Sunday, August 30, 2015

No, New York Times, there was no effort to "redevelop the Atlantic Yards"

From the front page of the New York Times Styles section today (though published online two days ago), The Battle for the Soul of the Hamptons:
To help make its case publicly, the group has enlisted the powerhouse political firm SKDKnickerbocker, whose officials have factored in the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Barack Obama and the successful effort to redevelop the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn over community opposition there.
They keep getting it wrong. It's impossible to say "redevelop the Atlantic Yards" because "Atlantic Yards" never existed in the first place: it was a branding name for a proposed, and now partly enacted, development project. (I wrote about this in May 2006 and again in January 2009.)

It would be OK to say "develop the Atlantic Yards project" or "develop Atlantic Yards" but the use of "the" suggests it's a place. "Re-develop" is worse, because it implies an existing defined place was there to be redeveloped.

Atlantic Yards was a cobbled-together site including railyard, public streets, and private property. (Some, actually, is still private.)

Even calling the 8.5-acre Vanderbilt Yard--the railyard within the 22-acre site--"Atlantic Yards" would be misleading, since that falsely conflates the developer's branding with a much smaller piece of publicly-owned land. (Most of it is still publicly-owned.)

The irony, which reinforces my point, is that the imaginary place "Atlantic Yards" no longer even exists. Last year, the new owners renamed the project Pacific Park, and evidence suggests they did so in part to shake the controversy over the name Atlantic Yards.

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