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July 7, 2005

DDDb Press Release: Ratner, Extell Bids Reveal Radically Different Visions for Brooklyn

Community Groups and Pols Express Cautious Optimism Over New Plan

NEW YORK, NY—Brooklyn community groups and politicians are greeting a new plan for development at the MTA’s Atlantic Avenue Railyards with what they described as ‘cautious optimism.’

“From what we’ve seen of the Extell Development Company’s plan,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDb) spokesman, Daniel Goldstein, “it appears to respond to the desires of this community. Their bid appears to meet many of the foundation principles the community has established for developing the Yards.”

Two Different Visions

Extell Development Company entered a proposal to the MTA for their 8.5-acre Atlantic Avenue Rail Yards this Wednesday, the day on which bidding was closed.

“This plan couldn’t be more different than Bruce Ratner’s,” said DDDb’s Goldstein. “It respects the existing communities, doesn’t rip off taxpayers, doesn’t displace residents and businesses, and is much more within the context of the surrounding neighborhoods.”

“In addition, Extell is offering to go through the inclusive and multi-leveled City land use review process (ULURP), which means that—far from being a backroom sweetheart deal, like Bruce Ratner wants—Extell’s proposal would have real community input, oversight by Community Boards and City Planning, and be voted on by our City Council.”

The Extell plan provides for affordable housing, jobs for minority- and women-owned contractors, a new community center or school and significant amounts of open parkland. Buildings would reach a top height of 28 stories, as opposed to the 50-60 story buildings in Bruce Ratner’s proposal.

What About the Arena?

What the Extell plan conspicuously lacks is a sports arena. “We have always said that bringing pro sports back to Brooklyn is a fine idea,” said Goldstein. “But when Bruce Ratner says that his destructive, taxpayer-subsidized sweetheart deal is the only way to do it, that’s a con job. There are viable options for an arena in Brooklyn, and maybe now that debate can occur.”

“If Brooklyn doesn’t get a pro sports team,” Goldstein concluded, “it will only be due to Bruce Ratner’s hubris and greed.”

A Dark Horse Bid

Asked about the MTA’s bidding process for Atlantic Yards, Goldstein replied, “It was a joke. They barely advertised their RFP, which is why Develop Don’t Destroy took it upon ourselves to send the RFP to about 100 developers.”

“Extell contacted us and asked what the community would want to see developed on the rail yards. Before they went to the drawing board, we showed them the UNITY community development plan—which grew out of 15 months of community meetings and presentations—as well as principles for development that have the endorsement of 20 community groups and our three locally elected officials.”

“Extell seemed to want to make an effort to respond as best they could to those guidelines. Now we invite and urge all interested community groups to join the process and hold their feet to the fire over the coming months.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Principles for Responsible Community Development on the Vanderbilt Rail Yards: www.dddb.net/principles

Posted by lumi at July 7, 2005 6:42 PM