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May 31, 2005

Scrutiny for stadium funding

State leaders are questioning whether plan for Jets to borrow more than $1B violates New York City law
NY Newsday

The most expensive stadium ever proposed, the West Side Stadium, is being scrutinized in Albany on several fronts. These same maneuvers are being attempted in Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal.


"Everything that they've done was designed to stay away from legislative approval on a city and state basis," said one state legislative staffer who did not want to be identified.


Instead of paying real estate taxes, the Jets would use their own PILOTs to pay back the city and state, which are borrowing $450 million at reduced interest on the team's behalf.


Critics say that, in an attempt to evade votes by the State Legislature and the City Council, Pataki and Bloomberg agreed to create one or more local development corporations, run jointly by the city and state, that would borrow $1.05 billion on the football team's behalf.


The stadium is also jeopardized by lawsuits that claim the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the site on which the facility would be built, gave a sweetheart deal to the team when it approved the Jets' $250 million bid although the authority had appraised the property at $900 million.


Posted by lumi at 8:36 AM

Brooklyn Politics: FAN MAIL

Park Slope Courier
Brooklyn Politics by Erik Enquist

Enquist debates ardent reader Pyliss Wrynn (or is it "Wren?" What's in a name?) who is an impassioned critic of Ratner's proposal. The political columnist argues for building more density in cities with access to public transportation, but is against tax exemptions by local governments that tranfer the tax burden onto everyone else.

NoLandGrab: Though the exchange is mostly a debate of ideas, Enquist trips up by dismissing his reader's citation of transportation studies around arenas. He only need look at the arena over a transportation hub across the river to know that ONLY 52% of Knicks/Rangers fans arrive by public transportation — though better than the Meadowlands, Brooklynites will face a very serious, conceivably unmitigable impact .

To read the exchange on Engquist's site click here and scroll down to the middle or click the link below.

An impassioned opponent of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development plan, Phyllis Wrynn, has been trying to recruit us for the opposition. She believes the six-block project would destroy the character of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Wrynn also questioned the objectivity of this newspaper’s coverage of the controversial proposal.

Some excerpts from our e-mail exchange:

“Dear Erik,

“Is it true that your publisher is the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and refused to have an official function on the Ratner proposal open to the public and reporters, as was originally announced? I really need to know if we can trust your paper’s reporting of the development of the Atlantic Yards if that is true.”

“Dear Phyllis,

“Dan Holt, the co-publisher of my paper, is the current chairman of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. I just read a story in the Brooklyn Paper about Daniel Goldstein [of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn] and the Hagan sisters [Patti and Schellie of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition] being barred from some meeting the chamber held. Apparently there was a fear those three would be disruptive. Reporters were also not allowed, which I believe was the plan all along and not a change of plans. Was this Dan Holt’s decision? I doubt it. But if so, who cares? A private institution is not obligated to open its doors to reporters or anyone else. Our reporters didn’t attend either.

“Anyway, Dan Holt does not interfere with our reporting of the Ratner plan or anything else. Most newspapers have a wall between the business and editorial departments. I’m not sure if that’s the case at the Brooklyn Paper, where Ratner’s people believe publisher Ed Weintrob assigns and rewrites his reporters’ stories to give them an anti-Ratner slant.”

(We forgot to mention that Weintrob bought the URL forestcityratner.com and redirected all visitors there to his paper’s own Web site.)

Wren also wrote, “And, do you really believe that your life will not be affected one iota by a construction project which will take decades? Do you go from neighborhood to neighborhood? Do you breathe the air? Do you ever have appointments that might be affected by traffic delays? Do you have a sense of the difference in light and air quality between Brooklyn and Manhattan?

“I’m sorry. I’ve always had respect for your diligent coverage of the news. Your take on this just doesn’t make sense to me.”

We replied, “I suppose ‘one iota’ might have been an exaggeration. Perhaps I’ll have to bike around the construction zone to get to Fort Greene Park to play tennis. The traffic won’t affect me much because I don’t own a car and I rarely drive. On the air quality issue, the problem is not tall buildings so much as vehicles. Right now, nearly every fan at the Nets games drives there. With the new arena, most will be able to take the subway or bus.”

Wren: “I urge you to read studies done of transportation to sporting events country-wide. There is solid evidence that the people buying the huge numbers of luxury boxes and other seats they are projecting as needed to make this concept viable don’t and won’t take public transportation to such venues.”

Us: “The bulk of the seats at any basketball arena are not courtside or in luxury boxes. I’d guess about 80 percent of the ticket revenue comes from 20 percent of the seats. These are the folks who would be taking taxis to the games.

"You’re asking me to look at transportation data from other arenas. Do these arenas have 11 subway lines under them or two blocks away? Plus a commuter railroad and six bus routes in front of it? You can't compare apples and oranges, or Minneapolis and Brooklyn.

*"A major factor in my thinking is the philosophy to build up, not out. Building out is sprawl; building up is efficient. I suppose in a perfect world we could all live in four-story brownstones a few blocks from the subway, but...”   We tossed in a quote from Riverkeeper’s recent sprawl report:

"As sprawl degrades the environment, it also impairs the local economy. New infrastructure in sprawling areas, including new roads, water lines, and sewer lines, along with expenditures for new schools and increased police and fire protection cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Planning that keeps development in community centers leads to more efficient distribution of services, and therefore lower property taxes.”

Wren: “But Erik, we have close to a perfect world, so why would we want to corrupt that? The humanity of our neighborhoods is so evident! We are NOT talking about creating sprawl; we’re NOT talking about not developing the yards. We are talking about reasonable alternatives that enhance our neighborhoods and bridge them, not puncture the sky and cast historic cityscapes in shadow, lining developers’ pockets, giving them sweetheart deals as far into the future as they could possibly live.”

Us: “You’re missing my point. Building up is efficient; building out is not. If you build up in Brooklyn and create 4,500 units near public transportation, that’s 4,500 1/3-acre lots that won’t be developed in the wilderness of upstate New York and New Jersey with highway-widening and Wal-Marts and strip malls to follow. Sprawl is worse than some shadows from Ratner’s buildings.

"The world may be perfect for those of us lucky to already live in low-rise housing near mass transit. Not everyone is as lucky as we are.”

All of this got us exactly nowhere, as Wren wrote back, “Desecrating historic neighborhoods so that sprawl doesn’t happen elsewhere is the most specious argument I have ever heard.”             We realized that, like Winnie the Pooh, we were tracking the very footprints we’d left at the beginning of our journey. Still, we compulsively replied.             “Which historic neighborhoods would be desecrated? Park Slope? Fort Greene? Prospect Heights? HOW WOULD THEY BE DESECRATED? Explain to me how a typical day in the life of a resident of these neighborhoods would be desecrated.”*

We’ll stop now before we put the sleeping-pill companies out of business.

OK, one more thought. A decent studio apartment in a Prospect Heights co-op (34 Plaza Street) is being listed for $275,000—plus you need a six-figure salary to be approved by the co-op board. That’s insane.

Brownstone Brooklyn is wonderful for those who live there, but most people can’t afford it. More housing units, and more “affordable” housing units, such as those Ratner wants to build, would increase the supply/demand ratio and thus counterbalance the astronomical rise in property values of the last 10 years.

This is not to express support for the tax breaks Ratner would get. We’d like to see a federal law forbidding states or municipalities from granting tax privileges on an individual basis. That would help end sweetheart deals and competition between local governments that lowers taxes for some at the expense of everyone else.

Posted by lumi at 8:35 AM

Seizure power vital, lawyer says

The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Ohio appeals court upheld the City of Norwood's seizure of private property for a the expansion of a local privately owned development. The plaintiffs are now looking towards the US Supreme Court's ruling expected sometime in June while their case heads for the Ohio Supreme Court.


NoLandGrab: The Norwood case is being shepherded by the Institue for Justice and has become one of the cases that is being watched by both sides of the issue of use of eminent domain for private development.

Posted by lumi at 7:41 AM

We Control More Than Half of Atlantic Yards Site, Says Ratner

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Raanan Geberer

The Eagle's article about last Thursday's City Council hearings covers Forest City Ratner's Executive VP Jim Stuckey's presentation, the current private property ownership figures, the debate over large-scale development and affordable housing between Marty, Letitia James, and Charles Barron and James's and David Yassky's concerns over lack of a transportation plan.


Posted by lumi at 7:28 AM

May 29, 2005

Daniel Goldstein's Testimony at City Council Hearings


Read all about bond scams, $1.52 billion deal and snake oil.

The people of Brooklyn did not vote for Bruce Ratner to plan our futures. We did not elect him to make decisions about our futures, the landscape of our communities, and our money. We elected you, in the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg. So then why has the City signed off their oversight of this project, without a whimper?


Posted by amy at 11:04 PM

May 28, 2005

Tune in to Brooklyn Review, BCAT 56

Brooklyn Review, the BCAT produced news program, will air a segment on the hearings this Saturday May 28th at 8:30pm on BCAT Channel 56.

Posted by amy at 2:02 PM

May 27, 2005

Coverage of Atlantic Yards Public Hearings

Yesterday's City Council Public Hearings left many questions unanswered, but clarified rumors about more housing. Many members of the public were turned away after the 60-seat meeting room was filled to the gills.

Most of the news was devoted to Stuckey's updates of: * additional residential units (1,500 condos), * corresponding reduction of office space (1.9 million square feet to 428,800), * acquisition of private property, and * the total cost of the project ($2.5 billion to $3.5!).



abc.jpgABC Eyewitness News,
Controversial Brooklyn Development Spurs Debate

A fairly comprehensive report from Dave Evans mentions people being turned away from the hearing, another MTA-railyard sale controversy, quotes Councilmember Charles Barron, DDDb's Dan Goldstein and BP Marty Markowitz, and states new housing numbers. The report ends with this observation:

Couple this with the zoning change in Williamsburg and Greenpoint a couple of weeks ago and Brooklyn is going to look a lot different.


