Skip to main content

AY information for BUILD invitees, but not for thee

On Tuesday night I was walking home from Fort Greene to Park Slope, on South Portland Avenue, alongside Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Center mall. I needed something from Staples--wasn't there a Staples in the mall? No, but there was something more intriguing: a blue sign pointing to the Atlantic Yards Information Center on the third floor.

I took two escalators up. After all, I'm quite interested in Atlantic Yards information, and the last time I saw that sign was on May 11, when I tried without avail to attend the press conference with Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry and landscape architect Laurie Olin. (Then again, I hadn't been back to the mall.)

Next to the Empire State Development Corporation's Brooklyn Community Network Office (coincidence: ESDC is in charge of the Atlantic Yards project), in a medium-sized room that likely was unleased retail space (Forest City Ratner now is its own tenant), there's a little piece of Oz in an otherwise drab mall.

Inside the Atlantic Yards Information Center are numerous wooden models of the Atlantic Yards complex. On the walls are more images of the project than available on the Atlantic Yards web site. Nicely-produced hanging screens introduce themes of the exhibition:
--"Open space by Olin"
--"Architecture by Gehry"
--"How will we create jobs for residents of Brooklyn?"
--"What is the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement?"
--"How will we support all this growth?"
--"What do we mean when we say Affordable Housing?"

Good questions, those. I walked past the entrance and saw that people signing in were being checked off against a list, and that the literature available was from Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), the job training group that has strongly supported the Atlantic Yards project (and has been supported, in turn, by Forest City Ratner, though not as much as originally assumed).

I'd obviously stand out, I concluded; of 30 or so people, I noticed only two other Caucasians, and at least one was a Forest City Ratner p.r. employee. Most of BUILD's members and supporters are black.

I walked a few paces down the hall, turned around and waited on the line. When I reached the table, I signed in with my name and acknowledged that I wasn't on the list. Sorry, I was told, you can't enter. OK, I said, and asked if I could take some literature. Yes.

I started ambling down the hall. To my surprise, someone caught up with me: James Caldwell, BUILD President & CEO. We shook hands. (We'd met briefly twice.) He invited me back into the room.

I was surprised. I said, "You know who I am? I've been tough on you." (Tough, but not unfair, I'd contend, though I'm sure some disagree.) He said yes, and he didn't mind my attendance.

I shook my head at the odd twists in the Atlantic Yards story and walked into the room. I perused the exhibits for a few minutes and took some notes. A BUILD officer asked me how I found out about the session. Her tone was a bit incredulous; maybe she was wondering whether I'd heard from the source who gave me the BUILD flier that distorted the purpose of the Municipal Arts Society meeting.

I told her the truth: I'd wandered into the mall, seen the sign, and went upstairs. Frankly, I was surprised that no other casual mall visitor had been as curious about Atlantic Yards information.

Attendees had gotten their refreshments and began to sit down for the formal program, presumably an explanation of the brochure, "Connect to CBA Opportunities," that was at the entrance table. It was subtitled: "Your guide to employment, business, affordable housing, community amenities, educational and other opportunities at FCRC's Atlantic Yards (Nets Arena) Project."

It didn't say anything about the environmental review process by the ESDC; a Draft Environmental Impact Statement is due next month, and there's likely to be a vigorous debate about the project. So the "It's coming" notation on the meeting flier may be somewhat conclusory.

Before I could sit down, Caldwell materialized by my side. He told me cordially that he'd been overruled--by Forest City Ratner p.r., I assume--and that I had to leave.

I went home and got my camera. I returned to the mall and took a few pictures of Atlantic Yards Information Center signs, which were at both the west and east entrances to the mall.

In the morning, when I stopped by the mall again, the signs were still there. (I guess they leave the signs out.) Anyone following the yellow brick road upstairs for Atlantic Yards information, however, would have found that the door to Oz was closed.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …