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November 30, 2005

Ratner Sends Gehry To Drawing Board

The NY Observer

Don't be fooled by the headline, this is another well-reported article by Matthew Scheurman about the Community Benefits Agreement and who benefits.

The very end of the article does mention that "Forest City officials, meanwhile, are denying rumors that they have sent their architect, Frank Gehry, back to the drawing board to come up with a less bulky alternative."


Posted by lumi at 9:42 AM

Wednesday: Special Report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

FCEFCR.jpgThe Cleveland Plain Dealer comes to New York and covers Forest City Enterprises' subsidiary, Forest City Ratner.

Ratners target New York
The rise of Bruce Ratner in NYC started with Metrotech, detours through 42nd Street and big box stores before landing in Brooklyn again with the controversial Atlantic Yards plan.

One interesting tidbit in this article, on the relationship between Forest City Ratner and the mothership in Cleveland:

Moore, from KeyBanc Capital Markets, said Forest City puts up all the money for Bruce Ratner's developments. When they're completed, he said, Bruce keeps a third of the profits; the rest flows back to Cleveland. Cleveland has the ultimate say on investment decisions.

Incentives were big part of package for MetroTech
On Ratner and Metrotech subsidies:

"He's the master of subsidy. No one does it better," said Fred Siegel, a professor of history at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York who focuses on urban issues. "That's not a flat-out criticism of him. It's just that he never builds without someone else taking the risk."

NoLandGrab: A comparison between the two articles reveals the inconsistency in the PR surrounding Metrotech. The first mentions that Metrotech "would stem the trend of firms taking back-office operations from Manhattan's high rents to New Jersey and other locales." The second article points out that, "In addition to receiving the subsidies, Forest City leases lots of space [in Metrotech] to city agencies." The City of NY is one of the largest tenants in Metrotech.

Somehow New Yorkers can't imagine that NYC agencies would move to Jersey City for cheaper rent. Yes, projects change over time, but Brooklynites should be aware that Metrotech hasn't delivered on all of its promises.

As a special follow up, the Plain Dealer's Forest City web log carries "a real-time glimpse of a clash between Forest City and a community" over Atlantic Yards.

Posted by lumi at 9:06 AM

November 29, 2005

Tuesday: Special Report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

FCEStapleton.jpgThe Cleveland Plain Dealer covers Forest City Enterprises' big deal in Denver. By embracing New Urbanism, the Stapleton development put the company on the map as one of the nation's most progressive large-scale developers.

Massive homes project rises from Denver's runways
A history of the Stapleton project, a development that has garnered praise and drawn criticism.

Complex program and strict plan direct Denver's new urban spaces

[Denise] Gammon, senior vice president of residential development for Forest City Stapleton, is in charge of translating into reality the overall vision of the Green Book, a guide created by a local foundation, and the specifics of a master plan created for the company by Peter Calthorpe, who is considered one of the fathers of the New Urbanism movement.

"Everybody looks at the Green Book and says it's an incredible thing," Gammon said. "Well, it is. But I have to tell you, implementing it is pretty scary."

Stapleton residents are embracing a new city with old urban charms

The first things that jump out at you in the finished parts of Stapleton are how tightly packed the houses are and how close they sit to the sidewalk. Stapleton takes its cues from old Denver neighborhoods, similar in many ways to parts of Cleveland and its first-ring suburbs. It's laid out in a grid, with no cul-de-sacs and few winding streets. It incorporates such urban hallmarks as alleys, parkways, tree lawns and a variety of architectural styles.

Posted by lumi at 5:32 PM

The Times editorial on Atlantic Yards: spirit without subsidies?


So the New York Times finally weighs in with an editorial about Atlantic Yards, and while it acknowledges some of the important changes (or, some might say, false promises) in the plan, it still maintains a vague Marty Markowitz-esque call for the plan to be scaled down, criticizes local opponents as NIMBYs, confusingly criticizes subsidies, and praises the "spirit" of the development without acknowledging the avoidance of public process.

Check out the point-by-point analysis of the most recent NY Times editorial with comparisons to past NY Times editorial and op-ed pieces.

Posted by lumi at 7:13 AM

The Stoop

Brooklyn Views

stoops.jpgThe scoop on the stoops — Brooklyn Views architectural blogger makes a brief point about Gehry's idea to riff on Brooklyn's real architectural icon, the street stoop, and the importance of the street as a "cultural resource."


NoLandGrab: BV's point reminds us that stoops were originally designed to keep entrances well above the dirty horse manure-filled streets of New York.

The elegant stoop design and its rhythmic repetition had a practical purpose. In contrast, Gehry's idea is artifice.

Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

November 28, 2005

It's not easy being Green

In yesterday's Daily News article Michael O'Keeffe listed a few amateur sports organizations in Brooklyn that received financial support from Forest City Ratner:

DePlasco wouldn't say how much money the company has directly provided to Brooklyn sports organizations, but Sicignano says Forest City Ratner contributed $10,000 for basketball clinics conducted by Brooklyn USA. Bishop Loughlin coach Khalid Green, who also runs an AAU team, says his program received "a few thousand" for events it conducted this year. Flatbush Youth Association director Carlton Screen says his program has received 75 to 100 tickets to more than a dozen games over the past two years.

Today an alert reader pointed out that Bishop Loughlin coach Khalid Green is Assemblymember Roger Green's son. Roger Green is a founding member of BUILD and an early supporter of Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project. It's a small world after all.

Posted by lumi at 9:36 PM

Monday: Special Report with the Cleveland Plain Dealer


FCEUniversityPark.jpgToday's installment on the Plain Dealer's week-long series on Forest City Enterprises focuses on the development of the "biotech park."

Boston project creates new niche
Early missteps in partnership with MIT led Forest City to change it's tack. By listening to the community and making concessions, they were able to secure the hard-fought zoning changes needed to build University Park.

NLG Note: Brooklynites will wince when they learn that one of the outstanding criticisms of the project is that the open space is located in the center of the development, seeming to turn its back on the surrounding community. This is a concern with the Atlantic Yards project.

Change in plans sparks new specialty, leading to tech proposal in Cleveland
University Park was first conceived as a tech park, but when it became apparent that there was more interest for an office park for bio-tech research companies, the project morphed. The success of University Park has inspired the development of similar facilities near Johns Hopkins and Case Western Reserve.

Posted by lumi at 10:46 AM

A Boy from Brooklyn Grows Up

lethem.jpgGotham Gazette

When Gotham Gazette's Book Club interviews Brooklyn native Jonathan Lethem, Calvin Johnson pops the question about the author's views on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards.

Lethem is careful about commenting on details without being better informed and defines competing opinions about development in NYC before offering his views.

Community Outreach

But, as far as I can tell, Ratner has done just the worst possible job of including community voices in the dialogue. That’s just such a fundamental error, to not begin there. It’s both offensive and naïve. It’s not going to work, I think, because I think the neighborhood is going to be militant against it.

Ratner in the Red

The other thing to say is that all you really you know of Ratner, all that’s tangible of Ratner, is that horrific shopping mall. And if he wants to begin to negotiate aesthetics and the community’s wishes in that neighborhood, his first act would be to tear the thing down. And then, we can talk. Okay, you want to make something good; you’re already in the red, with that thing that’s there.

Traffic, Potential and Money

The traffic prospect is frightening. And there’s a lot of other things that you can imagine, happening with that space. But, there’s a lot of money being brought in, too.


Posted by lumi at 10:11 AM

November 27, 2005

Jump ball

Brooklyn groups still up in air over Ratner proposal

netslogosm.jpgNY Daily News
by Michael O'Keeffe

Forest City Ratner is spending big bucks to support Brooklyn amateur sports and plans to spend more. Whether or not that amounts to exploiting groups to buy support - or just good PR - depends on how you look at it.


Posted by lumi at 7:42 PM


Brooklyn Views is a new blog covering the Atlantic Yards project from the perspecitve of architect Jonathan Cohn.

The most recent post critiques Laurie Olin's open space circulation plan, presented last week at an American Institute of Architects forum:

Laurie Olin spoke about how people move through the open space, and about how the design could mitigate blind corners so that people could see the space as they move through it. He presented an image of red lines on the site plan, and proposed that these represented paths of circulation. But the lines appear to have been drawn without any reference to the origins and destinations of the pedestrians.

Cohn goes on to explain how the debate on density doesn't add up when the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) "is based upon using the taken street areas in the calculation of the project area."


Posted by lumi at 7:21 PM

Forest City Ratner day in the NY Times regional editorial sections

The NY Times

Two Ratner projects were covered in the corresponding regional editorial sections of the Sunday Times.

Atlantic Yards
The City
A Matter of Scale in Brooklyn
The NY Times editorial board still holds that the project should go forward, but not before laying out many of the problems: traffic congestion, expansion of the project, fewer jobs, less affordable housing, modest returns, and public subsidies.

Ridge Hill
The Shame of Palookaville

You could have cast a half-dozen Frank Capra movies from the roomful of regular folks - moms and pops, tweedy types, old ladies in wool coats, a lawyer or two - who stepped up to deplore an impending vote to rewrite city zoning law to help a rich developer. Their words were hot but their demeanors cool. They spoke civilly and played by the rules, something the Council majority assuredly did not do on that chilly, depressing, inspiring night.

The Times's Westchester editorial lauds the Yonkers citizens who showed up at a meeting of their City Council, intent on saving democracy. Brooklynites, however, can note that the same paper's Atlantic Yards editorial left out one key point from its litany of concerns with the project: the subversion of the local city planning process.

The NY Times loves democracy; maybe it can look into getting some more of it in Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 5:55 PM

Hell's Kitchen survives the Upper West Side Story


Last week NLG carried Fordham Law School Dean William Treanor's case for caution in the reigning in of the state's power of eminent domain, published in Forbes.com and the NY Daily News. Treanor cites Lincoln Center as a positive example, clumsily using West Side Story as a metaphor.

New York Games blogger Brian Hatch takes the bait and expands the metaphor a few steps further, and before you know it, you are cheering against bear-baiters on the Thames.


Posted by lumi at 5:28 PM

Forest City

If you are interested in the history of Forest City Enterprises, check out this week's Cleveland Plain Dealer. It includes such gems as:

The Ratner Family Tree

Developer generous to politicians

Public money paves the way for projects

The company learned how to tap into an arsenal of public subsidies: tax abatements, tax-increment financing, historical tax credits, grants and low-interest loans. Getting the most that it can out of the public sector has become one of Forest City's hallmarks.

Cleveland developer John Ferchill said he's "never seen a better company when it comes to getting public money. I wish I was that good."

Oh, and in case any of you with million dollar lofts or businesses in the footprint are wondering, one of FCR's major projects includes "10 rundown blocks in Brooklyn, N.Y."

Main article index

Posted by amy at 10:59 AM

Shooting From the Lip

Mike Lupica of the Daily News is making is list, checking it twice etc...

I am compiling a list of those neighborhood leaders in Brooklyn who have profited the most from the generosity of Caring Bruce Ratner, and will be putting that list in the paper soon.

You know, like we do with lottery winners.


Posted by amy at 10:54 AM

Limits on Eminent Domain May Go Too Far, Experts Warn

From NPR:

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year upheld the right of local governments to seize private property to spur economic development. Since then, Congress and at least 38 states have moved to defend property rights. Some experts warn the flurry of new legislation could block necessary development projects.

Listen to the radio address on the NPR website

Posted by amy at 10:33 AM

A Matter of Scale in Brooklyn

The NY Times, City Editorial

Published: November 27, 2005

When it was first put forward, the proposed Atlantic Yards mega-development in Brooklyn offered some excellent features, most particularly affordable housing and jobs for local residents. The project seemed promising, if the developer could address the biggest downside: the addition of traffic downtown, where the streets are already clogged. Since then, the plan has become bigger and the number of prospective jobs smaller, and there could be even worse traffic congestion.

The project has an evolving razzle-dazzle Frank Gehry design and an 18,000-seat arena for the Nets basketball team, which could become a real anchor for development - unlike the doomed plan for a football stadium on the West Side of Manhattan, which would have deadened, rather than enlivened, the neighborhood around it. But the project has grown by nearly one million square feet since its unveiling two years ago. For economic, aesthetic and practical reasons, it should be pared back.

Change is normal for a massive project, and this one covers some 21 acres, including the arena, 16 other buildings and 7 acres of green space. But what should remain constant is the spirit of the development. The developer, Bruce Ratner (a partner of The Times in developing its new headquarters), earned much good will by reaching out to surrounding communities and pledging that 50 percent of the housing units would be pegged to low- and middle-income residents. That is no longer the case, given the planned addition of nearly 3,000 apartments for sale at market prices, though another 1,000 moderately priced units could be added off the site.

Meanwhile, the number of jobs projected may be a small fraction of the original 10,000 promised, in part because commercial square footage has given way to additional housing.

Mr. Ratner has always made it clear that he expects government aid in preparing the arena site, and the city and state have each committed to pitch in $100 million in cash to help. There is no reason to expect taxpayer money to be used to help fund a profit-making real estate venture like this one; those costs should be absorbed by the builder.

It's understandable that residents bordering the project do not want such drastic change, but that in itself is no reason to stop the development. It is difficult to build in New York as it is. Growth would come to a screeching halt forever if neighborhoods could veto projects to keep the status quo. But the residents are absolutely right in pointing out that traffic in the area, especially at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, is already atrocious almost any time of day - even on weekends. Mr. Ratner wants to promote use of mass transit, which makes sense, considering that the site sits over a major hub for the subway and Long Island Rail Road. Mr. Ratner will also improve the yards as part of the deal. Still, more innovation is needed, like the idea of using a system of shuttle buses and satellite parking for arena events.