Jim StuckeyNY Daily News, Ratner quietly moves in
Deborah Kolben reports Jim Stuckey's claim that:

[Ratner] now owns 91% of the condos and co-ops and 63% of rental units on the 21-acre site. He also owns 23 of the 43 commercial properties and is negotiating to buy the rest.

Though it is commonly known that other groups with interests in Downtown Brooklyn have sought to develop the Vanderbilt Railyard in the past, the Daily News observed Markowitz repeating a persistent rumor started by the developer last year:

The Atlantic Yards have been available to any developer in America for the past 100 years.


Nets ArenaNY1, Developer Says Price For Nets Arena In Brooklyn Has Skyrocketed
(direct video link, DIAL UP/BROADBAND)
Bobby Cuza's report features the balloning cost of the project ($2.5 to $3.5 billion), quotes Charles Barron's concerns on the details of the affordable housing plan, and spotlights Cheerleader-in-Chief Marty Markowitz.


NY Newsday, More housing may be added to Nets project
Pradnya Joshi's report features the new residential housing numbers and is the only report to make mention of a hotel:

The company would also reserve space for a 187,000-square-foot hotel as part of the 21-acre project, [Jim] Stuckey said.


This morning's 90-word report mentions the new housing numbers and carries one quote:

"We have been out and we have met with the community extensively. One of the things we have heard and been educated about . . . is, in fact, there is a dire need for residential development in our plan." — Jim Stuckey

In recent months The Post has taken the lead among media outlets in their approval of the project, even going so far as to overlook their own claim that housing in NYC is "already over-subsidized."


The NY Times
The Grey Lady reports... wait, it must be here somewhere... ballooning costs, private property acquisition, more housing... hmmm can't seem to find it. Nothing, nada, zip — a shrewd move by The Times to avoid any conflict of interest in covering their business partner.

NoLandGrab: Instead, how about a report about Kleinfeld's move from Bay Ridge to Manhattan (A Separation Sets In: No Brides, No Business)? In case they're counting in Borough Hall, that's 185 jobs leaving Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 7:32 AM

Costco may come to Harlem

NY Newsday

In a move towards equal access to box stores:

After several delays, Costco is close to signing a lease for its first Manhattan store, said the developers of East River Plaza, a big-box shopping center set to open in summer of 2007 on FDR Drive in Harlem.

The warehouse club retailer will likely sign a lease as an anchor within the next two weeks, said David Blumenfeld, vice president of Blumenfeld Development Group, which is building the project in partnership with Forest City Ratner.


NoLandGrab: An alert to those who have become incensed by eminent domain abuse during the course of the Atlantic Yards fight -- in recent years Costco has become one of the largest beneficiaries of eminent domain abuse in the nation.

Posted by lumi at 7:25 AM

We believe in Magic

Another reason to cheer for Brooklyn
NY Newsday, Editorial

If you combine Johnson's investment with the ambitious complex that Bruce Ratner wants to develop down the street - it includes a basketball arena, four office towers, and 4.4 million square feet of housing - you will start to see the outlines of a redevelopment that could give Brooklyn more cachet and prosperity than it has enjoyed since the Dodgers left the borough after the 1957 baseball season.


Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

May 26, 2005

Nets arena questions and answers (and more questions)

Field of Schemes

Neil deMause attended today's hearings to learn more about the true costs to the public of Ratner's 17 high rises and basketball arena. "The list of unanswered questions about the Nets project keeps growing:"

  1. Who gets the Nets PILOTs?
  2. Should the Nets PILOT payments be considered a public subsidy?
  3. What will the Nets pay the MTA for the land?
  4. Are there any additional public costs to the project?

DeMause explains why these questions are so hard to answer.


Posted by lumi at 11:45 PM

Democracy Inaction

NoLandGrab Exclusive report from outside today's public hearing

While its proponents tout Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal as the best thing to hit Brooklyn since Jackie Robinson, they sure seem to go out of their way to minimize public scrutiny of the project.

Dozens of citizens hoping to testify - both pro and con - at today's hastily arranged City Council Economic Development Committee hearing on the Atlantic Yards were turned away at the door, ostensibly due to a lack of space in the meeting room. However, given the passionate debate the project has engendered, those turned away voiced surprise that the Council would hold the hearings in an inadequately sized forum.

"It's problematic that a public hearing can be scheduled on short notice and in such a small room for an important issue," remarked Fort Greene resident and architect Doug Hamilton.

button.jpgForest City Ratner employees distributed "Jobs, Housing & Hoops" buttons and T-shirts to supporters of the proposed arena and high-rise development, including one union member sporting a "Lake Success Teamsters" jacket (stretching the concept of local job creation to a place best described as Very East Brooklyn).

Opponents of the Ratner proposal heckled the arrival of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, making a rare sojourn from his home borough.

"Marty will only leave Brooklyn for two things: his annual all-you-can-eat Caribbean cruise, and Bruce Ratner," said Eric McClure, one of those turned away from the Council hearing.

Posted by lumi at 11:12 PM

TODAY: The City Council Economic Development Committee

nycseal.gifNext Thurs., May 26th, at 1 pm

250 B'way on the 14th floor.
(2/3 to Park Place, 4/5/N to City Hall)

Folks, save the date! This is the hearing that we've been calling for. Don't pass up this opportunity to let your City Councilperson know how you feel.

What is at stake? $100 million in Mayor Bloomberg's budget earmarked towards the Ratner project.

Posted by lumi at 9:34 AM

New York City Lobbyists Take in $33.6 Million
Not-for-Profits and Corporations Driving Industry to New Heights

The NY Sun

Records of lobbyists' activities in NYC from 2004 shows that both Bruce Ratner and the Jets have spread around cash to more than one PR firm to lobby local government:

The Jets were not, however, the only entity with business before the city spreading money around to firms with ties to government entities.

Forest City Ratner, which has development projects all over the city and is trying to win approval to build a basketball arena for the Nets in Brooklyn, also hired several firms. An initial review of the report shows that Ratner shelled out at least $196,000 to three different lobbyists.


Posted by lumi at 7:56 AM

Big Dogs in the Yard

Brooklyn Downtown Star
by Reed Jackson

The Brooklyn Downtown Star covers last week's Ratner-Bloomberg-ACORN press conference. Most papers went as far as covering Bertha Lewis and Bloomberg locking lips, but the Star goes futher to depict a lovefest where "hoops metaphors were the verbal currency of the day" and Markowitz "swept Lewis into a giddy two-step, an act characteristic of the hug, kiss, and backslap-laden press conference."

The article also mentions today's public hearings (see listing above).


Posted by lumi at 7:50 AM


The NY Times

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is seeking competitors for the development of its Atlantic Yards site, and has set a deadline of July 6 for proposals. A proposal by Bruce C. Ratner to build 6,000 housing units and a stadium for the Nets basketball team on the site has already won endorsements by the city and the state, which have each offered to pay $100 million for site improvements. But Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the authority, said yesterday that the agency had decided to consider other proposals in part because of its experience with its West Side railyards, which became the focus of a bidding war before an agreement was reached to sell the property to the New York Jets. Mr. Kelly said he knew of no other bids that were being prepared for the Atlantic Yards site. Thomas J. Lueck (NYT)

NoLandGrab: Now it's 6,000 units? Didn't last week's Housing MOU state 4,500 units? We're always picking on The Times, but they make it so easy. First, The Times is the last daily to cover this development, though the public notice appeared in their pages last week. Then the Grey Lady appears to have access to the latest information. Ratner and The Times often seem to be acting according to each other's best interests.

Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

Advancing Ridge Hill

The Editorial Board of The Journal News reviews Bruce Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill Village project.


Posted by lumi at 7:39 AM

May 25, 2005

MTA Opens Atlantic Rail Yards Land To Public Bidding


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will open the Atlantic Rail Yards in Brooklyn to competitive bidding.

New Jersey Nets owner and Developer Bruce Ratner has been looking to build a $2.5 billion sports and residential complex on the MTA-owned land, but now he'll have to buy the land in a process much like that faced by the New York Jets, who want to build a West Side stadium on the Hudson Rail Yards site in Manhattan, also owned by the MTA.

video report and transcript

Posted by lumi at 5:43 PM


NY Post
By Patrick Gallahue

A plan to bring the Nets to Brooklyn will have to go through a competitive bidding process — much like the Jets stadium deal — before the MTA grants its air rights to developer Bruce Ratner, officials said yesterday.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the Atlantic Avenue Long Island Rail Road Yards where Ratner wants to build a $2.5 billion arena and residential complex, released a 24-page document inviting developers to bid on the land.

"Obviously, our purpose is to get the most money for the system we can," said MTA spokesman Tom Kelly.

All bids are due July 6.

"We welcome the request for proposals and look forward to a successful completion of this stage of the project," said Ratner spokesman Bruce Bender.

The process also requires bidders to include details of their proposals and set up a $500,000 fund within five days of being selected to cover the MTA's anticipated contractual costs.

The MTA did not say when it would announce a winning bid for the three-block stretch of land.

The bid represents the latest roadblock that Ratner will have to pass in order to build the much-hyped Frank Gehry-designed venue.

For Ratner, a failed bid would be a disaster since he only purchased the Nets in order to make the team the centerpiece of his massive development project in Brooklyn.

"Let the best plan win," said Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn), one of the most vocal critics of the Nets arena project.

Real-estate experts doubt any serious rivals would make a play for the Atlantic Yards, because Ratner has already cut deals with many of the private homeowners near the site.

Posted by lumi at 7:29 AM

Ridge Hill clears environmental hurdle

Journal News
by Hannan Adley

The Yonkers City Council voted to accept the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill Village proposal in Westchester.


Posted by lumi at 7:11 AM

May 24, 2005


Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn senses an "citizens uprising," as Brooklynites are speaking up for "livable cities" and their beloved borough.

Brooklyn is having a moment the likes of which I haven't seen since I moved here in 1991. All of a sudden it's the it-borough: Manhattan is expanding eastward and the land grab of 2005 is a veritible gold rush.

This is fighting the good fight Brooklyn style. And like Brooklyn, it's smart and scrappy, down to earth, spunky and ambitious. It's gotta be. Development on this scale represents big money, big politics, big corporations, and in some cases, big bad guys


Posted by lumi at 10:32 PM

Vanderbilt Yards (aka Atlantic Yards) RFP

The RFP is now available from the MTA. Is the state agency doing the right thing or is this just pro forma before they bestow the entire kit and caboodle to Ratner?

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (the “MTA”) requests proposals for the sale or lease of all or some of the air space and related real property interests in one or more of the three parcels known as Vanderbilt Yard (“VD Yard” or the “Site”).

The goal is a Disposition of land or air rights over a portion or the entire Site in a manner that will maximize the economic benefit to MTA for improvement of the public transportation facilities and functions of the MTA and minimize the economic and environmental risk to MTA; however, this goal will be pursued in the context of the following, which will also be considered:

a. The economic development, planning, and civic needs and desires of the City and the State;

b. Consideration of the interests of the surrounding community;

c. The selection of a developer or development team with the experience, reputation, and credit worthiness appropriate for the successful development of a project of this magnitude and importance.

d. Consistency with the Long Island Rail Road’s need to continually operate critical transportation services within the Vanderbilt Yard and related support facilities.

Download RFP

Posted by lumi at 10:18 PM

Hoop Schemes

Why are cities across the country sinking taxpayer money into sports stadiums and arenas? Stay Free! talks to Andrew Zimbalist and Neil deMause.

  Zimbalist vs.  DeMause

On transfer of
economic activity
from NJ to NY

By moving the Nets from New Jersey into Brooklyn, you are taking a team from this greater metropolitan New York area and relocating it across tax jurisdictions. You have the same activity happening, but you have it happening on one side of the tax line instead of the other side. And that ends up making a net transfer into New York city or state coffers.


That is assuming a lot. It's assuming that a lot of people who are currently going to Nets games in New Jersey are going to switch over and come to Brooklyn; otherwise, people are spending the same amount in the city. The money is just going to the Nets instead of, say, a movie theater. It is a best-case scenario that we make our money back.

On housing

You have basically four-fifths of the $2.5 billion investiment--$2 billion--that has nothing to do with the arena. It's commercial and residential. That was the point. The lion's share of the benefit--or maybe all of it--in my initial study, had to do not with the arena but with the other features of the investment.


If the only benefit is the housing, why is the city planning on spending between $200 and $500 million on the arena, which is the part that will require knocking down houses? Why not just do an RFP [Request For Proposals] and say to developers, "Who wants to build on the Atlantic Yards?"


Posted by lumi at 10:04 AM

Flying Solo With PILOTS

Eugene W. Harper Jr. on whether mayoral control of payments in lieu of taxes is a good thing

Harper's opinion piece in the NY Sun (May 18) is a comprehensive definition and history of PILOTS and Bloomberg's attempt to retain control over the fund to finance pet projects.

PILOTS are “payments in lieu of taxes” made by occupants of real estate not technically on the tax rolls to compensate for loss of ordinary city revenues — sometimes by taxexempt government units, like the Port Authority; more frequently, by taxpaying companies with deals under a program for “economic development.”Typically, the city takes title to property, removing it from the tax rolls, then “leases” back virtual ownership to the company, which agrees to make payments “in lieu of” taxes, usually less than taxes otherwise due. For example, the city may use PILOTS to permit a company to pay a slidingscale percentage of full taxes over several decades, and in doing so, retain (or attract) businesses otherwise threatening to leave town (or not come), owing to high city taxes.

article (aka, PILOTS 101)

Posted by lumi at 9:19 AM

Ratner hires development director for arena

Crain's New York Business

Forest City Ratner Cos. named designer Michael Hallmark as director of arena development for the company’s proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

Mr. Hallmark, a former stadium designer, has focused in recent years on planning commercial developments in the neighborhoods around sports venues. He has consulted on such projects as the Phoenix Suns’ America West Arena, which he also designed.


Posted by lumi at 8:49 AM



Political reporter Doug Ireland's commentary on the image of Bertha bussing Mike.

Is the co-chair of the Working Families Party going to "put out" this fall when the mayoral race heats up, or is she just a tease?


Posted by lumi at 7:52 AM

May 23, 2005

A Developer Wants to Take My Tax Money to Destroy My Neighborhood and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Writer Brian Carreira's latest update from The Brooklyn Rail covers the latest developments in the fight against Atlantic Yards and overdevelopment throughout the city:

Defend BrooklynCommunity and intercommunity organizing are essential as the real estate establishment widens its net around the neighborhoods that residents of Brooklyn hold dear. A mayor who has yet to meet a development he doesn’t like (save for one that might stand in the way of his already tattered Olympic dreams) and a borough president intent on exorcising his own feelings of Brooklyn inferiority by destroying the places Brooklynites love, letting loose uninspired developers like Bruce Ratner to remake them into putrid vertical suburbias, leave residents little choice.

Bruce Ratner is going to be getting a whole lot for very little should his Atlantic Yards gain approval. As Councilwoman James reminds residents, “There is no agreement for providing jobs. There are no benefits that can mitigate this project.”


Posted by lumi at 8:50 AM

Norman Siegel, Candidate for Public Advocate


Norman SiegelNorman Siegel on eminent domain abuse:

"If I was the public advocate, I would holding hearings on the use of eminent domain. I’d be building a coalition of New Yorkers opposed to eminent domain, because there is something wrong when the government takes your private property and gives it to another private developer. Then it’s all about money and it can’t be all about money."


Posted by lumi at 8:45 AM

WNBC Gabe Pressman Interview: Sheldon Silver


Pressman and Silver add up the costs of the West Side Stadium: * Financing of bonds by Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS), * Eminent Domain condemnations, * conversions of City streets.

"Well, people advertise it as a $600 million public commitment for a $2 billion-plus stadium. But there are many questions as to that. Part of the so-called Jet payment is a $450 million tax-exempt bond issue by the local development corporation that is designed to finance the Jets' payments for the stadium. In order to pay those bonds off, the Jets will receive a virtual real estate tax exemption and will pay taxes to the city in lieu of real estate taxes. And that money will go to pay the $450 bond issue. So the way I count, that's another public commitment to this stadium..."

These are just the KNOWN costs.

The Public Authorities Control Board was set up to authorize debt issued by the State through various channels, even Local Development Corporations (LDCs). Silver points out that there are still several questions that remain before the board can vote.


NoLandGrab: For folks following Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards proposal, this conversation will sound very familiar, expect that the PILOT financing of the bond debt for Ratner's project is even higher than the West Side Stadium.

Posted by lumi at 7:28 AM

May 21, 2005

Magic’s kingdom

The Brooklyn Papers discusses Magic Johnson's purchase of the clock tower:

With an anticipated completion date of the summer of 2006, and an already-secured broker in the Corcoran Group, Turner said the investment fund isn’t bothered that plans for new residential and office towers down the block, as part of developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards plan, could dwarf the iconic bank building.

Ratner’s plan, which includes 17 towers ranging from 110-feet to 620-feet tall, would build the new tallest building in Brooklyn only a block away at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues. Those towers are part of the company’s plans to build a professional basketball arena and 17 office and residential towers on property emanating from the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues and stretching three block into Prospect Heights.

“I think our theory and philosophy’s always been we don’t need to be the biggest, we need to be the best,” said Turner.


Posted by amy at 12:53 PM

Housing plan Net gain for Mike

From the Daily News:

The announcement of more than 2,000 affordable-housing units as part of Brooklyn's planned arena complex wasn't just good for billionaire developer Bruce Ratner - it was good for billionaire Mayor Bloomberg, experts said yesterday.

Standing on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall, both men had won the blessing of Bertha Lewis, executive director of the politically important group ACORN.

"It's a big win for both of them," said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. "It makes it appear there is no acrimony and that housing, jobs and the community are essentially protected."


Posted by amy at 12:44 PM

Ridge Hill project may enter zoning phase soon

From the Journal News:

The exhaustive, often contentious debate over the $600 million Ridge Hill Village development will likely enter a new stage early next week as the City Council nears completion of an environmental review that paves the way for a critical showdown over zoning.


Posted by amy at 12:42 PM

MTA Solicits Bids For Atlantic Rail Yards

From WNYC:

REPORTER: In the back of the business section of the New York Times on Tuesday, the MTA quietly solicited bids for the Atlantic Rail Yards in Brooklyn. It says proposals are due by July 6.

The highly publicized MTA solicitation for HUDSON rail yards, site of the proposed west side stadium, gave just three weeks for bids, and is now the subject of litigation for being unfair.


Posted by amy at 12:38 PM

New York's Robert Moses Moment

New York News Network

Here's a local-development story that we missed a few weeks ago, but thought that it would be of interest to our readers.

New York City is having a Robert Moses moment at a time when real estate is hotter than Wall Street, and residents love their respective communities so much that they want to preserve them as much as possible.

On the far West Side of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, residents acknowledge the inevitability, and even the need, for development. But they are vehemently opposed to what they see as mega projects they say are imposed from above - from a citywide development vision of breathtaking scope proposed by the Bloomberg administration.


Posted by lumi at 7:12 AM

May 20, 2005

Ratner Pledges 50% Affordable Housing

bertha-n-mike.jpgYesterday, Bruce Ratner and ACORN head Bertha Lewis, along with Mayor Bloomberg announced details of the affordable housing component of Ratner's arena and 17 high-rise proposal.

Appearing at ringside were the following political figures: Rev. Herbert R. Daughtry, Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz, NYC Councilmembers Bill deBlasio & Yvette Clarke, State Assemblymembers Roger Greene, Joe Lentol & Clarence Norman, State Senators Marty Golden & Kevin Parker, US Assemblyman Edolphus Towns, and head of the teacher's union, Randi Weingarten.

