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December 31, 2005


bookworm.gifWhat ____________ movement is complete without A GROSS SORT of puzzle? (Hint: fill in the blank with an anagram of the bolded phrase.)

Want more ANAGRAM FUN? Surf on over to Dope on the Slope for some clever sidesplitting good times.

Note: If you get all the answers right, you have been paying attention in class this year.

Posted by lumi at 9:01 AM

The Curbed Awards 2005 (Part II)

And the winner of the Curbed.com "Fight the Man" award goes to [insert drumroll here]...

Dan Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Dan has been accused of being idealistic and tenacious and has weathered all sorts of personal attacks from the pro-Ratner group Buy Us In Large Denominations — all are traits that add to his sex appeal.

The Curbed Cup
Last year the Curbed Cup for Neighborhood of the Year was awarded to Ft. Greene. The voting is still open for this year's award, with Brooklyn's own embattled Prospect Heights in the lead.

Check out all the winners and don't forget to scroll down to the bottom to VOTE!

Posted by lumi at 9:00 AM

James and Ratner: 2 heads ’a’ buttin’

The Brooklyn Papers
by Gersh Kuntzman

An update of the fight over the demolition of Ratner-owned buildings in the footprint contains this incredible claim from Ratner PR star Joe DePlasco:

James and other lawmakers “were invited to tour the structures with the licensed engineer who wrote the reports, but they said no.”


NoLandGrab Note: Nice try by the Ratner PR camp to make it look like the pols who wanted to tour the buildings walked away from the offer.

The press and politicians know that it was Ratner who freaked out and rescinded the offer when he found out that the pols were coming armed with their own third-party engineer.

Posted by lumi at 8:15 AM

Demolition II

More from Brooklyn Views on the announcement by Forest City Ratner that the company plans to start the demolition process by razing "hazardous" buildings.

Severe structural damage is said to have been caused by recent water infiltration. This is relatively unusual in New York; there are several well-known buildings in all neighborhoods that have stood empty for decades, and have managed to maintain their structural integrity. Property owners know that severe structural damage caused by water infiltration is an indication of willful neglect. The fact that these buildings have been allowed to deteriorate to the point of requiring demolition is a matter of expediency for the developer.

openwindow.jpgBV calls for the developer to wait until the public review process is complete, otherwise, "What’s the point of public input?"

Also, there's a snapshot of a Ratner-owned building in the proposed footprint with the windows wide open — "another building on the site in the process of becoming a threat to public safety."


Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

A five-week wait, a Times exclusive, and an unwelcome engineer: the strategy behind Forest City Ratner's demolition plans

TimesRatnerReport looks into the timing of the release of the Ratner engineering report and the NY Times exclusive covering the buildings that Ratner is planning to raze.

The main question TimesRatnerReport raises is, if the buildings are in danger of collapsing, then why did Ratner wait five weeks to announce demolition plans?

An analysis of the timeline reveals that not only are Ratner's actions suspicious, but statements by his main PR henchman Joe DePlasco contain blatant half-truths.


NoLandGrab: If this project is so great for Brooklyn, then why is Ratner going about it by any means necessary?

Posted by lumi at 7:46 AM

Calling the Question of ACORN

Mark Winston Griffith brings up interesting points on the DMI Blog about the role of ACORN in big-city politics:

An issue that also deserves public debate is the role that ACORN continues to play in New York City politics and community development. From Bertha's famed spit swapping with Mike Bloomberg, to ACORN's penchant for striking shady, self-profiting, deals with huge corporate interests, ACORN has muddied the idea of community organizing as a process of developing grassroots leadership and building community power.


Giffith's comments have spurred additional commentary worth considering and debating:

"When community organizations play the real estate development game, the people who made up the game- real estate developers- will always win." — thfs

"Kudos to you Mark for daring to say what so many of us have only considered in hushed tones in fear of making the wrong people angry." — hushed

"What's the point of 50% "affordable" housing when a) they're evicting people who own homes already and b) no one will want to live in a congested nightmare that is going to become, as if it were even imaginable before, an even more congested nightmare?" — Brian F

Also included in the commentary is a comparison between ACORN and Sharpton's protests against Ratner in 2000 and their partnership in 2005 and political analysis by US Congressional Candidate Chris Owens.

Posted by lumi at 6:22 AM

The year of living Ratnerly

thekiss02.jpgBy Gersh Kuntzman

The Brooklyn Papers has published its year-end review of the Ratner land grab.

Full of high-octane hyperbole between the snark and sarcasm, the list chronicles Ratner's missteps and the City and State's attempts to close the deal, while appearing to act in the public interest.


Posted by lumi at 6:03 AM

December 30, 2005

The Book of Jay

Hip-hop's MVP wants to become the game's greatest record exec

rollingstone.jpgHip-hop mogul Jay-Z is also a minority owner (less than 2%) in the NJ Nets and frontman for the ownership group.

This meeting of the minds, excerpted below, is from this month's Rolling Stone cover story:

On the table sits a two-foot-tall scale model of architect Frank Gehry's plan for the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, where the Nets will move from New Jersey in 2008, with little trees and shrubs planted around the wooden buildings and acrylic skyscrapers shaped in the forms that Gehry will create. Not long after they first met, Gehry sent Jay a stack of James Joyce novels, because listening to tapes of Joyce reading Finnegans Wake reminded Gehry of hip-hop. Jay says he reads only nonfiction.


NoLandGrab: It's a beautiful thing when two geniuses can bridge the cultural divide over something as trivial as the most expensive arena in history ($555.3 million at last count).

Posted by lumi at 6:49 AM

DDDb Achievements

Though DDDb is busy raising money for the future fight against Ratner's taxpayer-subsidized supersized sixties-style megablock arena complex, the group has taken a moment to list their achievements during the past year.

Highlights include: * Community outreach and formation of a volunteer corps, * Release of FIVE reports/white papers, * Promotion of the MTA RFP, resulting in a competing bid for the railyards, * Filing a friend of the court brief in the case of Kelo v. New London, and * Testifying at several public hearings on the project and eminent domain,

Take a moment to check out the entire list. It's hard to believe how much a rag-tag band of unwitting neophytes and seasoned activists have accomplished.

The list not only gives Brooklynites a sense of what can be achieved in a year, but also makes us realize that there still much to do to preserve and promote our quality of life, government fiscal responsibility, and democracy.

Posted by lumi at 6:18 AM

December 29, 2005

Acclaimed Architect Frank Gehry Discusses Current Project in Brooklyn

Columbia News

GehryAtColumbia.jpgFrank Gehry, perhaps the world's most acclaimed architect, discusses some of his current projects, including a planned residential community in Brooklyn adjoining a new arena for the Nets basketball team, as well as the effects Hurricane Katrina had on an unfinished museum he was designing in Biloxi, Miss. Gehry was a guest on Kelvin Sealey's "Citizen: The Campus Talk Show" on Oct. 31.

link (interview length: 59:59)

Posted by lumi at 8:16 AM

"Unfamiliar territory": Times critic Ouroussoff on Gehry, Ratner, and the challenge in Brooklyn

TimesRatnerReport tuned in last night for The NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ourousoff's appearance on The Charlie Rose Show.

Talk turned to Frank Gehry and the fourth-largest city in the US, Brooklyn, to reveal the question that seems to be on everyone's mind:

ourousoff.jpgOUROUSOFF: The question is, for me, is he going to be able to deal with the things that traditionally developers might not let him play with. For example, the social organizations of the apartments inside. The relationship of the project to the context around it, in terms of the ground plan. I think Frank comes out of a tradition, in terms of urban planning, that in a lot of ways is very conservative. He's never built on this scale before. And I think he's now getting into a kind of unfamiliar territory, in terms of the scale he's working with.

TimesRatnerReporter ponders the question by examining other sources, including a Gehry interview at Columbia University.


Posted by lumi at 7:57 AM

Property grabs and the Gulf

Local governments will likely use eminent domain to rebuild; who will that help?

Yesterday, when we posted an item about rebuilding homes and goverment seizure of property in the tsunami-ravaged coast of Thailand, we speculated that similar moves to take land from homeowners for interested developers might occur during the rebuilding efforts on the USA's Gulf Coast.

An alert reader sent in this article from CNN:

As Hurricane Katrina-ravaged cities begin the laborious process of rebuilding, there is increasing speculation that government officials may turn to the controversial – and often disparaged – use of eminent domain to revitalize the destroyed region.

It's a prospect that's raising eyebrows among critics who fear that land developers will take advantage of the desperation in the region and push devastated homeowners out of their homes in the name of redevelopment.


Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

News Hour, Encore

Growing Pains

On the News Hour this evening (Thursday):

In an encore report, Ray Suarez looks at the controversy in Brooklyn over a proposed billion-dollar residential and commercial center that would tear down a mix of derelict storefronts and empty lots.

Rumor has it that there will be a brief update about the "demolitions."

The original report can be read and viewed online.

Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

With slots plans in, review begins

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
By Andrew Conte

JohnRoss.jpgHere's an interesting story about John Ross, an artist who lost his Brooklyn work space to condo conversions, and now faces the loss of his current loft in Pittsburgh to a new arena, if a casino license is awarded to a group headed by the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.


NoLandGrab: It reminds us of something said at a recent eminent domain forum, "Where ever you go, there you are." Artists may feel particularly victimized by eminent domain seizures, since developers frequently get interested in neighborhoods made cool (read: ripe for condo conversions) through the artists' pioneering.

Posted by lumi at 6:31 AM

Forest City Enterprises & Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. File Application to Create Gaming Facility in Pittsburgh

PR Newswire

Forest City Enterprises (NYSE: FCEA; FCEB) and Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: HET) have united in a team approach to securing a license to create a gaming facility in Pittsburgh and formally filed their application with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today. The application provides that Forest City Enterprises, together with a group of prominent local business people, will own the gaming facility, while Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. will develop and manage the casino.

"Forest City Enterprises is a $7.4 billion real estate company with a proven commitment to Pittsburgh and has a solid history of results for Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. Harrah's Entertainment is the biggest name in gaming in the world, with 40 premier casinos," said Albert Ratner, Co-chairman of the Board, Forest City Enterprises, Inc. "Together, we are proud to combine our expertise and put forth a formal application to create a casino in Pittsburgh."

press release

Posted by lumi at 6:29 AM

December 28, 2005

Atlantic Center mall vs. Atlantic Terminal mall

The Times can't tell (and why it matters)


Yesterday's NY Times published a photo in the Business section, misindentifying the Atlantic Terminal Mall as the Atlantic Center Mall.

This got TimesRatnerReporter Norman Oder thinking about the difference between the two (hint: the serious eyesore is the Center Mall and the "Toaster" is the Terminal Mall).

Who cares? Well, it matters to Bruce Ratner, and consequently, Brooklyn.

Oder isn't just commenting about the difference between bad and really bad architecture here — the distinction means another million-plus square feet of development in addition to the Atlantic Yards project, as described in the "undisclosed" MOU. Which leaves Brooklynites to wonder, will the Empire State Development Corporation even consider the impact of the additional development in its Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Yards proposal?


