« March 2006 | Main | May 2006 »

April 30, 2006

What would Jane Jacobs say? Disingenuousness & Atlantic Yards


AtlanticYardsReport looks at what Jane Jacobs would have thought about the Atlantic Yards proposal:

I'd speculate that Jacobs, like some Brooklynites, would approach Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project with some ingrained skepticism, based on the developer's much-criticized architecture and urban design at MetroTech, the Atlantic Center mall, and the Atlantic Terminal mall. (Photo at right of MetroTech on a Saturday afternoon, by Brian Carreira for the Brooklyn Rail.)

She might have worried that the project would create a superblock, with the closing of Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. She might not have been as conclusory as the WNYC caller about how the project cuts off neighborhoods--project proponents point out that the sunken railyard also cuts off neighborhoods, which is why development of some sort makes sense.


Posted by amy at 10:31 AM

On My Command Unleash Ribs

Gumby Fresh challenges Ratner to a media garnering street fight:

And finally, proof that possibly Brooklynites have been much too restrained at public hearings on the Atlantic Yards project. Nascar has been trying to build a course on Staten Island for a few months now, and has even purchased some land for the purpose. I had thought that maybe they deserved each other, and had not paid too much attention to the subject.

My bad. A recent hearing on the subject erupted into a riot - scuffles, cops, unseemly rhetoric, the lot. Now, we always knew that Staten Islanders were not that well-schooled in the finer points of discourse (Exhibit A: Fossella, Vito), but this was a marvelous display of lunkheadedness from the New Jersey annex. But, the whole thing did dominate the news cycle in a way that the earnest meetings on the Atlantic Yards often fail to do. So I am officially challenging Bruce Ratner to a fight. The parking lot of the Vanderbilt McDonalds. Whenever


Posted by amy at 10:17 AM

Cherry Blossom Festival! Crowded!


The Gowanus Lounge has conflicting feelings while looking at the cherry blossoms:

Gowanus Lounge went to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's 25th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday and fought off the tens of thousands of nature-deprived New Yorkers and manic photogs crowding around the trees and mobbing the tent on the Esplanade to take in the dozens of performances. (Tried to overlook the fact that Forest City Ratner, builder of Frank Gehry designed apartment towers over the Atlantic Yards with token arena thrown in as a Trojan horse for super-dense residential and commerical development, is one of the corporate sponsors.)


Posted by amy at 9:46 AM

April 29, 2006

TODAY: Bake Don't Destroy


Click on image to enlarge.

TIME: 11AM — 3PM

All proceeds to be donated to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

For more events, check out our events page.

Posted by lumi at 11:32 AM

Parsing Hakeem Jeffries' views on Atlantic Yards



Attorney Hakeem Jeffries (right), who had previously challenged incumbent Roger Green for the 57th District State Assembly seat, has announced his candidacy for the seat he is vacating, setting up a race against Bill Batson.

Batson unequivocally opposes the Atlantic Yards project. Jeffries, according to a report Thursday in the Brooklyn Downtown Star headlined Jeffries Concerned About, But Not Opposed To, Yards, has more nuanced view. And a closer look at his statements suggests that his fence-sitting could easily migrate to support.


Posted by amy at 10:39 AM

Independent Neighborhood Democrats Executive Board Members and Officers to be Expelled from Club!

If you've been following the perils of the Brooklyn's Independent Neighborhood Democrats, you'll be interested in Daily Gotham's report of a letter received that does not appear to adhere to club rules:

May 4th is the endorsement vote for the NY-11 Congressional primary. Yesterday I received a letter signed by the following individuals asking IND members to join them in support of David Yassky in this race:

Debra Scotto, identified as being on the Executive Board
Joe Ringston, identified as Treasurer
Marisa Ringston, identified as Member
Tom McMahon, identified as Member
Eleanor Cunningham, identified as Recording Secretary
Bob Zuckerman, identified as being on the Executive board
Ira Cure, identified as past President
and Stephen DiBrienza, with no noted identification with the club

The letter is addressed to "Dear Fellow IND meber." According to the Constitution of IND, these individuals, by using their affiliation with IND in written material connected with a campaign that has not received the endorsement of the general membership, are violating IND bylaws.


Posted by amy at 10:22 AM

Car Fight


Aaron Naparstek covers the smack down at the Staten Island NASCAR track proposal meeting. Perhaps Staten Island is jockeying for a WWF venue instead?

Last night's public hearing on the proposed NASCAR track on Staten Island turned into a melee. Union members, many of whom were apparently shipped in by the developer, shouted down and physically intimidated community people who had come out to voice concerns about the project. New York 1 showed video last night of one particularly huge union guy throwing Staten Island Councilmember Andrew Lanza into a headlock and wrestling the microphone out of his hands. The scene looked more like a drunken bar fight than a community meeting. NY1 hasn't put the video on its web site, but ABC 7 caught some of the action and put it online. The NYPD rolled in and shut down the meeting after just a half an hour.

For anyone who has attended official public hearings on Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards project, the scene looked familiar: Real estate developer buses in project supporters. Supporters shout down and intimidate community members. The democratic process and opportunity for thoughtful community input is undermined.