The city's nonpartisan Independent Budget Office calculates the arena would produce a modest benefit for the city and state, $107 million over 30 years. Even that may be optimistic - the budget office's projections for the Jets stadium of $210 million over a similar period were based on hopeful and maybe unachievable predictions of its use as a convention space.

The Nets arena is not destined to be a cash cow, but the borough deserves a sports team, so long as the price is not too high. A basketball arena is more likely to get multipurpose use than a football stadium, and since the team plays several times a week for a long season rather than 10 times a year, its impact on the area's night life should be positive.

The Atlantic Yards project deserves to keep moving forward. But the focus now needs to be on building something that is still grand but also manageable.

Posted by lumi at 9:30 AM

November 26, 2005



Who needs the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sunday when you can have Ratnerville Trivia!

NoLandGrab made a Quiz for you! Take the Quiz! and then Check out the Scoreboard!

Posted by amy at 9:02 PM

Hit by bike, Ratner Holdout Dies


From the Brooklyn Papers:

Johnny Severino, a former bartender at Freddy's Bar,who died on Nov. 16, had lived in a one-bedroom apartment next to the bar since 1958.

He stayed in 483 Dean St., with his rent-controlled lease, even after word of the impending Atlantic Yards project spread and his neighbors began selling out and moving elsewhere.

Click here for a PDF of the article

Posted by amy at 11:06 AM

November 25, 2005

More on the Stuckey, Gehry, Olin AIA presentation and discussion

Some of NLG’s observations at the Stuckey/Gehry/Olin show, from the community’s perspective:

AIASlide.jpgOn Tuesday night Frank Gehry did something Bruce Ratner has not dreamed of doing – met with community members face to face in a public forum. Unfortunately no one had informed the starchitect of the nature of this meeting, as evidenced by Mr. Gehry's frequent statement that he thought he would be meeting only with his peers.

Although the hoi polloi was only allowed one comment during the proceedings, other architects and urban design professionals in the crowd took up the task of looking through the presentation of the design for the arena portion of the project, and asked the tough questions about why the design has not taken into account the community or traffic on any level. Ratner PR henchman, Jim Stuckey had his answers ready.

When asked why FCR should be allowed both density and subsidies in return for including some affordable units, Stuckey replied that the density of the Atlantic Yards project is much lower compared to the downtown Brooklyn plan (which, unfortunately, may not be studied concurrently with the AYP for EIS purposes).

Stuckey was also asked why FCR has not made any models of the impact of traffic on the busiest intersection in Brooklyn, to which he replied that FCR has been busily videotaping the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush. When it was pointed out to him that taking video is not making a model, Stuckey replied that he SAID they had made models and the audience was just not listening.

Notable additions to the presentation seemed to focus on Lauri Olin's landscape design: varieties of tree species, ponds made from runoff, and bocce and volleyball courts. The latter two items were said included as examples of activities that would not cause a disturbance near apartment buildings. In contrast to non-disturbing recreation, Olin joked that the universal threat to safety is teenage males, justifying the placement of the basketball courts in an area said to be visible from the street, so that "mothers and babies" could feel safe.

The one community question that slipped through came from Peter Krashes the president of a block association on Dean Street. He asked a traffic circulation plan, specifically where all of the traffic originating from and servicing the arena was going to end up in surrounding neighborhoods. Although he did not receive a formidable answer, he summed up community sentiment with the following statement:

"The red dot you put on the map with the pointer, Mr. Gehry, and said you don't know what that is? That's my home."

Posted by lumi at 10:16 AM

Things to be thankful for

Fans For Fair Play gives props to Brooklynites, religious leaders, union members, brave pols, smart reporters, and even the US Supreme Court and Frank Gehry.


Posted by lumi at 9:43 AM

We need some take & give

Crushing eminent domain will deny jobs and housing to those who need it the most

NY Daily News
Columnist, Errol Louis

Ratner booster Errol Louis gives his take on local critics fighting eminent domain abuse in Prospect Heights and cites past Supreme Court rulings to make his case:

Opponents of the project, who have a reputation for shrillness, act as if forcing a few holdouts to sell their property to make the project possible is somehow un-American - as if the state-run Empire State Development Corp., the lead public agency, were hell-bent on seizing people's homes and businesses and throwing them out in the street, penniless.

Nothing could be further from the truth.


NoLandGrab: Errol Louis cites public assistance statistics for Community Board 8 as a reason that Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project must be built.

It is important to remember that the footprint of the project is in Community Boards 2, 6 & 8; therefore, the full impacts of the project for everyone living near the project, positive and negative, must be assessed in the decision of whether the coercive powers of eminent domain should be used in this case.

Posted by lumi at 9:22 AM

Recounting Ridge Hill

The Journal News editorial board has previously thrown it's support behind the Forest City Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill project but is more critical of recent legislative manipulations designed to deliver final approval.

While Yonkers needs the jobs and tax revenue the development will bring, the council was wrong to change the approval rules as the process was winding down.


Posted by lumi at 9:10 AM

November 24, 2005

Gehry: My design was ‘horrible’

Architect tinkers to reduce impact of Atlantic Yards
The Brooklyn Papers
by Ariella Cohen

More coverage of Gehry's presentation this past Tuesday night:

Even world-renowned architect Frank Gehry thinks his design for the Atlantic Yards project — a scheme so massive that even its supporters grumbled after it was unveiled in July — was “horrible.”


NoLandGrab: To be fair, it is NLG's recollection that Gehry stated that the presentation of the design "sketches" in The NY Times was "horrible." The starchitect cautioned several times during the presentation that the renderings and photos of models were still a work in progress.

Toward the end of the article, the reporter, Ariella Cohen, appears to have misinterpreted the point made by Prospect Heights resident Peter Krashes.

During his presentation, Gehry pointed to the general location of Krashes's house, the Dean St. block facing the eastern portion of the project, and said, "I don't know what's there." Krashes lives ACROSS the street from the project, not IN the footprint as Cohen suggests, and Gehry seemed to have a good idea as to what is facing Krashes's home in the current design.

During the Q&A, Krashes told Gehry that his house was located in the area referenced earlier, illustrating the point that Gehry doesn't understand the project's context in relationship to Prospect Heights. Krashes also reiterated the criticism echoed by others, that "the project exists only in relation to itself."

Cohen also got the "commercial and office space" figure wrong. The current estimate, if one includes the proposed hotel, stands at slightly less than a million square feet, not "nearly 2 million."

Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

Knicks promo targets Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Papers

The Knicks aren't ready to cede Brooklyn home-court advantage to the Nets just yet, at least not on Sunday, January 8, "Brooklyn Night."


Posted by lumi at 8:23 AM


ISSUE: “Can a real New Yorker root for the Nets?”

NY Press
By Dave Hollander and C.J. Sullivan

A point-counterpoint-style debate on whether or not the Nets can or will ever be a real NY team.

HOLLANDER: Not only are they a legitimate rooting interest for New Yorkers, but the Nets are actually more New York than the Knicks.

SULLIVAN: Ratner is only involved with the Nets so he can make a land grab in Brooklyn. He has no emotional stake in the Nets and will dump them once he gets the real estate he cravenly desires.

The debate covers more ground than the footprint of Atlantic Yards, so check it out here.

Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

Court halts Yonkers' Ridge Hill action

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon

A State Supreme Court judge put the kabosh on the extraordinary efforts by members of the Yonkers City Council to approve Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill development:

A state Supreme Court judge yesterday blocked the City Council from changing Ridge Hill Village's zoning until at least January, a day after a divided council changed a city law decreasing the number of votes required to approve it.
... State Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Colabella... yesterday issued a temporary restraining order that will stall consideration of the zoning until after a Jan. 6 deadline for both sides to submit papers.

"The court showed today that no matter how much you want a certain outcome, you still have to follow the law," [Democratic City Council President-elect Chuck Schorr Lesnick] said.

Before amending the city's zoning code, as the council did in dropping the five-vote threshold to four, the city first must hold a public hearing and seek opinions of both the county and Yonkers planning boards, the motion seeking the temporary restraining order contends.


Posted by lumi at 7:38 AM

November 23, 2005

Thou Doth Protest Too Much

The Real Estate Observer is reporting that Crain's Insider is reporting that 140 signatures from people who did not sign DDDb's petition were included on copies delivered to State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno .


Posted by lumi at 3:47 PM

Extra Burden

The Real Estate Observer

Observer reporter Matthew Schuerman covers a different angle from anything else being discussed about last night's Gehry/Olin presentation and discussion:

Planning geeks have lamented the fact that Atlantic Yards won’t go through the city land use review process--which requires the City Council and City Planning Commission to approve zoning changes--but it seems like city Planning Director Amanda Burden is still getting to have her say. At a presentation before the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects tonight, both architect Frank Gehry and landscape architect Laurie Olin intimated that she had been needling them even if she has no power over their decisions--and in such a way that they did not seem rehearsed.


Posted by lumi at 8:42 AM

Friendly Fencing From Speaker Seekers

From Power Plays, the political blog of The Village Voice, by Jessica Bennett:

Of the seven candidates who are vying for the position of Speaker of the City Council, "'yes, but only if absolutely necessary' was the common response to questions on whether or not they agree with the use of eminent domain."


Posted by lumi at 7:50 AM

Nets plan flushed out

The Daily News
by Paul Colford

Coverage of Frank Gehry, Laurie Olin and Jim Stuckey's 2 1/2-hour presentation and discussion yesterday at the American Institute of Architects:

How does a wildflower meadow and boardwalk on the roof of the new Nets arena strike your fancy?

What do you say to an entryway with stoop-like seating and a new marsh to handle storm water runoff?

[Gehry] showed how giant images might be projected on the floor, as well as the ceiling. "The idea is to make so much stuff happen that it feels full all the time," he said.

In one whimsical touch, he illustrated how the street surfaces outside the arena might be striped with the Nets' team colors - now red, white and blue.


NoLandGrab: There were literally hundreds of ideas presented yesterday, which is probably why Colford confused the "boat" design of the arena that is a "bowl" with the "bow tie" shape of the intersection.

Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

The Imperial City. Delirious New York.

Our long architectural snooze is over, thanks to neomodernist mania and the arrival—finally—of Gehry. Brooklyn should embrace him.

New York Magazine
by Kurt Andersen


Kurt Andersen on the Ratner-Gehry vision of a city within a city in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn:

Bruce Ratner of Forest City is the developer, as he is of Piano’s Times building and of what will be a whole new Brooklyn downtown between Atlantic and Flatbush—a Nets arena plus a residential quarter as large as Rockefeller Center with sixteen buildings, all by Gehry. Freddy Ferrer called it “the twin brother of Bloomberg’s West Side stadium boondoggle,” but that’s wrong. The arena is the anchor of a thoroughly imagined project by an actual developer; basketball seasons have 41 home games instead of 8, thus generating more street life; and the architecture will be the work of a single-minded genius, not a big corporate firm. Simply because enormous redevelopment projects are often or even usually misguided (Robert Moses’s Lower Manhattan Expressway, the Jets’ stadium, Freedom Tower) doesn’t mean we ought to oppose them by default. Westway, for instance, should have been built, and so, probably, should Gehry’s Atlantic Yards.

The skewed, cartoony angles of the buildings, which range from 20 to 60 stories, would in one fell swoop create a second, sui generis Brooklyn skyline encompassing the familiar, phallic old Williamsburgh Bank Building. Gehry’s goal is for it to “look like it developed over time. Usually I would bring in other architects to make it look like a city, not like a development.” But many hands at the drawing table (or the CAD screen) is no guarantee of urban quality either: At Battery Park City the result has been, as Ratner says, “a mishmash of architecture.”


NoLandGrab: Andersen's take on the Ratner-Gehry vision, jutting out into low-rise residential Brooklyn, reveals his belief that the financial and architectural complexities of the project will work out and that any leftover problems would still be fair trade off, despite the fact that many Brooklynites have invested their lives in their neighborhoods, only to serve as place holders until New York became "a city of glamorous cutting-edge architecture."

Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM

The Trade-Offs in Zoning Trade-Offs

The NY Times
by Lisa Chamberlain

It has become common in New York City for real estate developers to offer public amenities in exchange for the right to put up buildings that are taller than the zoning ordinarily would allow or to garner public support for projects that might stir controversy. But those amenities - parks, plazas or atriums, for example - sometimes fail to live up to expectation, fall into disrepair and are occasionally scrapped altogether.

It was recently disclosed, for example, that the Forest City Ratner Companies will not open a rooftop park to the public - as it originally announced - as part of its proposed mixed-use development on Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn, which includes an arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team, as well as 16 buildings. The omission of the park is a small change amid many others in this large-scale development, but it provided fodder for critics and renewed questions about relying on private developers to create public spaces.


Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

Yonkers council eases rules for Ridge Hill approval

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon

Breaking news on Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill plan:

A sharply divided City Council, besieged by angry residents, last night changed a city law that paves the way for approval of a controversial zoning change required to build the proposed Ridge Hill Village.

The council voted 4-3 in favor of decreasing the number of votes — to four from five — required to override the county Planning Board's rejection of a development proposal. The county board, which has no direct oversight over development in Yonkers, in June rejected plans for Ridge Hill, saying the project was inconsistent with the county's master plan. That action triggered a Yonkers law requiring the fifth vote.