NoLandGrab Cheap Shot: Why Randi Weingarten appeared on the gravy train is anyone's guess. But, it was nice to see Roger Green and Clarence Norman basking in the spotlight despite their recent legal troubles.

The NY Times, Brooklyn Arena Plan Calls for Many Subsidized Units
The Times describes the scene and carries a quote from PICCED's Brad Lander:

At a news conference announcing the agreement at Brooklyn Borough Hall yesterday morning, a row of elected officials including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the borough president, Marty Markowitz, joined Mr. Ratner and Bertha Lewis, the executive director of Acorn, to praise one another in a celebration that included kisses, hugs and some dancing.

Brad Lander, director of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, said the agreement was a shrewd political move for Mr. Ratner and a substantive accomplishment for Acorn.

"They're looking to build a broader base of support, in many ways, from a wider geographic area of Brooklyn, in part to counter opposition from other folks," Mr. Lander said. "It's a fairly transparent strategy, but it's also something real. Acorn gets a significant amount of subsidized housing."

Letter to the editor

NY Newsday, CAMPAIGN '05, Praise from an unexpected source
Newsday carried the story from the perspective of a mayoral campaign photo op.

Praising the Ratner's project in the "long-languishing Atlantic Avenue section of Brooklyn" as "surely a win for New York," the Post takes a shot at the mayor for "cozying up to radicals" like Bertha Lewis and Randi Weingarten and complains that housing in NYC is already "outrageously over-subsidized." Showing a bit of ideological hypocracy, the conservative paper has no problem with millions in subsidies for rich developers.

Bloomberg, Nets' Brooklyn Move to Create Affordable Housing, Ratner Says
The NY Sun, Ratner Delivers on 'Affordable Housing'
NY1, Nets Owner Promises To Build More Affordable Housing In Downtown Brooklyn

Posted by lumi at 6:56 AM

May 19, 2005

DDDb Press Release: Housing Deal on Atlantic Yards
A Good Start, But Not Nearly Enough

“Affordable Housing” Does Not Lessen Destructiveness of Ratner’s Taxpayer-Subsidized Sweetheart Deal

BROOKLYN—Forest City Ratner’s and Mayor Bloomberg's announcement today that the City will finance so-called "affordable" housing does not allay myriad concerns about the wasteful and destructive Atlantic Yards proposal, according to Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

“Ratner’s $1.5 billion subsidy has just gone higher,” said DDDB spokesperson Daniel Goldstein. “Clearly, Ratner is moving in the right direction—thanks to community opposition and ACORN’s negotiating—but low-income, working families get very little out of this so-called ‘affordable’ housing, and Ratner’s wasteful plan is still an insult to the taxpayers of New York City and State.”

The housing deal announced today by ACORN and Mayor Bloomberg stands on shaky financing ground and unknown market forces. The New York Housing Development Corporation and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development made special exceptions for Forest City Ratner beyond any subsidy they have ever offered any other developer. With the public subsidy for Ratner’s project already at $1.5 billion or more, the housing subsidy will push the public contribution closer to $2 billion. With a Brooklyn median household income of $32,000, most of the housing announced by the Mayor today does not provide nearly enough relief for the working families of Brooklyn. A housing agreement for the Ratner proposal jumps the gun as Mr. Ratner has neither acquired all the property he seeks, including the 11-acre MTA Atlantic rail yards, nor has his proposal started the state mandated approval process.

Daniel Goldstein added, "A small bone of ‘affordable' housing thrown to Brooklynites is far from enough to make Ratner’s plan acceptable. Ratner's demanding that the public waste its money on the most expensive sports arena ever proposed, huge skyscrapers in a low-rise community, unmitigable traffic jams and environmental hazards, and a shady local development corporation. All of this without any city oversight or community input, while fire, police, and schools go begging.”

"Achieving ‘affordable' housing does not require all of the destructiveness, and wastefulness that Ratner’s plan does. Yet our officials are telling Ratner, 'Have some free money! And you don't even have to provide real jobs or truly affordable housing!' That's why there's community opposition to this project from Greenpoint to Bensonhurst.”

Goldstein concluded, “This sweetheart deal is still a turkey, even if it now has some trimmings.”

Posted by lumi at 9:25 PM

MTA Request For Proposals for Atlantic (Vanderbilt) Railyards

mtarfp.jpgThe public notice of the MTA's request for proposals (RFPs) for the Atlantic (Vanderbilt) Railyards appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES today on Page C9.

MTA RFPs Online

Posted by lumi at 9:24 PM

Taking a shot on Brooklyn landmark

Investment group led by hoops legend Magic Johnson teams up to convert 34-story building into condos
NY Newsday
by Pradnya Joshi

The managing partner for the venture fund that bought the Williamsburg Savings Bank tower makes a public statement of support for Ratner's proposal.

The [Williamsburg Savings Bank] tower is the first purchase for a new venture fund started by the Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, which has raised $600 million to be invested in urban developments. The Beverly Hills-based fund is joint venture between Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Johnson. Real estate developer Dermot Co. also is among the group purchasing the building.

The Fort Greene building, which dates from 1927, was originally owned by the Williamsburgh Savings Bank and stands out among the Brooklyn skyline. The building is near the Atlantic Yards, the city's third-largest mass transit hub and where developer Bruce Ratner wants to build a new arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team.

"Here's an opportunity to take an underutilized asset and really vitalize it," Bobby Turner, managing partner of the Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund said in an interview. "We are excited about the prospects of Bruce increasing the available amenities to the community."


Posted by lumi at 8:39 AM

Land Doesn't Pay

The city's $7 billion-a-year property tax gap -- no wonder we're broke
The Village Voice

Neil deMause demistifies property tax exemtions, who gets them and why the city is always broke. Find out why favored developers like Ratner, like New York City.


Posted by lumi at 8:19 AM


Park Slope Courier
Brooklyn Politics

Erik Enquist looks back at Marty Markowitz's guilty plea for misreporting campaign contributions.

Was the crime an "innocuous" oversight as represented in Rebeca Mead's recent New Yorker article? Or, was there some truth behind the multiple-count indictment for taking four-figure campaign contributions from a credit union and reporting them as if they’d come from elsewhere?


Posted by lumi at 7:45 AM

May 18, 2005

The Home Front: Playing Terrorist

After 9/11, the terror-simulation business has boomed.
What kinds of scripts are they writing for New York?
New York Magazine
by Guy Martin

As the NYC's Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Preparedness plans mock terrorism-response training exercises, he cites the City's large-scale venues as being prime targets for terrorists.

"Obviously, we 'kill' a lotta people in these exercises," says Gabriel at his desk in OEM’s bunker near the Brooklyn Bridge. "We have to imagine that any large assembly of people in New York automatically makes our major arenas, baseball stadiums, and convention centers targets." [emphasis added]


NoLandGrab: Despite the analysis of terrorism experts, only Ratner arena detractors have questioned the wisdom of putting a new arena in a densly populated area.

Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

FCRC: Public Spaces, Private Places

On a lovely spring day a Brooklynite was spotted taking in the views of the F-line trestle from the landscaped promenade of the Lowe's Home Improvement parking lot. Access was not restricted and the views were unparalleled.

Ratner has been criticized in the past for poor planning of and access to public spaces on Forest City Ratner-owned property.

Click images to enlarge.

If you have a Forest City Ratner Public Spaces Private Places siting that brings a tear to your eye, please feel free to submit your images to publicspacesprivateplaces@nolandgrab.org.

Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

Jets: Stadium caught in turbulence

The Newark Star-Ledger
by Matthew Futterman

The West Side stadium has grabbed most of the headlines, but it is just one of nine stadium proposals in the region waiting for government approvals or financing deals.

Brooklyn arena: Nets owner Bruce Ratner has spent tens of millions of dollars in the past year buying private property at the site where he wants to build his arena. He still must negotiate the deal that will give him the rights to the publicly owned land -- a rail yard at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

Ratner will pay for his $500 million building, but he has to negotiate a lease for the rail yards, assuming there are no other bidders for the site, and then figure out with the MTA who pays the costs of moving the yards across Flatbush Avenue. Together, the lease and the rail yards could cost Ratner more than $200 million.


NoLandGrab: Futterman's analysis of the Ratner deal assumes a lo,t since many important details have yet to be revealed. The cost projection of the arena itself could easily rise.

Posted by lumi at 7:06 AM

May 17, 2005

Williamsburg Savings Bank bought

williamsburgsavingsbank.jpgCrain's NY Business

The Williamsburg Savings Bank Building has been bought by Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, an investment concern started by “Magic” Johnson, and the Dermot Co., which plan to renovate the landmarked, 35-story tower into condominiums and ground-floor retail space.

Canyon-Johnson and Dermot bought the nearly 80-year-old tower, which is Brooklyn's tallest building, from HSBC. The bank put the building on the block last year.


GlobeSt.com, Williamsburg Bank Tower To Become $165M Condo

Posted by lumi at 9:49 PM

May 16, 2005

It's All Our "Backyard"

Ratner's Downtown Plans Can Set Precedent for Local Development
Block Magazine

Writer and media blogger Jon Whiten makes the case that we all should care about what happens at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush, despite the fact that it is Not In My BackYard.

I soon realized that this is a dangerous, cynical, and self-defeating stance for anyone to take. Yet we are all lulled into NIMBY attitudes, especially when it comes to urban development. This is a fact of modern city life - it is fractured. Organizing is hard. So why do it when you have little that is tangibly at stake?

At the risk of sounding pithy, I'll answer simply: it is important. Events are interconnected, especially within the same borough or city - procedures for development are often set by precedents.


Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

Forest City Announces Milestones at Four Open-Air Regional Lifestyle Center Developments Totaling 3.2 Million Square Feet

Business Wire

Apparently "DEVELOPMENT" is now a dirty word and requires a euphemism. Though Forest City Ratner uses the gemütlich-sounding "village" to describe their controversial development project in Yonkers, the mothership, Forest City Enterprises, prefers "Open-Air Regional Lifestyle Center." Give us a break!

