Friday, October 19, 2012

Barclays Center round-up: boxing card hype (and failed drug test/free tickets); the area "urinal" ( & bigger issues); NY mag's myopic critic; and that "satarical" Atlantic Yards novel

Well, the Barclays Center news of the day focuses on promotion for the first boxing card at the arena, tomorrow, Oct. 20. (Oh, the Nets lost for the first time in four games, soundly. The announced attendance, though not necessarily gate count, was 14,192, slightly less than at the first home game.)

Columnist Tim Smith of the Daily News--sponsor of the arena plaza--cheerleads today, in Danny Jacobs return from cancer just one of the many impressive stories to continue at inaugural boxing showcase at Barclays Center:
From top to bottom it is a boxing card that speaks to the core of what Brooklyn is all about - everyone thrown into a melting pot and looking for a chance to succeed.
Even the inspirational comeback of Danny Jacobs, who was paralyzed by cancer that attacked his back in 2011, is pure Brooklyn. When he was introduced to speak at the press conference, Jacobs received a standing ovation.
“Danny Jacobs speaks to the boldness, the grittiness and the determination of Brooklyn,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of the Barclays Center. “What he’s done deserves a big hand.”
Also speaking to Brooklyn--and the "culture of cheating" around Atlantic Yards--is the fact that junior welterweight challenger Erik Morales failed a drug test, but the fight will go on, according to ESPN.

Brooklyn in the house

Brooklyn, however, is not paying $56 and change to fill the arena. Yormark had to give out 1,000 free tickets to the boxing match to make it look halfway full, and arena operators are still trying.

Last night at the second monthly community sweepstakes for ticket distribution, organized by the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance, Janella Meeks, Deputy Director, Government & Public Affairs for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, gave out more than 40 more free tickets to the boxing event. I suspect more of that is going on.

Park Slope a urinal?

Everybody likes to write about pee.

An article based on the Oct. 16 community meeting on arena impacts, Barclays Center Patrons Urinate All Over Park Slope, Locals Say provoked re-blogging in Curbed, Barclays Center Turns Park Slope Into a Huge Urinal and The Atlantic Cities, Brooklyn's Barclays Center Sponsors 2012 Urinebowl, and The Real Deal, Around Barclays Center, neighbors complain of public urination.

Yes, there's a pee problem on Pacific Street between Flatbush and Third Avenue, and on a few blocks in Fort Greene and Prospect Heights. But that's not "all over Park Slope." Nor are residents finding "something to complain about," as one summary put it, they're reacting understandably to disruptions in their lives.

But the issue goes well beyond urine jokes. As Michael D. D. White pointed out in his Noticing New York blog, most of the untoward impacts--limos idling, trucks on residential streets, flashing ads all night--relate to the zoning override that allows the arena to be located less than 200 feet from a residential area.

So, no matter how many major problems have been avoided, there's little margin for error, which is why the state and developer need to be held accountable.

More from Noticing New York

Also, in White's 10/16/12 post, “Barclays”? Atlantic Yards?: On Lopate, NY Mag Architectural Critic Justin Davidson Disses Brooklyn Neighborhoods With Manhattancentric Illiteracy, he slammed Davidson's statement, "I would say that there was no character right on that site, and that’s a good place to have a really bold muscular building that does intrude, that does change things." Actually, there there were newly renovated residential buildings on the arena block.

As for the overall site plan, which Davidson said was "based on that a lot of the . . uhm . . public monies and the incentives were put into place"--not really--White countered:
Every time Ratner comes back to government officials looking to change his deal he gets more subsidy and diminished obligations to the public.
As for a binding “site plan,” consider what Davidson describes in his article about the Hudson Yards mega-project that’s on the drawing boards:
Architects discuss access points, sidewalk widths, ceiling heights, flower beds, and the qualities of crushed-stone pathways. You could almost forget that none of this exists yet—until one architect points to a lozenge-shaped skyscraper and casually, with a twist of his wrist, remarks that he's thinking of swiveling it 90 degrees.
It’s not any different with Atlantic Yards at this point either.
You must read Davidson’s recent article on Hudson Yards as a check against his stunningly casual acceptance of the Atlantic Yards situation. In that article Davidson conveys many misgivings with respect to the sole ownership of Hudson Yards by the Related Companies, misgivings that should also apply to the plan for the larger Ratner Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly in spades with many more misgivings added on top. But he doesn’t make the connections. . Woe is us. Woe to Brooklyn. (See: Friday, October 12, 2012, Justin Davidson’s New York Magazine Review Of Hudson Yards Echos Concerns Raised By NNY, But Does So Without Mentioning Obvious Atlantic Yards Parallels.)
A novel from the notorious Courier-Life scribe

From Metro (home of the Barclays Center "tidbits"), A satarical [sic] take on Atlantic Yards
No matter which side of the Atlantic Yards debate you’re on, Steve Witt’s new satire of the controversy is worth a read. Longtime Brooklyn journalist Witt covered the Atlantic Yards saga from its beginning, and it’s now the subject of his latest book, “The Street Singer.”

Q: What do you say to criticism that the Barclays Center took people’s homes away, via eminent domain, and that developer Ratner has yet to deliver on the jobs and affordable housing he promised?
As a journalist, I seldom bought into the eminent domain argument concerning Atlantic Yards. The gentrified few nearly killed the project with their endless court battles with eminent domain being among their trump cards. But they themselves displaced poor people to get property around Atlantic Yards. As for the affordable housing and jobs, Ratner’s style is to build and not flip real estate, so I think it will get done.
My comment:
Mr. Witt styles himself as a tribune of the people. What has always escaped him is the "culture of cheating" surrounding Atlantic Yards. See the "Atlantic Yards and the Culture of Cheating" post on my Atlantic Yards Report blog for more.

Mr. Witt's near-final comment reminds me of an article he wrote quoting people as saying those living in converted industrial buildings were "the real land-grabbers," since they had taken jobs from the community. Those buildings had been closed for years.

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