Posted by lumi at 6:53 AM

November 22, 2005

Gehry and Stuckey SELL OUT Brooklyn!

TONIGHT'S event with Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry and Forest City Ratner VP Jim Stuckey is oversold.

Only those ALREADY on the rsvp list will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place
(between West 3rd St. and Bleecker)

Member Price: $10
Nonmember Price: $15, $10 students

Posted by lumi at 7:39 AM

Why The Nets Could Never Be The Dodgers


Fans for Fair Play

Why the NJ Nets will never replace the Dodgers in the hearts and minds of Brooklynites, no matter how much myth and nostalgia Marty Markowitz and Bruce Ratner conjure.

Specifically, here's why Ratner and Markowitz are way off mark about the Nets doing for Brooklyn what the Dodgers did.

DODGERS: Charles Ebbets
NETS: Bruce Ratner and hundreds of investors, including disgraced Tyco exec Dennis Kozlowski, former progressive activist attorney Michael Ratner and hip-hop star Jay-Z, who owns 7/10 of one percent of the team

DODGERS: baseball team owner; Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball Club
NETS: real-estate mogul; Forest City Ratner Companies

DODGERS: 20 (all spent with the Dodgers as a ticket seller, clerk, bookkeeper, scorecard salesman, business manager, president, field manager, and part owner)


DODGERS: Charles Ebbets put himself into debt and took out loans to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn when he bought the team.
NETS: Bruce Ratner thinks nothing of New Jersey fans, taking their team away without a second thought.

...and the list goes on.

Posted by lumi at 7:06 AM

Students tour area of Columbia’s plan

WestHarlem.jpgHarlem residents fear $5B project will evict them

by Amy Zimmer

Columbia and Barnard undergraduates take a walking tour of sections of West Harlem threatened by eminent domain seizures for their university's planned expansion.

Some students' reactions:

“It’s hard not to side with the West Harlem community and feel like our school is an overwhelming dominating force,” said Zoe Forbath, a Barnard sophomore.

But John Lee, a Columbia sophomore who had never walked around this area prior to Dunn’s tour, didn’t think many students were paying attention.

“My friends and I, we tend to read comic books on Friday nights,” Lee said. “It’s kind of interesting or ironic that there were huge riots when Columbia tried to take over land [in 1968], but now there was more of an uprising about tailgating at football games than about this.”


Posted by lumi at 6:51 AM

Schedule of the Borough Board EIS Task Force Meetings

Marty Markowitz's Borough Board EIS Task Force meetings are open to the public. All meetings are held on Tuesdays at 4PM.

Click here for the schedule.

The same section of Borough Hall's web site also contains Markowitz's EIS Draft Scoping comments (PDF), submitted to the ESDC.

Posted by lumi at 6:34 AM

Frank Gehry's Downtown Tower: 'Conservative, Radical'

Curbed.com notes that Kurt Andersen's sneak preview of the Gehry-Ratner Beekman St. project declares that the downtown skyscraper complex is "conservative... but for Manhattan, it's radical."


NoLandGrab: This is the project that includes a public school long lobbied for by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who will have a deciding vote in whether or not the Atlantic Yards Project gets built. At an estimated price tag of $650/square foot, this public school will be the most expensive ever built in NYC.

Posted by lumi at 6:29 AM

November 21, 2005

After Eminent Domain Win, Project Goes Nowhere

The NY Times
by William Yardley

Five months after the United States Supreme Court set off a national debate by ruling that the City of New London could seize their property through eminent domain to make way for new private development, no one has been forced to leave. ...
Even though the holdouts lost their case, and the development that would displace them finally seems free to go forward, construction has not begun, and some elements of the project have been effectively paralyzed since the court ruling prompted a political outcry.


Posted by lumi at 8:35 AM

Eminent threat

The NY Daily News' "Be Our Guest" op-ed column features a piece originally published online at Forbes.com earlier this week by William Treanor, Dean of Fordham Law School.

Treanor cautions against broad legislative strokes meant to protect property owners from threat of eminent domain "that would effectively take an invaluable urban planning tool away from governments."


Posted by lumi at 8:02 AM

November 20, 2005

Rosie: Yards could court crackheads


From the Brooklyn Papers:

“On a basic level, I am here the same as everyone else,” Perez told The Brooklyn Papers. “I could have lived anywhere in the nation but I chose to live here, in Brooklyn.”

Perez returned to her native borough after eight months living in a distant part of the city called the Upper West Side.

Now she fears the project’s 17-skyscrapers and 19,000-seat basketball arena will bring too much density to Brooklyn’s low-rise blocks, spoiling the home she loves.

“When I lived in Manhattan, I knew the crackhead on my corner better than my neighbors,” she said. “That could happen here, if we don’t stop this project.”


Posted by amy at 10:46 AM

Sunday Comics

From the funny pages:


Posted by lumi at 7:41 AM

NY Times: Correction

The NY Times has published a correction in today's City section and has also appended the online version of last week's Op-Ed:

An Op-Ed last Sunday about the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn misstated some of its details. Plans for the project call for 16 buildings surrounding a sports arena, not 17, and for nine million square feet of construction, not 14 million.

Other details that were misstated, as noted by TimesRatnerReport and NLG, were not included in today's correction (i.e. the number of housing units was off by 1,000 and the perpetual myth that the project is proposed on the site originally denied to the Brooklyn Dodgers).


Posted by lumi at 7:11 AM

Did casino magnate visit the Valley?

Official reports spotting 'Mr. Las Vegas' in Bethlehem Township.

The Morning Call
by Matt Assad and Nicole Radzievich

Is Forest City Enterprises looking to expand into casino gambling in Pennsylvania?

Last month, Steve Wynn, one of the creators of today's Las Vegas Strip, reportedly was seen talking gambling in a Panera Bread off Route 33.

While Bethlehem Township officials are skeptical about the sightings of the dead singers, some are convinced the casino magnate was in the township last month meeting with Forest City Enterprises to discuss potential plans for a casino along the Route 33 extension.

For the record, Wynn Resorts officials chuckled at word of the sighting, and Forest City, which plans to build a lifestyle mall along Route 33, declined to comment.


More coverage at The Pennsylvania Express-Times, "No slots at Summit site."

NoLandGrab: Also, Forest City Enterprises, partnering with Harrah's, is vying for lucrative casino gambling licenses for the waterfront district of Pittsburgh.

Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

New Yonkers law could pave way for Ridge Hill project

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon and Hannan Adely

A lame-duck Westchester County Planning Board might give a green light to the zoning changes for Bruce Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill development plan this Tuesday.

The article includes this reaction from Ratner VP, Bruce Bender:

"From a corporate perspective, another delay would be critical for meeting the stuff we need to do to get this thing in the ground."


Posted by lumi at 6:51 AM

November 19, 2005

Mulling over the rumor mill


Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn responds to rumors that a redesign of the Frank Gehry-designed Atlantic Yards project is imminent and may even be unveiled at an American Institute of Architects event on Tuesday, November 22.

According to a statement on their web site, "if the new plans do not meet the Principles For Responsible Community Development On The Vanderbilt Rail Yards, they will be unacceptable."


Posted by lumi at 4:32 PM

Three posts from TimesRatnerReport

TimesRatnerReporter Norman Oder posted three items in the past two days:

Jason Kidd, "comprehensive" planning, and the Ratner p.r. machine
Fact checking and filling in some of the blank spots in Harvey Araton's NY Times piece about Jason Kidd's spiritual transformation (with a little Ratner PR thrown in for good measure).

Brigitte Labonte Brooklyn Standard mystery solved, partly: second issue relies more on Ratner staff
Only Norman Oder would still be wondering about the bylines in the Ratner puff press, The Brooklyn Standard. Why just yesterday, he stumbled into Ratner employees and "reporters" Brigitte Labonte and Jeff Rothberg.

Marty Markowitz stays on message, except for that affordable housing twist
When Norman Oder runs into Marty at a civic event and questions him on Atlantic Yards, it's hard to know whom to feel sorry for.

Posted by lumi at 2:12 PM

Ratner to Gehry: Try again

The Brooklyn Papers

Bruce Ratner has reportedly sent his world-renowned architect Frank Gehry back to the drawing board to revise the developer’s 24-acre arena-and-skyscraper project at the Atlantic Yards.

And Gehry has just two weeks to come up with a new scheme, according to a report in Crain’s New York Business this week.


NoLandGrab: The new reporter at The Brooklyn Papers, Ariella Cohen got some facts "bemuddled" towards the end of the article. Cohen first states that, "The mayor pledged that no city money would be needed to fund the project directly," and then cites "$200 million" of "direct allocation" of public funding a few paragraphs later.

Also, it is incorrect to compare the $200 million of public funding for the $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project as being far less public money than the $1 billion planned for the aborted West Side Stadium with its $2.2 billion price tag. The cash contribution for the West Side Stadium was $600 million and the total public subsidy for Atlantic Yards, which is not just an arena, is currently estimated to be over $1 billion.

Sorry to criticize, we know that it's not easy being green.

Posted by lumi at 2:02 PM

Political Action Group Tied to BUILD Folds

by Steve Witt

The political action group that paid workers to hand out campaign literature for Eric Blackwell’s unsuccessful run against City Council member Letitia James in the September Democratic primary will fold, according to sources.

The group, Community Leadership for Accountable Politics (CLAP), allegedly paid the workers from the Brooklyn United for Innovative Development (BUILD) office at 640 Pacific Street.

Both BUILD, which as a non-profit organization is barred from engaging in political campaigns, and CLAP shared some of the same officers.


Posted by amy at 11:50 AM

Hundreds March Against Arena Plan



One side was handing out turkeys last week while the other side was raising funds for expected legal challenges.

Surprisingly, FCR was handing out ACTUAL turkeys. The author is not just being poetic about the turkey of a deal Brooklyn is getting at Atlantic Yards.


Posted by amy at 11:23 AM

November 18, 2005

Eminent problem

The NY Sun, Editorial

Does the recently passed House bill, dubbed "The Private Property Protection Act," have implications for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project?

It might. A spokesman for Forest City Ratner, Joseph DePlasco, told [The Sun] in an e-mail that the developer does not anticipate an impact on the project, although he did not respond to a message asking him to elaborate on precisely why.

Today's Sun editorial looks into how legislation meant to proscribe eminent domain abuse could play a role in Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

Best Move for Kidd Was Spiritual

kidd1.jpg The NY Times
by Harvey Araton

[Jason Kidd] made the move - spiritually, that is - to Brooklyn years before Ratner's proposed arena becomes a reality.

"It'll be a year coming up that Alonzo and his wife, Tracy, invited Joumana and I to a Bible study class," he said. "It turned out that it was something we needed in our lives. More or less, I think it was just meant to be."

"Going to Brooklyn has done wonders for me," he said. "I think going to Brooklyn will do wonders for this franchise."


NoLandGrab: Religion also plays a profound role in the Nets-to-Brooklyn PR narrative.

Posted by lumi at 7:27 AM

Adjustments made to East Side school project

Downtown Express
by Ronda Kaysen

Bruce Ratner and local leaders have secured an important compromise for a new Downtown Manhattan elementary school. The Beekman St. school, designed by Frank Gehry and "partially funded with $20 [million] from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, is the most expensive school ever built by the Department of Education."


Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

November 17, 2005

Dispiriting debates: false premises (on eminent domain) and half-loaves (regarding the CBA)

Not everyone who closely follows the Atlantic Yards issue can stalk Dan Goldstein around town to every debate, that's why were glad to have TimesRatnerReporter, Norman Oder on the beat.

Oder posted a synopsis of two Atlantic Yards discussions, both held yesterday at local law schools, Fordham and Brooklyn Law. His comparison of the two forums:

It's difficult to have a debate, the forums suggested, when there are such fundamental differences, in one case over the facts of the project, in another over the appropriate posture toward a powerful developer.

Posted by lumi at 9:59 PM

DDDb Media Release: Exploring Ratner's Public Spaces With Acclaimed Danish Architect/Urban Planner Jan Gehl

Public Space Specialist to Tour and Observe Forest City Ratner's Brooklyn Developments and Proposed Atlantic Yards Site and Plan

WHAT: A walking tour of downtown Brooklyn and Jan Gehl's reactions to the design and use of public spaces.

WHEN: Friday, November 18th. 10:15AM to 12:15 PM

WHERE: Meet at Metrotech Mall and Jay Street (at Myrtle Avenue) A/C to Jay Street Borough Hall, 2/3 to Borough Hall (see map here: http://tinyurl.com/deffw)

BROOKLYN—On Friday November 18 at 10:15 AM internationally acclaimed urban planner Jan Gehl will visit downtown Brooklyn, including Metrotech, Fulton Mall, Atlantic Terminal Mall, Atlantic Center Mall, and the site of the Atlantic Yards plan. He will comment on public space and the transportation infrastructure in downtown Brooklyn.

The press is invited and encouraged to attend.

Jan Gehl is a Danish architect, Professor of Urban Design and Director of the Center for Public Space Research at the School of Architecture, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. He is author of several books including Life Between Buildings and the Public Spaces and Public Life series. He has designed projects around the world and specializes in the planning of public spaces.

-- Danish Architect/Urban Designer Jan Gehl and Renowned Public Space Specialist -- Hunter College Urban Planning Professor Dr. Tom Angotti -- Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives -- Members of Brooklyn civic and community groups

RSVP suggested: Call 917-701-3056

Jan Gehl's CV: http://www.gehl.dk/Gehl.html

More on Jan Gehl from the Project for Public Spaces: http://www.pps.org/info/placemakingtools/placemakers/jgehl

Posted by lumi at 8:59 PM

TODAY: Bronx Town Hall Meeting

Hey, Brooklyn isn't the only Borough being run over by a useless, public-cash-guzzling sports stadium.