Posted by lumi at 8:27 AM

X Marks the Spot?

xmark.jpg Callalillie

Last week, on the first day of the transit strike, blogger Callalillie took a stroll over to Prospect Heights to check out the "demolition" of Ratner-owned buildings.

Instead, she found "cranky looking construction workers" and workers on Dean Street painting mysterious signs (see photo) on the sidewalk in front of the buildings slated to be demolished.


Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

Read your own clip file: the Courier-Life chain lets Roger Green explain it away


In an article published in several editions of Brooklyn's Courier-Life chain this week, state Assembly Member Roger Green discusses his potential run for Congress against Rep. Edolphus Towns.

TimesRatnerReporter, a veritable research machine, revved up his engines as he dug up details on the redemption of Roger Green, one of Bruce Ratner's key political supporters on the Atlantic Yards project.

While Green is busy polishing his image in the local Brooklyn press, the Albany press hasn't held back the criticism.

In a 12/22/05 editorial headlined "Enough, Mr. Green," the Times-Union decried Green's potential run for Congress: "So much for any sense of remorse... Next year, depending on what he runs for, [the people of Brooklyn] should vote against him for Congress or vote him out of the Assembly - anything to deny him of his shameless aspirations."


Posted by lumi at 8:20 AM


The News Hour

Ever wonder why advocates claim that property rights are civil rights? Consider what is happenning to tsunami survivors in Thailand.

Private developers, supported by the government of Thailand, are eager to develop tourist resorts along the Andaman coast. This "higher use" of the coastal land stands in the way of residents who are trying to rebuild their homes.

When those who did survive returned to this village, they soon found that everything was gone: their homes, their livelihoods, their families. The only thing they still possessed was their land. They soon found out that that was to be taken away too.


NoLandGrab: Could land-grabbing in the interest of politically connected developers happen in the US during the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina?

Posted by lumi at 7:29 AM

December 27, 2005

Forgotten NY, Street Scenes: What We're Losing

by Kevin Walsh


Check out this excellent photo walking tour of "the buildings that either will be coming down or will be severely overshadowed by the monster development." The neighborhood tour is rich with architectural detail, cultural references and reminiscences.


Posted by lumi at 7:08 AM

December 26, 2005

Brooklyn's Railyards: The Fight Continues

The NY Times published four letters (click link and scroll down) in response to the November 27 article, "A Matter of Scale in Brooklyn."

Topics covered are: * bypass of any local or legislative approval processes, * importance of city planning debate (as opposed to "scale"), * housing and * concerns over a Brooklyn luxury housing glut.

No action by The NY Times goes unanswered by TimesRatnerReporter Norman Oder, who points out (again!) that the project isn't just over the railyards (see headline and Jay Weiser's letter) and that there was no mention of the costs of the project (the arena would be the most expensive, ever).

Posted by lumi at 9:24 AM

The NY Times, Corrections

December 25, 2005

The NY Times published this correction to last week's article in the Real Estate section.

The "Living In ..." article last Sunday, about Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, referred imprecisely to a proposal by Bruce C. Ratner to build a nearby complex of shops, offices, housing and a basketball arena. It would indeed be built over the Atlantic Avenue railyards, but also on adjacent land now occupied by residences and businesses.

The article also misstated the name of the team Mr. Ratner hopes to install in the arena. It is the New Jersey Nets, not the New York Nets.

The Times corrects the "over the railyards" error--in the Real Estate section, at least

TimesRatnerReport gives props to the Real Estate desk for the correction, but points out that the same mistake has stood uncorrected in two prominent articles by historian John Manbeck (11/13/05) and the previous Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp (12/11/03).

This leaves TimesRatnerReport wondering if the correction signals a change in policy or just increased scrupulousness on the part of the Real Estate desk.

Posted by lumi at 8:57 AM

Will ESDC consider terrorism/security issues--and would Ratner build an under-arena garage?

TimesRatnerReport takes a detailed look at security and terrorism concerns about Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal. At issue is venue parking and whether or not the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) will study the impacts of on-site parking, the arena and construction on terrorism security and emergency services.


NoLandGrab: This article is a must read for those who are interested in Urban Planning in the post-9/11 world.

Posted by lumi at 8:49 AM

There's more to rail about

Mike Lupica: Shooting from the Lip

Lupica reminds New Yorkers that the MTA trying to squeeze a deal out of transit workers is the same MTA that spent this past year trying to sell land for a song to politicially connected team owners:

At a time when the three of them, the governor, the mayor and Kalikow of the MTA, wring their hands about the future of New York City, when they make it seem as if that future somehow is tied to the pension fund of the transit workers, please remember that they are the same people who wanted to give away the Hudson Railyards to the New York Jets football team so that the Jets could build a football stadium on the West Side of Manhattan.

When Bruce Ratner, the most caring owner in all of sports, saw an opening to build 17 high-rise buildings around Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson in Brooklyn, all these high-minded politicians who squeezed transit workers this week immediately rolled over for Ratner, too. Another land grab by a rich owner, another time when the biggest politicians in the city and state did everything except put a bow around the property.


NoLandGrab: Lupica missed one previous MTA land giveaway to Ratner. The Toaster (a.k.a. Atlantic Terminal Mall) was built on land given to Ratner by the MTA. The MTA was set to do the same thing with the Vanderbilt Railyards until everyone got real mad about the Jets-Hudson Railyards deal, which forced the MTA to hold two just-for-show bidding processes in one year.

In other words, the same MTA board and political supporters who are squeezing the transit workers over pension plan givebacks have already negotiated real estate giveaways to Ratner.

Posted by lumi at 8:16 AM

Slots licenses battle starts Wednesday`

Battle for Pennsylvania's 14 slot machine casino licenses to begin in earnest on Wednesday

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Forest City Enterprises has partnered with Harrah's to apply for highly coveted Pennsylvania casino gambling licenses to be issued according to a 2004 law, legalizing up to 61,000 slot machines and 14 casinos in the state. Wednesday is the deadline for applications.


Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

December 23, 2005

Transit Strike Traffic, Bad Omen

traffic at atlantic and flatbush

Note: The image is not to scale, the arena would actually be MUCH BIGGER.

Posted by lumi at 8:37 AM

Bertha Lewis criticizes Mayor Bloomberg over racist rhetoric

Though Bertha Lewis may have a point about the racial rhetoric in the transit strike debate, activists in Brooklyn have noticed that she isn't shy about dishing it out.

thekiss.jpg Bertha Lewis on race in "Strike Grips NY," Amsterdam News, 12/22/05:

Several point to what ACORN’s Bertha Lewis calls the “despicable racialized language” used by Mayor Bloomberg calling union leaders “thugs,” childish and irresponsible.

Bertha Lewis in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 06/09/05:

"It is because of race and class that whenever you have a small group of white liberals running and screaming about something, people think its important. They don't have to worry about affordable housing. They don't give a damn about people of color. All they care about is preserving their little Prospect Heights community."

Posted by lumi at 7:53 AM

Ratner nixes checks of Yards site bldgs.

NY Daily News
by Johnathan Sederstrom

A bid to allow an independent inspection of six buildings slated for demolition to make way for the Atlantic Yards development has been turned down by developer Bruce Ratner.

Originally, a Ratner executive approved a request from City Councilwoman Letitia James (WFP-Prospect Heights) to let her bring an independent engineer into the buildings on Dean St. and Atlantic Ave.


But in a reversal yesterday, another Ratner official barred the engineer - who had agreed to do the inspection for free - and said only elected officials could take the tour.

"It looks like they're trying to hide something," said James. "It looks like they're going forward with creating blight in the community."

When asked for comment, Ratner spokesperson Lupe Todd, accused the Councilwoman of grandstanding, but "declined to go into detail about the reversal."


Posted by lumi at 7:05 AM

Forest City Ratner Denies Independent Analysis of Buildings It Wants to Demolish

Developer Goes Back on His Word to Allow Impartial Review

Press Release: Office of Councilmember Letitia James
For Immediate Release, Thursday, December 22, 2005

(Brooklyn, NY)- It appears that Forest City Ratner may be attempting to bypass the Empire State Development Corporation’s project approval process.

In an article in the New York Times on December 16th, Forest City Ratner Companies stated their intent to demolish six buildings in the “footprint” of the proposed arena/skyscraper Atlantic Yards development. In response, Council Member Letitia James, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Congressman Major Owens wrote a letter requesting to tour the six buildings with an engineer to verify the need for demolition.

After receiving the written request, Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) informed the elected officials that they would be able to tour the buildings with an independent structural engineer. But late yesterday, a Ratner spokesperson called Council Member James and stated that only the elected officials could tour the buildings, and that their certified engineer would not be allowed access.

“They told me that an independent review might “slow down the process,” said Council Member James. “I find this irresponsible, and overtly in contempt of the state environmental review process. We want to know what they are trying to hide by not letting us in. I have requested the Department of Buildings issue no permits until an analysis is done by someone not paid by Ratner.”

The $3.5 billion dollar plan is currently expected to receive over $1 billion in taxpayer money. The plan calls for 17 skyscrapers and an 18,000-seat arena. Some of the towers would rise over 60 stories, dwarfing even the Williamsburg Savings Bank clock tower and casting constant shadows on the low-rise brownstone community.

“Ratner has owned many of these properties for over one year. Some of the damage sustained by these buildings took place after Ratner bought them. And we all know Ratner is trying to say this is a ‘blighted’ area so he can have the state seize properties for him using eminent domain. Simply put, the area is not “blighted”. Real estate values in the footprint have risen at the same rate or faster than the rest of Brooklyn,” said Congressman Owens.

Two of the buildings (on Dean Street) were fully occupied prior to being purchased by FCRC. There are currently no permits from the Department of Building for demolition.

“The only ‘blight’ in the footprint is that which Ratner is trying to create. And where are those people who used to live in these buildings? They’re not being offered apartments in the new development, are they?” asked Senator Montgomery.

Jeff Baker, lawyer for community residents in and around the proposed footprint, said, "The law is clear. State regulations say you cannot commence physical alteration in the study are until the SEQRA (state environmental review) process is completed. If there is a legitimate public safety threat, we understand demolition may be necessary but we're skeptical that all these buildings reach that level or did so without purposeful neglect by Ratner."

“This is clearly an attempt by the developer to give the illusion of progress towards his goal of leveling a good part of Prospect Heights and replacing it with a hugely-subsidized mega-development. We live in Brooklyn because we love its character, its neighborhoods, and its street life. We say no to Ratnerville and yes to community-based development,” said Council Member James.


Posted by lumi at 6:58 AM

The arena (and Atlantic Yards project) would NOT be built "over the railyard"


Everyone says it, but TimesRatnerReport explains why it is "imprecise" (a nice way of saying "wrong") for journalists to say that the Atlantic Yards project would be "built over the railyards."

Norman Oder suggests using, "on and around the railyard" or "over and around the railyard."