Posted by amy at 10:07 AM

EDA's Follies: Part Four

Deep QT delves deeply into the Atlantic Yards proposal's Eminent Domain Abuse, inlcuding such imagery as Brooklyn residents running from Godzilla and ACORN pimping Ratner's ride:

ACORN's deal for their piece of Atlantic Yards requires them to pimp Forest Ratner's ride. In the "Memorandum of Understanding" struck between ACORN and Ratner in May, 2005, ACORN agrees to help "advance the Project" by "appearing with the Developer before the Public Parties, community organizations and the media". The Memorandum also includes an agreement that not-for-profit ACORN will team up with Ratner to develop 600 to 1000 "for-sale units" both on site at Atlantic Yards, and in other unspecified locations. The majority of these units will be sold to "families in the upper affordable income tiers."

Atlantic Yards is a veritable vision of urban planned, state capitalist hell. Complete with circles of affordability. Still, if enough people want Ratopia so be it. Let Forest City Ratner submit the project to local public process, negotiate to buy property within the footprint from those willing to sell, and then build to their heart's content.

But that's not the way the footprint is being played. Largely because Forest City Ratner has the quasi-public, Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) on their side.


Posted by amy at 9:59 AM

Traffic engineer Ketcham: DEIS will be "another massive cover-up" of traffic issue


So, it wasn't just the bloggers who offered tough criticism of the Final Scope for an environmental impact statement for the Atlantic Yards project. Brian Ketcham, the traffic engineer who heads Community Consulting Services, warns that "archaic" methods and resistance to community input show that the upcoming Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) "will be another massive cover-up of the issue that most affects surrounding neighborhoods: traffic."
Total travel time (hours) would increase 75% in 2012 from the 2005 baseline, and 345% by 2016. Emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic chemicals would go up about 63% by 2012, and about 275% by 2016.


Posted by amy at 9:36 AM

April 28, 2006

ProHo Photo Hop

ProspectHeightsPhotoTour.jpg The Real Estate Observer

The Observer reporter Matthew Schuerman takes a photo stroll of Prospect Heights:

It's a neighborhood of tree-lined streets and rehabbed row houses slashed through with broad avenues. The southern part has grand apartment buildings; the northern edge tends to have more vacant lots and large warehouses. These are located within the proposed footprint for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, and are often cited as evidence that the area is blighted. It is hard to imagine, however, that anywhere within this pizza slice would remain blighted for long. Come inside and see for yourself...

Posted by lumi at 4:09 PM

Calder metal works joined with City Hall Park’s green

Downtown Express
By Janel Bladow

Brought to you by Bruce and organized by the Public Art Fund, the latest City Hall public art installation of six works by Alexander Calder is currently being assembled and will remain on display in the park through 2007.


NoLandGrab: Sponsoring cultural events could be an effective strategy for Forest City Ratner to woo the New York City cultural elite. Ratner's staunchest critics would point out, however, that a development company that receives massive public subsidies would have plenty of money to spend on the arts.

Posted by lumi at 9:40 AM

Jay-Z Meets M Bars

MichaelBarnesRapping.jpg Brooklyn Downtown Star

Nik Kovac covers M Bars's (Michael Barnes) debut of the new Nets fight song:

Jay-Z picked Barnes' "Going Hard" out of over 700 choices to become the new theme song for the Nets.

Barnes really did his research for the song. The lyrics are full of shout outs to Nets players and owners.
After his live halftime performance, Barnes got to speak with the Marcy Projects-raised international superstar for a few minutes. "Jay-Z told me he really liked the way I brought in everybody," recalled Barnes of the conversation, "the way I mentioned Bruce."


NoLandGrab: Are we detecting the beginnings of a cult of personality built around Bruce Ratner?

Posted by lumi at 9:00 AM

Bloomberg on Stadium Bonds: It Depends What You Mean By 'Taxes'

Power Plays

Neil DeMause explains why Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) have become au courant in NYC's arena-and-stadium-building boom and why the hidden tax break "might well be illegal":

At issue is the use of city-issued tax-exempt bonds, which are cheaper than traditional bonds: The city Independent Budget Office has estimated that the two teams would save a combined $216 million thanks to this device, mostly at the expense of the federal treasury. The U.S. Congress, worried that it would end up subsidizing every local development deal that came down the pike, specifically outlawed using tax-exempt bonds on privately funded projects, including sports stadiums, in the 1986 Tax Reform Act. But the Bloomberg administration has argued that by having the teams repay the bonds with "payments in lieu of property taxes"--PILOTs--it's met the IRS requirement that the bonds be repaid by general tax revenue.

The controversy takes an interesting plot twist when DeMause recalls how, just a year ago, Mayor Bloomberg was arguing that PILOTs weren't repaid by general tax revenues and therefore didn't require City Council oversight.


Posted by lumi at 8:47 AM

Arena questions & frustrations II

We cut over to Forest City Enterprise's bid to build a giant slot machine parlor in Pittsburgh, when we stumble over something that sounds familiar.

For instance, last week Neil DeMause nailed Forest City Enterprises's CEO Al Ratner for whining that the Pittsburgh Penguins are refusing to foot the bill for their own arena in order to "to sell the hockey team at a higher price." Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn, cousin Brucie "is currently seeking public subsidies to build a new Nets arena in Brooklyn, to help justify the inflated price he and his partners paid for the team."

This week, Al Ratner gets spanked in a letter to the editor to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

When questioned about their outrageously inflated slots revenue projections, Harrah's Albert Ratner said, "If we're wrong, it's our money that's being lost." How utterly self-serving.