WHAT: Joint Town Hall Meeting (hosted by Bronx BP & Bronx CB#4)
WHEN: Thursday, November 17, 6:00-8:00pm
WHERE: Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice gymnasium
       244 East 163rd Street
       Bronx, NY
MORE INFO: 718-590-3500

Save Our Parks is a Bronx community group fighting the New York Yankees' plans to build a new Yankee Stadium next to the current one -- and in the process destroying the surrounding communities' two green spaces, Macombs Dam Park and Mullaly Park. In addition, the new stadium would soak taxpayers for $573 million dollars.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and Fans For Fair Play are working with Save Our Parks in a coalition linked by wealthy sports team owners bent on uprooting communities for new stadium projects. The coalition urges you to hop the train to the Bronx and support SOP as they represent their angry neighborhoods against the Yankees/Bronx Borough President/Parks Dept./EDC juggernaut.

Posted by lumi at 5:55 PM

Ratner's PR strategy shift

The Terrie Williams/Bruce Ratner PR machine is now deploying people to stump for the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) who uniformly and unequivocally state that they "aren't" or "were not initially" for the Atlantic Yards project and still have "concerns" about or "conditionally support" the project.

This new strategy benefits Ratner, by serving to counter the impression that the groups are "handpicked" and were formed for the express purpose of supporting the project, the primary criticism of Atlantic Yards CBA. The move also creates the appearance that the CBA is more akin to the Staples Center agreement, the nation's first CBA, which, critics say, should have been a template for Ratner's.

This change in Ratner's PR strategy, led by the Terrie Williams PR agency, hired to publicize the CBA, was untilized at the Fordham Law School panel discussion yesterday evening. Yesterday's panelists who supported the CBA with reservations about the project were Darnell Canada of Rebuild and Charlene Nimmons of Public Housing Communities.

Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM

November 16, 2005

West Harlem Residents Voice Opposition To Columbia Expansion Plan


manhattanville.jpgThe latest on the other big eminent domain controversy in NYC, Columbia University's $5 billion Manhattanville expansion.

A statement from the university should sound familiar to those following the Ratner fight:

"The decision to use eminent domain is the State's and it remains a last resort."

article (dialup/broadband)

Posted by lumi at 9:31 PM

Upper West Side Story

Forbes.com, On My Mind (opinion)

According to William M. Treanor, the dean of Fordham Law School, who "has spent much of his academic career writing on the history of the Fifth Amendment's takings clause":

[The Property Rights Protection Act,] H.R. 4128, however, is a blunderbuss rule that would effectively take away from local governments the power to use an invaluable urban planning tool. Had H.R. 4128 been law in 1955, the grim and violent Upper West Side of West Side Story might still be a reality.


Posted by lumi at 9:22 PM

Darnell Canada (aka Kennedy) is back with the Rat Pack

A year and a half after Darnell Canada made waves by being the first community activist to point out that BUILD "members were seeking financial gain, rather than giving the interests of the public the proper attention," (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 03/26/04), he has rejoined the groups supporting Ratner's Commmunity Benefits Agreement with his group, REBUILD!

According to a press release from Terrie Williams, a New Jersey-based PR agency hired by Ratner to spread the good news of the Community Benefits Agreement, REBUILD, "is primarily dedicated to assisting men who have recently been released from incarceration and are transitioning back into the community and workforce."

Look for Kennedy/Canada to stump for Ratner in public events like today's Fordham Law School Eminent Domain Forum.

On a lighter note, sources say that members of NoLandGrab have recently broken away to form a splinter group called YesLandGrab and are awaiting a call from Ratner.

Posted by lumi at 8:07 AM

TODAY, EMINENT DOMAIN FORUM: "Use or Abuse? The Atlantic Yards Project"

Time: 4:30-6pm Location: Room 203 Fordham Law School, 140 West 62nd Street, Manhattan

Panelists: * Dan Goldstein, Develop Don't Destroy Booklyn * Eric McClure, Park Slope Neighbors * Charlene Nimmons, Public Housing Communities * Darrell Canada, Rebuild

Moderator: Fordham Law Professor Brian Glick.

Open to all law school but seating is limited so non-Stein Scholars are asked to rsvp to Andrew Chapin (Telephone: 212-636-7849; Email: achapin@law.fordham.edu)

Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

The Brian Lehrer Show: Charles Gargano, "Nets Gain?"

WNYC Radio

Brian Lehrer interviewed Charles Gargano, Chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation. Lehrer asked great questions and Gargano did a better job of not answering them.

Gargano explains how the state puts out an RFEI (Request for Expressions of Interest) to get the land use planning process started. He frequently mentions the 42nd Street redevelopment as an example of a successful State planning process and supports eliminating the "red tape" of the local land use review process.

What this has to do with Ratner's plan, where no Expressions of Interest were requested, is still a mystery.

link, audio stream, mp3

Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

Historical Hindsight

The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman

Schuerman catches up with historian John P. Manbeck, the author of this weekend's NY Times City Section Op-Ed piece on the Atlantic Yards fight, to find out why Manbeck wrote pieces for Ratner's puff press, The Brooklyn Standard. Manbeck's Brooklyn Standard bylines were noted by "TimesRatnerReporter," Norman Oder.

Manbeck, tracked down in Pennsylvania, said that he had agreed to write for the Standard early this year knowing full well who was behind it and even while he had reservations about the project. “I was not unaware that it might have been a conflict of interest, but I had my standards and I upheld them,” he said. “I said I wanted to write about history, not politics, and they said okay.”

He charged Forest City the same modest fee he receives for his weekly column in the Brooklyn Eagle. He would not divulge the sum, but said that the Times, which commissioned the op-ed a couple of months ago, paid better.


Posted by lumi at 7:19 AM

11th Heating Up

The Politicker (via NY Observer)

The Politicker, Ben Smith reports that Atlantic Yards supporter, State Senator Carl Andrews, is jockeying to run for the 11th District US Congressional seat, long held by Atlantic Yards detractor, Major Owens. Andrews has apparently received the blessing of his former boss, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

In the same blog item, the one local politician who has been criticized for carefully trying to support and oppose the project at the same time, City Councilmember David Yassky, has officially announced his intention to run for the same seat.


Posted by lumi at 7:03 AM

Net Gain for Brooklyn?

gehrymodelb&w.jpgBrooklyn Skyline
by Dexter Henry

An overview of the Atlantic Yards fight includes the question of what happened to the idea of an arena in Coney Island and interviews with City Councilwoman Letitia James, Fans for Fair Play head honcho Scott Turner and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.


Posted by lumi at 6:54 AM

November 15, 2005

Walk Don't Destroy coverage

walkathon-t.jpgWalk Don't Destroy raised more than $60,000 for the DDDb Legal Fight.

DDDb.net, more photos and a big thank you.

NY1, Protestors Gather To Raise Money To Block Brooklyn Development Plan (HTML/dialup/broadband)

UPI, Rosie Perez Leads NY Protest

Metro, Battle lines drawn over Nets arena in Brooklyn

Posted by lumi at 7:56 AM

Atlantic Yards: Through The Looking Glass

Gotham Gazette

Alice in RatnervilleCuriouser and curiouser, Professor Tom Angotti becomes the latest observer to compare the Atlantic Yards plan to Alice in Ratnerland:

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, everything appears backwards, Alice is caught up in a giant chess game of powerful players over which she has no control, and the characters she meets talk nonsense.

The planning for Atlantic Yards is all backwards. Normally, government does a plan for the area, then looks at the potential environmental impacts of the plan, decides what to do, and then either does it or puts it out to private developers to bid on. In Atlantic Yards -- and increasingly in other megaprojects throughout the city -- it is just the reverse.


Posted by lumi at 7:40 AM

No sleep till Brooklyn: Jay-Z won't rest until Nets take over town

This weekend's Daily News article about Rapper/Nets owner Jay-Z (aka Sean Carter) was syndicated in today's San Jose Mercury News, giving the Nets extra mileage in their latest PR campaign.

Everything Jay-Z raps turns to platinum. And now the self-proclaimed "best rapper alive" hopes to have the same effect on the Nets, an organization that has been about as hip as Vanilla Ice.

NoLandGrab: Though Ratner and Jay-Z wouldn't reveal to the reporter the size of the rapper's ownership ("league sources say it is less than 5 percent"), our sources tell us it's more like 1.5%.

Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

Bloomberg's Gift Horse

The Village Voice

Neil deMause gets to the bottom of the Yankees and Mets stadium deals. Both deals were rolled out to great fanfare because they are "self-financed," or are they?

The truth about stadium deals is in the fine print, and nowhere has the print been finer than in the deals concocted by Bloomberg and his sidekick for economic development, Dan Doctoroff. An analysis by the Voice of public documents reveals that when all is said and done, the Mets' and Yanks' "privately financed" stadiums would stick taxpayers with a bill of at least $800 million—and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars more.

Read about PILOTS, state giveaways, rent subsidies, property tax abatements, all "cut from the same cloth as Doctoroff's now defunct Jets plan."


NoLandGrab: Has Ratner stopped bragging about how is arena is "self-financed" yet?

Posted by lumi at 6:38 AM

The rich get all the breaks with Mike

NY Daily News
Juan Gonzalez

An alert reader brought this recent column on one of the myriad of ancillary topics in the Fight for the Heart of Brooklyn, Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS). Mayor Bloomberg and Gifford Miller quietly landed a deal at the end of last month to award property tax breaks to developers who build in the Hudson Yards.

But those new tax breaks are "unwarranted and fiscally irresponsible," according to a report last week by the nonprofit Fiscal Policy Institute.

Tax breaks to major businesses have exploded under Bloomberg and are bound to get worse with the Hudson Yards project, said economist James Parrot.


Why we care: * PILOTS are planned for Ratner's Atlantic Yards program. * Bloomberg's corporate giveaway program shifts the tax burden to middle- and lower-income property owners for decades to come.

The bottom line is well-connected developers and large corporations get big breaks for the privelege of not moving to NJ, and the rest of us are shouldered with the burden through increased property taxes and rents.

Posted by lumi at 6:19 AM

November 14, 2005

Battle lines drawn over Nets arena in Brooklyn

donttreadonbklyn.jpgWalkathon coverage in Metro by Amy Zimmer:

A few hundred Brooklynites — many with dogs, strollers or bikes in tow — marched yesterday around the footprint where Bruce Ratner plans to build 17 skyscrapers and an arena for the Nets basketball team.

They processed behind a marching band playing a mournful rendition of “America the Beautiful” and they raised a “Don’t tread on Brooklyn” flag in front of Freddy’s, a local bar that is the epicenter for anti-arena dissent and a structure slated for demolition under the plan.


Posted by lumi at 12:02 PM

The Project That Ate Brooklyn

In a Sunday New York Times City Section Op-Ed piece, the author, John B. Manbeck, accuses all sides of "overkill," then fumbles the facts, before making some good points.




The project is being proposed "on the very site that was denied the Brooklyn Dodgers 50 years ago."


Ratner's failing mall sits on that site (let's put this Brooklyn myth to rest already).

"The arena would stimulate construction on Boerum Hill's vacant lots."


Boerum Hill is booming thanks to the already approved Downtown Development plan.

8,300 new housing units


It's 7,300, unless Manbeck knows something the public doesn't.

The TimesRatnerReport points out some other problems including the fact that the "bio box doesn't mention that [Manbeck] has written for both issues of Forest City Ratner's Brooklyn Standard p.r. sheet."

It's regretful that there are these holes in Manbeck's piece because he brings up three important points: * "a project that relies heavily on subsidies rarely works," * "Officials need to consider the existing profiles of neighborhoods as well as the immediate goals of developer" * Brooklyn developers typically unveil overly ambitious projects that are eventually scaled back, resulting in a project "that satisfies his true ambitions while allowing the public to feel that it has staved off disaster."

Posted by lumi at 11:30 AM


In the local tabloid where celebrity trumps community, Patrick Gallahue's coverage of yesterday's Walkathon in the NY Post focuses on actress Rosie Perez's concerns:

Actress Rosie Perez, of the basketball movie "White Men Can't Jump," lent her name to the anti-Nets arena movement and marched against the $3.5 billion plan yesterday afternoon.

"I've lived here all my life and I'm glad we don't have skyscrapers," said the Brooklyn native who lives in Clinton Hill.


NoLandGrab: Kudos to Rosie Perez for having the guts and integrity to stand up for her neighborhood.

The article mentions a "bevy of superstars in support of the project" without naming names. We assume they are speaking about rapper Jay-Z (aka Sean Carter), who is the frontman/mascot for the latest Ratner PR campaign.

Posted by lumi at 10:36 AM

Atlantic Yards Opponents Raise $50,000 in Walk-a-Thon

The NY Sun
by David Lombino

A cheerful, quirky crowd of about 400 opponents, some dressed as if for a Mardi Gras celebration on an unusually warm autumn day, raised more than $50,000 in the walk-a-thon to help fund a court challenge to the development, a spokeswoman for Develop, Don't Destroy, which organized the rally, said.


Posted by lumi at 8:48 AM

November 13, 2005

Walk Don't Destroy Brooklyn- UPDATE!


