Wednesday, July 03, 2013

ESD Atlantic Yards Project Director Hankin leaving for Loeb Fellowship at Harvard; cited for working to “bridge the gap" (!) between developer and community

At the end of the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting last night, Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project for Empire State Development, said she was leaving ESD at the end of next week.

“I will certainly cherish the experience,” she said. “It’s been a phenomenal experience.... I've enjoyed every moment.” (Here's a September 2011 interview with her.) Several people congratulated her and applauded cordially, though others did not.

Hankin, asked what she’d do, said “I would rather do that offline.” She indicated that there were people vying to replace her at ESD.

(Some people wonder if the Cuomo administration, which often aims to save money and also takes a long time to hire, will replace Hankin, who was appointed under the administration of previous Gov. David Paterson.)

The meeting was run by Derek Lynch, the community and government affairs manager, whose position--unlike that of Hankin--is funded by developer Forest City Ratner.

Loeb Fellowship next

Hankin will spend the next academic year on a mid-career Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, among nine fellows.

According to the fellowship: “Loeb Fellows represent the broadest spectrum of design practitioners, from architects and landscape architects to journalists, public artists and affordable housing developers.”

Bridging the gap?

According to the announcement:
Arana Hankin is the director of the Atlantic Yards Project for the state of New York. She also serves as the president of the Queens West Development Corporation and the state’s project manager for the Columbia/Manhattanville Project in West Harlem. Arana has worked to bridge the gap between disgruntled communities and private developers ensuring that local communities are given a voice and private developers deliver what was promised. During her Fellowship year, Arana will study creative structures to finance cultural development and strategies that guarantee the delivery of economic and social benefits to local communities.
(Emphasis added)

That's rather loaded language: "disgruntled communities and private developers."

Perhaps, given the history of Atlantic Yards, it would be more accurate to say "disempowered communities and unaccountable developers"?

Given the failure to bring MTV or city film and TV officials to last night’s meeting, as well as such things as regular violations of construction protocols or knee-jerk support for the arena regarding its (yet unresolved) noise problems, I’m not sure Hankin has bridged the gap so well.

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