Saturday, April 26, 2014

Next Saturday, Jane's Walk: my free tour of Atlantic Yards and the Barclays Center, in Context

On Saturday and Sunday, May 3 & 4,  Jane’s Walk NYC returns: 100+ free guided walks throughout New York’s five boroughs. "Jane’s Walks are organized and led by urban enthusiasts, animators and organizations that celebrate Jane Jacobs’ legacy," according to the coordinator, the Municipal Art Society (MAS).

My tour is Atlantic Yards and the Barclays Center, In Context, on Saturday May 3 at 9 am.

Meeting Place: One Hanson Place, Outside Williamsburgh Savings Bank, just north of Atlantic Terminal mall and Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center subway terminus. (The tour will end at Dean Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.)

The description:
Join Atlantic Yards Report watchdog journalist and New York Like a Native guide Norman Oder on a walk around and beyond the controversial Atlantic Yards site, home to the new Barclays Center arena, the "accidental plaza," and the 16 planned towers, one under construction, the world's tallest modular building. While visiting Fort Greene and Prospect Heights, Oder--who has written about the "vaunted, tainted" arena--will discuss context, history, and ever-changing plans for the ambitious project (announced in 2003), and the debates about urban design, public process/oversight, promised jobs and affordable housing, and eminent domain.
Indeed, even after I sent that description, we learned that the modular tower is delayed a year and Forest City's new partner, the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group, has decided to start three towers this year using conventional construction. There will be a "green roof" on the arena.

And I'll also talk about the public hearing April 30 planned regarding the court-ordered Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. (I'll write more about that hearing over the next few days.)

Note that the the MAS is open to all kinds of people as guides for Jane's Walks (see FAQ), and the guides don't speak for the organization.

So I will cordially critique the MAS's decision--via a jury--to give the Barclays Center and award for Best Neighborhood Catalyst, as well as a decision to give the Jackie Onassis medal (!) to Atlantic Yards developers Bruce Ratner and MaryAnne Gilmartin.

Other tours, and a new trend

Note that the Domino Sugar Factory in Transition tour, in Williamsburg, is being led by representatives of the developer, Two Trees, while The Transformation of Downtown Brooklyn is being led by a representative of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

That's not very Jacobsian. Then again, isn't the current era marked by the corporate adoption of Jacobsian principles, even if packaged in a single developer mega-development?

I'm sure the tours will be interesting, but I can't help but think tours operated, say, by the directors of the documentaries The Domino Effect or My Brooklyn might give a broader perspective.

So I'm wondering how long it will take for Forest City Ratner and the Greenland Group to offer their own Atlantic Yards tour. The Barclays Center already offers VIP tours.

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