Today's nearly 400 Walkathoners raised over $50,000 for the good folks over at Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn! Shout out to walkathon organizer/goddess Sabine Aronowsky, and to State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Chris Owens as Grand Marshals.

More photos after the jump - and the whole kit and caboodle over at Gotard






Posted by amy at 11:02 AM

Stephon not only struggling guard

Mike Lupica proves that the best way to bring sports and politics together is through poetry. And this is beautiful.

If Caring Bruce Ratner is still the owner of the Nets in five years, I'll eat my hat.

A Nets hat, even.

He doesn't want the team.

He never really did.

He wants the land.

Dan Doctoroff thought he didn't have to buy people left and right to push his agenda with the West Side Stadium, he was Deputy Mayor.

Ratner was much smarter about all this, which is why he's got all these "community leaders" on scholarship now.


Posted by amy at 10:57 AM

No sleep till Brooklyn


The Daily News publishes an article where they repeat, emphasize, and once again say that Jay-Z is not being used by Ratner for street cred:

Of course, it is the impending move across the rivers that helped convince Carter to become a Net owner. He will consult Ratner on designs for the proposed arena and "may shed a tear" when the Nets tip off in Brooklyn.

"I don't have any kids yet," Carter says. "But I can imagine that being like having your first kid because I am from Brooklyn. Brooklyn pride is something else. We are a part of New York City and we love everybody from New York. But Brooklyn is like its own planet."

All we gotta say is that's one ugly baby.


Posted by amy at 10:45 AM

Move project by Yards

In a move of logic not unlike President Bush's idea that cutting down forests prevents forest fires, Roger Green suggests expanding the use of eminent domain to decrease density in the Atlantic Yards Project. Oh, and he insults the locals along the way:

Assemblyman Roger Green (D-Prospect Heights) - likely to play a crucial role in getting the project approved in Albany - is pushing to build thousands of the project's apartments in an industrial area around Grand and Bergen Sts.

The blocks are home to many car repair shops, small factories, a few homes and retail businesses. Green insists many owners would sell or could be relocated. He called many of the businesses "chop shops of dubious ownership."

Grand Ave. car repair shop owner Lesly Nelson was shocked by Green's comments, and said his business is legal and already just scraping by.

"It's one of those things where the small guys can't do anything to stop it," said Nelson, who rents his space and has already been forced to move once because of condos.

"There are about seven shops here. If they sell this building this whole place is going to go out of business."


Posted by amy at 10:32 AM

November 12, 2005

Atlantic Yards ‘is not blighted,’ says Green

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Speaking before fellow state legislators at a hearing on eminent domain last Friday, assemblyman Roger Green challenged the legality of exercising eminent domain in his Prospect Heights district, where up to 11 acres could be condemned to accomodate Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project.

“For the record, that neighborhood is not blighted, said Green. “I repeat, for the record, that neighborhood is not blighted.”


Come and judge the blightedness for yourself as we take a walk around the footprint for Walk Don't Destroy! Also check out TimesRatnerReport for an in-depth look at what the blight designation means to Atlantic Yards.

Posted by amy at 9:40 AM

November 11, 2005

Lobbyists for NYC box stores

These comments were submitted by an NLG reader in response to the Observer profile on Richard Lipsky, the anti-box-store crusader who has crossed to the dark side to support Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan, even though Ratner is the king of bringing box stores to Brooklyn.

On Related's PR team:

The Marino Organization is working for Related Co., developer of the Bronx Terminal Market. Marino is also spearheading the campaign by Wal-Mart to gain access into NYC.

On Related's lead attorney:

Jesse Masyr is also working for Related. He is cited on google as land-use attorney for Related, IKEA, etc. Apparently he is an ex-Manhattan deputy borough president, and a partner in the Wachtel and Masyr law firm whose clients have included:
* Blumenfeld Development Group
* Forest City Ratner Corporation
* Home Depot

It seems like developers all go to the same few people to get anything done in this town.

For a fascinating article on lobbying in NYC see: http://www.gothamgazette.com/iotw/lobbying/

This is where I first saw the term "astro-turf" lobbying.

Posted by lumi at 7:05 PM

Victory over Marty Markowitz at key Brooklyn polling site reflects strong opposition to Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project

Mattera beat Ratner supporter Markowitz in several electoral districts close to the developer's Atlantic Yards proposal footprint, resulting in the largest percentage of votes for a Green Party candidate in a borough-wide race.

"Our totals in the 52nd and 57th Assembly Districts clearly show that there is a lot of community opposition to the Forest City Ratner Corporation," said Mattera. "People who have never voted Green before did so in big numbers. They see us working side by side with the community in its fight against tax-subsidized private development and eminent domain."

Pointing to the fact that she beat Markowitz in several electoral districts close the Atlantic Yards, Mattera said "This should serve as a wake-up call for elected officials-that they can no longer take voters for granted and will be held accountable for actions that undermine our communities."


Posted by lumi at 6:33 PM

Critics of Ratner Plan Say Oversight of Project Too Lax

The NY Sun
by David Lombino

These days the city's biggest development projects are the ones that proceed through the most lax approval processes and receive the least amount of oversight, panelists involved in a discussion at the Municipal Art Society said yesterday.

The discussion focused on the Atlantic Yards project, developer Bruce Ratner's $3.5 billion plan to build a basketball arena, more than a dozen commercial and residential towers, and a hotel in and around downtown Brooklyn.


Though invited, Forest City Ratner did not send a representative to the Municipal Arts Society forum. TimesRatnerReport contrasts Forest City Ratner's persistent claims of openess and transparency with their record of meeting with critics of the project.

Posted by lumi at 6:28 PM

Freddy’s Fumble: Ferrer mishandled Atlantic Yards, but the press made it worse


He coulda been a contender. Maybe Freddy Ferrer wouldn’t have won the election, but if he’d raised the Atlantic Yards issue early enough, and forcefully enough, he could’ve had Mayor Bloomberg on the defensive. At the least, he would’ve sparked some real debate about the mega-development in Brooklyn, a $3.5 billion project to build a Nets basketball arena and 16 high-rise buildings, nearly all of them housing--and mostly luxury housing at that.

Then again, maybe he never had a chance. Ferrer also faced a press corps that too often has failed to explain the controversy or to challenge project supporters like Bloomberg and the Rev. Al Sharpton.


Posted by lumi at 6:07 AM

Bronx Group Fighting New Yankee Stadium

Curbed.com mistook media silence for acceptance by Bronx communities of the new Yankees Stadium project.

Unfortunately, in this city, if the media hasn't covered it, it didn't happen. Like NLG and DDDb.net in Brooklyn, the Bronx has its own blogs and web sites, trying to get the word out:

There is outrage over the new stadium, and it lives on Save Our Parks, a site whose tagline reads, "We are local residents who are opposed to the taking of Macombs Dam and Mullaly parks by the Yankees for a new stadium."


Posted by lumi at 5:54 AM

November 10, 2005

Want Deed to Park Place?

Forest City Enterprises is selling "premium parking" for residents of "1100 Wilshire, a swanky high-rise condo development" in Downtown LA. Priced up to $20K a pop, this move flies in the face of Californians' god-given right to free parking.


Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM


The New Republic Online
by Fred Siegel

Bloomberg's victory is yesterday's news. Now local analysts are doing the political calculus over the problems the City is facing in Bloomberg's second term, including shifts in the political balance of power between the City and Albany that could affect large development projects:

Bloomberg is likely to clash with Sheldon Silver, the powerful speaker of the state assembly, over office construction at Ground Zero. Bloomberg is against it, but he's in favor of subsidizing 1.9 million feet of new office space being proposed by developer Bruce Ratner in Brooklyn. That's sure to leave Silver, who represents lower Manhattan, angry, complicating Bloomberg's chances of getting additional money out of Albany.

article (FREE registration required)

Posted by lumi at 7:08 AM

Battle of the Bronx Looms For Mom-and-Pop Crusader

NY Observer
by Matthew Scheurman

Anti-box-store crusader Richard Lipsky has gone to battle against Wal-Mart, BJ's and Pathmark and is currently fighting against the big-box stores slated for the Bronx Terminal Market for his client the Neighborhood Retail Alliance.

However, in Brooklyn, Lipsky has crossed the aisle to support Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards deal, though the developer is notorious for bringing BIG-box stores to the borough (whatdya call a "Tar-jay" in a building that looks like a toaster?).

When asked tough questions, Mr. Lipsky doesn’t get defensive, or tell the reporter such and such is not important. He just answers in the sort of dry monotone one might use when ordering lunch at a drive-in, and lets the ideas, and inconsistencies, speak for themselves.

He supports Forest City Ratner’s proposed live-work-play complex in central Brooklyn, for instance, and in fact is getting paid to organize an amateur sports league there as well as to lobby for other Ratner projects around town. And yet the complex will almost certainly require the state to use eminent domain to acquire private property—a practice that his Neighborhood Retail Alliance blog has consistently labeled harmful to small business.

Lipsky calls Atlantic Yards opponents, "ideological purists." Obviously Lipksy is not an ideologue, since he's taken Ratner on as a client.


Posted by lumi at 6:32 AM

November 9, 2005

TOMORROW: Muncipal Arts Society Forum

Large-Scale Plans Removed from the Public Review Process: Focus on Atlantic Yards.

This 22-acre recently-proposed arena and mixed-use development project is larger than the World Trade Center site, straddles three distinct community districts, and would be the largest private development in Brooklyn's history.

Community planning efforts resulted in an alternative plan, yet organizers have struggled to secure any traction for the initiative. The arena proposal is moving forward, outside of the city's public review process where the public and local elected officials generally have some opportunity to shape outcomes. You are invited to come hear about the community-initiated alternative plan for the site, and about how the local community has found opportunities to raise its voice.

Moderator: Tom Angotti, Professor, Hunter College.

Panelists: Daniel Goldstein, Develop, Don't Destroy;
Mafruza Khan, Pratt Center for Community Development;
Candace Carpenter, Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods.

Thursday, November 10

The Urban Center, 457 Madison Avenue, at East 51st Street

We don't know if there is still seating available, (RSVP required). Contact rsvp@mas.org or call 212-935-2075 for more info.

Posted by lumi at 7:04 AM

November 8, 2005

Election Day info

vote.gif NoLandGrab isn't going to tell you who to vote for. Wait, yes we are...

No, really, we want you to make up your own minds, but here are the candidates who have publicly stated that they are against Ratner's proposal to destroy Brooklyn:

Mayor of NYC: Fernando Ferrer, Democratic Party

Brooklyn Borough President: Gloria Mattera, Green Party

City Council, 35th District: Letitia James

If you're really hardcore and know how to write in a candidate, our anti-Ratner recommendations are as follows:

Write-in for Public Advocate: Norman Siegal

Write-in for City Council, 33rd District: Joy Chatell

For detailed information about what your electeds have been up to on the Atlantic Yards project, visit NoLandGrab's Pol Precinct.

Posted by lumi at 8:48 AM

Your Name in Lights

The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Scheurman

The Observer was alerted by an arena opponent to the paid searches for BUILD on the NYTimes.com. Check it out — click here, then look up "Bruce Ratner."


Here's the complete cycle:

NoLandGrab: The buck stops when taxpayers get to fund Ratner's ridiculous boondoggle.

Posted by lumi at 8:16 AM

Nets say fan count no sellout

Here's one we missed by Neil Best of Newsday (November 5) about the latest new math from the Ratner camp:

Consider the Mystery of the Missing Nets Fans partially solved.

According to a turnstile count supplied to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, 15,504 people attended Wednesday's opener against the Bucks at Continental Airlines Arena.

The Nets made a point that night of announcing they had distributed 20,098 tickets, making it technically a sellout. But many tickets apparently went to corporate sponsors and were unused.


NoLandGrab: Even Nostradamus couldn't have predicted a day when GIVING away free tickets would amount to a SELL out.

Posted by lumi at 5:39 AM

Green Party press release: Green Candidates to Watch in the November 08 Elections

Gloria Mattera

Gloria Mattera's http://www.electgloria.org Green campaign for Brooklyn Borough President qualified for 4 to 1 matching funds from New York City's Campaign Finance program.

"I am proud to be the first Green Party candidate eligible for matching funds for this office," said Ms. Mattera. "This demonstrates tremendous support for our campaign from city residents who are tired of watching [incumbent] Marty Markowitz act as a doormat for Bruce Ratner and other developers who want to take over our city. The Campaign Finance Program levels the playing field for candidates such as myself who do not accept corporate campaign contributions, and is a wonderful tool in support of grass roots democracy."


Posted by lumi at 5:26 AM

November 7, 2005

BBall.net "is under contruction...

bball-dot-net.jpg ...and coming soon."

We're hoping that the new BBall.net is just as amusing as BS 2.0 (the second installment of the Brooklyn Standard).

Brooklynites are getting confused and a little weirded out by Jim Stuckey's references to Nostradamus and Orwell (see NY Times, Sunday, November 6) and would like a return to simpler days, when BUILD supporters were just calling people names and Joe DePlasco forgot to issue press releases.

Posted by lumi at 11:30 PM

Big Brooklyn project must shrink to fly

Forest City Ratner faces public outcry; compromise likely before crucial vote

Crain's NY Business
by Erik Engquist
Published on November 07, 2005

Update of where the project stands with an emphasis on positions of key politicians.

Faced with mounting opposition from Brooklyn residents and elected officials, Forest City Ratner Cos. is under increasing pressure to downsize its $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project.

