Skip to main content

The destruction of Brooklyn's soul? Well, the diminishment of democracy and some added soullessness

Could today really be the "Destruction of Brooklyn's Soul Day," as proclaimed by a faux-Marty Markowitz at "Groundtaking" protest organized today outside Freddy's Bar & Backroom?

It's an easy conceit, playing off Chris Smith's August 2006 New York Magazine cover story describing the "battle for the soul of Brooklyn."

Plenty of soul?

The proprietress of the New York Times's blog The Local ventured, “As journalists, we’re neutral on the Atlantic Yards development issue, but we’ll admit to some pro-Brooklyn bias and observe that this borough has plenty of soul to go around.”

OK, so maybe burying the soul of Brooklyn is an overstatement. It's a big borough.

But remember--as "neutral" journalists so often forget--once Forest City Ratner promised an arena with a green roof. Now they show renderings of the arena with a big Barclays logo.

At the groundbreaking ceremony inside the big white tent, the names of arena sponsors hung in banners from the ceiling.

As much as organizers of the groundbreaking event found ways to invoke Brooklyn cred (Junior's cheesecake, etc.), Atlantic Yards is, above all, about more and more corporate logos.

If that doesn't bury the soul of Brooklyn, it surely adds more soullessness.

Also, as indicated by the faux-Markowitz's verbal slips, calling Bruce Ratner "mayor" and "governor," the legacy of Atlantic Yards is a diminishment of local democracy, surely a component of our soul.

The bobbleheads

The faux-Markowitz and his cohorts, including Gov. David Paterson, described as "former eminent domain opponent turned out-to-lunch eminent domain cheerleader," appeared at the ceremony. Excerpts from the remarks below.

From the remarks

I could never have imagined that, according to the myth, after hounding my buddy Bruce Ratner to buy the Nets seven years ago this day would come where we’d be getting a money losing billion dollar arena, and no housing IN THE MIDDLE of a housing crisis.

I never thought I would be presiding over the greatest urban blunder since, since…Cleveland —Just kidding Bruce. Who ever thought that my Brooklyn boyhood dreams could be fulfilled by Russia’s Richest man, Cleveland’s Forest City Enterprises and Britain’s Megabank.

Whoever thought that a former tenant’s activist, ME, could preside over eminent domain to kick tenants out of their homes to build a money losing arena!

Anyway, Fugheddaboudit, I’m here to read this Proclamation before we Bury the Soul of Brooklyn

The proclamation
Whereas, Brooklyn’s cherished traditions of fairness and respect for all are deemed moot and quaint, and are at odds with the contemporary and fashionable notions of wealth, arrogance, unethicality and exploitation, it is most fitting that we join in the celebration of an undertaking that both increases the wealth and power of those from other boroughs, cities and nations, AND disempower Brooklynites more than ever before; and

Whereas, Bruce Ratner, Forest City Ratner Companies, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governors Pataki, Spitzer and Paterson, Senator Charles Schumer, Bertha Lewis, the Reverend Herbert Daughtry, Barclays Bank, Michael Ratner, Esq., the Empire State Development Corporation under the stewardship of too many to mention, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Brooklyn Brewery, Shawn Carter a.k.a. Jay-Z a.k.a. Hova a.k.a. “99 Problems and a bitch ain’t one of them,” Frank Gehry, Ellerbe Becket, sHop, Mikhail Prokhorov and the Borough President of the Great City of Brooklyn, the last without whom none of this would have been possible, have come together to exploit peoples’ fears regarding employment and housing, ignite racial tinder, lie, prevaricate, obfuscate, and destroy the cornerstones of democracy, community and dignity; and

Whereas, on behalf of all Brooklynites, I salute and commend first and foremost myself, and all the others who have created the Atlantic Yards/Barclays Center Luxury CondominiumTowers and Arena and its myriad Brigadoonian falacies of jobs, affordable housing and self-aggrandizing greatness and the very real conditions of eminent-domain abuse, environmental destruction, the gutting of urban utopia and the loss of life, heart and soul;

Now, therefore, I, Marty Markowitz, President of the Borough of Brooklyn, do hereby proclaim Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Destruction of Brooklyn’s Soul Day in Brooklyn, USA

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Borough of Brooklyn to be affixed under the auspices of Forest City Ratner Companies, Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO, this 11th day of March, 2010

Thank you all for falling in line for me over and over again over the past 7 years to get my land grab done. My largesse pays off in multiples.


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…

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 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…

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…

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 …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…