NoLandGrab: Since Ratner employees and PR batallion use the same terminology, can you blame journalists? Also, the press corps is the same group that still frequently refers to the location of the project as "Downtown Brooklyn" instead of "Prospect Heights."

Posted by lumi at 6:40 AM

Commentary - And a stadium in the stocking - Harry Jaffe

D.C. is having trouble getting the deal done to build a new ballpark for the Washington Nationals. Though eminent domain is on the table, the current controversy is approval of the deal by the City Council.

Washington Examiner commentator, Harry Jaffe, predicts the deal will get done early next year, and reports that Forest City Enterprises, "a $7.8 billion development company that has been building small towns inside and near cities since 1927," wants in on the action.


Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM

December 22, 2005


NY Post
by Patrick Gallahue

Developer Bruce Ratner has taken the first step toward demolishing six "hazardous" buildings in Brooklyn that stand in the way of his basketball arena — but he's refusing to let local lawmakers have an engineer analyze the structures.

"They're only allowing elected officials with no engineering experience to access the buildings, which defeats the purpose," argued Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn).

James — along with fellow anti-arena politicians Rep. Major Owens and state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery — planned to tour the former parking garages and tenant-evicted apartment buildings today with an engineer who volunteered his services to them.

But they opted out after being told the engineer was persona non grata.


Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

Atlantic Yards and the Obligations of Leadership

Our Time Press
by Errol Louis

Commentator and local activist Errol Louis outlines his case for supporting Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal and criticizes local African-American politicians for not standing with Assemblymember Roger Green to negotiate the Community Benefits Agreement.

Atlantic Yards, unlike any of the other listed development projects, already has a publicly stated, legally binding community benefits agreement that promises hefty percentages of the project’s dollars and jobs will go to minority- and women-owned businesses and local residents. At this stage of the game the question should be how and when the dollars will begin flowing into central Brooklyn.

Politicians will continue allowing such once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to pass by until and unless the public begins demanding action, answers and accountability from leaders who need a reminder about keeping their eyes on the main prize – prosperity.


TimesRatnerReport analyzes Errol Louis's commentary and concludes that Louis fudges the issue since many of the contracts slated to go to minority-owned firms that are not locally owned or operated and therefore would not be the catalyst for growing the African-American middle class in Brooklyn.

NoLandGrab: Ratner has already established a pretty fair track record for contracting with women- and minority-owned firms. However, despite that record, criticism remains that Forest City Ratner projects have NEVER delivered on promises of local economic prosperity. Many Brooklynites "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain," but wonder why Errol Louis does.

Posted by lumi at 7:12 AM

Carolers to Bruce: You're a Scrooge!

Brooklyn Papers
by Emily Keller

At first glance, the carolers — with their red-and-green felt hats, their sheet music and their accordion accompaniment — appeared to be just another group of holiday mirth-makers on Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue this week.

And then they broke into song.

“On the 12th day of Christmas, Bruce Ratner took from me/12 months of taxes/11 blocks of sidewalks/10 acres peopled/nine cultures mixing/eight unclogged subways/seven days a-strolling/six sportless months/DE-MO-CRA-CY!/four years in building/three neighborhoods/two thoroughfares/and an apartment for my family!”

There was a brouhaha when carolers were welcomed to sing in the lobby during the grand opening of the Commerce Bank on Fifth Ave. When the bank manager caught on to the editorial content of the lyrics the carolers were asked to leave. Park Slope resident and local activist Jon Crow threatened to close his newly opened account if the carolers were forced out. The carolers finished and went on their merry way.

Ratner PR flack Joe DePlasco reminded Brooklynites 'tis the season to be snarky:

“For what it’s worth, we hope that they — and the handful of people they speak to — have a wonderful holiday season.”


Posted by lumi at 7:02 AM


Ratner preps Atlantic Yards site

The Brooklyn Papers
by Ariela Cohen

Workers wearing gardening gloves and knit caps arrived at the moody Samuel Underberg Building at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues around 11:30 on Tuesday morning to begin what will be a months-long process of removing toxic asbestos and then demolishing the 19th-century structure.
The buildings — all owned by Ratner or in contract to be sold to him — will be demolished before the mega-project is even approved.

The article makes this specious claim without divulging any sources:

Ratner owns 92 percent of the residential properties within the footprint of his project. Remaining building owners are quickly selling out.

DDDb's Dan Goldstein is quoted that, "the condemnations could start as early as May or June." The condemnations are for properties where owners aren't "quickly selling out" to Ratner.


Posted by lumi at 6:49 AM

December 21, 2005

BUILD's funding revealed in member poll

Source: BUILD Message Board

Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) is posting real-time membership polling results on the topic that has been on everyone's mind during the past year, "Where Does Build Get It's Funding?"


Currently it's a dead heat between the Father of Coney Island and the Easter Bunny, both of whom probably have higher approval ratings than Bruce Ratner.

Posted by lumi at 8:28 AM

Private Public Space

wycoffgardens.jpgBrooklyn Views discusses the trouble with interior public space and deems the Ratner/Laurie Olin plan for Atlantic Yards "anti-urban."

If the interior of the block is not well used for circulation, these walkways become empty and dangerous places.

On the other hand, if the project is “successful”, and the interior of the block is well used for circulation, these areas actively draw people off the surrounding streets, weakening the activity on them.


Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

Support the TWU

Fans For Fair Play explains why those who have kept up on their Ratner reading are more pissed at the MTA than the transit workers union.

The MTA is nickel-and-diming the transit workers while they've spent the last two years:

  • wasting millions on their new corporate headquarters;
  • ripping off taxpayers by offering the Hudson rail yards to the lowest bidder, the New York Jets;
  • ripping off taxpayers to the tune of another $150 million (at least) by accepting another lowest-bid, Bruce Ratner's, at the Vanderbilt Yards here in Brooklyn;
  • drooling over the prospects of wasting $400 million dollars to build a concrete platform over the Hudson yards in a dicey and dubious "let's play real-estate developer" bid;
  • maintaining separate books for pubic and private dissemination;
  • issuing roller-coaster "we're going broke!" or "we're swimmin' in cash!" declarations, particularly galling with the strike, because just a month ago the MTA was bragging about their billion-dollar surplus, offering minimal holiday discounts to straphangers.


Posted by lumi at 6:58 AM

December 20, 2005

Times/Ratner disclosure absent from Real Estate article on Prospect Heights

TimesRatnerReport makes a case that The NY Times should have disclosed their business relationship with Bruce Ratner, in this weekend's article on Prospect Heights, in the Real Estate section.


Posted by lumi at 9:05 AM

Transit Strike Reminiscence

Today, as you are walking, biking or even telecommuting, take a moment to ponder what a long strange trip it's been.

At this time last year (before the MTA declared its fiscal crisis over when it miraculously discovered that it was actually running a budget surplus), groups were calling for the MTA to get full market value for the Vanderbilt Railyards and the question of opening up the sale of MTA land to a bidding process was being discussed during hearings on fare hikes.

Posted by lumi at 8:31 AM

December 19, 2005

Crain's, Letters to the Editor

Re: Eminent domain revisited up close and personal

Crain's NY Business published several letters to the editor after Editor Greg David ruffled some feathers with the following statement:

On the other [side] is my daughter, who has taken up the issue as part of her American government class and is sure eminent domain needs to be outlawed. More and more, I think my daughter is right.

Kathryn S. Wylde, President and Chief Executive, Partnership for New York City
"Eminent domain an important tool. Voice of youth off the mark."

Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel
"Use should be limited to public projects"

L. Dixon,
"Economic benefit hard to define"

Klea Theoharis
"Getting back to original idea"

Posted by lumi at 10:00 AM

Site Selection

cars.jpgBrooklyn Views analyzes the project site for parking, taking into consideration modern-day security concerns, and concludes:

There really are only two options: either move the arena to a different site, or invest in rapid transit and don’t provide associated venue parking.


Posted by lumi at 9:32 AM

Plan to flatten 6 bldgs. ripped

NY Daily News

Three Brooklyn elected officials are demanding an independent evaluation before Bruce Ratner tears down six buildings to make way for his Atlantic Yards development.

"Where is this notion coming from that they are structurally unsound?" [City Councilmember Letitia] James asked. "It is nothing more than an attempt and a ruse to create blight in the neighborhood and to scare people.

"If we are denied access there will be litigation," she added.

Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco disputed the allegation and said the developer would provide tours of the buildings.

Local residents understand that the Underberg Building is dilapidated, but wonder if Ratner has let other buildings recently fall into disrepair to bolster his claim that the neighborhood is blighted.


Posted by lumi at 7:41 AM


demo.jpgBrooklyn Views ponders Ratner's move to demolish buildings in the footprint:

But from all appearances on the exterior many of these buildings are not in bad shape. 461 and 463 Dean Street, for example (above), are fine examples of period housing and contribute to the urban fabric. Is FCR grouping solid buildings with some damaged ones in order to expedite the clearing of the site and circumvent due process? They should be maintained in place while the Environmental Impact Statement process is underway


Posted by lumi at 7:35 AM

Predicting the Big Stories of 2006

The Gotham Gazette

Bruce Ratner offers his lukewarm prediction of "nothing dramatic" for the year to come, feigning lack of concern over the myriad of controversies that fill the pages of NoLandGrab.

It will be a calm year in the sense that the same economic growth, focus on improving education, housing development, and improved safety that we have enjoyed for the last three years will continue. It will be steady, positive growth -- nothing dramatic.

City Councilmember Letitia James, on the other hand, has turned her predictions into a wish list, in which Bruce Ratner and his political supporters might put themselves in the shoes of us regular folk.

My New Years wish would be that Bruce Ratner finds religion. That he wakes up on January 1, realizes he has done the wrong thing in proposing the Atlantic Yards project, and stands on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues waving a white flag.

I pray that Marty Markowitz will realize that there are poor people in Brooklyn, and instead of diverting public revenues to build a basketball arena, he decides to build a hospital instead.

I hope that Senator Charles Schumer will recognize that his home could be taken by eminent domain if a developer wanted it.

And I would like the mayor to spend a night in a homeless shelter.

Click here for the list and scroll down for the Ratner-related items.

Looking back at last year's predictions, WNYC host Brian Lehrer was slightly off the mark when he predicted that Ratner would win final approval for the Nets arena. Lehrer gets half credit for the MTA approval of Ratner's lowball bid for the railyards, since no one predicted that the MTA and Public Authorities Control Board would be tied up exclusively with the failed West Side Stadium for the first half of the year, leaving the Ratner approval process to drag into 2006.

Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

Nets Notebook: Spreading holiday cheer

This item appeared at the end of Nets Notebook in The Bergen Record:

The Nets are hosting a party today for 600 Newark Boys & Girls Club children. On Monday, players will deliver $15,000 worth of toys - donated by owner Bruce Ratner - to the Brooklyn Salvation Army Community Center.


Posted by lumi at 6:31 AM

December 18, 2005

Caroling Photos!


The Prospect Heights Action Carolers sang loudly and joyously throughout Park Slope and Prospect Heights. They were even invited to sing inside the new Commerce Bank on 5th Avenue! Stay tuned to NoLandGrab for lyrics so you can sing along at home!



Posted by amy at 9:04 PM

Sunday Comics Part Deux


From the Brooklyn Papers

Click here to enlarge image.

Posted by amy at 7:49 PM



Brooklyn's most anticipated seasonal celebration is here: the Third Annual Save Brooklyn Holiday Caroling Extravaganza! TODAY! Sunday, December 18th, join Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn for a Save Brooklyn Holiday Party at SODA (629 Vanderbilt Avenue, between Prospect Place and St. Mark's Ave.) - an invitation to our community friends and family to join for some holiday sweets, beers and Ratner jeers. Bring along a holiday treat for all to share.

We'll screen "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for kids of all ages around 2:30 p.m., and await the arrival of the Save Brooklyn Sym-Phony for caroling at 4:00 p.m.

Before arriving at SODA the Sym-phony will begin caroling at the Gate (fifth ave. and third st.) at 2 p.m. sharp and spread enlightening glee to the shopping community across Seventh Avenue about the Bruce that’s trying to steal Brooklyn!


Come on out - it's Brooklyn's favorite not-so-silent night!

Posted by amy at 12:43 PM

A Neighborhood Comes Into Its Own


The Times reports on the current booming popularity of Prospect Heights:

"There's a great cultural corridor here," said Jon Keegan, an illustrator who moved in 2002 from Park Slope into Newswalk, a Dean Street loft building formerly home to a Daily News printing plant, with his wife, Julie, a painter. "There's this sweet spot of being between BAM and the Brooklyn Museum - Prospect Heights is so perfect for that," he said, referring to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Yet as Mr. Keegan and his fellow users of dailyheights.com are well aware, there is an undercurrent to all of the recent success of Prospect Heights: the plans of the developer Bruce Ratner to build a sizable complex of shopping, offices, housing and a Frank Gehry-designed arena for his New York Nets over the railyards on Atlantic Avenue. Concerns about eminent domain issues and the project's potential impact on the area's density are widespread, as is uncertainty over what form it will finally take.

Still, not everyone is up in arms. Mark McCartney, a computer programmer who rents a one-bedroom apartment on Washington Avenue with his fiancée, Beth Elliott, lives south of the proposed project's area. "We're so far away it wouldn't affect us," he said. "And I don't like basketball."


TimesRatnerReport dices and slices it here...

Posted by amy at 11:00 AM

Sunday Comics


Posted by amy at 10:36 AM

Consumer Culture: Dollar Voting


The holiday season is upon us, and local businesses are up against Ratner's Wrath...Dollar Voting is a great idea to keep in mind:

The dollar vote is a concept economists use to describe how, in a market economy, consumers effectively vote for products—as well as how those products are produced, transported, marketed and sold—by spending their dollars. Through our “consumer sovereignty” we have the power to make our preferences known, one dollar vote at a time.

Dollar Vote for your favorite non-Ratner shops and retaurants - hint: they are NOT located above the Atlantic Terminal. These are the businesses that should be "developed" not "destroyed."


Posted by amy at 10:05 AM

December 17, 2005

Profits down for Ratner

From the Brooklyn Papers:

The company that wants to build an arena for the struggling New Jersey Nets had a bad third quarter of its own.

In an earning statement released last week, Forest City Enterprises, the parent company of Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner, reported a 30-percent fall in profits.

Profits were $55 million, or 54 cents per share, down from $79 million, or 78 cents per share, over the first nine months of 2004.

This article also tells how FCR is the company of choice for distasteful projects using eminent domain:

Last week, Washington, DC selected Forest City Enterprises to partner with a local development corporation on a five-acre parcel near the city’s new baseball stadium, a project that, like the Nets arena, requires the use of eminent domain.


Posted by amy at 10:37 AM

10,000 pennies for Yard thoughts

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Thousands of Brooklyn residents have been paid $100 each to attend focus group sessions conducted by a Cobble Hill marketing research firm.

The sessions centered on people’s perceptions of the $3.5-billion commercial, residential and arena mega-project — and how well Forest City Ratner is getting its message out about the project’s purported benefits.

“They kept telling us how much affordable housing there would be,” said one small business owner who participated. “They told us about the park. They told us about how many jobs there would be.”

Another business owner in the same session called it “a bunch of talking points.”

“We were rolling our eyes,” said Erica Kalick, the owner of Erica’s Rugelach and Baking Company.

Wouldn't it have been easier for them to just give out $100 bills and say "Compliments of Forest City Ratner"?


Posted by amy at 10:32 AM

MTA strands fans

From the Brooklyn Papers:

If 19,000 cheering Nets fans come pouring out of an arena at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues someday, the MTA is not going to add service to help get them home.

The transit agency, which many hope will play a significant role in reducing congestion resulting from Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards mega-development, dropped this mini bombshell this week at Borough Hall, where Borough President Markowitz, local elected officials and Community Board chairs met to discuss Atlantic Yards issues.

The MTA refused to send a representative to the meeting, Markowitz said. Instead, the agency sent over a statement outlining its plans for service to and from Nets games at the Ratner arena.

This article is a must-read for those wondering what the MTA's plans are (none) for mitigating the increased traffic from the Atlantic Yards proposal, as well as their excuses (many).


Posted by amy at 10:24 AM

Ratner Set to Begin Demolition of Six Buildings

The Courier-Life reprints Ratner's press release word for word with quotation marks.


Perhaps it is more interesting to read a Letter to the Editor regarding another article by the same author, Stephen Witt:

Actually We're Trying to Cut Back on the Paper Bashing, but...

Dear Editor:

I’m not sure how much the Downtown Star is into bashing other newspapers, but the gushing profile of Bruce Ratner in the 12/02/2005 Courier-Life is worth calling out. I read most of the local papers every week, and like to consider myself fairly up to date on what is happening, so I read the article with some interest. While discussing Ratner’s background, it was either purposefully misleading, or just downright dishonest. The article said:

“It was while at consumer affairs that Ratner became interested in how major national retail outlets had long underserved inner-city residents and how the city itself had failed to utilize major business and transit hubs to offset corporate flight to New Jersey and the surrounding suburbs. With these thoughts, Ratner became an entrepreneur.”

Decided to become an entrepreneur? The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as “A person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture.” Forest City was a family company begun in 1921 and traded publicly since 1960. All of the seed money for Forest City Ratner came from a publicly traded company. The only risk Bruce Ratner took in starting his company was in hoping his relatives didn’t slap his hand while he held it out. If this makes him an entrepreneur, then being born with a silver spoon in his mouth must mean he is also a smelter.

Shahn Christian Andersen


Posted by amy at 10:08 AM

December 16, 2005

Downtown Brooklyn, NOT!

Atlantic Yards in Prospect HeightsFor the last time, the freakin' project ain't in "Downtown Brooklyn," as alleged in today's NY Times headline and this week's Crain's article.


A map of Central Brooklyn, for geographically challenged journalists, reveals that Downtown Brooklyn and Prospect Heights are not one and the same.

If you want to quibble, there is also a section called "Site V" that's located in Park Slope.

Q: Why does it matter?

A: Downtown Brooklyn is primarily a commercial district, while Prospect Heights is largely residential with some light manufacturing mixed in. People who are being displaced in the footprint of the plan are pretty clear on the fact that they live in Prospect Heights.

Q: Who cares?

A: Bruce Ratner cares, which is why his PR machine has done a great job of trying to brainwash the public and the media that Atlantic Yards is in Downtown Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 10:56 AM

Another Step for Downtown Brooklyn Project

The NY Times
by Nick Confessore

Yesterday, Forest City Ratner announed plans to demolish six buildings they recently purchased in the footprint of the Atlantic Yards plan.

Demolition of the buildings was recommended by LZA Technology, an engineering firm the developer hired to inspect newly acquired properties on the Atlantic Yards site, after a four-month study revealed severe structural damage to the six buildings.

Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a coalition that opposes the Atlantic Yards project, said the demolition plans were "a scare tactic that won't work, and we believe it is illegal."


NY1, News Brief, "Six Buildings To Be Demolished As Part Of Atlantic Yards Project"

TimesRatnerReport covers the question of who bears responsibility for the run-down conditions.

NoLandGrab: This move by Ratner really muddies the waters.

The community and Department of Buildings only have the word of an engineering firm hired by Ratner that these buildings must be razed.

Since the project hasn't even been approved yet, the move to demolish buildings, some of which were inhabited until very recently, might be considered a false start on the state-sponsored project.

This move also leads to a conundrum:
* Razing run-down properties could be clearing blight and may indicate that the area is not in need of large-scale blight removal.

* On the other hand, leaving vacant lots in the wake might shore up Ratner's legal justification that the neighborhood is blighted.

The vague analysis of this scenario underscores the need for a clearer definition of "blight" in any future eminent domain reform.

Posted by lumi at 9:54 AM

Court To Rule on Property Rights

State’s Eminent Domain Power May Balloon

The NY Sun
by Julia Levy

A case in Soho is scheduled to be heard on Feb 7 by the NY State Court of Appeals, that will decide whether nor not the City can condemn more property than is strictly needed for a project.

Issues of "just compensation" and the definition of "public use" (i.e. economic development and blight) are not in question here.

The State Court will decide whether or not to uphold a lower court ruling that gave NYC the green light to condemn all "12,500 [square] feet of a property when [the City] has indicated that the project will occupy only about 4,000 square feet."

The project in question is a vertical water shaft, part of the City's ongoing "Third Water Tunnel" project.


Posted by lumi at 9:38 AM

Groups align against land bill

by Anne Michaud

Major business groups and lobbyists for the city and state are mounting a campaign to block federal legislation to curtail the use of of eminent domain.

The Senate is expected to consider a House bill early next year that would eliminate the ability of local governments to take private land for economic development.
As it stands, the legislation threatens the Atlantic Yards sports arena and residential project slated for downtown Brooklyn, where a handful of residents and property owners are expected to refuse to sell their properties to developer Bruce Ratner.

"If that bill passes, it's a disaster," Mr. Ratner says.


Posted by lumi at 8:38 AM

Open Space II

openspace2.gifCall it "Open Space, Part Deux." According to Brooklyn Views, the big deal about seven acres of open space ain't no big whoop.

Based on NY City's own open space "planning goal" and the amount of public open space in the proposal, BV computes 920 residential units for a project the size of Atlantic Yards. Ratner proposes to build 7,300.


Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

December 15, 2005

Environmental impact? Challenges abound to state's "comically limited" process

TimesRatnerReport's dispatch from yesterday's community meeting held by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn:

"If you like a good old-fashioned street fight, you're in the right place," trumpeted City Council Member Letitia James, leading off the community meeting last night sponsored by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Presentations by three graduate students from Hunter College's Department of Urban Affairs and Planning covered the eminent domain and the lack of blight, transit, parking and pedestrian concerns.

Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods' Jim Vogel outlined the community's efforts to hire experts to study the impending Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Bob Law, a longtime community activist and radio host, spoke about Ratner's manufacturing of "so-called community support."

