In the Response to Comments chapter of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement issued and approved last week, Empire State Development )ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards, was asked about that issue by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.
The DSEIS [Draft SEIS] is largely silent on the question of project need or why the project must be built and the goals it is supposedly meeting. This is directly relevant to the question of alternatives and available mitigation for the admitted unmitigated adverse impacts. ESD forgets that it must make findings for the MGPP [Modified General project Plan] and determine that the project meets the requirements of the UDC [Urban Development Corporation] Act. Without an honest assessment of the project need there is no way to make that assessment. (DDDB)
The purpose and need of the Project has not changed since the publication of the 2006 FEIS. As stated in the 2006 FEIS, the overarching goal of the Project is to transform a blighted area into a vibrant mixed-use community. The Project aims to provide a state-of- the-art arena (completed in September 2012), necessary affordable and market-rate housing, first-class office space, publicly accessible open space, local retail and community services, a hotel (under one variation of the project program), a new subway entrance (completed in September 2012), and an improved rail yard. The Project’s buildings would contribute to the Brooklyn skyline and the open space would connect the surrounding neighborhoods, which are currently separated by the open rail yard and a major avenue (Atlantic Avenue). With the removal of numerous blighted buildings on the project site and the completed construction of the arena and new transit entrance on the project site, the Project has begun to realize some of these goals. The SEIS has been prepared pursuant to the Order of the Supreme Court for New York County to examine the potential environmental impacts of a prolonged delay in the completion of Phase II of the Project. The supplemental environmental review process will be integrated and coordinated with ESD’s decision-making process under the Urban Development Corporation Act (UDC Act).
The unresolved question--at least to critics and opponents--is whether the transformation could be accomplished in fewer than 25 years if the project site were broken up and multiple developers/plans considered.