Goldstein on the divide at the hearing: "to call us opponents as if we are still trying to kill or stall the project is simply a misnomer"
Several people long associated with opposition toward or criticism of the project, however, urged that Atlantic Yards be built quickly, essentially recognizing they've lost the fight not only against the project itself, but also the issue of scale. But they don't want the land fallow, and they want to see the promises kept.
(James wanted more affordable housing, but not attached to an arena, and on a different scale.)
"We're here to say, build it now," said Jo Anne Simon, a leader in the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, pointing out that there were no impediments to Phase 1.
(Still in question are future subsidies and increased oversight, as well as the character of the subsidized housing in terms of range of affordability and distribution of units. Forest City once promised 50% of the units, in floor area, would be two- and three-bedroom apartments, but falls quite short in the first tower.)
It will always be illegitimate in my view for this reason and others.
DDDB and I were once opponents of the project, meaning we were trying to kill the project and replace Ratner's plans with a community based plan such as the UNITY Plan. And though it was an uphill, imbalanced, unfair struggle, we were not tilting at windmills, we had an overall strategy, tactics and, most importantly, legal firepower to stop and/or kill the project. We had far fewer political avenues to stop it or make substantial changes because of the ULURP bypass and the limitations of SEQRA.
From 2003 through 2010 when our legal options for killing the project were extinguished, we were best characterized as opponents of the project. But now we are not opponents of the project, illegitimate as it is, because the project is approved, the legal avenues to stop it are closed and the political possibilities to stop it are nil. Are there political means to change the project? Potentially. Are we opposed to gifting Ratner yet more subsidies, beyond the original commitments, so that the public is penalized for FCR's ineptitude? Yes. Are we opposed to moving forward in such a way where Ratner and Greenland have carte blanche to continue the non-responsiveness to the community and proceed without any meaningful accountability and oversight? We certainly are opposed to that.
But to call us opponents as if we are still trying to kill or stall the project is simply a misnomer. And that is what I was getting at, because at the hearing that was the sentiment expressed over and over by Ratner's allies.
The script has been flipped and those who were opponents trying to kill the project are the ones now saying: you've eminent domained and demolished the neighborhood, you had better now meet your promises about affordable housing with all expediency. (As spokesman for DDDB I repeatedly and continually told reporters that what we could not let Ratner get control of 24 acres in the heart of Brooklyn only to have him sit on those acres for decades. That is exactly what is happening.) And it is the "tear it down, build it now" crowd of unions and ACORN and BUILD that are publicly silent about the extreme delay (non-existence at this date) of the promised benefits of affordable housing. Though I do suspect that privately that crowd, particularly the remnants of BUILD and ACORN, are livid about the way things have gone down.
And when I say "there is no support," what I mean is that Ratner rode the support he needed to get political approval and now controls the land and the rights and no longer really needs any of that support as long as the Mayor and Governor stick with him.
The "desire to see the project built" is because now that the land had been taken and the buildings demolished and the resources committed by the public to the construction of affordable housing they damn well better get it done as promised. But this does not mean Ratner deserves or should get more subsidy, it means that if he can't build as promised then the ESDC must act quickly to find developers who will build. Emphasis on the plural. Unfortunately to date the ESDC has shown no inclination to do this.