If Mr. Ratner is wrong (the way Harrah's was wrong with its casino revenue projections in New Orleans), it's the City of Pittsburgh's money that is being lost -- $100 million more per year in property tax relief -- not his company's money.


NoLandGrab: The Brooklyn subsidiary of Forest City frequently makes the point that their interests naturally conform to the community's interests since they are investing in the community and are committed to holding and managing the properties they develop. However, when Forest City Ratner's public-subsidy-rich holdings don't meet expectations, it's the City and State (that means YOU) to the rescue.

Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

Jeffries Concerned About, But Not Opposed To, Yards

JeffriesPressConference.jpg Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Nik Kovac

Hakeem Jeffries declares that his isn't a "Johny-One note candidacy" and it's about more than Atlantic Yards, but that's clearly where he is feeling the heat from opponent Bill Batson.

Batson has made his opposition to the Yards project clear, while Jeffries is still hedging his bets. He said he would not have supported the $100 million allocation for the project within this year's state budget, only because, "I haven't seen anything comprehensive yet. Bringing in 15,000 people into a community [Prospect Heights] that has only 19,000 already...I need to know how that's going to affect police, fire, sanitation, schools, all kinds of services. I have strong questions."

Jeffries on eminent domain:

He would oppose eminent domain "unless there was a clearly defined public benefit."

...on the Community Benefits Agreement signed by Bruce Ratner:

"mend it don't end it."


Posted by lumi at 8:06 AM

Considering the death and life of Jane Jacobs

JaneJacobs-DLGAC.jpg Power Plays, (NYC political blog of The Village Voice) The Death and Life of Jane Jacobs
Jarred Murphy explores the influence of Jane Jacob's book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities."

But for many city fans, reading the "Death and Life of Great American Cities" offered not just an engaging academic argument. More than that, her book gave shape to the philosophical, even spiritual idea that within the "irrationality and chaos of cities" there was a logic—or perhaps a soul—guiding all those disparate, conflicting forces toward something good.

The NY Times, BLOCKS: All in the Planning, and Worth Preserving

David Dunlap lines up some quotes from urban planning experts speaking about Jane Jacobs influence.

Downtown Express, The life and death of Jane Jacobs

Downtown Express gives credit to Jane Jacobs for preserving the very neighborhoods the downtown weekly paper covers and suggests her legacy goes beyond the individual fights she waged:

Not every one of those principles is always right and not every community fight is good, but the idea that people are the most important part of urban planning, that they can improve or stop plans if they are smart and organized, that government officials must have true consultations with neighbors – that idea lives and Jane Jacobs is a big reason why.

Posted by lumi at 6:49 AM

Live from Ratnerville, Dean St. Demolition Porn

461463Dean.jpg Curbed.com

Develop Don't Destroy's Daniel Goldstein knows how to get our attention: send an email with the subject header Demolition Porn and attach a bunch of photos of the work underway this week at 461-463 Dean Street in Ratnerville.


It doesn't take a NoLandGrabber to notice that Ratner used a time-tested blightification strategy — buying up properties and contributing to their deterioration by leaving the windows open, rain or shine. The photo below is from February, 2006.


Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

April 27, 2006

Paper of record, on record, "For the Record"

It's not exactly the mea culpa that Atlantic Yards critics were looking for, but The New York Times checked it out and found that Ratner's plan isn't now and has never been in Downtown Brooklyn:

Because of an editing error, an article in The Arts on Tuesday about Frank Gehry's design for the first phase of the Grand Avenue development project in Los Angeles misstated the location of the proposed Atlantic Yards project that Mr. Gehry is designing in Brooklyn. (The error also appeared in sports articles on Feb. 9 and April 11, in the City section on Jan. 15 and in several articles in 2003, 2004 and 2005.) It is on rail yards and other land in Prospect Heights and on a block in Park Slope; it is not in Downtown Brooklyn, although it is near that neighborhood. (Go to Tuesday's Article)


The Real Estate Observer, We were wrong all along
Matthew Schuerman ranks this correction amongst his all-time favorite Times corrections (no kidding).

Atlantic Yards Report, The Times finally corrects the "Downtown Brooklyn" errors
Stormin' Norman Oder welcomes the "belated" correction, but believes The Times could have gone further. In his typical relentless fashion, Oder managed to find 14 articles in the NY Times Sports section in 2003 that have yet to be appended.

Posted by lumi at 10:41 PM

Develop, Don't Destroy franchise

From the Develop, Don't Destroy Troy online petition:

We, the undersigned, are greatly disturbed by the amount of demolition occurring in Troy, N.Y. Historic buildings have been leveled and over 150 buildings are scheduled for demolition. Most of these are houses in Troy’s poorer neighborhoods. Block development grants are being used for demolition. And, in the case of the historic marquee on the American Theater, historic review protocols have been ignored.

Sign here

Posted by lumi at 10:16 PM

A Plan to Rebuild by 2012, and Doubts on the Big Rush

An alert NoLandGrab reader pointed out this paragraph in today's news about the plans to rebuild the World Trade Center (emphasis added):

Some experts are even wondering whether there will be enough steel, concrete and curtain wall to build the four towers by 2012 at the same time that two baseball stadiums, the $2 billion Goldman Sachs headquarters, the $1.7 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Moynihan Station, 10,000 apartments and various subway projects are under construction.


NoLandGrab: Industry experts have already noticed the Katrina effect on the supply and cost of construction materials. Add to that the building boom under the Bloomberg-Doctoroff doctrine and the $3.5 billion figure for Atlantic Yards isn't even going to be close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades.