If we are going to lap up Orwellian doublespeak, how about, "Live, Work, Play" at the Brooklyn's new "Metropolitian Mixed-Use Empowerment Nexus?"

press release

Posted by lumi at 6:26 AM

May 14, 2005

Kutuzov’s Horse—and the City’s Future

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

After the fiscal boom of the 1990s that encouraged thoughts of expansion we now have a very different mindset at City Hall. For the first time since the Lindsay years a city administration is involved in the physical planning of the city. Not that there haven’t been significant developments in the meantime – Battery Park City on Hudson River landfill and Metrotech in downtown Brooklyn, for instance – but the first grew out of a state initiative and the second resulted largely from the interaction of the then Borough President Howard Golden with Polytechnic University and developer Bruce Ratner. But now we again have the City Planning Department mapping out broad zoning changes and targeting districts, particularly along the city’s immense waterfront, for special development. The current work, as was also the case with the generally well-regarded 1961 zoning revision during Wagner’s time, has proceeded with little obvious hands-on involvement of the mayor (in contrast to the Lindsay style). Curiously, as Mayor Bloomberg has mostly stayed in the background on matters such as Brooklyn waterfront and downtown development, he has become so involved in the idea of a West Side football stadium that he is accused of being fixated on that at the expense of other programs.


Posted by amy at 10:29 AM

Freddy: Bloomy a Brooklyn nightmare

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Democratic mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer broke rank with his rivals this week by addressing for the first time in the campaign plans by developer Bruce Ratner to build a basketball arena and high-rises emanating from Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

Specifically, Ferrer attacked the process by which the Atlantic Yards plan is being ushered through the public realm.

“There is next to nothing being discussed in the public domain with respect to the Nets arena,” Ferrer said outside Brooklyn Borough Hall on Monday.

“The public has a right to know who will be displaced, how much will it cost, what is the math of this project?” he said. “To call that process not transparent is probably the understatement of the year.”


NoLandGrab has a change for the Pol Precinct! We've given Ferrer a green light for his positive comments about the fight for our community.

Posted by amy at 10:20 AM

WE’RE overdeveloped, Ratner foes tell Marty


From the Brooklyn Papers:

Borough President Marty Markowitz’s decision to hold a little-publicized meeting this week addressing overdevelopment in southern Brooklyn — which he called “suburban Brooklyn” in a recent newsletter — incensed residents in Brownstone Brooklyn, who say they are facing projects of a greater scale.

In Markowitz’s April newsletter, titled “Brooklyn!!,” he touts efforts to rezone portions of Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge, the latter of which he calls, “the largest rezoning effort taking place in the Borough of Brooklyn today.”

The piece, headlined ‘Saving Brooklyn’s Communities,” blames “rapid, unplanned development in some of Brooklyn’s most suburban neighborhoods” for “changing the character and scale of some communities,” and notes that the borough president asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg to “make rezoning of overdeveloped Brooklyn neighborhoods and those facing overdevelopment a priority.”

The Ratner project, which will encompass 24 acres and stretch from Atlantic and Flatbush avenues to Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street, will host 17 high-rises and at least four skyscrapers — one reaching as high as 600 feet tall — and swallow four city street-beds.


And remember - Marty is up for election this year. If you would like to see a borough president who does not sacrifice one part of Brooklyn for another, check out and support Green Party candidate Gloria Mattera.

Posted by amy at 10:05 AM

May 13, 2005

Supersizing Brooklyn brings downsizing of stables

The developers are coming, the developers are coming!

Overdevelopment is coming to a neighborhood near you:
* Red Hook IKEA
* Downtown Brooklyn
* Prospect Heights/Ft. Greene, Ratner Arena and 17-High Rise Towers
* Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning
* High-rise Condos in the Brooklyn Bridge Park
* South-South Slope

And now, developers are trading in the Little Grey Barn in Kensington for an eight-story as-of-right 100-something-unit condo.

Get the scoop on Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn about the downsizing of Kensington Stables.

NoLandGrab: Trading in a barn where generations of city kids have learned to ride and work with horses reminds us that sometimes the "best use" of a city lot is not that which yeilds the highest floor-area ratio.

Posted by lumi at 8:46 PM

Economists: Stadiums Are Bad Investments

LA Times

"There are only two things you do not want on a valuable piece of real estate. One is a cemetery, and the other is a football stadium," University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson said Tuesday.

While American cities have traditionally assumed sports facilities would trigger urban development, local governments are increasingly wary of such assumptions — and of using public money on the basis of them.


Posted by lumi at 8:44 PM

City Council passes Speakers PILOT legislation

Wednesday, the NY City Council passed Speaker Gifford Miller's PILOT legislation (Intro 584-A), which would bar the Mayor from spending City money without the City Council approval, including money disbursed from the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) fund. This legislation is targeting Mayor Bloomberg's proposal that the City contribute $300 million to the building of the West Side Stadium.

This legislation could have bearing on the Mayor's proposal to spend $100 million on the Nets Arena proposal, though New Yorkers can expect that the Mayor will veto the legislation, the Council will overide the veto and the whole ball of wax will end up in the courts.

The Daily News, Council bars mayor from stadium aid
Gotham Gazette, City Council Slated Meeting Notes: West Side Stadium Financing
City Council Press Release

Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

Weiner Blasts Freedom Tower Fiasco

Gay City News
by Duncan Osborn

Park Slope native and mayoral hopeful US Assemblyman Anthony Weiner attended a LAMBDA Independent Democrats meeting where he was asked about his position the Ratner's mega-development proposed for a site just across the street of his old neighborhood:

weiner.jpgTaking questions from the audience, Weiner said he supported the Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn near the Brooklyn Academy of Music where developer Bruce Ratner wants to build an arena for the Nets basketball team surrounded by a complex of 17 high-rise buildings.

“It’s fundamentally a housing deal,” Weiner said. “The amount of housing that is going to be below market rate is substantial... Overall it’s the kind of economic activity that I would like to see.”

Weiner opposes building a football stadium on Manhattan’s West Side and has said it should be built in Willet’s Point in Queens.


NoLandGrab: The joke of the week goes to DDDb's Lucy Koteen who commented, "Weiner has a good sense of Schumer." Check out the positions of other pols on Ratner's superdevelopment.

Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

Ratner extends contract of Nets exec

Ratner extended the contract of Nets GM Ed Stefanski. No details of the contract have been released.


"Ed Stefanski is an exceptionally keen evaluator of basketball talent, and we are privileged to have him remain as general manager of the Nets for many years to come," said Bruce Ratner, Nets principal owner. "With Rod and Ed's guidance and leadership, we are in great hands heading into this summer and the future."

CBC Sports, Nets GM rewarded with extension

"I am thrilled to continue my relationship with the Nets organization," Stefanski said. "Rod (Thorn) has been my mentor since I joined the league and I feel very comfortable with the direction of the team under Bruce Ratner and his ownership group."

TSN.ca, GM Stefanski signs extension with Nets
SportsNetwork.com, Nets extend Stefanski as general manager
Asbury Park Press, Nets' GM Stefanski signs contract extens

Posted by lumi at 7:02 AM

May 12, 2005


NY Sun
by Julie Satow

downtownbrooklyn.jpgCity planners and politicians have not planned for the traffic and pollution costs to residents and the local economy caused by the enormous redevelopment plans for Downtown Brooklyn and vicinity. Community Consulting's Brian Ketcham has just released a report warning of the need to improve infrastructure in Brooklyn.

Downtown Brooklyn’s infrastructure will be overwhelmed by more than 40 million square feet of development in the next 15 years, according to a new study by a transportation think tank, Community Consulting Services. The city and the state will need to spend as much as $4 billion to handle the “traffic damages” resulting from the borough’s projected 24,000 new residents and 74,000 new jobs, the report says.


Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM

Miller calling for transparency?


miller.jpgIs Gifford Miller following Fernando Ferrer's lead in calling for more transparency for Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal?

Earlier this week, Brian Lehrer asked a listener's question about Miller's position on Atlantic Yards compared to the West Side Stadium.

Brian Lehrer:
I have a message from one of the Nets stadium in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The message reads, "If Miller supports hearings on the West Side Stadium, why not on this Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn?" Or do you?

Gifford Miller:
I do. We've had at least one already and I support having more and we will have more. And I think that the same principle ought to apply. Ultimately the reason that the West Side Stadium is such a bad deal for the City is that there was never a competitive process for choosing it. We auctioned off thirteen of the most valuable acres in the world and the only people we got to bid on it were a football team and a basketball team and there's no community opportunities. We ought to have the same principle, there ought to be serious competitiveness.

Is affordable housing a very important goal? Absolutely, and I understand that there is going to be some amount of affordable housing associated with the Atlantic Yards development. But I don't know how much yet because we haven't had that kind of open and competitive process. And what we have to do is have that same kind of application for the West Side as for Atlantic Yards, and if we have that competitiveness in the end taxpayers in New York will be better off.

Brian Lehrer Show Archives, Tues., May 10, 2005
Listen online to Miller interview (Nets Arena question at 17:00 min)

NoLandGrab: Miller's language is stronger than in the past, however, as City Council Speaker, he has been putting off hearings on the City-funded portion of the Ratner proposal.

Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

UN may end up as Brooklyn dodgers

NY Daily News

Giddy rumors about the UN temporarily relocating to Brooklyn, maybe even Bruce Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards, were quelled yesterday as a UN technocrat pointed out that they are looking at several properties over the entire city and that they were not even close to making an announcement of what they intend to do for temporary quarters while the current site is being renovated.


Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

City Council Approves More SUPERSIZING for Brooklyn

The NY City Council approved the rezoning plan for Williamsburg-Greenpoint. Supporters are claiming a victory for affordable housing and redevelopment of the waterfront with views of Manhattan. Many local residents were hoping to secure affordable housing guarantees, not "incentives" that developers often pass over. Many in this thriving low-rise middle-income community are now concerned that this action will zone out many of the features that made this neighborhood a desirable location for working class and artists.

