Friday, April 26, 2013

Proposed Barclays-area BID boundaries shrink, eliminate Atlantic Yards site east of Sixth Avenue, 470 Vanderbilt

Guess what? After criticism that a planned new Business Improvement District (BID) to serve the area around the Barclays Center, nearby malls, and the cultural district anchored by Brooklyn Academy of Music should not include undeveloped property in the Atlantic Yards Phase 2 site, the boundaries of the proposed BID have been shrunk.

The revised map at right (click to enlarge) now excludes the Atlantic Yards site east of Sixth Avenue beyond the arena block and the adjacent block west of Flatbush Avenue. (That block includes Site 5, home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, ultimately to be replaced by a 25-story tower that's part of Atlantic Yards. It also includes the Brooklyn Bear's Community Garden, not part of AY.)

The map now excludes 470 Vanderbilt, a large office building north of Atlantic Avenue that will have ground-floor retail and, ultimately, housing in an adjacent lot (perhaps with retail at its base).

See below left for the earlier proposed boundaries, which extended the new BID to Vanderbilt Avenue. As noted below, two public meetings May 2 will discuss the BID. [Update April 30: These meetings have been postponed.]



Pros and cons

Also see my original post for some pros and cons regarding BIDs. For example, services such as cleaning and security can both enhance public space but also exclude those that detract from BID members' commercial goals.

And while monitoring polices can foster accountability, a BID's influence can co-opt local government authority and give property owners a larger voice than residents. Hence concern that Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner will use the BID to amplify its voice.

Broad goals

The yet-unnamed BID has broad ambitions and boundaries, according to the original press release:
The service area could include Barclays Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Cultural District and commercial blocks on Flatbush, Atlantic and Vanderbilt Avenues. Property owners in the district would self-assess an additional property tax to fund services including sanitation, extra security, streetscape improvements and maintenance, programming as well as promotion and marketing opportunities. The BID also would facilitate economic development, urban planning and advocacy efforts for neighborhood services.
Though the new map excludes the second phase of Atlantic Yards, the BID, likely to be significantly influenced if not controlled by Forest City Ratner (by virtue of the arena and adjacent malls), likely would weigh in on Atlantic Yards.

Note that other nearby property owners, as well as BID organizer Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (itself steered significantly by FCR), on 2/27/13 urged that the state proceed expeditiously with a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement so as not to impede Forest City's Phase 2 plan for Atlantic Yards.

Since Forest City still has much to do on Phase 1 and has a loose timetable for Phase 2, that roadblock is more perceptual than actual. But surely Forest City would like the state to endorse Forest City's plan and not recommend--as some neighbors propose--that other developers be considered to get the project built at a timetable closer to the original ten years rather than the allowed 25 years.

Meetings May 2

As I wrote 4/23/13, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership announced two public meetings on May 2 regarding the BID, hosted with the support of the Brooklyn Community Boards 2, 6 and 8, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, NYC Council 33rd District, NYC Council 35th District and the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

1st Public Meeting
Date: Thursday, May 2
Time: 9 to 11 am
Location: Brooklyn Borough Hall - Community Room at 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

2nd Public Meeting
Date: Thursday, May 2
Time: 6 to 8 pm
Location: 80 Arts - James E. Davis Arts Building at 80 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Attendees should confirm with Malina Tran at 718-403-1635 or MTran@downtownbrooklyn.com.

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