Skip to main content

Yes, during a discussion of Brooklyn, its literary history and neighborhood change, an inevitable question about the Atlantic Yards arena

It was a discussion about Brooklyn writing and Brooklyn history and gentrification and Fort Greene, with Literary Brooklyn author Evan Hughes and The Plot Against Hip-Hop (and more) author Nelson George, held last night at the Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene.

George, who grew up in Brownsville (as recounted in his memoir City Kid) and went to school in East Flatbush, recalled how the neighborhoods he knew changed, not only with a white ethnic exodus--the white folks he knew were mainly Jewish and Italian--but class and ethnic differences among fellow blacks, notably the influx of people from the Caribbean.

His best line captured neighborhood change via street food: "One day the knish store was selling beef patties."

Fort Greene's moments

George is completing a film called Brooklyn Boheme, about the late 1980s/90s burst of black creativity--music, film spoken word, writers--in Fort Greene, where he still lives.

Why Fort Greene? Well, George suggested, as with other neighborhoods that beckoned artists, it was a combination of price and accessibility--musicians, for example, could get to gigs in Greenwich Village quite quickly.

And what were the signposts of gentrification? George noted the disappearance of drug dealers who once dominated the pay phones just down Fulton Street and, as he wrote in a 4/5/09 New York Times essay, the appearance of the high-powered real estate brokerage Corcoran. (That was, apparently, in September 2000, according to this article.)

Hughes read from his book some astonishing--to today's ears--descriptions of Fort Greene in the 1950s and 1960s, a place of danger and decay.

The Brooklyn brand

Among all the outer boroughs, George observed, Brooklyn has the most cachet, the evocative earthiness--from the Brooklyn Bridge to World War II movies to hip-hop shout-outs--that provokes reaction wherever in the world he visits.

He cited the enduring iconography of the Brooklyn Dodgers, as evinced by the uniform (with Jackie Robinson's number) worn by Spike Lee's character Mookie in the director's classic Do the Right Thing.


Promoters of the Barclays Center arena are already trying to capitalize on the borough's image, as shown in the advertisement at right, and surely hip-hop megastar Jay-Z, who owns a piece of the Nets, will be part of the hoopla inaugurating the arena next year.

What about the arena?

At the end of the brief Q&A, an audience member asked the two authors what they thought of the Barclays Center.

Hughes said he didn't see it as quite "an open-and-shut case" as fellow panelist George, who's on record as an Atlantic Yards opponent (and joined the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn advisory board). Why? Hughes thought, at least at one point, that the "jobs" might be worth it.

"They sold a lot of the borough on job creation," George commented. Indeed, I've pointed out how the numbers are ridiculous.

George again suggested that the traffic, foot and vehicular, in the area around the arena would change the character of the neighborhoods on event nights, making the streets outside the bookstore uncomfortable.

By the way, despite a Wall Street Journal article indicating he was planning to leave Fort Greene in reaction to changes wrought by the arena, George told me afterward that he is, in fact, staying.

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.


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 …

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…