Posted by lumi at 10:06 PM

TONIGHT: Atlantic Yards: The Community Impact — A Free Forum

Thursday, April 27, 2006. 7 - 9 PM

First Unitarian Congregational Society
Pierrepont St between Clinton & Monroe, Brooklyn Heights

This forum hopes to present both sides of the issue. However, with one exception, the invited proponents declined to participate.

Panelists: * Rev. Dennis Dillon, Publisher, The NY Christian Times & CEM of the Brooklyn Christian Center; * Daniel Goldstein, Spokesperson, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB); * Brian Ketcham, P.E., Executive Director, Community Consulting Services, Inc. * Bob Law, Community Activist; * James Vogel, Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods; * (tentatively) Rev. Herbert Daughtry, Pastor, The House of the Lord Church on Atlantic Avenue, (depending on rearrangement of Rev. Daughtry’s schedule).

Reception to follow
Sponsored by The Weaving the Fabric of Diversity Committee

Posted by lumi at 11:41 AM

TODAY: Gowanus Canal CSO Public Forum

Combined Sewer Overflow does not sound like an issue that brings neighborhoods together, but everyone in Central Brooklyn has had (or knows someone who has) brown water backing up through their plumbing when it rains.

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Brooklyn Community Board 6 and local elected officials are co-sponsoring a Public Forum on Combined Sewage Outfalls (CSO's) flowing into the Gowanus Canal.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the City's Department of Environmental Protection will be on hand to report on their efforts to improve the environmental condition of the Gowanus Canal and answer questions from the public.

Also participating will be representatives for Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus (FROGG), Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation (GCCDC), UPROSE and Urban Divers.

Thursday, April 27
6:00 pm
YWCA, 30 3rd Avenue (between Atlantic Avenue/State Street), 1st floor

For more information on up-and-coming events, please visit our Events page.

Posted by lumi at 11:18 AM

Atlantic Yards out of place in "New Downtowns" discussion

Atlantic Yards Report goes to a city planning forum on the revival of America's Downtown districts and learns why Ratner's project defies common sense.


Posted by lumi at 8:24 AM

A Brooklyn Activist Fights Eminent Domain Abuse

Castle Watch (Newsletter for the Institute of Justice's Castle Coalition)

Patti Hagan has been fighting the eminent domain-addicted Bruce Ratner since the Atlantic Yards project was first announced. While Bruce says the neighborhood needs his plan to prosper, Patti tells a different story:

“When I came to this neighborhood in 1979, people were abandoning buildings, houses were boarded up, and there were drugs and crime,” she said. “But people began to buy buildings and fix them up with their own sweat, and one by one, the buildings and the mom-and-pop storefronts began to strengthen. We built a solid neighborhood, one that is a true success story. We don’t need this supposed engine of economic development. This is a thriving, successful neighborhood.”


Posted by lumi at 8:19 AM

Atlantic Yards and the 57th District


Ratner PR diva Lupe Todd was spotted amongst the supporters of Hakeem Jeffries at this Sunday's City Hall press conference announcing his third run for the State Assembly's 57th district.

When reached at her office, Ms. Todd had no comment. Mr. Jeffries could not be reached.

Activists opposed to the Atlantic Yards project are dismayed at the connection between Ms. Todd and Mr. Jeffries. Daniel Goldstein, activist resident of the 57th district and supporter of Jeffries' opponent, Bill Batson, emails over: "The community and district need advocates it can trust. Mr. Jeffries' campaign's association with Ms. Todd, one of Bruce Ratner's 'Atlantic Yards' PR reps and lobbyists, is troubling. It raises serious questions about the infusion of private, billionaire interests into Mr. Jeffries' assembly race."


NoLandGrab: Brooklynites still want to know what his position on Atlantic Yards is, though Lupe Todd's public support of his campaign is an ominous sign that the candidate is tight-lipped for a reason.

Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM

Charles Barron, Taxpayer Watchdog

The Daily Politics
By Ben Smith

One City Councilmember didn't vote to force taxpayers to pay for ballparks they aren't even sure they even want, for multimillionaire team owners.

New Yankee and Mets stadium deals passed the City Council today by votes of 46-3 and 48-1 respectively, with the only member to vote against both the black radical from Brooklyn, Charles Barron.


Posted by lumi at 7:09 AM

Brooklyn Broadside: ‘The End of Brooklyn as We Know It’

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle's Dennis Holt proves that you don't have to construct an argument to have an opinion.

In a rambling editorial disputing Atlantic Yards critics' characterization of the project as "the end of Brooklyn as we know it," Holt takes the metaphor quite literally and extrapolates it to the edges of the borough, to locales such as Floyd Bennett Field.

From there Holt touts the State's inadequate review process and then misleads his readers [emphasis added]:

Another major change to another part of Brooklyn is being engineered that will not benefit from such detailed study. It is not because everyone is lazy or has something better to do: it is simply that such work is not required by law.

Dennis Holt is referring to buildings going up as part of the ALREADY APPROVED Downtown Brooklyn Plan, a project that he conditionally supported in the pages of The Eagle.


NoLandGrab: Why is this worth mentioning?

This tactic of deflecting criticism of Atlantic Yards by pointing to other high rises currently under construction is becoming familiar and most recently has been used by our great leader Marty Markowitz.