Other Brooklynites look on wondering, what and who's next?

The NY Times, Council Approves Makeover of the Brooklyn Waterfront

A single council member, Charles Barron of Brooklyn, voted against the legislation, saying that the housing provision was a "step in the right direction" but too modest.

Crain's NY Business, B'klyn rezoning wins Council approval

Posted by lumi at 7:00 AM

New York City Council moves to block West Side stadium funding

NY Newsday

The City Council on Wednesday moved to block a source of funding for the football stadium that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Jets want to build on Manhattan's West Side.

Lawmakers passed a bill requiring council approval before the city spends money known as PILOTs, or payments in lieu of taxes, which is what the mayor planned to tap for the city's $300 million portion of the $2 billion stadium.


NY Daily News, Council bars mayor from stadium aid
NewYorkNewsNetwork.com, Miller Goes On Olympics Offensive

Posted by lumi at 6:59 AM

May 11, 2005


NY Post

Ratnerville isn't the only development that has Brooklynites' knickers all in a twist.

"[Residents] are pleading for relief from the destruction of their neighborhoods," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.


Posted by lumi at 7:24 PM

UN looks to B'klyn for temporary space

NY Newsday

The UN is looking for temporary quarters while their current facilities are being renovated. Though no details of their real estate search have been publicly released, rumors are circulating that they are considering Ratner's Atlantic Yards along with 7 WTC.


The NY Sun, Secretary-General Urges United Nations To Abandon 'Swing Space' Plan
The NY Times, Temporary Space for 191 Countries? For U.N., Maybe It's in Brooklyn

NoLandGrab: If the 2010 date doesn't work for the construction of "swing space" closer to the current UN site, it is hard to imagine that enough of Ratner's complex could be ready before then. A litany of law suits sure to be unleashed in the ensuing months would, at least, slow the process down.

Posted by lumi at 8:11 AM

Jane Jacobs: Letter to Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council

Published in The Brooklyn Rail

flowerpower.jpgAs approved, the Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning plan has been modified since this letter was sent. However, many of Jacobs points still apply and are food for thought for the many rezoning and redevelopment projects besieging Brooklyn.

"The community’s plan does not violate the existing scale of the community, nor does it insult the visual and economic advantages of neighborhoods that are precisely of the kind that demonstrably attract artists and other live-work craftsmen, initiating spontaneous and self-organizing renewal."

Jane Jacob's letter

Posted by lumi at 8:10 AM

10 teams tenaciously pursuing palaces

The Philadelphia Inquirer's "Stadium Scorecard, a ranking of the top 10 sports stadium projects," lists Ratner's Nets arena as "Probable" and the West Side Stadium as "Questionable." The list doesn't contain in-depth info, but is a good gauge of who's winning the PR battle for the sports reporters.

#8 New Jersey Nets

Highlights: Bruce Ratner, property developer and Nets owner, wants to build an office and residential complex in Brooklyn that just happens to have a basketball team playing there.

Status: Probable. The big league returns to Brooklyn. It's like Welcome Back, Kotter, but with basketball. Call it Welcome Backcourt, Carter.


Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

Big Cities Big Boxes

The Big Cities Big Boxes blog tracks IKEA's controversial development in Red Hook (now in ligtigation on several fronts), development concerns throughout NYC and what to do about big box stores.

There has never been a full public debate in New York City about whether we want to let in big box stores and, if so, what they should have to look like and how they should have to pay their employees. There is an urgent need for public discussion.


Posted by lumi at 6:28 AM

May 10, 2005

Two court cases could mean the end of publicly funded stadiums


Kelo v. New London, which the Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on by summer, could decide once and for all when or even whether governments have the right to use eminent domain to acquire private property for the benefit of private businesses. Meanwhile, Hamilton County v. Cincinnati Bengals Inc., which is being heard in federal court in Cincinnati, is challenging football’s federal anti-trust exemption, forcing all NFL teams to open their closely guarded books, and arguing that the Bengals’ demand of build-it-or-we-can’t-compete is tantamount to fraud.

...sports business specialists around the country say these two cases could bring the taxpayer-financed stadium-building boom of the last 15 years to a merciful halt.


Posted by lumi at 9:40 AM

Impact of a Stadium: A Look at Other Cities

The NY Times

An examination at two recently built downtown arenas in Miami and Toronto indicate that the jury is still out on whether or not they delivered the benefits originally promised.

Officials for the Jets and the city argue that the building will be an agent of renewal, anchoring and rejuvenating an area that now amounts to little more than abandoned rail yards and urban blight. Opponents say the stadium is a brassy and architecturally undistinguished behemoth that will compromise the neighborhood's character, breed congestion and fail to foster daytime activity in a dormant area.


Posted by lumi at 9:09 AM

Hey Marty! Develop, Don't Take Cheap Shots 


The NY real estate blog reports that The New Yorker published Dan Goldstein's letter in response to Rebecca Mead's profile of BP Marty Markowitz.

In the article, Markowitz hangs himself by his own buffoonish Clown-Prince-of-Brooklyn act, even going as far as taking a call from "Bruce." What Goldstein disputes is the characterization of his neighborhood as lacking "historical significance." He sites "at least four architecturally and historically significant buildings [that] will be slated for demolition."


Posted by lumi at 7:38 AM

Sahas settle with Coatesville


Coatesville, PA -- Ok, it ain't NYC and has nothing to do with Ratner, but we thought that Brooklynites might cheer up when they learn that the Town of Coatesville, PA has agreed to drop the eminent domain seizure of Dick Saha's family farmstead to build a golf course after Saha agreed to sell five acres of the land for a regional recreational center. Though the sale price hasn't been revealed, it has been reported that it is less than the $300,000 Saha spent in legal fees to save his home.

Saha said the agreement was a win for property owners and a loss for eminent domain abuse.

"It’s something that had to be stopped sooner or later," Saha said. "We have troops over there that are getting shot every day for our rights."


Posted by lumi at 6:54 AM

May 9, 2005

Save Our City

Brooklyn Rail
by Theodore Hamm


Stadiums and high-rise condominium towers, big-box stores and more stadiums—of course this is what your community wants. Never mind these projects’ daunting scale or the minimal number of living-wage jobs they actually create. The large developers and their cronies are essentially saying, “It won’t happen in my backyard, but you should be thrilled that it’s happening in yours.” 

What’s new to report is not that residents of various neighborhoods are fighting back or that they’re doing so in the name of protecting their local communities from unwanted types of development. Instead, what’s different about the recent protests—at least over the developer-friendly rezoning of Williamsburg—is that local activists have taken the fight to the streets.


Posted by lumi at 9:08 AM

Finance reports: O'Connor far outspending Pittsburgh mayoral primary foes

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ratner family members are leading contributors to Pittsburgh Mayor O'Connor's primary re-election campaign.


NoLandGrab: No surprises here, Forest City Enterprises (a publicly traded company, of which Forest City Ratner is a subsidiary) is partnering with Harrah's in trying to bring casino gambling to the Pittsburgh as a part of the city's waterfront redevelopment plan.

Posted by lumi at 8:55 AM

Clear the Way, Fellows. The Yellow Brick Road Is Coming Through.

The NY Times
by Peter Applebome

Another specious attempt to justify taking of private property for a large-scale development in NY State with no guarantees of public benefit. As in Brooklyn, the value of small business owners in Salina, NY and their employees is being overlooked by a continual string of promises by Robert Confel, a politically connected developer.

[T]he Salina business owners also say they deserve more than being swept away with the trash, and that at the very least, DestiNY should show some results before gobbling up more land.

"Here's the difference," said Philip Jakes-Johnson, who owns Solvents and Petroleum Service. "We're here. We pay our taxes. We built companies and run them without tax breaks. So we don't have what he has. We have something better."


Salina, N.Y.

IN this corner we have what's certain to become the greatest thing to hit upstate since the Erie Canal: DestiNY USA, the developer Robert Congel's ever-elastic field of dreams. To be picky, three years after construction was to begin, it doesn't yet exist. Still, at the moment it promises the biggest, greenest most enviro-friendly mall and entertainment project in the galaxy and the first 21st century "technology cluster," which will be to this century what Silicon Valley was to the last one: 250,000 jobs! $65 billion in taxes created over 30 years! 100 percent fossil-fuel free! "The most visited single leisure destination on earth!"

And in this corner, we have Tim Follett of Brannock Device Company, which makes those things they use to measure your foot at the shoe store; Robert Strutz of Butch's Automotive and Transmission; Brian Osborne of Syracuse Crank and Machine; and more than 20 other businesses, most of them in low-rise buildings in Salina, near the intersection of the New York State Thruway and Interstate 81 near Syracuse.

So it may turn out Syracuse will be home to the biggest tourist draw in the world, and removing 29 little businesses through eminent domain, by which the government can forcibly buy private property for "public use," is a small price to pay for DestiNY's proposed $2.67 billion research and development park announced in February.

But when Mr. Follett, Mr. Strutz, Mr. Osborne and others met at Sposato Floor Covering on Friday, you had to wonder. The most immediate question is the fairness of uprooting or destroying businesses people have poured their souls into for the latest twist in a project that so far hasn't delivered much more than an empty moonscape.

Another question, now before the United States Supreme Court, is what constitutes "public use" anyway. It once meant highways and schools; now it's as likely to mean big-box stores and megaprojects. "Everything I and my family have worked for over the past 25 years is at stake because of the way eminent domain is being abused in this state and across the country," Mr. Osborne said. "And I'm not going to sit back and watch it all go up in smoke because the government drank this guy's Kool-Aid."

This guy is Mr. Congel, one of the richest men upstate, who has produced either a marvel of visionary planning or a Taj Mahal of hype. Mr. Congel, who has left behind some huge developments and ugly controversies in the past, unveiled plans for DestiNY USA in 2001.