Ratner's PR diva, Lupe Todd, was "outed" by Fans For Fair Play's Scott Turner. Todd demurred when asked a question, explaining that she was there as a resident.


Posted by lumi at 7:45 PM

Legal Blight

The NY Sun Editorial Board calls for closing the giantic loophole in NY State eminent domain law, the "hyperactive interpretation of blight."

Under the current laws both in New York and Pennsylvania, the government can seize any blighted property and pass it along to another private owner who will then develop it. It sounds reasonable to allow the government to seize vacant lots that would otherwise merely be home to tumbleweed and vermin, but in practice “blight” has been defined so fluidly that it can mean just about anything.

The example of phony blight given in the editorial is the seizure of property for the NY Times Headquarters, making Bruce Ratner the poster child of phony blight.


Posted by lumi at 7:23 PM

Plan for Life

Put People First Says Streetscape Champion Jan Gehl On Brooklyn Walking Tour

Civic News, a monthly newsletter published by the Park Slope Civic Council by Ezra Goldstein

jan-gehl.jpg You could almost hear Jan Gehl clicking his tongue in disapproval as he surveyed Metro Tech’s sterile, un-populated central space. Granted, it was a cold November morning, but nearby Fulton Mall had been teeming with activity. Here, besides the 15 people accompanying one of the world’s best-known urban planners on a walking tour of downtown Brooklyn and Atlantic Yards, there were precisely two signs of life: a woman, possibly homeless, sitting on a metal bench, and a police officer keeping anyone from straying past the barriers walling off Metro Tech 9, home of the New York City Fire Department.

Gehl was disappointed by Metro Tech — and dismayed to hear that Fulton Mall may soon give way to high-rise office buildings — because he is a champion of street life. His landmark book, Life Between Buildings, first published in 1971 and now in its fourth edition, has become a bible to urban planners who share his vision that high-density development and quality of life need not be oxymorons. Gehl and his architectural firm have helped transform the streetscape of cities from Copenhagen (his hometown) to Melbourne, and London is now implementing his plan called, “Towards a Fine City for People: Public Spaces and Public Life.” A key element of the London plan is establishing a comfortable balance among pedestrians, bicycles and automobiles.

As the group worked its way up Flatbush Avenue toward the proposed site of Atlantic Yards, people clustered around Gehl, straining to hear his observations above the din of traffic. “I am not opposed to development,” he stressed, “but there is development that destroys and there is development that adds. The ultimate question you have to ask about new buildings is whether they make your city a better place or a worse place than it used to be.”

Transportation Alternatives had brought the urban planner to New York to attend the premier of the group’s documentary film, Contested Streets: Breaking New York City Gridlock, in which Gehl is prominently featured. He delivered a lecture at NYU and gave a breakfast talk for the leaders of Business Improvement Districts, which was also attended by City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden and Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall. His Brooklyn guide was Hunter College Urban Planning Professor Tom Angotti, who used to teach at the Pratt Institute and who lives in Windsor Terrace.

On the walk, Gehl talked about how, at street level, a solid wall of high rise buildings blocks the sun and creates a wind tunnel effect. He told his listeners how Vancouver, British Columbia, has surrounded skyscrapers with lower buildings that let in light and deflect down-currents of air from the towers. He described how builders in Oslo discovered that a lively frontage of small shops draws more street life than big-box stores, because “pedestrians like choice, and like having something new to look at every few seconds.” And he offered his formula for good urban design, which he said “turns the normal process upside down,” and which has become a kind of mantra among his many followers.

Instead of planning large buildings and then working down, he said, “you look first at the space you want to develop and ask what kind of life can be envisaged there. Then you ask what kind of public space will create that life. And only then do you design the buildings that create the public space you want.

“You want development that invites people in,” he observed, “that interacts with the city that surrounds it.”

Gehl argued that the Oslo experience proves that everyone benefits from good urban design, including builders. “Developers discovered in Oslo that by offering lower rents on the ground floors of their new buildings, they attracted a rich mixture of small businesses, which drew more customers and increased the value of their properties. They spun gold from good planning.”

It would be hard to imagine urban design more in contrast to what Gehl recommends than Metro Tech, which is a walled campus having virtually no interaction with surrounding Brooklyn. Its developer, Forest City Ratner, defends Metro Tech as the only kind of development that would have drawn white-collar workers to downtown Brooklyn, which was still perceived as a high-crime area when plans were drawn in the 1980s.

But as Gehl surveyed drawings of Forest City Ratner’s multi-billion-dollar, skyscraper-dominated Atlantic Yards development, he wondered if corporate thinking had changed in the intervening decades. “These buildings will look good from a passing airplane,” he quipped, “but I wonder if they will look nearly as good from the ground.

”Just as there is good furniture and bad furniture, good schools and bad schools, there is good development and bad development. The way you get good development is to start at eye level and work up.”

Posted by lumi at 5:36 PM

‘Eminent Domain Restrictions’

The NY Sun, Letter to the Editor
Re: Russell Berman’s article, Council Likely to Call for Stiffer Eminent Domain Restrictions

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesperson Dan Goldstein's case for eminent domain reform:

Government has abused its power of eminent domain repeatedly in New York State. It is when wielding its power of eminent domain that government must use a “more methodical and circumspect approach.”

Right now, in places like Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, on behalf of Forest City Ratner, and in West Harlem, on behalf of Columbia University, that is not the case. Sadly, in those situations, the desire to condemn properties is a corporate desire supported by government, a first resort instead of a last resort, and wholly absent of methodical or circumspect behavior on the part of our government.

Click here and scroll down to read the complete letter.

Posted by lumi at 7:45 AM

Leaders Who Build to Stroke Their Egos

NY Times Book Review,
"The Edifice Complex," by Deyan Sudjic
Review by Michiko Katani

Mr. Sudjic, the architecture critic for the London newspaper The Observer, looks at the architectural dreams of the great monsters of 20th-century history - Hitler, Stalin and Mao - and at the more modest fantasies of assorted tycoons and democratically elected politicians.
In addition, Mr. Sudjic provides some brisk assessments of such high-profile architects as Philip Johnson, Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind. And he examines the propensity of many prominent architects to hire themselves out to unsavory - and in some cases, morally reprehensible - clients.

Click here to read the complete review.

NoLandGrab: "Edifice Complex" makes a nice holiday gift for those facing life in the shadow of Miss Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

Net gain in open space: only four acres, much less than the population requires


Norman Oder tries to connect some dots regarding Ratner's big deal about open space, from Brooklyn View's points about scant acreage and the use of the open space to boost the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of Ratner's plan, to a glance at the extremely vague language in the Memorandum of Understanding between Ratner and the City.


Posted by lumi at 7:04 AM

Adolfo the Beep has a posse

Field of Schemes

In the latest installment of democracy Bronx-style, about 200 people who showed up at the alloted 6 pm start time for last night's Yankees stadium hearing found the doors barred, with staffers for Borough President Adolfo Carrion claiming the room was filled to capacity.

Read Neil DeMause's account of the "not-so-public process" and then check out the entry below for the Yankee President Randy Levine's catty response.

Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM


Yankee President Randy Levine, spins this yarn about the opposition to the new Yankee Stadium plans:

"As the process goes forward, it will become more and more clear that the people who speak in opposition are professional protesters."


NoLandGrab: When the professional politicians stop asking questions, professional taxpayers will be footing the bill, and professional residents are losing their park, who you gonna call...

Posted by lumi at 6:26 AM

Byron Calame isn't the only one chronicling the NYT

From the headline, we thought that this post might be something about Brooklyn's TimesRatnerReporter.

Instead, Jossip.com cheerfully lays into Ratner and the NY Times.

Ratner "scraped together the dough to hire Annie Leibowitz to immortalize the construction process [of the new Times headquarters] on film," meanwhile those who have been recently laid off by the Times now "have the spare time to check out the public exhibition of the photos, at the site of the new headquarters at 41st Street and Eighth Avenue. It’s free, and it’s across the street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, where you’ll probably be sleeping on a bench soon."

Damn, that's cold.


Posted by lumi at 5:54 AM

December 14, 2005

Shadow of Miss Brooklyn, December

missbrooklyndec.gifSome sort of genius came up with a Google Map hack to show the daily progression of the long shadow cast by the proposed Miss Brooklyn during the month of December, and posted it on DailyHeights.com.

Check out the interactive map — also available, January.

Some sort of wisecracker commented, "We need to push the developer to build some gigantic numbers in Ft Greene and turn the neighborhood into a massive sun dial."

Posted by lumi at 5:22 PM

Open Space

According to Brooklyn Views:

Ratner touts the 7 acres of open space planned for his superblock master plan, but that's only after the city kicks in 3 acres currently open streets. That's a net gain of 4 acres of open space for a $3.5 billion, 21 acre, 15 high-rise tower complex (oh, and there's an arena too).

soccer.jpgAfter street closings, Ratner is offering a scant 10% of recommended open space for a project of this size according to NY City's guidelines in their CEQR Technical Manual.

Check out the math in more detail, learn why Brooklyn Views thinks we should care, and how it all relates to youth soccer.


Posted by lumi at 9:56 AM

Ratner ties mean the silence (not quite) of Henry Stern's New York Civic

TimesRatnerReport wonders why public watchdog and former Parks Commish Henry Stern has nothing to offer but vague statements of support to the public discussion of the merits and problems with Ratner's Atlantic Yards project.

In his latest post, Norman Oder highlights the long-standing Ratner/Stern relationship and an undisclosed amount Ratner has donated to Stern's part-watchdog, part-think tank group, NY Civic.


Posted by lumi at 9:20 AM

State Legislation Resolution 144/145

The NYC Council is expected to pass a pair of resolutions requesting that the NY State Legislature enact proposed eminent domain reform legislation. The vote should take place at the next full Council meeting, December 21.

Basically, these resolutions support the NY State legislature's resolve to create a process to act upon reform... in otherwords, there are no substantial changes to the law, but the "expression of support" may be a good first step.

Summaries of the resolutions are below with the complete language after the jump.

State Legislation Resolution No. 144

State Legislation Resolution requesting the New York State Legislature to pass a bill introduced by Senator Flanagan, S.5946, “AN ACT to amend the eminent domain procedure law, the not-for-profit corporation law, the general municipal law and the public authorities law, in relation to eminent domain reform; providing for the creation of a temporary state commission to examine eminent domain laws and make recommendations for further reforms; and making an appropriation therefor”.

State Legislation Resolution No. 145

State Legislation Resolution requesting the New York State Legislature to pass a bill introduced by Assembly Member Brodsky, A.9043-A, “AN ACT to amend the public authorities law, the not-for-profit corporation law, the general municipal law and the eminent domain procedure law, in relation to eminent domain reform”.

State Legislation Resolution No. 144

State Legislation Resolution requesting the New York State Legislature to pass a bill introduced by Senator Flanagan, S.5946, “AN ACT to amend the eminent domain procedure law, the not-for-profit corporation law, the general municipal law and the public authorities law, in relation to eminent domain reform; providing for the creation of a temporary state commission to examine eminent domain laws and make recommendations for further reforms; and making an appropriation therefor”.