The Downtown Brooklyn Plan brings up a good point: that the environmental impacts of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal will only be compounded by development already in the pipeline.

Dennis Holt supported the Downtown Brooklyn Plan and the traffic study that accompanied it. Now that the traffic study is gathering dust on a shelf in some cubicle at the DOT, how can "Brooklyn as we know it" plan for the next wave of proposed development?

Posted by lumi at 6:42 AM

April 26, 2006


Passing of Activist and Urban Thinking Giant Reminder of All That is Wrong With Ratner's "Atlantic Yards"

BROOKLYN, NY - Jane Jacobs, author, social critic, intellectual, urbanist and community activist, died yesterday in Toronto at the age of 89.

Her seminal work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, is widely considered the bible of modern urban planning. Her struggles with Robert Moses and her efforts to stop the planned construction of a highway through Lower Manhattan in the 1960s remains an inspiration to all of us fighting for smarter, saner, more people-friendly development.

New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger said today on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show that Ms. Jacobs "would not have been enthusiastic about" Bruce Ratner’s “Atlantic Yards” proposal.

“There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder,” Jacobs wrote in Death and Life, “and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.” While this passage was published 45 years ago, it applies just as well today to Bruce Ratner’s and Frank Gehry’s designs upon Prospect Heights and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "While the Ratners and Gehrys co-opt Jacobs' principles by paying lip service to things they call "human scale" and "urban rooms," we can draw inspiration from the vision and vigor that enabled Jacobs to save Greenwich Village from planners, developers, power brokers and politicians intent on their warped ideas of 'progress.' We seek to ensure that when we are victorious in our advocacy for sensible development and a liveable city, our struggle will be one of her legacies. May Ms. Jacobs rest in peace, and in her name may we find peace for the health of New York's neighbhorhoods."

Francis Morrone, journalist, lecturer, and author of An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn, noted at a recent public forum on the "Atlantic Yards" proposal:

"Make no mistake. The politicians and the developers are getting away with a lot of what they're getting away with because elite cultural opinion has momentarily grown bored with ideas like preservation and human scale..."

"Ultimately, though, it is not about culture, it is about civilization. It's about such things as how we manage change in our environment..."

"Incremental redevelopment, of a more modest scale, may lack luster in this age in which many architects and planners have swung back from the influence of Jane Jacobs to re-embrace the values of an earlier generation that venerated Le Corbusier and his notions of towers and open spaces sweeping aside the shopworn vestiges of earlier periods of urban development. But for many, incremental redevelopment seems appropriate in Brooklyn–which has fought back from the brink to provide models for urban America, not of vast projects of wholesale transformation, but of rehabilitation and the tender loving care of the sorts of neighborhoods and places that we spent so many years trying to destroy."

"Clearly, the 'Atlantic Yards' area needs development. The proposals on the table, however, beg the question of whether Brooklyn’s urban success stories have taught us anything at all, or just paved the way for thoughtless mega-development. Jane Jacobs coined the phrase “cataclysmic money.” Disinvestment is bad. So is over-investment. And it seems that in some parts of Brooklyn we may be going from the one to the other."

The Hillbilly Blog Bard of Brooklyn, Dope on the Slope, in remembrance of Jan Jacobs, writes: "The idea that Brooklyn could be transformed into a 'destination attraction' for tourists, or perhaps even become another Jersey City if we just applied ourselves, would make Jane Jacobs puke. The so-called "leaders" in Brooklyn are repeating the same mistakes Jane warned us about decades ago. Unfortunately, Jane Jacobs and the movement she spawned are currently out of fashion with New York City planners and the architectural mavens in Manhattan."

Posted by lumi at 10:16 PM

She was right about everything, of course...

jacobs.jpg Why do we honor Jane Jacobs? The Guttersnipes explain it this way:

She was right about everything, of course—why it's good to leave keys with a shopkeeper, why it's bad to knock down SoHo for a highway (even if that highway might have held above it a great Paul Rudolph masterpiece)—and in the best way: simple and direct, because she could be, because the rhetoric of her day (cue ominous parallelism...) had gone so far awry that the very act of exercising common sense was radical. We're there again, folks. This time without our Jane.

The point bears repeating, "we're there again folks." But, we could just as easily say, we'll always have "our Jane;" Jacobs didn't really invent anything, yet her life and keen intellect bore witness and gave voice to that which had existed since the dawn of human civilization.

Last year, Jane Jacobs submitted a friend of the court brief in the bellweather eminent domain case, Kelo vs. New London.

Here's today's coverage:
The NY Times, Jane Jacobs, Social Critic Who Redefined and Championed Cities, Is Dead at 89
NY Daily News, Jane Jacobs dies. Stared down Robert Moses.
AP, via NY Newsday, Jane Jacobs, author and activist, dead at 89

Curbed.com linked several blog commentaries and compiled links to interviews.

Aaron Naparstek mused in The New York Times last week that "If Jane Jacobs had the tools and technology back when she was fighting Robert Moses' plans to bulldoze Lower Manhattan, I bet 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities' would have been a blog." This week Naparstek's blog quotes Jacobs in reference to closing our urban parks to automobile traffic.

The Hillbilly Bard of Brooklyn, Dope on the Slope, remembers Jane Jacobs and explains why Brooklyn now needs her more than ever.

