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Another Atlantic Yards flier, another avoidance of scale

It is, by my count, at least the sixth slick flier developer Forest City Ratner has distributed to Brooklynites since the Atlantic Yards plan was announced, and it provides a good snapshot of the current project narrative.

(Flashback: here are fliers 1, 2, 3, & 4. A fifth flier, which I'm not sure anyone wrote about, trumpeted endorsements from New York newspapers. Update: Excerpts here.)

Two versions were distributed yesterday at the Atlantic Antic; both had the same cover, touting five benefits; on the back, one featured Nets star Vince Carter, while the other had a smiling face-painted black pre-teen in a Nets t-shirt. (I don't know how long the flier has been circulating, but Forest City Ratner has been sponsoring numerous community events.) More likely the faces of Atlantic Yards will be the well-off occupying the luxury housing (and the middle-class occupying some of the not-inexpensive subsidized housing), but they're not the audience for this brochure.)

Beyond "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops," the message now stresses environmental sustainability and neighborhood revitalization, both somewhat contentious issues. And, like its predecessors, the brochure still fails to show the scale of the project in any context. (Is that Barclays Center advertisement, which showed the imposing Miss Brooklyn and some tiny vehicles, too radioactive?)

Buildings from the top

Over the second and third page of the flier, we see a thin slice of the Atlantic Yards skyline, taken from a bird's-eye view, not any human ground-level view.

The pages tout the 2250 rental units and at least 200 home ownership units as affordable, set at 30% of household income; unmentioned are the income ranges for eligibility and potential rents, ranges that dismayed many attendees at last year's affordable housing information session.

The flier states that "apartments will be tailored to fit families of different sizes, with units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms." Do potential renters know affordable 3BR units would be 950 square feet?, will they complain? And, if "each building will have elevators, lobby attendants, resident amenities, and stunning views of Brooklyn," who exactly would get those views?

Going green

The center spread, on the fourth and fifth pages, stresses, Forest City Ratner's commitment to environmental sustainability. We learn that Atlantic Yards is part of LEED's new Neighborhood Development Pilot Program. Sounds good, but what are some of the project's environmental impacts? At least 75% of construction waste will be recycled, and the eight acres of open space created will include "an acre of sunny lawn." (Is that an acknowledgement that most of the open space would be in shadow?)

Unmentioned is how such an acre can serve any Brooklynites beyond the 13,000 or 14,000 who might be living in Atlantic Yards. Maybe that's why the accompanying graphic provides the barest hint of buildings behind those trees.

(Below, architect Frank Gehry's rendering of the view from the Dean Street playground east of Sixth Avenue, as shown in the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement.)

Jobs and an arena

The final spread promises 15,000 construction jobs (remember, that's 1500 jobs over ten years, or maybe 750 jobs over 20 years) and then doesn't even bother to estimate the number of office/retail/arena jobs, as Forest City Ratner has done in the past. (Is that because the number of promised office jobs has shrunk from 10,000 to perhaps 1340, with only a fraction of them likely to be new rather than relocated?)

It merely promises, "Once built, it will continue to be an economic engine for the growing borough, creating permanent jobs that will be permanently tied to Brooklyn--including professional, administrative, creative, service and retail opportunities.

A final page promises "Brooklyn's Team & A New Community Arena," citing the events beyond basketball, and free tickets. But the "community arena," of course, would be privately owned, and the Barclays Center naming rights deal, the plethora of luxury boxes, and the opportunity to market everything, even off-season sponsorship, would benefit the developer far more than the community.


  1. See my comment involving the challenge of understanding the proposed Atlantic Yards project’s scale made in connection with the “Future Perfect” post for 09/30/2007 below.- (BTW: When I asked the bored seemingly dispirited young man at the middle FRC booth yesterday where he lived he said he lived in upper Manhattan.)


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