Monday, November 02, 2015

How Brooklyn has changed since 2004, via Brownstoner (with an AY comment)

There are some interesting--and predictable--responses in Brownstoner's post last week, Longtime Brooklynites Reflect on a Changing Brooklyn, with the change keyed to 2004, the year Brownstoner began (by Jonathan Butler, who since sold the blog to Blank Slate).

In the predictable, see Borough President Eric AdamsEric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President:
How Brooklyn Has Changed Since 2004: What has changed is that the secret is out on Brooklyn, and people from Manhattan to Mumbai are coming to be a part of our borough’s experience. The global attraction to our borough has further enriched our diversity while presenting new challenges we must face on ensuring we remain an affordable place to raise healthy children and families.
Others reflected on Brooklyn's gentrification (both the increase in prices and the growing map of coveted areas), the borough's "brand," the arrival of tourists, the emergence of Brooklyn Bridge Park (and the views violated by new construction, and "the dark side of the Brooklyn Renaissance," the "increase in income inequality and lack of investment in underserved communities."

The change in AY

I was queried as well about how Brooklyn has changed:
In 2004, Atlantic Yards (16 towers + arena), developed by Forest City Ratner, was supposed to start soon and take 10 years. In 2015, the project, renamed Pacific Park Brooklyn, is now supposed to be done by 2025. In 2004, the four towers around the arena were supposed to hold 10,000 jobs; today, three of the towers will contain apartments, while the office tower (obliterating the temporary plaza) is on hold. In 2004, the Atlantic Yards project was to include 4,500 rental apartments, including 2,250 below-market “affordable” units; today, there are 1,930 condos added, with 200 of them below market (and many of the affordable rentals are less affordable than promised). Today, nearly all of the Pacific Park Brooklyn, excepting the Barclays Center and one tower, is 70 percent owned by Greenland Holdings, controlled by the government of Shanghai. The Brooklyn Nets are 80 percent owned by Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns 45 percent of the arena operating company and may soon buy Forest City’s remaining stakes in both. I wonder: could the city and state have justified the significant public assistance — direct subsidies, tax breaks, eminent domain — if the current beneficiaries had been asking?
Of course, I didn't want to make a general pronouncement about Brooklyn when I knew that numerous others would be answering the question, so I chose to focus on Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--and the role of international investment--through the lens of time.

Had I been given more than a brief paragraph, I would have added that the scale of Atlantic Yards, once shocking, is partly--but just partly--"normalized" by the march of towers down Flatbush into Fort Greene.

After all, the contrast between the emerging towers and adjacent Prospect Heights blocks is pretty stark; they are not a "contextual extension of the surrounding neighborhood," as the ad says.

And I could have commented on the astounding, yet somehow acceptable, marketing of green cards to Chinese investors under the EB-5 program, to fund this project.

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