While the Bruce Ratners and Frank Gehrys co-opt Jacobs' principles by paying lip service to things like "human scale" and "street walls," New Yorkers can find inspiration in the vision and vigor that enabled Jacobs to save Greenwich Village from planners and politicians intent on "progress."

Posted by lumi at 9:49 AM

Legal Theft In Norwood

George Will Newsweek

The conservative columnist George Will makes the case against eminent domain abuse and explains why the Gambles are fighting the City of Norwood to save their home:

Norwood's government, in a remarkably incestuous deal, accepted the developer's offer to pay the cost of the study that—surprise!—enabled the city to declare the neighborhood "blighted" and "deteriorating." NEWSWEEK reader, stroll around your neighborhood. Do you see any broken sidewalk pavement? Any standing water in a road? Any weeds? Such factors—never mind that sidewalks and roads are government's responsibility—were cited by the developer's study to justify Norwood's forcing the Gambles and their neighbors to sell to the developer so he could build condominiums, office buildings and stores.


NoLandGrab: This case is being watched very carefully by property-rights activists in Brooklyn and the Ratner clan. Many issues run parallel — an inevitable finding of "blight" that benefits a developer who already owns all of the recently developed commercial property adjacent to the site — and the case is on track to possibly reach the US Supreme Court long before the Atlantic Yards eminent domain legal challenge.

Posted by lumi at 8:55 AM


Albany, NY, 4/26/06: State Senator John A. DeFrancisco, author of two bills that would eliminate eminent domain abuse in New York State, has voiced his strong support for a demonstration on the Capitol steps protesting the practice that is scheduled for Friday, April 28, from 12-3 pm. The protest is part of a 'spring offensive' on the EDA issue organized by the Libertarian Party, which is holding its state convention in Albany the same weekend.

In a support letter to be read on the Capitol steps he writes, "I commend you for holding this rally and letting your elected representatives know that you favor reforming New York State's eminent domain laws." DeFrancisco is the author of bill S5938 (which would limit government takings to true public uses) and S5961-A (which similarly amends the state Constitution to forbid EDA). The bills were drafted with the aid of the libertarian Institute for Justice, and S5938 has 18 co-sponsors in the Stste Senate.

Full rally and convention details are posted on www.ny.lp.org. Libertarians will consider formally endorsing the bills at its Saturday convention, will be held at the Best Western Albany Airport Inn, 200 Wolf Road, Albany Saturday, April 29th from 9am to 11pm, with the business session nominating candidates from 1:30pm to 5:30pm.

Posted by lumi at 8:53 AM

Podcast: Eminem Domain Mix

Dope on the Slope

Dope on the Slope released a podcast of a special mix for your next condemnation party.

Featuring favorite lines like:

My favourite buildings are all falling down.
Seems like I dwell in a different town.
But why should I bother with painting them brown.
When they'll all be pulled down in the end?

But wait, there's more — complete witih liner notes, you get the low-down on the Kinks' rock opera "Preservation," which tells "the tale of an Evil Developer® who is plotting to pave over a tranquil community for his own fun and profit."

All for the low, low price of letting Brother Bruce [and his little Marty too!] into a neighborhood near you.

Here's the link. Just kick back and, "relax. Eminent Domain is good for you."

Posted by lumi at 8:00 AM

The Edifice Complex: reflections on Ratner and Gehry

edificecomplex.gif Atlantic Yards Report

Power, money, art, ego — could these factors be the driving force behind Atlantic Yards?

Peering through the analytical lens of Deyan Sudjic, the architecture critic for London's Observer newspaper, and his book "The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World," Norman Oder considers Atlantic Yards and the limits of criticism of Ratner and Gehry's 22-acre $3.4 billion 16-tower 8.6-million square foot mini-city.


Posted by lumi at 7:46 AM

IND Members Uphold Disenfranchisement, Endorse Conner


One more eye-witness account of Brooklyn's Independent Neighborhood Democrats political brouhaha summed up well the move that disenfranchised supporters of anti-Ratner candidates:

Many asked for an explanation as to why the date was changed. President Johnson told them, that the date was not changed, it was moved.


NoLandGrab: Ratner's real estate dealings have become a political flashpoint, one result of which is greater-than-ever scrutiny of local politics — never mind that anyone with a blog has become another set of eyes for the public.

Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

Yonkers, Ratner battle Con Edison over Ridge Hill

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

Forest City Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill project in Yonkers is still making waves. The most recent development, "the use of the threat of eminent domain," will come as no surprise to Brooklynites.

A city-controlled agency could go to court to force Consolidated Edison to sell 5 1/2 acres of property south of the proposed Ridge Hill Village project that developer Forest City Ratner needs to build a new access road for the site. ... The utility agreed last year to allow Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner to build a section of the access road connecting Ridge Hill, a $600 million housing, retail and entertainment complex approved by the City Council last year, to Tuckahoe Road to the south. Altogether, the developer needs 7.1 acres for the access road, none of which is developed land.

Con Edison, however, has not indicated any kind of agreement to a sale price that the IDA [Yonkers Industrial Agency] or developer has been willing to pay, said David Simpson, a spokesman for Mayor Phil Amicone, who heads the IDA board.

The article also mentions some of the extraordinary tax breaks that Forest City Ratner has managed to secure: sales and mortgage-recording tax exemptions and a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes.

John Larkin, president of the Nepera Park-Grey Oaks Neighborhood Association, questioned why Forest City Ratner should be eligible for tax breaks.

