York"?
“It gets to me, in a sense. We were constantly attacked. Our company put hundreds of millions of dollars into something that many times looked like it might not happen.’’So because a few celebrities were newcomers, the thousands of locals with legitimate concerns get ignored?
The arena drew opposition from Rosie Perez, Steve Buscemi and the late Heath Ledger, whose loyalty to Brooklyn was suspect, at best.
But then, the last obstacle, a fellow named Daniel Goldstein, sold his house at the site to Ratner for $3 million, six times what he paid for it. The project was a go.
As for Goldstein, yes, he got a premium over the current (already doubled) value of his apartment, but part of that was to compensate for legal expenses and a quick move. Whatever people think of it, the premium is far cry from the $100 million in taxpayer money given to Ratner to pay for, yes, property in the arena footprint.
The rail yards that "squatted"
When I toured this site in 2004, it was a disgrace. It was scarred with toxic rail yards that had squatted on this spot, like a disease, for decades. Then I spied a pile of hypodermic needles.It was long past time to breathe air back into Brooklyn. Or shut the lights and get the hell out.Rail yards that "squatted," or functioned? They still "squat," by the way. As for the needles, and the weeds, well, that was a clean-up problem that neither the city nor the LIRR wanted to grapple with.
Even Roger Green, the Assemblyman who supported the project, said the neighborhood wasn't blighted.
The arena will pump 2,000 sorely needed jobs into the economy, putting a dent into Brooklyn’s unemployment, which stood at an unconscionable 10.3 percent in May, compared to 8.2 percent in Manhattan. Half the job applicants live in public housing."2,000 sorely needed jobs"? Even Forest City claims the full-time equivalent figure is 1,240, which seems vastly exaggerated. So much for the dent.
Plus, 6,400 “awesome’’ housing units are going up next year, about a third of them classified as “affordable.’’
The promised 6,430 apartments aren't going up next year, just--maybe--the first tower, with 363 units.
No worries on traffic
Threats of snarled traffic were greatly exaggerated. The arena sits next to 11 subway lines, 11 bus routes and a Long Island Rail Road station.Um, we don't know how much the threats were "greatly exaggerated" until we see the arena operate, do we?
Protesters "will scurry back"
And the place is intimate. “There’s not a bad seat in the house,’’ said Ratner.Actually, neighbors will have to live with the arena, and not in so much peace.
In coming years, protesters will scurry back across the river and leave us in peace. Go, Nets!
Brooklyn is back.