Skip to main content

Barclays Center is one of "The New Shapes of New York" (but how public is that plaza?)


The New Shapes of New York declares the Times today, in a cover article in the Metropolitan section. From Matt A.V. Chaban's introduction:
Today, apart from the Empire State or Chrysler Building, there are few icons of the skyline. The buildings outlined above, however, may someday be worthy of appearing in a Times Square souvenir snow globe. These are the projects that have captured the imagination of more than a dozen shapers and observers of the city consulted by The New York Times for their perspective on the new standouts.
You may not recognize these silhouettes, but in time, you will.
The Barclays Center

From the Times:
The home of the Nets and Islanders was built across the street from Robert Moses’ unrealized Dodgers stadium, though the arena was almost unrealized, too, after years of lawsuits over the use of eminent domain.
Barclays Center has become one of the most important new public spaces and landmarks in the city, part of a larger narrative of the transformation of Downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Cultural District. Despite all the criticism about Atlantic Yards and the history of the development, the Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue crossroads is an important part of the city’s future and growth. Part of that is a network of pedestrian-oriented public spaces that connect people, transit and multiple uses.”
Justin Garrett Moore, Executive director, Public Design Commission
That's a disappointingly narrow response, because the open space is accidental, and the preservation of this "public" plaza is being used to argue for a huge shift of development rights across the street.
New York by Gehry

Also in the mix is another Forest City Ratner building, though the developer is unnamed:
This 904-unit luxury tower may be an unusual symbol of Lower Manhattan’s rebirth, but with roughly $200 million in post-Sept. 11 bond financing, the 76-story edifice is a reminder of the many ways the area has been reshaped since 2001.

“I have no claims for aesthetic competence, but the Gehry building certainly looks nice enough to me as an economist who loves cities. The fact that it’s residential matters a lot. If anything, New York, and particularly downtown New York, has a mismatch between its residential needs and an abundance of commercial space. New York is at its healthiest when it is profoundly mixed use, when it is residential and commercial and recreational all at once. I like the fact that the apartments aren’t just apartments for billionaires. They’re not particularly cheap — it’s still New York — but it’s rental. They’re midsized, a lot are under 1,000 square feet. The fact that it has a school on the bottom floors is nice as well.

Edward Glaeser, Author of “Triumph of the City”; Harvard economics professor
Ah, there are certainly things to like about this building's design, but that capsule description omits all the question marks, such as the use of triple tax-exempt financing for luxury units.

Remember the developer crowing about being able to use tax-exempt bonds for market-rate units? And that school that Glaeser likes, well, there was blackmail behind it. And the developer played chicken with construction unions to lower costs.

Available one-bedroom units range from $3,570 to $4,880. At 461 Dean, they range from $3,125 to $3,425.

What about 432 Park Avenue?

Also of note is the citation of 432 Park Avenue, the skyscraping cubic tower, the tallest apartment building in the city, which  gets kudos from a major real estate broker. “This building is all about seeing forever," says Elizabeth Stribling. "As for its design, it has this pure elegance, something that’s simple and won’t go out of style... Many people don’t like it because they see it as an eyesore, because you can see it from everywhere. On the other hand, that’s what people thought of the Eiffel Tower.”

But the Eiffel Tower was built for the public, not private interests.

From what I've heard from locals and visitors, 432 Park is almost universally loathed. Opinions about the Barclays structure are far more mixed.

Comments