"It annoys me this $4 billion corporation is going begging to the city when they can pay full taxes, like I do," he said.


Posted by lumi at 6:44 AM

April 25, 2006

Community is fooled again by jobs promises

Atlantic Yards Report has been going hoarse trying to get press and pols to realize that Bruce Ratner has a poor track record of fulfilling jobs promised to the community.

Apparently that's business as usual with the Economic Development Corportation and Captain Marty.

Brought to our attention by The Real Estate Observer:

Those 300 jobs promised by the Economic Development Corporation for the new cruise ship terminal in Red Hook? They are part-time jobs--like 38 days out of 365, the Daily News reports.

Posted by lumi at 9:37 PM

Jane Jacobs, 89: Urban crusader

Toronto Star

Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs was a writer, intellectual, analyst, ethicist and moral thinker, activist, self-made economist, and a fearless critic of inflexible authority.
Her first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, published in 1961, became a bible for neighbourhood organizers and what she termed the “foot people”.

It made the case against the utopian planning culture of the times — residential high-rise development, expressways through city hearts, slum clearances, and desolate downtowns.

She believed that residential and commercial activity should be in the same place, that the safest neighbourhoods teem with life, short winding streets are better than long straight ones, low-rise housing is better than impersonal towers, that a neighbourhood is where people talk to one another. She liked the small-scale.


Posted by lumi at 9:23 PM

Aquifer testing

aquifertesting.jpg Neighborhood blogger onehansonplace.com reported aquifer testing in the Atlantic Yards footprint.

The Forest City Ratner machine has begun testing the water table around the Atlantic Yards site. To the far left is a truck that was parked at the corner of Pacific and 5th Avenue this weekend. There were others parked by 6th Ave and Atlantic also.


Posted by lumi at 10:27 AM

More Nets arena demolition today

Metro NY
By Amy Zimmer

The demolition of buildings owned by Bruce Ratner in the footprint of his plans for a $3.5 billion arena and 16 high-rises continues today. Demolition is expected to begin at 461 and 463 Dean St. Solomon Oliver Mechanical Contracting — which Ratner officials pointed out is a minority-owned firm — will take down the buildings.


Posted by lumi at 10:21 AM

Atlantic Yards Report Roundup: Times editorial and ad sales

Today's Atlantic Yards Report turns its attention back to The NY Times.

TimesTowerAd.jpg Forest City Ratner's ad in the Times: home court advantage?

If you own the lower floors of the Times Tower, is this ad that ran on the back page of this Sunday's Empire State Building special tribute section a "house ad" or a favor for your business partner Bruce Ratner?

"Buried by The Times": a darker story of inadequate coverage
A book whose premise is that the publisher of The New York Times downplayed the coverage of the Holocaust as the news of genocide was reaching our shores may contain lessons about how a paper's publisher can affect news coverage that may be against his or her own political or financial interest.

Posted by lumi at 9:48 AM

Yassky’s Burden

David Yassky Can a white candidate win in a congressional district created to empower blacks?

Jewish Week
By Adam Dickter

In an article about City Councilmember David Yassky's run for US Congress, 11th District, the two-ton elephant is brought up by Representative Major Owens.

Where does Yassky's stand on Ratner's Atlantic Yards development proposal?

Yassky favors the development but wants it scaled down, with traffic concerns addressed.


Posted by lumi at 9:40 AM

One Hanson Place Update: Site's Sorta Open Again


clocktower.jpg Curbed.com

While Bruce Ratner is showcasing photos of scrap buses stored in the MTA-owned railyards as evidence of blight in the neighborhood (see atlanticyards.com, 2,700K slideshow), Curbed.com takes a sneak peak behind the cyber-curtain at the units for sale at the newly renovated One Hanson Place (aka Williamsburg Clock Tower building).

At a cool $3 mil for the penthouse flat, there goes the neighborhood.


Posted by lumi at 9:17 AM

Los Angeles With a Downtown? Gehry's Vision

NY Times
By Robin Pogrebin

Frank Gehry is working on his urban design chops in Los Angeles on a "$1.8 billion development plan by the Related Companies that will remake Grand Avenue as a pedestrian-based gathering point":

He said his goal was "to develop the beginning of a community that has the body language of a community and has the scale of a community."

The only problem for Brooklynites is that he still thinks Atlantic Yards is in Downtown Brooklyn:

In complexity, he said, the multiuse project resembles the proposed Atlantic Yards development he is designing for downtown Brooklyn, which includes a corridor of high-rise towers and a new arena for the Nets basketball team.


NoLandGrab: Just because Gehry doesn't know where Atlantic Yards is doesn't mean that the Times doesn't. Clearly Bruce Ratner is winning the PR battle when the paper of record repeatedly misplaces Atlantic Yards and locates the project where Ratner and Gehry want everyone to believe it is.

Posted by lumi at 8:17 AM

April 24, 2006

Now you see it, now you don't

Last Thursday, Governor Pataki vetoed Senate bill S.7264-A, a Senate budget bill which included the $33 million line item earmarked for Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal. Only the State Assembly can override the veto, though the horsetrading to subtract items from the bill is undoubtedly underway.

Posted by lumi at 7:02 PM

Jobs at Ratner's malls: far fewer than originally predicted

Atlantic Yards Report looks at Ratner's jobs claims for his existing Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls and detects a pattern of "overinflation."

