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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

AY down the memory hole: Hakeem Jeffries said (by ally) to have been "pragmatic about" the project in 2006, but it was obfuscation & strategic ambiguity

From the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Hakeem Jeffries, Front-Runner to Succeed Nancy Pelosi, Forged Ties Across Spectrum:
Lupe Todd-Medina, a consultant who helped Mr. Jeffries in that 2006 campaign, recalled how he navigated the contentious issue of the Atlantic Yards development, a complex of residential towers built around an arena atop a rail yard. Mr. Jeffries declined to join the most vocal opponents, but stood against the use of eminent domain, she said.

“He was pragmatic about it,” said Ms. Todd-Medina.
Well, as I tweeted (see below), that statement doesn't quite capture Jeffries' strategically ambiguous 2006 stances. Nor, as I wrote in a 2012 article upon his expected ascension to Congress, does that capture his general caution--critical of aspects, then supportive--regarding the project.

Back to 2006

As I wrote in September 2006, Jeffries during his Assembly Campaign could sound like a righteous critic of the project:
And finally, let me just imply say, in terms of the flawed nature of the project, eminent domain is the most sacred power that the government can exercise and it can only be exercised in limited circumstances. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here today that this project should not move forward using eminent domain for a private developer to build a basketball arena.
This led to applause, as well as questions of whether, forced to choose between a pro or con position, which way he'd lean.

But what if eminent domain supported affordable housing?

“What’s important to have happen is to see whether the developer can make the case that there's an absolute and explicit and necessary connection between an arena and the housing,” he said. "The eminent domain, in my understanding, is what's necessary as a result of the arena, not as a result of building the housing along the railyards."

I suggested that eminent domain would be used for both the arena and housing. "That's something I would be interested in looking at, but I've got to see that information," Jeffries said.

He should have done so, but didn't. The housing would not be limited to the railyards, and properties beyond the arena block would be subject to eminent domain. 

But that was never resolved.

Savvy ambiguity

Indeed, as shown in the image at right, a Jeffries mailer said he was against "the private abuse of eminent domain," but that didn't mean he was against "the private use of eminent domain." 

That sounds like the work of a savvy consultant, like, say, Lupe Todd (as she was known then).

Another mailer stated, "No eminent domain abuse unfairly displacing our neighbors." Same "pragmatism," right?

Jeffries, it should be noted, made no effort to join in or support the lawsuits challenging eminent domain for the project, though he did push for things like improved governance.
"Tepid supporter" deserves credit?

From amNY 11/17/22, Who is Hakeem Jeffries, the likely next House Democratic leader?:
He also became a tepid supporter of the redevelopment of the Atlantic Yards site, which is now home to the Barclays Center, which earned him significant praise and disdain from both sides, and is largely credited with getting that project over the finish line.

Without a hyperlink, I have no idea where the phrase "largely credited" is from, but I'd say that candidate Jeffries got some last minute pledges when the project was approved, but the key legislator was state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, an ally of original developer Forest City Ratner.

Upon the December 2006 project approval, Forest City said that, while it had already agreed to build 600 to 1,000 affordable home ownership units on or off site," it then agreed it would "seek to build at least 200 of these affordable home-owner units on site," in response to a request from Assemblymember-elect Jeffries.

But there's no obligation in the project's guiding Development Agreement to build those condos, and that pledge has not been discussed for several years.

Second look at 2007 praise

One piece of praise, though not commensurate with "largely credited," came from Atlantic Yards supporter Errol Louis, in a 2/25/07 New York Daily News column headlined Play Ball with Bruce:
The smart course of action now for community activists - which I confidently predict the most visible project opponents will continue to reject - is to accept the reality of the plan and see what can be done to make it better.

The model of how to do this was laid out by freshman Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. After winning election last fall - even before he was sworn in - Jeffries began talking with Ratner and put an entirely new demand on the table: creation of 200 subsidized units that people would own, not rent.

Guess what? Ratner agreed. As a result, hundreds more people will own their own homes, in addition to the thousands who will rent apartments at the site. 
All it took was a bit of nerve, sharp negotiating skills and a willingness to face the reality that change in Brooklyn is at hand.
What's missing was any recognition from Louis that Atlantic Yards opponents had any point in not trusting the developer--and the developer/state alliance. That distrust has been borne out.