Skip to main content

Atlantic Yards: BANANA, or collusion?

It was another Atlantic Yards moment in the midst of Robert Moses revisionism. The scene was a rather diffuse "Civic Talk" presented Wednesday night by Henry Stern's New York Civic, in cooperation with the Museum of the City of New York, held at the museum.

Three of four panelists agreed that the pendulum had swung too far, that, while we don't need a Moses, community groups just have too much power in stopping projects. "We do have problems in getting things done," declared Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, the founding president of the Central Park Conservancy. She recounted two episodes in which Central Park projects had been stymied.

Rogers got a hearty second from Herbert I. London, president of the Hudson Institute and a former Conservative Party candidate for state governor and Republican Party candidate for state comptroller and mayor of New York City. "It's virtually impossible to build anything," London exaggerated, citing a conversation with architects who told him that the Empire State Building--which famously was constructed in less than 16 months--would take a decade today.

Former Parks Commissioner Stern, whose mumbling, self-indulgent anecdotes were a drag on the evening discussion, went for a laugh, suggesting that "NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) has been superseded by BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone)."

A corrective emerges

The fourth panelist, Timothy Mennel, a former Fort Greene resident who earned his doctorate in geography writing a novel about Moses, finally offered a corrective. "I'd resist the idea that nothing is getting done," he stated.

Mennel mused that the question was "how much accommodation you make for private capital." Moses, he said, was willing to make such accommodations. Today, he suggested, "You see the city going out of its way to accommodate private capital." His example: Atlantic Yards.

"It's the state," shouted someone from the audience, looking narrowly at the fact that Atlantic Yards is officially a state project, shepherded and approved by the Empire State Development Corporation.

"In collusion," shouted back another audience member (OK, me) in correction, mindful that both the state and city had signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the project, that the city agreed not to press for ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) over parts of the project, and the city has more than doubled its direct subsidy for the project.

"In collusion," seconded Mennel.

Collusion?

The city and state would call it a partnership rather than collusion, and my off-the-cuff comment certainly doesn't describe the entirety of the relationship. Collusion implies deceit--and some of that is alleged rather than proven in the pending eminent domain lawsuit over Atlantic Yards.

Then again, there certainly are elements of deceit, I must conclude, upon reflection.

Why did the city and state not release a second MOU until it was discovered via a Freedom of Information Law request? Why didn't the city announce and explain why its direct subsidy has more than doubled? Why has no government agency been willing to delineate the housing subsidies? Why can't we get a full analysis of the fiscal impact of the project?

The questions continue.

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 …

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…

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

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.


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…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…