Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A long look at Marty Markowitz, from City Limits: Atlantic Yards brought out his "less admirable traits"

From City Limits' Brooklyn Bureau, How Sweet Was It? Marty Markowitz's Boro Hall Legacy, by Gail Robinson:
By some accounts, the Atlantic Yards controversy brought out Markowitz's less admirable traits: a tendency to scream, to see any criticism as a personal attack, to be vindictive. "He went from being a happy cheerleader to being a nasty guy, says Tom Angotti, a professor of urban affairs and planning at Hunter College and a critic of the project. He treated people against the project "as enemies, not citizens," [DDDB's Daniel] Goldstein says.

Now, with Barclays Center open, Markowitz clearly basks in its apparent success. His Christmas card last year was a paean to the arena—complete with reworked lyrics to "Winter Wonderland" such as "Barclays here, Streisand's belting, Fans will cheer, hearts are melting"—and he is said to be planning a giant farewell party for himself there.

...Markowitz has embraced a myriad of other projects of varying merit, including the Bloomberg administration's rezoning of downtown Brooklyn to allow for taller buildings, the Rose Plaza River Development in Williamsburg, Vito Lopez's controversial plan for the Broadway Triangle in East Williamsburg and the renovation of the Loew's Kings Theater in Flatbush. In some cases, he has advocated for more affordable housing at the projects and other amenities. At the end of the day, though, Angotti says Markowitz "has never met a project he didn't like," believing that "all growth is good growth. All projects are good projects. They bring in jobs."

Markowitz likes to trumpet his part in these projects but his exact role—even on Atlantic Yards—is a matter of debate... [ex-ACORN head Bertha] Lewis contends Markowitz left his mark on the Ratner project, helping to bring more affordable housing and apartments for seniors to the development. (Unlike the arena, that housing, has, of course, not yet been built and some of it may not materialize for 25 years.)
Of course, Markowitz has said nothing about the developer's backing off promises--promises Lewis secured--to ensure that half the subsidized units, in floor space, would go to two- and three-bedroom units.

There's lots more in the long profile, even though Markowitz didn't cooperate.

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