It was the successor to an earlier, somewhat less grand plan to expand his existing Carousel Mall. It envisioned a project with the square footage of two Empire State Buildings, including 400 stores, 4,000 hotel rooms, a saltwater aquarium, a 65-acre park under a Biosphere-like dome and a miniature Erie Canal. Price tag: $2.2 billion, with construction to start in July 2002.

Except, despite Gov. George E. Pataki's appearance at a ceremonial groundbreaking that July, nothing has been produced other than more and bigger proposals, each one requiring more land and tax breaks.

The technology park is the newest and most urgent proposal, one so pressing Mr. Congel needs 325 acres, including the existing business property just about this instant, even though nearly all the properties are supposed to be in the project's third phase, to happen years from now.

Many brilliant lawyers are arguing over how eminent domain should play out, but any fool could look at the Salina 29 and see three things you might want before the government takes away one person's business for another's: it should be absolutely necessary for a project with a big public payoff; it should be for a project with a near certainty of happening; and uprooted businesses should get not just the value of their property, but enough to reopen elsewhere.

THE Salina 29 think DestiNY flunks all three. DestiNY officials and a key local ally, Onondaga County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro, did not return calls for comment.

The truth is, upstate desperately needs big ideas and big investment, and it's likely no one will ever again come up with something that promises so much. "It's like Las Vegas," Mr. Follett said. "You're down to your last 10 bucks. Why not roll the dice and see what happens?"

But the Salina business owners also say they deserve more than being swept away with the trash, and that at the very least, DestiNY should show some results before gobbling up more land.

"Here's the difference," said Philip Jakes-Johnson, who owns Solvents and Petroleum Service. "We're here. We pay our taxes. We built companies and run them without tax breaks. So we don't have what he has. We have something better."

Posted by lumi at 8:45 AM

Ratner Gets Passing Grade (B ) in First Full Season as Nets Owner

Brooklyn Daily Eagle sports columnist John Torenli gives the credit to Ratner for turning the season around after his early missteps and the Nets dismal start:

“I’m proud to be associated with a team and coaching staff that demonstrated such character and perseverance throughout this season,” Ratner told the Eagle via a spokesperson yesterday.


Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

May 8, 2005

When David meets Goliath

Newsday talks about eminent domain and the Kelo vs. New London case:

Until now, most lawyers thought the Supreme Court had assented to that extension of the condemnation power. But Kelo and her fellow holdouts have challenged it, arguing that taking their homes to help attract Pfizer and create an upgraded, privately developed, tax-rich neighborhood was not a "public use." And the court's decision to hear the case, with a ruling expected in June, indicates at least some justices may be interested in reining in the power.

"There is no limit on eminent domain if that is permitted," said Scott Bullock, of the Institute for Justice, the Washington public-interest law firm representing the Fort Trumbull holdouts. "Every business produces more tax revenue than your home. Every larger business produces more tax revenue than a smaller business."

Indeed, in Supreme Court arguments last month, lawyers for New London were unabashed in telling the court that, hypothetically, they believed a city could condemn a Motel 6 and give it to Ritz-Carlton to increase tax revenues. The city and a panoply of supporters - including New York State, New York City, and backers of developer Bruce Ratner's proposed basketball arena in Brooklyn - warned the court in briefs that if it restricts the power, cranky property owners would be able to stall projects such as the original World Trade Center, and the redevelopment of Times Square and Baltimore's Inner Harbor.


Posted by amy at 12:03 PM

Mike Lupica: Shooting from the lip

Lupica on Doctoroff, Blooomber, the West Side Stadium, and re-zoning for rich folks:

The funniest comment of the week came from our guy Five Rings Doctoroff, who told the New York Times on Friday with a straight face that he only spends 10% of his time dealing with getting the Jets and their stadium on the West Side.

But then he goes on to point out that he does work 100 hours a week.

What a guy.

Let's face it, taking care of developer friends with sweetheart real estate deals all over town can cut into a guy's social schedule.

As the News' Juan Gonzalez keeps pointing out, it is an outrageous conflict of interest to have the city's corporation counsel Michael Cardozo - a lawyer whose old firm used to work for the Jets - anywhere near this stadium deal.

But then this is the administration of Mayor Money, isn't it?

His campaign slogan should go something like this:
I'd like to be the mayor of all New Yorkers, but I'm busy re-zoning for the richer ones.

Posted by lumi at 9:35 AM

May 7, 2005

Tish to Gif: Look here!

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Prospect Heights Councilwoman Letitia James wants Speaker Gifford Miller to stop paying so much attention to the New York Jets stadium plan championed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and get serious about the Atlantic Yards basketball arena, office skyscraper and housing development being planned in her district.

“This project is the largest that this borough has seen in over three decades,” said James, “a project that is going to fundamentally reshape the borough of Brooklyn and its landscape.”


Posted by amy at 10:56 AM

May 6, 2005

Borough pols boost Ferrer

NY Daily News
by Michael Saul


As he picked up endorsements from six Brooklyn officeholders yesterday, mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer said he has major reservations about the secrecy surrounding the planned Nets arena.

"To call that process not transparent is probably the understatement of the year."

"There is next to nothing being discussed in the public domain with respect to the Nets aren."

"The public has a right to know who will be displaced, how much will it cost, what is the math of this project. ... The community has a right to the answers to those and many other questions. The answers have not been forthcoming."


NoLandGrab: Will this cause City Council Speaker Gifford Miller to feel the heat and finally hold hearings on the $100 million that is budgeted for the Nets arena in next year's NYC budget?

Posted by lumi at 6:41 PM

Fighting The Power To Take Your Home

More Owners Are Challenging Government Plans to Seize Land

The Washington Post by Kirstin Downey

Eminent domain is becoming a high-profile issue in Washington D.C. as the use of eminent domain for two projects is garnering scrutiny.


Posted by lumi at 6:19 PM

Fans For Fair Play: Lee Houston, 1945-2005

Fans For Fair Play's eulogy for Freddy's regular, Lee Houston, who was recently featured in NY Newsday's article on changes in Prospect Heights.

Posted by lumi at 8:25 AM

Mailing spotlights Ridge Hill

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon

The folks in Yonkers are waiting to receive their brochure touting the benefits of Ratner's controversial real estate deal, Ridge Hill Village. FCR VP and Brooklyn resident Bruce Bender says that the mailing is a way to directly communicate with Yonkers residents and, "let people start discussing this on its merits."


NoLandGrab: Dubbed "Liar Flyer I & II" by Nets arena detractors, Central Brooklynites have been treated to two mailings from Forest City Ratner. The slogan, "Live, Work, Play" (ironically the same as Corcoran Real Estate's latest campaign) has become sort of a mantra. Does it define the times as well as "Turn on, tune in, drop out," did for the hippie generation? May we live, work and play long enough to find out.

Posted by lumi at 6:53 AM

May 5, 2005

The Return of Urban Renewal

urbanroom.jpgDan Doctoroff's Grand Plans for New York City
by Susan Fainstein
Harvard Design Magazine

NOLANDGRAB MUST READ. This article provides a quick historical overview of urban planning in NYC and the Mayor's ambitious planning goals. It goes on to examine the largest and most controversial plans (including Brooklyn's own boondoggle, BAY) and reviews the advantages and shortcomings of each.

In the first phase of the federal urban renewal program, opponents of projects that would destroy communities and small business were similarly excoriated for being unconcerned with the public interest. It was only later, when it became evident that benefits did not always trickle down, communities were destroyed, cleared land lay vacant for decades awaiting a developer, and “marginal” businesses that frequently laid the groundwork for the next wave of innovation were uprooted that the dangers of “great plans” became fully appreciated. By now many of these lessons have been forgotten as a new generation of architects and planners has come along seeking to imprint their visions on New York's landscape. The pendulum has swung to the other side rather than resting at a point where comprehensive planning can occur within a context of humility, flexibility, and democratic participation.


Posted by lumi at 8:39 AM

Senator Schumer Cautions Against Eminent Domain At Ground Zero

Earlier this week, reports were circulating that the Mayor and Governor were considering the use of eminent domain to gain control over Ground Zero from real estate mogul Larry Silverstein, who still holds the lease on the property. Schumer publicly expressed concerns over this move.

"I'm sure eminent domain is sort of the nuclear option for the city. If we go to eminent domain, it will be in court forever, so I think it ought to be a very last resort." -- NY Senior Senator Charles Schumer


NoLandGrab: Brooklynites are getting used to living in a parallel universe of irony -- wanna guess what the Senator and Park Slope resident thinks about the Ratner plan and use of eminent domain?

Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

Ratner Mea Culpa II

Bruce Ratner's latest mea culpa came yesterday when he acknowledged that he "wasn't ready to be an owner" last summer when he took over the team. Brooklynites can take this two ways:
* Ratner once again has screwed up so badly that he has to fess up in public. * Ratner hates to loose so badly that he'll pay any price.

This latest admission will give activists courage, knowing that his revenue-based bird's-eye view is wrong for Brooklyn, but they better get their rears in gear because the man obviously loves a challenge.

NY Daily News, Heat on Ratner this summer
The NY Times, Ratner's Latest Goal Is Keeping Kidd Happy
The Newark Star-Ledger, Nets owner will spend to improve
MSNBC, Nets owner takes blame for lost season
The Bergen Record, Nets owner opens vault for off-season
Asbury Park Press, Ratner ready to own up to ownership duties

Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

May 4, 2005

Come to a Community Meeting on Overdevelopment

bklynseal.gifSponsored by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz
and your local officials

Concerned about the demolition of sound housing
destroying the character of your neighborhood?

Come to a "town hall" meeting to voice your concerns
and meet your neighbors who share them.

Bensonhurst, May 10, 2005, 6-10pm
Seth Low Intermediate School, Ave. P
between West 11 & West 12 Sts.