By Council Members James, Barron and Gentile

Whereas, a bill has been introduced in the New York State Legislature by Senator Flanagan, S.5946, “AN ACT to amend the eminent domain procedure law, the not-for-profit corporation law, the general municipal law and the public authorities law, in relation to eminent domain reform; providing for the creation of a temporary state commission to examine eminent domain laws and make recommendations for further reforms; and making an appropriation therefor”; and

Whereas, the enactment of the above State Legislation requires the concurrence of the Council of the City of New York as the local legislative body; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that the Council of the City of New York, in accordance with the provisions of Section 2 of Article 9 of the Constitution of the State of New York, does hereby request the New York State Legislature to enact into law the aforesaid pending bill.

Referred to the Committee on State and Federal Legislation.

State Legislation Resolution No. 145

State Legislation Resolution requesting the New York State Legislature to pass a bill introduced by Assembly Member Brodsky, A.9043-A, “AN ACT to amend the public authorities law, the not-for-profit corporation law, the general municipal law and the eminent domain procedure law, in relation to eminent domain reform”.

By Council Member James

Whereas, a bill has been introduced in the New York State Legislature by Assembly Member Brodsky, A.9043-A, “An Act, to amend the public authorities law, the not-for-profit corporation law, the general municipal law and the eminent domain procedure law, in relation to eminent domain reform”; and

Whereas, the enactment of the above State Legislation requires the concurrence of the Council of the City of New York as the local legislative body; now, therefore, be it 

Resolved, that the Council of the City of New York, in accordance with the provisions of Section 2 of Article 9 of the Constitution of the State of New York, does hereby request the New York State Legislature to enact into law the aforesaid pending bill.

Referred to the Committee on State and Federal Legislation.

Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM


NY Post
by Lois Weiss

DAVE & Buster's is bringing its family-friendly entertainment mecca to Forest City Ratner's Hilton Hotel complex on The Deuce.

Not only does the sprawling, 30,000-foot space at 234 W. 42nd St. have a sports bar and restaurant, it will satisfy your jones for video games, too.

"The beauty of this space is the visibility, illuminated marquis, and large sign panels all facing W. 42nd St.," said Craig Slosberg of Newmark who with Paul Berkman and Jeffrey Roseman showed the space and worked for Forest City.


NoLandGrab: "Illuminated marquis and large sign panels?" Ratner wouldn't bring 42nd St.-style "visibility" to Atlantic & Flatbush, would he?

Posted by lumi at 7:38 AM

Forest City Declares Quarterly Dividend


Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:FCEA)(NYSE:FCEB) announced today that the Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.06 per share (annual rate of $0.24 per share) on the outstanding shares of both Class A and Class B Common Stock, payable on March 15, 2006, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 1, 2006.


Posted by lumi at 7:33 AM

December 13, 2005

Overburdened transit and "suicidal" pedestrian issues raise concerns, but where's the MTA?

TimesRatnerReport comments on yesterday's Borough Board meeting covering "Transit." Conspicuous in their absence was the MTA.

The reason: the Borough Hall meetings are unofficial and informational, outside the scope of the ESDC process. "They said it wasn't an ESDC project," reported an aide to Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Despite the "unofficial" status of the meeting and incomplete participation by officials, there was still plenty to talk about.


Posted by lumi at 9:44 PM

Atlantic Yards Project has Long Shadow

by Andrea Bernstein

Most of the attention on the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards development has focused on the proposed Nets arena. But the development, if approved, would actually stretch a mile along Atlantic Avenue. WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein takes a look at the block farthest from the arena – what’s there now, and what would change.

One interesting observation about how the threat of Atlantic Yards has already affected the neighborhood, by resident and President of Dean Street Block Association, Peter Krashes:

This is inside the footprint, right, a lot of the property has the appearance of being more dormant. That's one of the things that people miss when they walk here, they don't understand that what was a pretty active area has been emptied.


Posted by lumi at 9:09 PM

Council Likely To Call for Stiffer Eminent Domain Restriction

The NY Sun
by Russell Berman

The City Council is expected to pass a pair of resolutions next week urging the state to impose stiffer restrictions on the use of eminent domain.

The resolutions offered by a council member from Brooklyn, Letitia James, are heading to a full vote after winning approval yesterday from the council’s State and Federal Legislation Committee. The measures express the council’s support for two state bills — one each in the Assembly and the Senate — that would mandate a local review process before government could, by asserting a public interest, take control of private property.


Posted by lumi at 7:36 AM

666 Pacific Street: Will Evil Be Crushed?

666pacific.jpgCurbed.com dubs this photo the "most appropriately evil-looking facade shot of the moment."

What if 666 Pacific is torn down to make way for Ratner's Tim Burtonesque superblock fantasy? When the dark side of development does battle against an evil façade, who wins?


Posted by lumi at 7:28 AM

Ridge Hill could get state tax breaks

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon

YONKERS — Brooklyn developer Forest City Ratner may recoup from the state all of the more than $9 million in property tax payments it pledged to make as part of a compromise to win City Council support Friday for its $600 million Ridge Hill Village.


NoLandGrab: The deal in Yonkers reminds Brooklynites of what Cooper Union professor Fred Siegel said about Bruce Ratner in the Cleveland Plain Dealer's article about Metrotech: "He's the master of subsidy. No one does it better. That's not a flat-out criticism of him. It's just that he never builds without someone else taking the risk."

Posted by lumi at 7:16 AM

December 12, 2005

Events: TODAY

Borough Board Meeting, Atlantic Yards
Environmental Impact Statement Topic, Transit

Borough Hall

Bed-Stuy North Neighborhood Improvement Association

Agendas items:
- Discuss contruction of 14-story building on Clifton/Greene - Discuss increased crime rate in Clinton Hill/North Bed-Stuy

6:30pm - 8pm
Bistro Lafayette, 338 Franklin Ave. bet. Lexington and Greene

Posted by lumi at 7:35 PM

Life in the Atlantic Yards Footprint

DDDb spokesperson Dan Goldstein goes on record about life in the footprint of Ratner's Atlantic Yards, as a part of Gotham Gazette's "Issue of the Week" series on Eminent Domain.

Read about folks living and working under fear of eviction, historically significant buildings facing demolition, who has a say and who doesn't, and NY State's definition of blight that's so inclusive that no neighborhood in NYC is safe from state-sponsored redevelopment.


Posted by lumi at 10:03 AM

Eminent Domain Revisited

Gotham Gazette
by Mark Berkey-Gerard


Eminent domain is Gotham Gazatte's issue of the week. The introductory article covers: * pending projects proposing the use of eminent domain (including Atlantic Yards), * origin and theory of eminent domain, * past projects, * condemnations for private projects, * pro and con reaction to the Kelo effect.

Don't miss the three opinion pieces linked from the bottom of The Gazette article:
Eminent Domain Benefits Developers, Not the Public (2005-12-12)
Eminent Domain is a Tool, Not a Conspiracy (2005-12-12)
Eminent Domain: What The Supreme Court Ruling Means To NYC (2005-07-12)

The TimesRatner Report follows up by examining the role of NY State (not NYC) in the Atlantic Yards deal.

Posted by lumi at 9:55 AM

Yonkers council OKs Ridge Hill in 4-3 vote

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon

Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill project received a final vote last Friday, when after last month's contentious vote to change the rules to override the County's rejection of a zoning change, the City Council held a special session to approve the new zoning.

Project supporters cheered, claiming it was "time to close the deal." Opponents are looking forward to a judge's ruling in January, that could "undo... the council's actions... on procedural grounds."


NoLandGrab: Opponents of Ratner's Atlantic Yards project feel that the Ridge Hill deal in Yonkers illustrates the political clout of Forest City Ratner, and the lengths to which government officials will go in order to push through Ratner projects over local concerns.

In Brooklyn, Ratner scored a political coup when, in an extraordinary move, the NY State Economic Development Corporation officially took over the Atlantic Yards project, even though most of the land contained in the project is NOT state-owned.

Posted by lumi at 9:33 AM


NY Post
by Rich Calder

Transit news just in time for today's Borough Board meeting:

Team officials hope to work with the MTA in devising either a swipeable game ticket or a game-day MetroCard to encourage fans to ride instead of drive to their new home, sources told The Post.

That's one of the ideas being bounced around by team brass and transit experts as New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner tries to quell community concern over the traffic nightmare his proposed 19,000-seat NBA arena and residential/retail complex might mean for the borough's downtown.

The developer is considering hiring Gameday Management Group, a well-known transportation management firm that specializes in getting fans to A-list events like the Super Bowl gridlock-free.


Posted by lumi at 8:45 AM

Like Garden Traffic On Flatbush


Imagine the traffic congestion surrounding Madison Square Garden on game day when the Brooklyn Nets are playing at their new arena near Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.

A follow up article to last month's Borough Board meeting covering traffic around Atlantic Yards covers:

Sam Schwartz, regional transportation expert, former DOT commissioner and the consultant recently approached by Forest City Ratner to work on the transportation problems anticipated by Atlantic Yards, who promotes the comparison of traffic around the proposed project and Madison Square Garden in addition to the DOT's study of individual intersections.

Brian Ketcham from Community Consulting holds the opinion that traffic is already over capacity and that regional study and solutions will be necessary.

The next Borough Board Meeting, covering "Transportation," will be held this afternoon at 4pm.


Posted by lumi at 8:12 AM

December 11, 2005

Caroling - Rehearsal Today!


"The Save Brooklyn Sym-Phony, and those that stand with us, continuing a time-honored tradition, soon we will go a-caroling to fight the arena threatening prospect heights, fort greene, and surrounding neighborhoods. Roger Paz has written some witty anti-ratner lyrics, and you are welcome to write more.

We plan to have one (optional) rehearsal - this Sunday (12/11).

REHEARSAL (at Freddy's, in the backroom) Sunday, 12/11, 2 pm"

Posted by amy at 11:00 AM

Sunday Comic

Posted by amy at 10:46 AM

December 10, 2005

Become Ratner’s ‘Apprentice’


From the Brooklyn Papers:

The Bruce Ratner-funded nonprofit organization BUILD treated six Columbia University MBA students to lunch and a pitch for a summer internship aimed at helping small businesses get their piece of the $3.5-billion Atlantic Yards pie.

The students appreciated the offer — and the brown-bag lunch.

“It seems like a way to get involved with the good parts of the project,” Columbia MBA Neel Gandhi said after the Thursday luncheon.

“Why not get involved with the biggest development in the city?”

No one has applied for the internship yet. Insiders expect that the competition will be heated — not that anyone is talking.

Even Gandhi — a student — told The Brooklyn Papers to “talk to a spokesman” for Ratner rather than speak candidly about the internship.


Posted by amy at 10:29 AM

December 9, 2005

Towers in the Park

Brooklyn Views ponders the towers-in-a-park configuration of Gehry's site design.

Irrespective of the architecture, does the relative scale and site configuration determine success or failure?



