Because of the economic downturn, logistical problems and, critics say, design flaws, the expansion of the Javits Center has died, the plan to rebuild Penn Station and the area around it is in jeopardy and there are deep questions about financing, public and private, to extend the subway or build over the railyards.
...But many urban planners, architects, community leaders and developers say the downturn may have a silver lining, providing an opportunity for the city to rethink and reconfigure sweeping proposals many of them had doubts about all along.
The article didn't mention Atlantic Yards, but there are some comparisons and contrasts worth considering. Yes, there are some definite differences between the West Side plans and Atlantic Yards, notably the selection of a developer.
In Brooklyn, the Times's 3/21/08 coverage of the Atlantic Yards stall quoted one opponent, but otherwise no urban planners, architects, or Community Board member. (The Times never quoted the expressions of opposition and concern filed by the three affected Community Boards during the AY environmental review.) Rather, the developer, Forest City Ratner, is in the driver's seat and got the last word.
Near the hub
Yes, the planners' suggestion that the city focus on developing around Penn Station is roughly analogous to building near the Atlantic Terminal transit hub--though hardly the entire AY plan.
But the alternatives suggested in the Times article--less ambitious plans, rezoning, focused public resources--are among those suggested in the AY discussion.
What to build, and who pays
“We clearly can’t afford to do everything,” said Robert D. Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit planning group. “The moment has arrived where we have to be really clear on what we want to build and how we’re going to pay for it.
The same question applies to Atlantic Yards, especially given the developer's stated goal of more subsidies.
The RPA has played a curious role in the AY debate, in 2006 endorsing the arena block yet offering more criticism than praise for the project as a whole and subsequently offering more criticism of the process.
Maybe it's time for RPA to take a closer look at Atlantic Yards.