(near intersection of Bay Pkwy & Stillwell Ave.)
N to Kings Hwy, D or M to Bay Pkwy, or by B6 or B82 bus service

Marine Park, May 31, 2005, 6-10pm
Marine Park Intermediate School, 1925 Stuart St.
(corner of Fillmore Ave. at the northwest corner of Marine Park
near intersection of Nostrand & Gerritsen Aves.)
Q or B to Kings Hwy, transfer to B2 to Ave. R and Stuart Ave., walk one block
B31 to Gerritsen Ave. and Fillmore Ave., walk one block
B100 to Fillmore and Stuart Aves.

Brooklyn has become so popular — and that's great — but not all development is smart development. Are builders knocking down perfectly sound homes in your neighborhood and then constructing significantly larger buildings next to one-, two- or three-family homes? Are contractors in your neighborhood respectful or abusive to neighboring properties and residents? Are you concerned about new buildings that don't fit with the character and scale of your neighborhood? The borough president has received a number of calls from residents worried about these issues. Others are concerned about parking, school overcrowding, strained city services, preserving natural light, or maintaining the affordability of their neighborhoods. Please come to one of our community forums where you will have the opportunity to discuss these issues and meet others who share your concerns. We encourage you to bring photos depicting sites you are concerned about in your neighborhood.

Please circulate this flier and announce this event.

Posted by lumi at 8:11 AM

May 3, 2005

New York’s Proposed Stadiums and Arenas

localvenues.jpg Gotham Gazette

An overview of how NYC's three proposed sports venues compare to others across the nation.

[W]hen comparing New York’s proposed stadiums and arenas to others across the country, some things are clear:


Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

Pols clash over Ground Zero

Here are two stories that might be of interest to those following the Ratner boondoggle.

As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver -- whose support the Mayor and Governor need for controversial development projects like the West Side Stadium and Ratner's Atlantic Yards -- is blaming Bloomberg and Pataki for lack of progress in rebuilding is district of Lower Manhattan, the Mayor and Governor might make a scapegoat out of real estate mogul Larry Silverstein, who still holds the lease on the World Trade Center site.

NY Newsday, Silver blasts Bloomberg, Pataki `leadership' on Freedom Towers
NY1, Governor, Mayor Considering Using Eminent Domain At Ground Zero

NoLandGrab: Despite the misguided notion that these projects are a "done deal," from time to time the public is reminded that the political situation is fluid, as the titans in state and local politics clash.

Posted by lumi at 7:53 AM

Ghost of Brooklyn Dodgers Haunts Possible Arena Site

Roll Call
By Josh Kurtz, Roll Call Staff

The battle over Ratner's arena and high-rise proposal is promising to be a hot-button issue in next year's race for Major Owen's 11th District Congressional seat, despite the fact that US legislature has no jurisdiction over the project.

Running for his father's seat, Chris Owens is upholding his father's position opposing the project.

The only other candidate who has set up an exploratory committee is State Senator Carl Andrews, who, officially, has not figured out his position on the project after an entire year, but can be found tagging along with his pal Marty at local events.


Posted by lumi at 7:38 AM

Stadium lawyers suit up

NY Daily News
Comlumnist Juan Gonzales on the up-and-coming court battles over the West Side Stadium:

This is not just a misguided effort by Mayor Bloomberg and his economic development czar Daniel Doctoroff to spend millions in public money on the world's most expensive private stadium.

No, this stadium deal is far worse.

It reflects the chief hallmark of the Bloomberg years - crony capitalism.

"These hyperdevelopment projects are going up all over the city," says Beka Economopoulos of the Creative Industries Coalition, a neighborhood group in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "City Hall keeps squeezing out residents and small businesses in favor of rich developers."


Posted by lumi at 6:25 AM

Supersized Williamsburg on the Way

The Village Voice
by Sarah Ferguson

The Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning plan was approved. Concessions of more affordable housing and park land were extracted at the last minute, but neighborhood activists are still concerned that the low-rise charm of the neighborhood will be swept away and fear that the affordable housing provision is not strong enough to motivate developers.

"There is no way that you can say that 40-story towers have anything to do with the existing character of the neighborhood," complained Stephanie Thayer, a member of the North Brooklyn Alliance, which has been battling to scale back the development.

Thayer notes that because the providing of affordable housing is voluntary, developers could still build up to 33 stories high without offering any subsidized units.

"That's our worst nightmare," Thayer said. "That we get these grotesque buildings with no affordable housing."


The NY Times, City Is Backing Makeover for Decaying Brooklyn Waterfront

Posted by lumi at 6:06 AM

Kidd plays oracle, then becomes an enigma

kidd7.jpgIn comments to the press, Jason Kidd put pressure on the Nets management to improve the team's chances at winning a championship. Then in typical Kidd fashion, clammed up, claiming he's "just a point guard."

The Newark Star-Ledger, NETS: Kidd puts his moods on display
NY Daily News, To Kidd, questions on Nets a Thorn in side
NY Newsday, Here for long haul

Posted by lumi at 6:02 AM

May 2, 2005

Markowitz Letter

Marty is sending this form letter (see below) to constituents who are concerned or opposed to Ratner's arena and high-rise tower proposal. Read it with a grain of salt:


April 21, 2005

Dear Neighbor:

martynewyorker.jpgAs your Borough President, I have an absolute responsibility to share with you any information concerning the Atlantic Yards development and what it will mean to your communities. My goal is clear - this project should be a benefit and not a detriment to your community, and should work for all of Brooklyn. Atlantic Yards will bring a national sports franchise - the NBA Nets - to Brooklyn for the first time since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957. It includes a brand-new, state-of-the-art arena designed by one of the world's great architects, Frank Gehry, which will also be used for events such as concerts, circuses, ice shows, amateur sports, and community activities.

But the project represents much more. It includes thousands of units of new housing that will be guaranteed affordable to low- and moderate-income Brooklynites, including seniors. It includes new commercial and retail space that will create an estimated 10,000 permanent, full-time jobs. That's on top of about 15,000 construction-related jobs over the next ten years, all of which will be filled by unionized workers. Many of these contracts and construction jobs will go to minority- and/or women-owned businesses located in Brooklyn.

Atlantic Yards represents a huge economic and cultural boost that will propel us toward a better future for Brooklyn's families, and our children's families. Clearly, I support this project. But as someone who serves all of Brooklyn, I understand and share many of the concerns that those residing in the surrounding area have expressed.

All of us realize that there are legitimate concerns regarding this project. Now that the Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the City, State, and the developer, the real work related to planning and oversight begins. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Atlantic Yards will provide information on many issues that are of vital interest to the community, such as traffic and parking, public transit, parks and open space, community facilities such as schools and libraries, noise, air quality, shadows, zoning, land use, infrastructure, solid waste, social and economic impact, and neighborhood character. I am committed to ensuring that there will be a transparent EIS process and ongoing public disclosure of plans, because the best planning process is one that includes community participation.

People of good will can differ. And constructive opposition is something I value and cherish because I honestly believe that it makes for a better plan. If you have constructive suggestions regarding any of these issues, I urge you to submit them to me at askmarty@brooklynbp.nyc.gov.

Better yet, decide now to become actively involved in the community review process, which will begin with a public hearing regarding the scope of the EIS. Please watch for announcements of the date, time, and location of this initial hearing and other public hearings on my website, www.brooklyn-usa.org, as well as in your local community newspapers and other relevant websites.

We are all equal stakeholders in Brooklyn's future, and I fully respect that you care as much about that future as I do. I am confident that by working together, we can ensure that Atlantic Yards will become not only a great source of new jobs and affordable homes, but that it will help give many Brooklynites the chance they deserve to break out of poverty. I have only one agenda in my entire professional life, and that is to make life better for all Brooklynites.

Sincerely, Marty Markowitz

Posted by lumi at 8:35 AM

45 Cars = 1%, Yonkers Ridge Hill Car Rally

Yonkers Tribune

yonkerstrafficrally.jpgThe folks in Yonkers took to their cars to illustrate how Ratner's plan to build a VILLAGE in Yonkers would have a debilitating affect local automobile traffic. Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn activists added their voice to the struggle to point out that Ratner's proposal to build a MINI CITY in Brooklyn would do the same.


Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

Ratner's dismantled team feels the Heat

Swept by the Miami heat in the first round of the playoffs, the NJ Nets will have the rest of the summer to think about how Ratner dismantled their championship-caliber team and then tried to rebuild on the fly. All respect goes out to Coach Frank, who held the team together and Kidd, who wouldn't quit.

NY Daily News, Filip Bondy, No happy medium for longshots
NY Daily News, Kidd swept up in emotion
NY Newsday, Just too much Heat
The NY Times, Nets' Season Ends, and the Uncertainty Begins
Bergen Record, Woj: Kidd must leave GM job to front office
The Journal News, Thorn must make move
The Newark Star-Ledger, Nets swept, as Shaq & Co. are too tough
Joe Nets Fan, Dwyaned And Swept

Quote of the day:
"We've had one tough summer, let's not make it two." -- Jason Kidd, after disappointing sweep by Miami Heat

Posted by lumi at 6:45 AM

May 1, 2005

Ridge Hill opponents take to the roads

From the Journal News:

Several dozen residents of Yonkers and Greenburgh spent yesterday afternoon voluntarily sitting in a traffic jam in an effort to avoid having to do the same thing many times over.

About 50 opponents of Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner's proposed $600 million Ridge Hill Village took to the streets around the project in their cars to demonstrate how the traffic it may generate will choke already-congested local roads.


Posted by amy at 10:41 AM

Nets' Move to Brooklyn Is Truth in Advertising

From the New York Times:

"This is not a failure," Stern claimed Thursday night during a visit to the Meadowlands. "Vancouver was a failure. Kansas City was a failure," he added, referring to cities that no longer have N.B.A. franchises.

Stern blamed "New Jersey politicians" for not coming up with arenas with enough luxury boxes to satisfy the current sports standard of let-them-eat-shrimp.


Posted by amy at 10:36 AM