Posted by lumi at 6:07 PM

526 Carlton Avenue

In the fight against blight, 526 Carlton Ave. has been listed with Corcoran realty for $1.499 million. 526 Carlton stands on the block carved out of in the midst of the Ratner footprint.



Posted by lumi at 4:43 PM

TimesRatnerReport: Zimbalist and Times coverage of Ferrer


Forest City Ratner consultant Andrew Zimbalist, then and now
"Idealized nostalgia" completes sports venue economist Andrew Zimbalist's descent to the dark side.

The Voice questions the Times's coverage of Ferrer--and I add more questions

Citing weakness in the Times's local political coverage is like shooting fish in a barrel, as Norman Oder gets into the action by adding several items to the Voice's "Times Election 2005 Quiz." The TimesRatnerReporter unleashes a litany of missed opportunities relating to the Times's coverage of Ferrer's concerns about Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project.

Posted by lumi at 8:00 AM

Ridge Hill vote today

The Yonkers City Council is set to vote today on Forest City Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill proposal:

Coverage in The Journal News

The City Council yesterday reached an agreement with developer Forest City Ratner that calls for the developer to pay no less than $9.5 million a year in property taxes, spells out requirements to build affordable housing and sets aside money to study traffic, clearing the way for a crucial zoning vote today.

Staff writer Michael Gannon reports: Yonkers deal clears way for Ridge Hill vote

Journal News Editorial, Yonkers zone change The Yonkers City Council should not vote on a Ridge Hill zone change until the proposal is complete.

Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

Forest City Reports Third-Quarter and Year-to-Date Financial Results

Business Wire, Forest City Enterprises Press Release

The 6.3 percent decrease in EBDT per share for the first nine months of 2005 and 22.2 percent decrease for the third quarter are mostly attributed to Stapleton financing income recognized in 2004; the increased loss for The Nets (basketball team), which the Company did not own in the first half of 2004; and 2004 EBDT from the Lumber Trading Group, which was sold in the fourth quarter of last year. These items were partially offset by increases in sales of outlot land in the Commercial Group.


Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

December 8, 2005

Billions in Liberty Bonds go unspent

691-atlanticterminal.JPGNY Daily News's investigative series about Liberty Bonds has revealed that:

half of that money has gone unused. And much of what has been spent to encourage new development — through the use of low-interest Liberty Bonds for builders — has been steeped in controversy.
The first Liberty Bond was awarded to Bruce Ratner, the developer and new owner of the Nets basketball team. Ratner received a $90.8 million Liberty Bond to help him build a massive office complex in downtown Brooklyn, at the Atlantic Terminal, with the Bank of New York as an anchor tenant.


NoLandGrab: Ratner and The NY Times applied for Liberty Bonds for the new Times headquarters and were turned down because they "refused terms that could have required it to pay back some money," according to TimesRatnerReport.

Posted by lumi at 7:57 AM

Venue Parking and Security

autosecurity.jpgBrooklyn Views

Calling venue parking for the proposed Nets arena a "charade," Brooklyn Views points out that parking under an arena is a major security threat:

Ultimately, venue parking - as currently proposed - won’t happen.
Does anyone really believe, post 9-11, that we’ll allow unchecked passenger vehicles to drive under an arena filled with 20,000 fans at events carried live on national TV?


NoLandGrab: "Charade" is the right word. Venue parking could be in the plan as a giveback to the community. If so, traffic planners and pols need to start talking about real options.

Posted by lumi at 7:24 AM


The Daily News
By Jotham Sederstrom

This article on an elderly widow who will be displaced by Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project appeared in yesterday's print edition only:

VICTORIA Harmon can recall the days when coal was used to heat her Prospect Heights apartment building.

But one thing the 87-year-old Brooklyn-born widow can't understand is what's going to happen after her apartment of 63 years is razed to make way for the Atlantic Yards arena and towers.

"You'd like to know what's going on," said Harmon, who has lived alone in her second-floor apartment since her husband, Russell, died last year.

"They say it's going to happen, but that's about it. We want to know when."

In a wheelchair and recovering from a stroke, Harmon is one of at least 25 residents in two buildings on Pacific St. bracing themselves for a move when construction begins on the proposed project.

The 22-acre, $3.5 billion plan calls for 9 million square feet of office and residential space in a building to rise as high as 620 feet.

Harmon and other tenants received letters this summer from Forest City Ratner promising new digs at prices similar to what they're currently paying.

Harmon, who draws Social Security checks, pays $180 for her rent-controlled apartment.

"Nobody wants to go, but you gotta go - you have to," said Harmon. "But what do you want me to do? Fight it? They say it will be good for the neighborhood."

Forest City Ratner spokeswoman Lupe Todd said Harmon has not responded to the letter, but that the company would answer any of her questions.

"Our goal is to make the move as comfortable as possible for her once it takes place," Todd said.

If all goes as planned, it will be Harmon's first move since 1942, the year neighbors on her block began displaying stars on their windows to honor sons and daughters fighting in World War II.

It also was the year she and hundreds of other Brooklynites lost their jobs at the nearby Julius Kayser lace factory, which closed shop following union strikes, only to reopen in Pennsylvania.

Decades later, her son Ed would sneak chocolate from the Chunky candy factory that sat behind their apartment on Dean St.

"My mother expected to die there - it's as simple as that," said Ed Harmon, 49, who still lives in the neighborhood.

"The nice thing is her friends take care of her. That's what's going to be missed - not the shell of the buildings; that's neither here nor there - but the community."

Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

Marty to BKLYN magazine: "I don't have to give you 'why'"


The ubiquitous Marty Markowitz usually has an answer for everything, but when he's stumped, the Bard of Brooklyn is at a loss for words.

When BLKYN magazine wanted to know "why it was prudent to wait" before publicly discussing problems of scale:

Marty replied, "I don't have to give you 'why.'" Not words you want to hear from a public servant, especially one who has always marketed himself as the quintessential man of the people.

The complete item in BKLYN is posted in TimesRatnerReport, along with the scene reported in The New Yorker where Bruce gets on the bat phone to Marty.

Posted by lumi at 6:48 AM

December 7, 2005


Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Press Release

Today the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN) issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to organizations capable of environmental review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Forest City Ratner Company’s proposed development of the Atlantic Yards. The 25 acre Frank Gehry designed complex will be the largest development in Brooklyn’s history and the CBN has begun the process to hire experts to review the DEIS on behalf of its Brooklyn constituency.

When asked what are the goals of CBN Paul Palazzo co-chair of the organization states “CBN is here to insure that the concerns of the residents of Brooklyn about this development are effectively addressed. CBN is not against this development but concerned exclusively with its environmental impacts. I’m talking about air, water, traffic, and unfortunately in today’s world terrorism. These are the concerns of every Brooklynite, every New Yorker regardless of your stance on the development.”  In late September CBN surveyed Brooklyn residents and received over 600 replies in which residents voiced their questions and concerns about the proposed development and which CBN incorporated into its response to the ESDC on October 28th, 2005.

To fund this review Paul Palazzo says that CBN is soliciting monies from various agencies. “In order to effectively review the DEIS it is going to cost nearly $350,000. We are leaving no stone unturned. We are asking State and City officials to fund this review for the benefit of all New Yorkers. If the City can award a $100 million dollar incentive to the developer then it at least owes its taxpayers this review to insure their health.”

The complete RFP as well as the CBN survey and the Response to the ESDC documents are available online at CBN’s website, www.cbrooklynneighborhoods.homestead.com.

Posted by lumi at 4:05 PM

Annie Leibovitz photographs of New York Times headquarters go on display

NY Newsday

An iconic developer knows that an iconic building needs an iconic photograph.

Dozens of photographer Annie Leibovitz's images documenting the construction of The New York Times's new headquarters go on display around the midtown Manhattan work site beginning Wednesday.

Hundreds of posters will be mounted on the walls lining the site at Eighth Avenue between West 40th and West 41st streets, across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and 14 giant banners will be hung above the pedestrian walkway.

Workers were expected to finish installing the images by 6 a.m. Wednesday, Forest City Ratner spokeswoman Jane Pook said.


Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

Appellate court lifts roadblock to Ridge Hill in Yonkers

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon

The political drama in Yonkers over Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill project continues:

A state appellate court has lifted a 2-week-old temporary restraining order that had blocked a vote on a zoning change needed to build Ridge Hill Village, clearing the way for a slim majority of the City Council to approve the zoning by the end of the year.


Posted by lumi at 8:14 AM

Eminent domain revisited up close and personal

From NewYorkGames.org on Greg David's Crain's column:

Could be a turning point for the editor of this pro-Atlantic Yards business paper to take this position.

The once esoteric legal doctrine of eminent domain has put me in the middle of an unusual lobbying blitz. On one side are people who support important development projects like the Nets arena in Brooklyn or the expansion of Columbia University, both of which will need to involve eminent domain. On the other is my daughter, who has taken up the issue as part of her American government class and is sure eminent domain needs to be outlawed. More and more, I think my daughter is right.


Posted by lumi at 8:09 AM


Owner Vindicated — After Losing Four Buildings to Upstate Village

A Westchester property owner prevailed in an appellate court ruling that found that NY State did not provide proper notification of condemnation. However, the lawyer representing the Town of Port Chester calls it a Pyrrhic victory.


Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

Nets' Running Game Isn't Going Anywhere

The NY Times

A Times article grumbles about the lack of chemistry among the new NJ Nets.


Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

December 6, 2005

The looming "disaster" of traffic, a call for a pause, and some possible solutions

atlantic&flatbush02.jpg TimesRatnerReport reports on yesterday's Borough Board EIS Task Force Meeting.

Covering traffic and transportation, the meeting had a sense of urgency as experts and pols acknowledged that traffic is already a problem and will get worse, that there are currently no comprehensive plans for mitigation, and that traffic needs to be studied using sophiticated modeling tools.


Posted by lumi at 9:39 AM


The NY Post
by Rich Calder

The only article reporting on yesterday's Borough Board meeting in the local dailies:

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz — a major backer of the borough's push for a pro-basketball arena — acknowledged yesterday that the development could create more traffic than Madison Square Garden does in Manhattan.

The comment followed traffic consultant Samuel Schwartz's suggestion that Brooklyn use the area around the Garden as a transportation model.


Posted by lumi at 9:16 AM

Gehry and Atlantic Yards: A Work in Progress

by Linda G. Miller

patti&gehry.jpgA brief report on the Gehry/Olin/Stuckey meeting in the American Institute of Architects online newsletter:

"This is one of the toughest projects I've confronted in my entire life," said Frank Gehry, FAIA, referring to Forest City Ratner Companies' (FCRC) Atlantic Yards project at a standing-room-only presentation at the Center for Architecture on November 22. Gehry, James Stuckey, FCRC Executive Vice President for Community and Residential Development, and landscape architect Laurie Olin, FASLA, proudly debuted the latest rendition for the redevelopment of the blighted Atlantic Yards and adjacent properties in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Gehry made it clear that the project continues to be a work in progress.


