Monday, July 08, 2013

On WNYC, Bloomberg's vertical city and an ambiguous Atlantic Yards legacy: not a rezoning, nor a ten-year timeline

As part of a WNYC series titled New York Remade: The Bloomberg Years, reporter Matthew Schuerman offers New York, the Vertical City, Kept Rising Under Bloomberg.

As I commented, that the article text does not fully reflect the audio, since the audio report references Atlantic Yards.

Perhaps because of the constraints involved in the format, the lead-in to the Atlantic Yards segment can mislead:

"Bloomberg has rezoned 40% of the city's land mass... But increasing density has led to repeated clashes with residents of the neighborhoods being rezoned. One famous example: the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, home of the new Barclays Center arena."

But Atlantic Yards was not actually rezoned. It was a state approval process, which included override of zoning. That's hinted at but not quite clarified in the WNYC report, which states, "Normally, [Council Member Letitia] James would have played a starring role in negotiating with the developer... But the Bloomberg administration arranged for a state agency to review the project."

Schuerman, having covered Atlantic Yards since the early days, closes by recognizing an important switch: "The ten-year [project] timeline has been pushed back for something like 25 years. As a result, many of the jobs and affordable housing have also been delayed."

Schuerman in 2010 reported on Bruce Ratner's evasiveness, in which the Atlantic Yards developer claimed that the ten-year timeline was "never" supposed to be the official timetable, even though all the project benefits were premised on that timeline.

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