Resistance to Atlantic Yards began to swell in the summer, when its renowned architect, Frank Gehry, released renderings to the press. The sheer scale of the buildings shocked many Brooklynites and fanned what had been limited opposition into a grassroots revolt.

To save the plan, even its biggest cheerleader, Borough President Marty Markowitz, is calling for significant revisions.

"I will be pitching aggressively to convince Forest City Ratner to downscale the project," says Mr. Markowitz. "There is merit to lowering the height of the buildings."

Once seen as a slam dunk, the planned 9.1-million-square-foot project, which includes 16 residential, commercial and office buildings and a basketball arena for the Nets, now looks like anything but.

To break ground, Forest City must win unanimous approval from the three-member Public Authorities Control Board, the same body that in June derailed Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ambitious plans for West Side development. In addition, a legal battle looms over the project's likely reliance on eminent domain to condemn private property.

At this point, the developer's top priority is winning over the PACB, whose members are individual appointees of Gov. Pataki, state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. While Messrs. Pataki and Bruno are expected to vote in favor, Mr. Silver's vote is uncertain.

Key player

The speaker will make a decision in consultation with the local Assembly members, says his spokesman, Skip Carrier. Insiders say Mr. Silver will give most weight to Assemblyman Roger Green, since the project sits largely in Mr. Green's district.

While Mr. Green has been a consistent supporter of Atlantic Yards, he suggested at a raucous hearing last month that the project's density could be reduced. His comments won applause from a crowd of 700, which had booed as he approached the microphone. Mr. Green is up for re-election next year, and project opponents have shown a penchant for political organizing against supporters of the development.

Two other area Assembly members are even more vocal in their opposition. At the same hearing, Assemblywoman Joan Millman spoke against the plan's colossal size and talked of "the potentially harmful effects this project will have on the surrounding neighborhoods."

Population density

Meanwhile Assemblyman James Brennan, whose district includes many Park Slope constituents opposed to the scheme, calls the project simply "too big." He blasts the plans for "7,000 housing units in 22 acres, which runs to about 18,000 people."

For its part, the developer says it always expected the public would question Atlantic Yards' density and its impact on traffic, air quality and noise levels. The developer also indicates that it is open to discussion.

"We intend to engage with those communities," says Forest City Executive Vice President James Stuckey, the project manager.

Observers read such comments as a sign that the company is willing to trim the project. Forest City might have no choice. The developer has received no promises from Mr. Silver or even Mr. Bruno, yet it has already spent about $100 million on land acquisition, architectural fees and other expenses--too big an investment to abandon.

Another peril concerns state condemnation of property by eminent domain, which the developer is counting on if it cannot buy the remaining private lots. Forest City has yet to secure the final 10% of the acreage it needs. Condemnation would require state approval and would be challenged in court, opponents vow.

.Comments? EEngquist@crain.com

Posted by lumi at 11:14 PM

A Call for Narrative

The Brooklyn Rail
by Brian Carreira

Brooklyn StandardThe next installment in the Rail's series on the Atlantic Yards fight calls upon the press to define the narrative, that is, a narrative other than the one offered by Ratner's PR machine.

Since its announcement, the Atlantic Yards, like the aesthetic of the architect responsible for its goofy facades, has always been about style over substance.

A relentless, unscrupulous public relations campaign on the part of the developer was met with a local media willing to pass along practically unedited Forest City PR and mindlessly broadcast each and every headline without properly considering its place in the overall narrative.

As an example, Carreira looks at the history of Ratner's "historical" Community Benefits Agreement and posits:

It is clear that the issues discussed in the CBA are present because Forest City wanted them there to sustain its promotional claims.


Posted by lumi at 9:34 AM

The Jay-Z Effect on the Nets

Jay-Z Nets andPOP.com
by Adam Gonshor

Jay-Z, mogul or mascot?

The new Nets-ownership narrative features Jay-Z, a 1.47% owner of the team, as an integral part of the organization, making a difference with the players and fans.

At least that's what the current players are saying.


NoLandGrab: Brooklynites liked it better when Bruce Ratner played the front man, trying to convince reporters that he cared about basketball. At least it was good for a few laughs.

Posted by lumi at 9:25 AM

Ratner's big plans

Pol fumes over bid to build housing at hosp

Daily News
by Elizabeth Hays

Forest City Ratner is eyeing St. Mary's Hospital in Crown Heights for promised affordable homes - far from the proposed $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards Nets arena and residential and commercial towers.

Opponents are claiming that moving the affordable housing off of the Gehry site is tantamount to segregation.

Ratner Executive VP James Stuckey claims that FCR "honors our commitments" and says, "Shame on them."


NoLandGrab: True, Forest City never promised to build all of the housing on the Gehry site. However, they have two PR problems with this move:

1) CLASSISM & RACISM. If FCR is serious about scaling down the project, then something has got to give. The working class and minorities will once again feel like it is at their expense.

2) HISTORICAL TURNS TYPICAL. Though FCR will still tout the historical numbers of their "affordable" housing for upper-middle and middle-income folks, this development would make the Atlantic Yards project typical, as Ratner would join all of the other developers who build the affordable housing component of their projects off site.

Posted by lumi at 9:00 AM

Sulzberger's fraudulence: He needs a Karl Rove

NY Press
*by Russ Smith

This opinion piece on the recent woes of the NY Times lists the Times's recent PR problems.

Interestingly, the litany begins with Jayson Blair, Howell Raines, Judith Miller, layoffs, Wen Ho Lee, and then includes using eminent domain for paper's Ratner-built headquarters.


NoLandGrab: There is no mention of Brooklynites' frustration with the Times's coverage of their business partner Bruce Ratner, but the article leaves readers to wonder if the recent "systemic changes" are only cosmetic.

Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM

Eminent domain legislation sparks small chorus of lament

Crains NY Business, Business group criticizes eminent domain vote

The head of the Partnership for New York City, a group representing the city’s business community, on Friday criticized a Congressional vote to curb eminent domain, a potential blow to businesses.

"We are alarmed," said Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership, in testimony during a state Assembly hearing. “Without the power to condemn private sites to support economic development projects, New York and other older urban centers could not have kept pace with demands for upgraded infrastructure, modern office facilities and an expanded housing stock."

NoLandGrab: What the reporter failed to grasp and Wylde shrewdly withheld is that most comdemnations in NYC are justified by declaring the properties "blighted."

Press release, via US Newswire: NLC: Confusing and Vague Bill May Produce Chilling Effect on Economic Development

"The practical effects from this bill -- should it ever become law -- could be to freeze the process of public-private economic development projects across the country," said [National League of Cities] Executive Director Don Borut, citing vague and confusing definitions of economic development contained in the bill. [The NLC filed an friend of the court brief in the case of Kelo v. New London.]

Posted by lumi at 8:22 AM

Forest City locks into Oakland's Uptown project

San Francisco Business Times, via MSNBC
By Ryan Tate

A downsized Forest City inner city mixed-use project using eminent domain in Oakland is finally under contract.

More than five years after first proposing the project, Forest City Enterprises has signed a ground lease with the city of Oakland that financially commits the company to starting its Uptown development.


NoLandGrab: To tell you the truth, we don't know the details of this project, but from time to time, feel it's important to bring news of other Forest City projects Brooklynite's attention.

Posted by lumi at 7:40 AM

Eminent Domain, Chinese-Style

The Claremont Institute, Local Liberty Blog

Eminent domain American-style may be familiar in China:

Local governments have argued that they need to develop land to meet economic goals, create jobs and fund their operations. Beijing has intervened only in the most serious land disputes.


NoLandGrab: A recent entry on the conservative blog reminded us about the plight of Simon Liu, a local businessman and immigrant from China who has faced land seizure in both countries.

Posted by lumi at 7:20 AM

November 6, 2005

Rev. Al defends Ratner alliance

NY Daily News, The Score
by T.J. Quinn and Michael O’Keeffe

Another Ratner supporter supported by Ratner — this time no one is coughing up dollar amounts.

The Rev. Al Sharpton grabbed headlines last week when he ripped longtime political ally Fernando Ferrer after the Democrats’ mayoral candidate voiced opposition to Nets owner Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards proposal. The Rev. accused Ferrer of playing politics with a project that could create thousands of jobs for minority workers.

“He needs to realize that failure to get projects like this done would be a terrible loss for communities of color throughout this city,” Sharpton said in a statement.

Not included in Sharpton’s statement or the newspaper articles, however, was one significant fact: Forest City Ratner has contributed thousands of dollars to Sharpton’s National Action Network. Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco acknowledged Ratner’s development company provided financial support last year and this year but declined to say how much money FCR has contributed to the National Action Network’s coffers.

Sharpton, too, would not specify a dollar amount, but he did tell The Score that FCR has been a corporate sponsor of his organization’s annual fund-raising dinner and convention for the past three years.

That money, Sharpton adds, has nothing to do with his support for the $3.5 billion project. He points out that he only jumped aboard in July. “If donations to the Network meant anything,” Sharpton says, “then I would have supported it long before that.”

Shaprton says he lent his support to the Atlantic Yards at the urging of the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, the founder of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance and Bertha Lewis*, executive director of ACORN, a housing advocacy group. DBNA and ACORN, of course, are members of the coalition that signed a community benefits agreement with Forest City Ratner in June; the agreement gives ACORN a big say in access to the project’s subsidized apartments and DBNA a role in a planned health-care center, parks and other public facilities. As The New York Times reported, Daughtry’s group has already received $50,000 from Forest City Ratner for programs for children and the elderly.

Atlantic Yards opponents have expressed doubts that the project will generate thousands of minority jobs and Sharpton, who led a demonstration in 2000 demanding better wages for workers at Ratner’s Atlantic Center Mall (the protest was organized by ACORN), says he’ll become the Nets owner’s worst nightmare if the project doesn’t deliver. “If those commitments are not met, I will denounce the project,” Rev says. “If there’s any retreat, I’ll be crying loud about that.”

Posted by lumi at 8:47 PM

Math doesn't add up in Ratner world

Mike Lupica of the Daily News writes another well-researched and insightful column about Forest City Ratner's "transparency":

They are the Nets of Bruce Ratner, and so it was perfect that on opening night of a new basketball season they would try to be masters of illusion in Jersey the same way they try to be over in Brooklyn.

Brett Yormark, the team's new CEO, told everybody who would listen that the Nets would have a packed house against the Milwaukee Bucks. Then maybe 15,000 people actually showed up. This is the same kind of math that tries to tell you that one basketball arena for Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn, surrounded by 16 high-rise buildings, is more about sports than luxury housing.

That is a different kind of sellout, and a real one.


Posted by amy at 9:15 AM

Routine Changes, or 'Bait and Switch'?


The New York Times acknowledges that Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal is growing faster than the Christmas tree in the Nutcracker:

In other respects, however, the Atlantic Yards envisioned today looks very different from the one unveiled nearly two years ago. The project's size has jumped by a million square feet, and its dollar cost by 40 percent, to $3.5 billion. Commercial space, once a substantial portion of the overall square footage, has dropped dramatically, replaced by thousands of for-sale apartments and a hotel.

Nearly three-quarters of the office jobs originally projected are gone; the new apartments do not count as part of the so-called 50-50 agreement under which 2,250 apartments are to be rented below market rates, and the park on the arena's roof is to be accessible only to residents.

"Projects change, markets change," said Forest City Ratner's executive vice president for development, James P. Stuckey. "When you do a project over a long period of time, it's very difficult - unless you're Nostradamus - to figure out what the market changes and land changes and all those things are going to be."

Make sure to read to the end of the article, where Stuckey creatively uses the word "Orwellian" to describe how the public is outrageously in control of Alantic Yards development. Somehow it doesn't seem like public oversight was the danger Orwell was predicting. Maybe you can call this proposal transparent, but only in the sense that we can see right through it.


And as usual, TimesRatnerReport has already decoded the story for you here.

The New York Times
November 6, 2005

Routine Changes, or 'Bait and Switch'?

When the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn was unveiled in 2003, pamphlets given out at a news conference said it would feature "iconic" new buildings while balancing "the needs of the existing communities and those of the people who would live, work in or visit the new complex."

It would provide 10,000 office jobs and more than 4,000 units of rental housing, half of it set aside for low- and middle-income families. Its centerpiece would be a Frank Gehry-designed arena for the Nets basketball team, topped by a "lushly landscaped" public park with "outstanding panoramic vistas facing Manhattan."

Most of those features are still recognizable in the project's most recent iteration, described in planning documents released in September and in the latest designs from the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies.

The Nets arena remains the centerpiece. The tallest building, dubbed Miss Brooklyn, will bring Mr. Gehry's trademark titanium waves to Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. The other towers - some smaller than before, some larger - still stand amid acres of green space carefully sculptured to welcome residents of the adjoining streets.

In other respects, however, the Atlantic Yards envisioned today looks very different from the one unveiled nearly two years ago. The project's size has jumped by a million square feet, and its dollar cost by 40 percent, to $3.5 billion. Commercial space, once a substantial portion of the overall square footage, has dropped dramatically, replaced by thousands of for-sale apartments and a hotel.

Nearly three-quarters of the office jobs originally projected are gone; the new apartments do not count as part of the so-called 50-50 agreement under which 2,250 apartments are to be rented below market rates, and the park on the arena's roof is to be accessible only to residents.

"Projects change, markets change," said Forest City Ratner's executive vice president for development, James P. Stuckey. "When you do a project over a long period of time, it's very difficult - unless you're Nostradamus - to figure out what the market changes and land changes and all those things are going to be."