NoLandGrab: The article states that Gehry and the developer have had more than 80 meetings with community members. The community members who showed up to hear Frank Gehry were not from the groups with which the developer has regularly met. That's why the poor souls have to schlep to every open public meeting.

Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

December 5, 2005

Rangel wants eminent domain bill reworked

Crain's NY Business

Speaking at a Crain’s New York Business forum today, Rep. Rangel said the bill should clarify the conditions for eminent domain usage rather than leave the question to courts. He would allow eminent domain if it were used to produce affordable housing, he said. The bill seems to allow for that, though it isn't mentioned specifically in the text, his office said.

At the same forum, Rep. Anthony Weiner stated his support for Ratner's project on the grounds that Ratner will be able to buy all of the private property without having to use eminent domain.


NoLandGrab: Usually we try to connect the dots for our readers, but we are at a loss to explain Rangel's position, since his office isn't really clear on the language of the bill. Weiner's position is really incredible and may be the result of spending more time with Ratner, than with homeowners who have vowed to fight the threat of condemnation.

Posted by lumi at 7:12 PM

Brooklyn Views

There three recent posts on the Brooklyn Views blog:

Urban Development

compare and contrast

Emergency Servies
How will the project affect police and fire emergency response times in the area?

The bottom line? It seems that fire houses and precinct houses are specifically excluded from the analysis, even though their physical operations and access would certainly be affected!

Not Cars, But Bikes
How the project could benefit all New Yorkers:

The Atlantic Yards site is ideally suited to be a significant bicycle hub. It’s located just off several bike paths, a close ride to Prospect Park, and near the Long Island Railroad and virtually all subway lines going into Manhattan.

Posted by lumi at 12:53 PM

Seven Solutions to the Atlantic Yards Traffic Problem


Journalist and traffic/transportation geek, Aaron Naparstek, has been pestering experts, in and out of government, with this question:

In light of the Atlantic Yards project and the all of the other major development taking place in and around Downtown Brooklyn these days, what policy, planning and design ideas should be considered to ensure that the neighborhoods around Atlantic Yards and the transportation network that serves the area remain functional and healthy?

Naparstek, "remarkably," has discovered a consensus and has compiled a list of "seven ideas that the the city, state and private developer Forest City Ratner should seriously consider to ensure that this massive project of 16 towers and a 19,000-seat arena has a chance to work."


Posted by lumi at 10:29 AM

The Easiest Commute Of All

The ranks of remote workers are swelling as companies see the sense in freeing them


Forest City Enterprises and urban planner Peter Calthorpe team up again in Arizona for the Mesa del Sol development, a "broadband nirvana" targeting the "creative class."


NoLandGrab: The irony is that Brooklyn neighborhoods, like those found near the Atlantic Yards project, have become the model for new urban living.

Forest City Enterprises hires a well-known urban planner to export the success of vibrant urban street life to the exurbs, and all we get is a lousy superblock.

Posted by lumi at 10:20 AM

Taking the Public Editor's cue: how the Times could improve coverage of its own real estate deal

TimesRatnerReport applies the NY Times Public Editor's ideas and suggestions for improving The Times's coverage of itself, to their real estate deal in partnership with Bruce Ratner for the new Times Headquarters.


Posted by lumi at 10:12 AM

Road map for Ridge Hill

The Journal News, Editorial

Before Forest City Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill project in Yonkers grinds to a halt over traffic and transportation concerns, there might still be a win-win solution on the drawing board.


Posted by lumi at 10:10 AM

December 4, 2005

Q&A With the Man Who Would Remake Bklyn


From the Park Slope Courier. Ratner uses the word 'respect' in a sentence. Incorrectly.

The challenge for developing in Brooklyn – for developing anywhere, really – is to respect the character of the place while providing for the needs of today and tomorrow, in terms of housing, work and retail space.

Maybe Ratner defines respect as taking people's houses and businesses when they do not wish to sell them, knocking down all of the existing buildings in an entire thriving neighborhood, and plopping down 16 tower buildings ranging from 20 to 58 stories high in a low rise area. Perhaps 'obliterate' was the word he was looking for.


Not to worry, TimesRatnerReport is already on top of the debunking.

Posted by amy at 12:11 PM

Shooting from the lip

Mike Lupica of the Daily News sees a similarity between Brooklyn and Iraqi media:

It came out this week that the Lincoln Group, this firm hired by the Pentagon, was paying to have positive stories about the war run in Iraqi newspapers.

And right away, I thought to myself, Hey, who does these guys think they are, Caring Bruce Ratner?

I mean, it's just the Baghdad version of The Brooklyn Standard, right?

We're just exporting American-style journalism to help Iraq achieve American-style democracy.


Posted by amy at 12:01 PM

December 3, 2005

Cartoon of the Day


Posted by amy at 11:49 AM

December 2, 2005

Ridge Hill in "big trouble," Spano says

The Jounal News
By Michael Gannon

Forest City Ratner's controversial project in Yonkers is heading to the courts on the issue of procedure in the vote to change the number of votes needed to override the county's rejection of a zoning change.

According to State Sen. Nicholas Spano, the questions and concerns over the traffic circulation plan, which led to the original rejection of the zoning change, have gone unanswered.

"The Ridge Hill development is in big trouble," Spano said. "It's clear there has to be an access road; it's clear that they have to address congestion; and it's clear they have no plan to do that."

Spano said the project "should not move forward" until traffic concerns are addressed. He offered to help get Ratner, city officials and the state DOT together to work on a compromise. Ratner's proposal to provide access and egress between Ridge Hill and the Sprain via Tuckahoe Road has been one of the main sources of opposition to the project.


NoLandGrab: Concerns about traffic generated the most heated debate during the November 22nd Stuckey/Gehry/Olin AIA panel discussion.

Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

Vehicular Traffic

BAYCurbCuts.jpgBrooklyn Views blogger comments on traffic circulation and the curb-cut plan for the Atlantic Yards project:

Have the designers visited the site? Dean Street should not be treated as the rear of the project. It’s a residential street, it’s a major easterly bike path for the Brooklyn/Manhattan route, and it’s a bus route. Both the 78th Police Precinct and the firehouse for Engine 219/Ladder 105 are located at the intersection of Dean and 6th Avenue. How will they respond to emergencies when this intersection becomes grid locked?


Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

BUILD recruits at Columbia Business School for Atlantic Yards

News from blogger "ltjbukem" @ set speed aka onehansonplace.com:

Our beat reporter has let us know that BUILD, Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, is recruiting MBA summer interns at Columbia Business School. The internship program will allow the interns to advise potential businesses on getting work at or around the Atlantic Yards project site or to work with BUILD on its community development efforts.

Quite ironic, as Columbia University is ensconced in its own development brouhaha.

Click here to read the text from the flyer distributed to students at Columbia.

NoLandGrab: The eminent-domain-but-only-as-a-last-resort university is where Bruce Ratner went to law school.

Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

Roger Green in the NY Observer: Bruce Ratner like RFK?

TimesRatnerReport agrees with Roger Green that Ratner is more like "RFK than Bull Connor." However the crude simile ends there, as Oder analyzes the difference between two great liberal icons, Bruce Ratner and RFK.


NoLandGrab: We are also pretty sure that Ratner is more like Mother Teresa than Attila the Hun.

Posted by lumi at 7:27 AM

State OKs eminent domain for Niagara Falls land sought by Senecas

AP, via New York Newsday

If you aren't convinced that New York is one of the worst states regarding eminent domain abuse, consider the latest action by Albany.

The state's economic development agency, over objections from business and home owners, will move forward with eminent domain proceedings to help the Seneca Indian Nation acquire land around its Niagara Falls casino.

Since when does the Empire State Development Corporation (the agency overseeing the development of Ratner's Atlantic Yards) take land from private property owners, including the elderly, to give to a "foreign nation?" Their justification is "economic development." Besides, who needs a home when there's a casino nearby? They're open 24 hours and serve free drinks.


Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

December 1, 2005

Why not Cleveland?

An entire city awaits development, but Forest City hasn't invested much

FCEClevland.jpgThe final installment of The Cleveland Plain Dealer's five-part series on Forest City Enterprises focuses on Cleveland:

Cleveland is home, but is that enough?

Cleveland's Development Opportunity Scorecard

Forest City's Greater Cleveland Portfolio

Posted by lumi at 6:13 PM

New York Magazine, Letters to the Editor

New York Magazine published two letters in reponse to Kurt Andersen's worshipful essay on Frank Gehry and the architect's design of a "sui generis Brooklyn skyline."

One of the letter writers posted the published versions of the letters in the Daily Heights Forum in a discussion about the Andersen article and the Gehry effect.

The usually astute Kurt Andersen was woefully off target regarding the enormous Bruce Ratner development in Brooklyn [“The Imperial City: Delirious New York,” November 28]. It’s horribly out of scale with the character of Brooklyn (we’ve long since ceased to view Manhattan as an urban role model), and it will destroy the continuity of three thriving neighborhoods, absorb hundreds of millions of tax dollars with little or no real return, and give Downtown Brooklyn permanent traffic gridlock. Given the truly awful aesthetics and construction quality of his other developments in Brooklyn, Ratner had little choice but to attach the Frank Gehry carrot. Anyone who chases that carrot must also still be looking forward to Daniel Libeskind’s World Trade Center.
Michael Rogers, Brooklyn

Like Bruce Ratner’s previous developments in Brooklyn, the Atlantic Yards stadium complex is not going to seamlessly merge a new development with an existing and vital cityscape. It seems totally appropriate, then, that Bruce Ratner would choose an architect whose buildings are rootless, equally out of place wherever they are erected, always supplanting on-the-ground urban realities with whimsical promises of a future that never quite arrives. Does Brooklyn need Gehry’s spectacular, megalomaniacal brand?
Stuart Schrader, Brooklyn

Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

Danish Architect Weighs in on Ratner Project

GehlBDStar.psdBrooklyn Downtown Star coverage of Jan Gehl's walk through Metrotech and the Atlantic Yards site:

The problem with developers in general, Gehl concluded, is that they sometimes over-scale projects, planning on elephant or dinosaur scale, rather than on human scale.

"For several million years people have not been much bigger," he said, but urban developments are forever growing.


Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

Apartments at Ground Zero?

The NY Sun editorial board's case against building housing on the WTC site includes the conservative position against "affordable housing," including that planned for Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan.


Posted by lumi at 6:42 AM

Ratner Roundup

Dope on the Slope talks turkey about Bruce's Brooklyn boondoggle. Topics covered are: "Pocket Stuffing," "Gehry's Goose Cooked?" and "Chestnuts Goading Me to Open Ire."

Gehry lost me when he failed to hold any public input forums or charettes before he pulled out his popsicle sticks and aluminum foil. Gehry should have insisted on such input as a condition of employment with Ratner. The fact that he didn't makes him unfit for the project in my view. Either he didn't recognize the difference in designing a single building and defining a neighborhood, or he wasn't willing to stand up for what he knew to be the right thing to do.


Posted by lumi at 6:31 AM