Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Barclays Center round-up: neighborhood impacts (and not); elegy for Brooklyn; "How to Steal a City"; mixed review on food; bringing back the Dodgers

The impact of the Barclays Center--so far--has been less than feared on many of the blocks immediately nearby, though no one expected to hear and feel the bass in their homes. (I'm still waiting for some official word on that. What happened to promised "transparency and sharing details as we go"?)

Fewer people are flooding residential streets, as fewer cars are looking to park, though there has been a significant increase in idling livery vehicles or, as noted in the brief video below shot at a bus stop on Bergen Street west of Carlton Avenue, vehicles violating parking regulations.



That may change as weather gets colder, older/family crowds wish to drive, and the prices at parking lots adjust to the market.

It's also open to question whether it's sustainable for the city and arena operators to provide the enormous amount of police, traffic officers, and pedestrian managers to make sure everything works--including waving traffic through red lights and closing Atlantic Avenue (which was never planned or disclosed).

After the show

Post-event fans have not flooded neighborhood streets in Prospect Heights, and to the extent they have done so elsewhere--such as going north through Fort Greene to subway stops and more, they've been reasonably quiet, as I and others have observed.

After the show Monday, 10/1/12, on row-house Fort Greene Place between Hanson Place and Lafayette Avenue, I saw regular foot traffic on the way to the G train, but people were going home, not partying, and most were quiet. The loudest person was the t-shirt seller on Fort Greene Place just north of Hanson--surely annoying to those in the residences nearby.

The video below begins just past 11 pm, and tracks foot traffic across Atlantic Avenue, which begins before traffic is stopped. Then I follow people up to Fort Greene and back. There's intermittent honking.




The impact on main streets

The main impact has been on larger Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, and the Modell's store near that intersection, which blares music loud enough to be heard blocks away, has generated complaints.



An incident on Flatbush

There has been an increase of fans on Flatbush Avenue after events and at least one ugly incident, as reported to me by a Prospect Heights resident: at 12:50 am, Sunday, Sept. 30, at Flatbush and Dean Street, she saw six men:
coming toward me, beer bottles in hand. One guy, who seemed fairly looped, walked into Flatbush Ave & started yelling. Then he came back onto the crack-riddled sidewalk, jumped in front of me, thrust his beer bottle at my face & yelled "Do you like the NETS?" I smiled & said "No, not really." Whereupon he grabbed me at the back of my neck & shoved me around. That was when one of his pals pulled him away. 
Cops are investigating.

Tight squeeze for limos

As shown in the video below, black cars/limos don't have enough spaces to wait for their clients, so they fill a traffic lane on Atlantic Avenue. The video below was shot about five minutes before the concert let out 10/1/12. After the video was shot, cops began to wave some of vehicles down the block.



The impact on neighborhoods

The question is what's next. There are several major pieces of property on and near Flatbush Avenue that have changed hands or are expected to do so, and those spaces surely will become arena-related outposts. Hence concerns like the ones expressed below.

An elegy for Brooklyn

In the Huffington Post, Jay Michaelson offers An Elegy for Brooklyn, in the Shadow of Barclays:
North Park Slope, where I live, is now literally in the shadows of the Slug (as some of us call it). And now, we will be overrun almost every night by cars searching for parking, by drunk fans spilling out of the center late at night, and, eventually, by large-scale commercial development to give them a place to eat and drink.

But let's take a moment to remember what's here now, on October 02, 2012, right before it disappears.

North Slope and Prospect Heights are multi-ethnic, multi-class neighborhoods.... All this will soon be gone. No neighborhood can withstand an onslaught of a Barclays Center and all it brings with it. Already many businesses have been forced out by increased rents, and we know what they will be replaced by: the same chain-restaurants and sports bars, the same monotonous culture (if that's the right word) of expensive skyboxes for some and cheap thrills for the rest.
A trip to the subway

The video below was shot at about 11:30 pm, about 25-30 minutes after the Jay-Z show let out, so after the main surge. The trip through the plaza and to the subway was pretty simple, and trains arrived shortly on both sides of the Q track.

The main problem, it seems: a lot of people don't have MetroCards, so the lines are long at the machines and at the service booths.



"How to Steal a City"

In the New York Observer, Kevin Baker (whose brother-in-law represented plaintiffs in the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case) writes How to Steal a City: Bruce Ratner and Co. Just Rolled Brooklyn (a headline that echoes Umar Jordan's "Brooklyn got played"):
“So, how did we get here?” an “almost giddy” Mr. Ratner asked at the Barclays ribbon-cutting.

Good question. The answer is that it’s all too typical of how we live now, a game of bait-and-switch that is slowly reducing New York to the level of any other American city, while simultaneously robbing the people who live here.
Barclays Center food: not as good as MSG

BloombergBusinessWeek offers a surprisingly mixed review of the arena's food offerings: Nets’ $1 Billion Home Hawks Great Cuban, Bad Beer: Review:
Finding a Brooklyn brew at this Brooklyn stadium, whose concessions are run by the Chicago-based Levy Restaurants, is more complicated.

I’ll forgive such Second City influences because much of the grub is good enough. With Greenpoint tacos and Smith Street brats, Barclays Center is a respectable, if not necessarily memorable, tribute to Kings County’s diverse food scene.

Still, there’s something distinctly unsettling when the stadium outpost of Cafe Habana, a fine Carroll Gardens restaurant, offers only Bud, Bud Light or Coors Light. ($7.50- $9.50).

..Barclays isn’t quite the ambassador for New York food as is Citi Field or Madison Square Garden. But it gets the job done.
Note that reviewer Ryan Sutton did not evaluate the desserts, including Junior's Cheesecakes and Blue Marble Ice Cream, which likely would have improved the arena's grade. (Quality control is surely easier.) Perhaps Borough President Marty Markowitz is already complaining.

The Dodgers are coming (back)

From the Wall Street Journal, 10/2/12, Nets Calling on Brooklyn Dodgers:
But the Nets also have been doing some digging into the past. Team officials have been reaching out to former members of the Brooklyn Dodgers to invite them to the Nets' season opener against the Knicks on Nov. 1 at Barclays Center.

Ralph Branca, who pitched for the Dodgers over 11 seasons, winning 21 games for the team in 1947, said he recently received a phone call from Barry Baum, the Nets' senior vice president of communications.

Branca said Baum told him the team would send a car service to chauffeur him to the game from his home in Westchester County. Baum declined to comment.
It doesn't look like they'll get the iconic but reclusive Sandy Koufax to show, however.

The article doesn't mention plans to restore the Ebbets Field flagpole at the Barclays Center plaza.

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