But critics of the project say some of the changes, particularly the reduction in office jobs and the addition of thousands of market-rate condominiums, make Atlantic Yards into a less sweet deal for Brooklyn residents. The Democratic mayoral candidate, Fernando Ferrer, recently attacked the project as "the twin brother of Mike Bloomberg's West Side stadium boondoggle."

Some opponents go further, saying the developer lured politicians and community groups with grand promises and then backtracked after the spotlight had passed.

"They were willing to say anything to get community support, and that is why it is dangerous for the community to accept promises from the outset," said the Rev. Clinton M. Miller, a member of the Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition. That group began talks with the developer over jobs and housing in 2004 but has since come out against the project.

Several factors have converged to raise the project's price tag, including increasing construction costs, the above-market prices the developer has paid to buy out residents who live on the project's footprint, the extra $50 million the developer offered for rights to build over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rail yard, and the cost of renovating the yard itself.

Officials of Forest City Ratner said they eventually realized that they would have to reduce the amount of commercial space, to accommodate condominium units that would help pay for the project, including the below-market rental housing.

But large real estate projects are subject to "the butterfly effect": Change one thing, and another changes.

Because estimates of office jobs were based on the project's commercial square footage, less commercial space meant fewer office jobs. The earlier estimates were also based on a ratio of one job per 200 square feet of space, but the Empire State Development Corporation, which released the September planning documents, uses a less generous ratio of one job per 250 square feet of space, amplifying the reduction.

The move to include more housing also increased the total square footage of the project. Because the ceilings of residential units are several feet lower than those of commercial units, however, it did not require more floors in each building. Indeed, the project will have one building less than originally planned, lowering its overall density somewhat.

Critics said, though, that even the reduced job estimates were overstated, because they do not account for likely vacancy rates or for jobs lost when businesses currently occupying the site are forced out. Based on those factors, they said, the net gain from the project would be fewer than 1,000 new office jobs.

Officials of Forest City Ratner - the development partner in building a new Midtown headquarters for The New York Times Company - gave several reasons for the switch to a private park. One was that as the buildings rimming the arena were re-mapped to house more residential units, there were fewer public access points for the roof of the arena. Another was that the city building code would have treated the park as a public assembly area, requiring cumbersome safety features. Finally, Mr. Stuckey said, discussions with planning experts revealed that "generally, open space up in the air doesn't work - people don't use it."

While the new plan closes the park to the public, he said, it adds more park acreage to the overall project.

"We took what was on the roof and put it on the ground where people can use it," he said.

It may be the changes to the projections of new housing that have provoked the sharpest outcry.

"The problem is, Bertha Lewis and Mayor Bloomberg and Ratner are out there calling it a 50-50 plan, not a 50-50 plan just for rentals," said Daniel Goldstein, the spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. "It's a bait and switch. What they announced as a revolutionary housing deal is not." Ms. Lewis, executive director of the advocacy group Acorn, signed the housing agreement last spring with Bruce Ratner, president and chief executive officer of Forest City Ratner and principal owner of the New Jersey Nets.

The 50-50 deal and the more generous job numbers were frequently cited by politicians and others supporting the project, and favoring Mr. Ratner's bid to buy air rights over the rail yards for tens of millions of dollars less than their appraised worth.

In letters dated last June and July - weeks after Mr. Stuckey outlined the potential conversion to more residential units at a May hearing - more than two dozen union leaders and elected officials expressed their support for Mr. Ratner's bid. Many of them cited the developer's earlier promise of 10,000 permanent jobs in the project's commercial portion and the so-called 50-50 housing deal with Acorn.

"The more than 10,000 jobs that will be created at Atlantic Yards will be a historic achievement for the future of Brooklyn's economy," read a letter from the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz. Similar letters came from Senator Charles E. Schumer, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and several members of the City Council.

In an interview, Mr. Stuckey, the executive of Forest City Ratner, suggested that Forest City Ratner was paying a price for being forthcoming about its plans. He noted that the developer had met with dozens of community groups, had appeared at two Council hearings though it had no legal obligation to do so, and had publicly released pages and pages of documents before it would have been required to.

"What's interesting is that we've been out talking to people for two years. And this week, the approval process began," he said in an interview in October. "Here we are opening ourselves up - tremendous transparency, for two years. Yet the criticism is, 'Wait a second, they didn't tell us something about the evolution of their planning process before the public process began'? Just think about what that means."

"It's Orwellian, almost," Mr. Stuckey added.

The agreement signed last May between Mr. Ratner and Ms. Lewis applied only to the 4,500 rental units envisioned in the original plan. But it included a provision that if the developer added more residential units, the firm would develop 600 to 1,000 moderately priced for-sale units on or near the project site, in effect offering something close to a 50-50 ratio for all the housing associated with the project.

At the time, officials of Forest City Ratner said they were already contemplating adding 1,500 condominium units, in part because community leaders had pushed Mr. Ratner to include more housing in the project. That would have given the project 6,000 units of housing. But during a City Council presentation in May, Mr. Stuckey said the developer was contemplating adding an extra 1,300 for-sale units, bringing the total to 7,300 units.

Those additions were specified in the September planning document, cementing the transformation of Atlantic Yards into essentially a large residential development with an arena and a relatively small amount of office and retail space attached to it.

Forest City Ratner officials said that they had remained faithful to the Acorn agreement, which did not require that half of the new for-sale units be priced affordably. But if the developer chooses to build the maximum of 1,000 moderately priced for-sale units described in the Acorn agreement and builds them off-site, then the total number of for-sale and rental units associated with the project would reach 8,300, of which 3,250 would be priced below market rates - about 40 percent.

Much of the city's moderately priced housing is built through an arrangement called the 80-20 Program, under which city and state agencies subsidize construction projects by providing developers with tax-exempt bonds . In exchange, the developers set aside 20 percent of the apartment units for tenants who earn 50 percent or less of the area's median income.

Ms. Lewis said that Acorn remained a strong supporter of the project and of the agreement with Forest City Ratner. But she said she was negotiating with the company, and with the government agencies that help subsidize housing, to help make a greater proportion of the for-sale apartments available below market prices.

"We know that when we get through this thing, half of all the housing is going to be affordable - half of the rental, half of everything else," she said. "We haven't gotten down to the last part of this. But our whole principle is 50-50."

Posted by amy at 8:58 AM

November 5, 2005

Think Green: Vote Mattera for Brooklyn Borough President


The Brooklyn Downtown Star endorses Gloria Mattera for Borough President:

We were impressed with Mattera’s desire to use the power of the borough president’s office to challenge the Department of City Planning when their proposals are out of step with the community’s wishes, citing the recent rezoning of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront as a prime example of where she would have pressured the agency.


Check out the list of endorsements for Gloria on her website and don't forget to vote on Tuesday!

Posted by amy at 11:04 AM

Critiquing the NewsHour's piece on Atlantic Yards

TimesRatnerReport again factchecks the media. Shouldn't they be paying him to do this BEFORE the stories are released?

Other errors: the segment said the complex would cost $1.2 billion; the number was once $2.5 billion, now $3.5 billion. The footprint was described as 24 acres, with 17 high rise buildings; the numbers now are 22 acres and 16 high-rises plus an arena. The arena would cost $555.3 million, not $435 million.


Posted by amy at 10:45 AM

Congress takes on eminent domain abuse... maybe

From Field of Schemes:

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005, designed to roll back the use of eminent domain for private development, which was okayed by the Supreme Court back in June. The Congressional Budget Office summary of the bill (available as a PDF file here), which is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Bush, notes that it would "specifically prohibit state and local governments from taking private property and conveying or leasing that property to another private entity, either for a commercial purpose or to generate additional taxes, employment, or general economic health."

This would seem to cast a death blow to projects, like the Washington Nationals stadium or the Brooklyn Nets arena, that depend on taking private land for use by a private sports baron - right? Not so fast. The bill would still allow for eminent domain takings to combat "blight" - a notoriously vague designation that has traditionally been used by cities to mean "not worth as much as we think it should be." If blight is defined broadly enough, this bill could end up protecting only well-off property owners, while those in "blighted" districts - which would likely include the targeted parcels in D.C. and Brooklyn, though the latter includes many high-end condos - would continue to be fair game.


Posted by amy at 10:38 AM

Freddie quibbles over Ratner

From the Brooklyn Papers:

“When I am mayor, I’ll halt this project,” said Ferrer, nearly shouting to be heard over the jeers of union construction workers who support Ratner’s plans for skyscrapers and a basketball arena.

A small group came out to hear the mayoral candidate speak for 10-minutes. Ferrer complained about mayoral policies that he said favor developers and landowners over ordinary New Yorkers.

“The only thing we know for sure is that this deal helps Mike Bloomberg and his wealthy developer friends,” said Ferrer, speaking with his back to the Forest City Ratner-constructed Atlantic Terminal Mall.


Posted by amy at 10:00 AM

Opponents Of Brooklyn Sports Complex Speak Out At Hearing

From NY1:

The battle over eminent domain is moving forward both in Congress and here in New York, where opponents to an extensive development plan in Brooklyn are looking to block developer Bruce Ratner from using the law to buy up land for a multi-million dollar sports complex.


A must-read round-up of this week's eminent domain actions in the House of Representatives as well as the New York State Legislature is available from TimesRatnerReport.

Posted by amy at 9:55 AM

November 4, 2005

Eminent Domain Hearing: BLIGHT!

BLIGHT was a consistent topic of discussion at today's eminent domain hearing.

Notably, Roger Green who sat on the committee panel all day, responded to DDDb spokesperson Dan Goldstein arguments against the blight designation by saying:

"For the record, that neighborhood is not blighted. I repeat, for the record, that neighborhood is not blighted"

NoLandGrab: Nice of Roger Green to notice.

Posted by lumi at 11:53 PM

Footprint property owner calls a flagrant foul

By far, the most intriguing testimony of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) hearing was that of Henry Weinstein, a footprint property owner. Weinstein appeared before the ESDC, hoping to obtain an explanation of how the Draft Scope EIS states that Bruce Ratner controls the leases on three of his own properties.

From Weinstein's testimony:


Forest City Ratner Properties has maliciously claimed to have control of three properties which I have owned for over twenty-five years. FCRC claims on page nine of this statement, which is the subject of this evening's public hearings, that they absolutely control BLOCK 1129/ Lots #5, #6, #13, a parcel which measures approximately one-hundred-forty feet by three-hundred feet, almost one acre.

I have not made any agreement with FCRC regarding these three parcels. This very material misrepresentation is effectively pulling the wool over the eyes of this venue and others that would read this very formidable document and accept its lying content and statements as fact. I find it to be incredible that a major corporation such as FCRC would misrepresent such an important issue.

My attorneys and other experts are investigating this slander and encumbrance which FCRC has placed on my property.

Links: * Letter to ESDC
* Weinstein's testimony * Draft Scope Analysis EIS, Page 9, Affected Parcels

Note: Weinstein's claim and those of two other property owners have not been covered by any local media.

Posted by lumi at 6:24 PM

Fallen marketing genius turned spinmeister

Stupid us, just when NoLandGrab tried to give Ratner credit for something, it turns out that the public and press were being duped again.

The big story after the drubbing the Nets received in their home opener was that the game was sold out.

During Brett Yormark's interview on WFAN with Mike and the Mad Dog, at issue were the thousands of empty seats in plain sight, while the Nets laid claim to a sell-out crowd of 20,098.

Yormark: “There wasn’t seven-thousand no shows.”

Francesa: “Your announced crowd was 20,098, you said 17, which is a pipedream, I was trying to be charitable at 15. I’ve got other guys who have been in that building a million times who thought, 12 or 13,000 in the building that night — there were so many empty seats it was a joke.”

As the interview went on, Mike and Chris didn’t let up, both telling Yormark, “You totally misled everyone.”


NoLandGrab: Is it just us or does everyone who works for Ratner have trouble telling the truth?

Sorry, but we have to take back yesterday's compliment, when we called Yormark a "marketing genius." Turns out he's just another spinmeister, like the rest of Ratner’s henchmen.

Also, NLG mainly links to the news, so we have an excuse for being stupid, but aren't reporters supposed to check this stuff out first, maybe take a peek themselves?

Posted by lumi at 6:02 PM

TODAY: Eminent Domain Hearing, 10:30AM

edscale.gifFRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 10:30AM
250 Broadway, Room 1923

The New York State Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions will be holding a hearing on the use of Eminent Domain in New York State.

Check http://assembly.state.ny.us for information.

Posted by lumi at 11:24 AM

Brooklyn Faces Growing Pains

growingpains.jpgThe News Hour
by Ray Suarez

RAY SUAREZ: Forest City Ratner says it wants to break ground so that the Brooklyn Nets can tip off their 2008 season in the new arena. Critics say it will never happen, all they can agree on is this is one valuable piece of real estate; they just can't agree on what 21st century Brooklyn will look like.

transcript and video

Posted by lumi at 8:39 AM


NY Sun

The Downtown Education Consortium organization created out of a deal between Brooklyn community groups and the potential developer of a Brooklyn Nets basketball arena, Forest City Ratner Companies, received $87,000 for youth education programs from Forest City Ratner, the organization announced yesterday. The donation was roundly criticized by opponents of the plan, some of whom stand to lose their homes under eminent domain laws if the development goes forward, as payback for being part of a group that endorsed the development scheme by Forest City Ratner for the Atlantic Yards.


Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

TONIGHT: Screening, "Sketches of Frank Gehry"

Here's something for fans of Frank Gehry, or those of you who want to know more about the architect who is singlehandedly slated to design an unprecedented 18 large buildings in a single superblock mass in Brooklyn.

Sketches of Frank GehrySydney Pollack’s Sketches of Frank Gehry

Join Academy Award winning filmmaker, Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Out of Africa, The Firm, The Interpreter) for a screening of his new documentary, "Sketches of Frank Gehry." After the screening, Pollack will discuss the challenges of making a first documentary, including how to provoke and film the artistic process while it’s actually taking place and the mixing of formats (PAL DVCAM and Super 16mm film). A question and answer session will follow.

November 4, 8:00 p.m.
Apple Store SoHo
103 Prince Street

Posted by lumi at 7:46 AM

House Vote Counters Eminent Domain Measure

AP, via CNN
by Jim Abrams

Contending that the Supreme Court has undermined a pillar of American society, the sanctity of the home, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill Thursday to block the court-approved seizure of private property for use by developers.

The bill, passed 376-38, would withhold federal money from state and local governments that use powers of eminent domain to force businesses and homeowners to give up their property for commercial uses.


NoLandGrab: Let's be clear, this House bill imposes meaningful restrictions in the situations like New London's Ft. Trumbull neighborhood, not Ratnerville.

Ratner has been hedging his bet since he first announced the project, claiming both that the neighborhood is BLIGHTED and that the plan is necessary to increase the tax base of the City and State. The tide has turned on the argument that economic revitalization is a "public use" — Ratner and Marty have long since moved on to Plan B (blight).

The House's vote is only a half measure, as citizens in many states like NY will find that their State's definition of blight is big enough to drive a truck through.

Posted by lumi at 7:45 AM

Eminent Domain Limit

Reuters, via The NY Times

The Times carried the following two paragraphs from this Reuters newswire article.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (Reuters) — The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday to discourage the seizure of private property for private development by denying federal economic development money to local governments for two years if they take such a step.

The bill, similar to one being considered in the Senate, would bar the federal government, states and localities from using their power of eminent domain to seize property for projects like shopping centers or condominiums.

Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

Eminent domain looks less imminent

by Shaheen Pasha

Eminent domain, under the House bill, would only allow federal funds for economic development such as building roads and hospitals, acquiring abandoned property and revitalizing a blighted area.

The House bill would also allow private property owners the right to sue the appropriate government entity if they were stripped of their land through the use of eminent domain and later found that the land was given to a private developer.


NoLandGrab: The action mentioned in the second paragraph above still only applies in cases of property turned over to a private developer for "economic development."


David Snyder, an eminent domain attorney and partner at Fox Rothschild LLP said any legislation would have a profound effect on business.

"Private developers will have to be very focused on the way they deal with development in blighted areas," he said. "If they were planning on homes, that may not be problem but if you're looking to not only increase residential properties in a communities," but promote commerce by opening shopping malls and supermarkets, they may have a tough time meeting the new standards under the bill.

Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM

ULI Award-Winner Ratner Offers Four-Point Plan

Commercial Property News
by Russ Colchamiro

Uncle Al hits a grand slam with his acceptance speech at the Urban Land Institute's Fall Meeting.

The iconic Albert Ratner was awarded the 2005 J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development yesterday during the Urban Land Institute Fall Meeting. His acceptance speech brought a packed audience to its feet.

The co-chairman of Forest City Enterprises Inc. offered four opportunities he contends will help secure America's future. According to Ratner, population growth and its makeup, location of that population, new industry based on new energy sources and education are the keys to our national success.


Posted by lumi at 6:17 AM

November 3, 2005

Subject: As Promised

The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman

As promised, Forest City Ratner issed a press release about how they are spreading more dough around to new community organizations in Brooklyn (Downtown Brooklyn Educational Consortium, $87,000).


Posted by lumi at 11:17 PM

Today's Times correction: another correction needed regarding housing, scale, location

From TimesRatnerReport:

A correction, in the print but not online version of today's New York Times, 11/3/05: A front-page article on Monday about the first debate between Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his Democratic opponent, Fernando Ferrer, referred incompletely to a development project in Brooklyn that Mr. Ferrer said he would halt. The development, known as the Atlantic Yards project, calls for an arena for the Nets basketball team and office, residential and commercial building--not just residential.

Oder acknowledges the correction but indicates that the Times missed a few more mistakes in the same article.


Posted by lumi at 9:48 PM

Connecticut Lawmakers Back House Eminent Domain Bill

AP, via The Day
by Andrew Miga

The House bill that would slash federal funding for municipal projects that use eminent domain for economic development purposes, moved from committee and is slated for a vote on Tuesday.

The House appeared set to approve the plan, which has united many liberals and conservatives on Capitol Hill, by a sweeping margin.

The legislation, which passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday 27-3, arose from the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo vs. New London, Conn., last June. The ruling paved the way for municipalities to seize homes or businesses and turn them over to private developers if such projects would boost community economic development.


NoLandGrab: It looks like this bill won't apply to Ratner's Atlantic Yards, since Ratner is poised to make the claim that the neighborhood is "blighted."

If New Yorkers want meaningful protection from eminent domain abuse, the NY State Legislature must strengthen the definition of "blight." Under the current definition, any neighborhood in NYC could be deemed "blighted."

Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

In ballpark figures, every dollar counts

Philadelphia Inquirer, via San Louis Obispo Tribune
by Don Steinberg

Sports team owners are turning into real estate moguls, as the push for new venues now includes large-scale commercial and residential development. [Ratner is the exception of the group, being a real estate mogul first, he bought the Nets as "the centerpiece" (or red herring, whichever your POV) of the Atlantic Yards proposal.]

Ticket sales are important, but they're only part of the modern team owner's local revenue, as the game on the field is becoming a shrinking piece of the contemporary sports venue. [Oakland A's owner Lewis] Wolff's plan has luxury apartments built into the outfield wall, an attached outlet-store mall, restaurants, and maybe a hotel. Rental revenues for these would go toward his construction debts and maybe help the A's be able to afford their starting pitchers longer.

WARNING: The article uses the old $2.5 billion figure for the Ratner complex. The most recent figure puts the Ratner proposal that includes the most expensive arena EVER at $3.5 BILLION.


Posted by lumi at 7:45 AM

Brooklyn Children's Museum Celebrates Expansion

by Phillip Kidd


The "big bird"-yellow design of the expanded museum is the result of the vision of internationally acclaimed Architect Rafael Viñoly, who you may know from his work on Jazz at Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art. The new 102,000-square-foot building will house new and expanded galleries for science and cultural exhibitions, a new theater and gift shop, a permanent headquarters for the 600-member Museum Team afterschool program, new classrooms, and a Kids' Café which is to be named (conspicuously enough) for Forest City Ratner Companies, which contributed a leadership gift to the project.


Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

Nets sell out home opener

The big story about the NJ Nets home opener wasn't the 110-96 ass whuppin' they received from the Milwaukee Bucks, it was about how marketing genius Brett Yormark sold out the Nets home opener, by racheting up player appearances at ticket sales events during the off season.

The Newark Star-Ledger, Money talks... all around Continental Arena
Asbury Park Press, A case of falling flat

Posted by lumi at 7:27 AM

Park Slope neighbor presents fresh prospects

Prospect Heights becomes the latest gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood to get slate of new projects

The Real Deal
by Alison Gregor

The last we heard from Marty and Ratner, Prospect Heights was BLIGHTED. At least that's the reason they are using to justify taking people's homes and businesses.

But according to realtor Cynthia Acevedo:

"Prospect Heights is a really popular area. There has to be double or triple the number of real estate offices along Washington Avenue than when I started selling there five years ago."


Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

November 2, 2005

Eminent Domain being reviewed in New York State

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Many seeking state reins on land seizures. But some say cure for eminent domain excesses already exists.
Eminent domain reform is being discussed by both branches of the NY State legislature. Lawmakers are focusing on the problem of "just compensation" and the definition of "blight."

Unfair to blast Supreme Court for eminent domain ruling
President of the NY State Bar Association A. Vincent Buzard argues that, "The role of eminent domain in the redevelopment of communities is an appropriate issue for debate, but not an appropriate excuse for judge-bashing."

Posted by lumi at 8:22 AM

Elect Marty Mayor of Ratnerville...

MartyPuppet.jpg...and vote Mattera for Borough President.

Posted by lumi at 7:08 AM

Ratner May be Fudging Affordable Housing Already

StMarys.jpg The Brownstoner post, on the Brooklyn Papers article, about the possibility of moving the Atlantic Yards affordable housing to the site of the recently shuttered St. Mary's Hospital, has touched off a heated debate in the comments section.

David fired the first shot with the following:

Another ridiculous anti-Ratner article by BP - and some great NIMBY by Councilwomen James thrown in for good measure.

Other anti-anti-arena comments included:

If you place the affordable housing near Atlantic Avenue, they will say it's too large. If the affordable housing is moved off-site, they will cry racism, classism, etc.

NoLandGrab: ACORN head Bertha Lewis's stated argument for supporting Atlantic Yards is that the affordable housing component of the plan stems the tide of gentrification in the area.

City Councilmember Charles Barron warned that Atlantic Yards would bring instant gentrification.

The only thing they might agree upon is that the area is gentrifying. Moving the affordable housing that far away would mean that Barron was right and Lewis is focused on another corporate partnership for ACORN.

Any talk of naming a new housing project "St. Marty's?"

Posted by lumi at 6:25 AM

TimesRatnerReport report

Ferrer vs. Bloomberg on Atlantic Yards: the same unchallenged statements
Analysis of the second and last Mayoral debate.

An open letter to NY Times Public Editor Byron Calame: It's time to address Atlantic Yards
Times coverage is getting better, but what about all the stuff they missed? TimesRatnerReport calls on the public editor to come clean, while the Times is cleaning house.

The dark genius of Ratner flack Joe DePlasco--and how some resist
Ratner's "real man of genius" is PR crisis king Joe DePlasco, how does he do it? TimesRatnerReport tells you how.

Posted by lumi at 6:14 AM

November 1, 2005


Owens says Markowitz “has betrayed Brooklyn” in supporting Mayor Bloomberg’s re-election

BROOKLYN, NY – Chris Owens, Democratic candidate for membership in the U.S. House of Representatives from Brooklyn’s 11th Congressional District, today crossed party lines and endorsed Green Party candidate Gloria Mattera for Brooklyn Borough President over Democrat Marty Markowitz. Markowitz is seeking re-election to a second term of office.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s re-election bid should be opposed by all Democrats,” stated Owens. “As a Democratic County Committee member in one of America’s most Democratic counties, I am outraged that our Party’s nominee for Brooklyn Borough President would support Mayor Bloomberg who, in turn, supports a Republican Party that works against the interests of Brooklynites. Other Democrats may stay silent, but I will not.”

Borrowing a phrase from the Markowitz endorsement of Bloomberg, Owens expressed his support for Gloria Mattera. “Some people believe that transcending party politics is a wise and statesmanlike thing to do,” said Owens. “Gloria Mattera is a grass-roots community activist and an educator who is committed to helping all people in all communities and who is fighting for sensible economic development, a safe environment, and the safe return of our troops from abroad. Gloria Mattera has been fighting against the developers and the abuse of eminent domain, fighting to keep firehouses open, and fighting to stop military recruiters from deceiving our children. In these difficult times, electing Gloria Mattera to the Borough Presidency is a wise choice that Brooklyn’s Democratic voters can make on Tuesday, November 8th.”

“It is no secret that the Republican Party is waging war against poor people, people of African descent, organized labor, immigrants and civil rights. The evidence and the lies confront us every day. Across the nation there are Democrats, Greens, Working Families Party members, independents, civic organizations, non-profits, unions and others fighting against this onslaught. Yet, unlike the late, courageous John Lindsay, Bloomberg has not divorced himself from the Republican Party.”

“On the contrary, Mayor Bloomberg gave his wealth to these Republicans, brought the national nominating convention of that Party to our city, unjustly and unlawfully arrested and detained patriotic and peaceful dissenters who protested during the convention. Bloomberg then stood proudly with men who have lied to us, deported us, sent our children to die in an unjust, unnecessary and incompetently managed war, and who have decimated our education, housing and health care resources.”

“Yet Marty Markowitz ignores these realities because billionaire Bloomberg is supportive of Marty’s taxpayer drainin’, Ratner enrichin’, eminent domain abusin’, terrorist temptin’, traffic multiplyin’, air pollutin’, community bustin’, view destroyin’, and questionable job generatin’ Atlantic Yards project. Simply put, Markowitz has betrayed Brooklyn and the Democrats who re-nominated him; he should not be re-elected. Have your voice heard by electing Fernando Ferrer our next Mayor on the Democratic line, and by electing Gloria Mattera our next Borough President on the Green Party line. This is a truly democratic ticket.”


Posted by lumi at 11:55 AM

Nets on the Radio

NetsDaily Blog

NJ Nets logo

The Nets will send waves of players, their coach and executives to radio microphones on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to an email sent to season ticket holders.

Wednesday, Nov 2
Bruce Ratner@6:30PM on Mike and the Mad Dog WFAN Sports Radio, 660 AM

Look for tough questions on off-season trades.

Unlike Mike Lupica, Mike and the Dog are strictly sports guys who don't grasp big concepts like: * this project is not just over a railyard, * it's more than just the most expensive arena in history, * over a billion bucks of taxpayer money, and * it's not a done deal.

link to Nets "blog"

Posted by lumi at 6:03 AM