Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Veconi on the proposed BID that would include Atlantic Yards: only include properties that comply with the City’s guidelines

Writing in Prospect Heights Patch, 2/12/13, Gib Veconi (of Brooklyn Speaks and Atlantic Yards Watch) wrote Too Much Room for “Improvement,” a warning about plans for a new BID (Business Improvement District) that would oddly encompass the Atlantic Yards site.

(My 1/7/13 coverage here. Note that Veconi says the boundaries may now include all of Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, notably the Newswalk building.)

His central warning is that undeveloped areas of the Atlantic Yards site should not be included. An excerpt:
One suspects that few Community Board members and elected officials would agree that development at the Atlantic Yards site has suffered from too much public review. Instead, they have seen the project’s sponsors skirt required environmental review and disclosure processes to meet a deadline for tax-exempt bond financing; create institutions like its Community Benefit Agreement that convey a sense of accountability where none in fact exists; and, when they can’t avoid review by Community Boards (as was the case with Barclays Center’s liquor license), withhold material information until after votes are taken.
So while it’s undeniable that businesses like Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Mark Morris Dance Group share an affinity and could perhaps benefit from coordinated efforts aimed at improving street conditions, important questions about future development at and around Atlantic Yards are still open. If Forest City and BAM want a Barclays BID to connect their properties, they are welcome to present the merits of that case. Maybe someday, many years from now, including more of the currently undeveloped parts of the Atlantic Yards site into a Barclays BID will be a good idea, too. But it won’t hurt much to wait until then to find out. For now, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership should amend its plans to only include properties that comply with the City’s guidelines.

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