Norman Oder also points out that in 1996, the figure in the sales pitch for Atlantic Center was 1,250 new jobs. However, according to a Good Jobs New York report, the figure that Ratner promised to city officials was a scant 552 jobs.


NoLandGrab: That's not a great track record of trust and transparency. Everyone has gotten used to the idea that promises of jobs are usually overinflated. The question is why does the press fail to scrutinize them?

Posted by lumi at 4:34 PM

The IND train

The Real Estate Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

The interplay of real estate and politics covered on the pages of The Real Estate Observer:

So far, the brouhaha caused by the decision by the [Independent Neighborhood Democrats] political club to keep out Atlantic Yards opponents has escaped notice on The Real Estate, though sister site The Politicker had it first. It's a great real estate-and-politics story: About 100 apparent Atlantic Yards opponents paid their dues just in time to qualify for the May 18 vote to endorse Congressional candidate and Atlantic Yards opponent Chris Owens (as opposed to David Yassky, the club favorite and Atlantic Yards fencesitter). Then the club decides to move up the registration deadline to May 4 to disqualify those newbies. (A state Senate race is also at issue.)


Schuerman's post cites a Daily Gotham eyewitness account, that acknowledges the disenfranchisement of supporters of anti-Ratner candidates, but ascribes the real motive to be the preservation of the endorsement of Brooklyn's other Marty, State Senator Marty Connor.

Posted by lumi at 3:56 PM

DePlasco's back on his spin game with the Brooklyn Papers

Atlantic Yards Report gives props to Forest City Ratner's Der Meisterspinner Joe DePlasco for earning his keep in the pages of this weekend's Brooklyn Papers.

Like a veteran pitcher with a range of pitches at his disposal, Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco showed two of his time-tested spin techniques in a brief article in the recent Brooklyn Papers, headlined Ratner’s new Web site o’lies.


Posted by lumi at 3:43 PM

Atlantic Yards project timeline (and what's pending)

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder has updated the project timeline featured in his original report, released 9/05.

What's pending?

Atlantic Yards Report fills readers in on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), Final EIS, who approves this project, eminent domain, and other legal challenges that will likely push back Bruce Ratner's plan to start construction by the fall.


Posted by lumi at 12:30 PM

Bill ties benefits, jobs to subsidies

If businesses don’t deliver on promises, they would have to repay tax breaks

By Patrick Arden

A State Assembly bill would force large projects that receive subsidies to meet stated goals or lose state subsidies.

If passed, how could the bill affect promises made by developers in these Community Benefits Agreements that are becoming popular in NYC?

Under IDA reform, businesses getting government subsidies would have to meet certain standards. Construction jobs would have to pay prevailing wages, for instance, while permanent employees would have to earn at least 185 percent of the poverty level for a family of three. Local hiring would also be mandated. Many of these provisions are now being negotiated separately under so-called Community Benefit Agreements.

“We’d like to take the question of jobs, benefits and local hiring off the table from the beginning — if agencies are going to give out public subsidies, then these kinds of conditions should be attached to those subsides right off the bat,” said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of New York Jobs With Justice.


Posted by lumi at 12:17 PM

CBA should mean "CITY Benefit Agreement"

Room Eight

One voice in a growing chorus of critics of Community Benefits Agreements, Barry Popik illustrates how developers will cut these side deals with those who are willing to receive a handout in exchange for their support of a project.

CBA should mean "city benefit agreement," not "community benefit agreement." Promises of jobs on large projects should be city-wide, not community-wide. Mayor Bloomberg should issue a policy pronouncement on this right now.


Posted by lumi at 12:12 PM

Forest City to develop Virginia 'lifestyle' center

Crain's Cleveland Business

Forest City Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: FCE) announced plans for White Oak Village, a mix of “power center” and “lifestyle center” in Richmond and Henrico County in Virginia.

NoLandGrab: Forest City's promotion of the "lifestyle center" made us wonder how it differs from an outdoor mall.

See: TheBoxTank, "Lifestyle Centers And Faux Downtowns"

Posted by lumi at 12:03 PM

Targeting Shaya Boymelgreen

Kick off for Nationwide Make Work Pay! Campaign


Join us in a Rally against Shaya Boymelgreen, an Unscrupulous Developer And Launch Nationwide Make Work Pay! Campaign

1000 local workers will gather on April 24th to send a message to Shaya Boymelgreen that workers should be rewarded with decent wages, affordable healthcare, a safe workplace and a chance for a better future. This action will be joined by dozens of events across the country to kick off the national Make Work Pay! Campaign

Stand with Local members the Laborers, Teamsters, UFCW, SEIU, UNITE HERE, Carpenters, Jobs with Justice, ACORN, New York Civic Participation Project and many other community and religious leaders.

MONDAY April 24th 3:00pm
Atlantic Ave at Smith Street in Brooklyn

Metro NY, Activists: ‘We can’t live in New York City’

Also, ACORN stormed an open house this weekend for Boymelgreen's 85 Adams Street project. Their point: developers receiving subsidies from the City should be required to build affordable housing.

Posted by lumi at 11:42 AM



Community Benefits Agreements, like the one Forest City Ratner signed last year, have proliferated and are causing frustrations amongst City officials and community groups, as calls to rein in these side deals are growing louder.

Mayor Bloomberg may soon be targeting community benefits agreements, the lucrative payment deals that developers have agreed to with local leaders to assuage public opposition to major projects. An administration official told Crain’s New York Business this week that the mayor is evaluating the agreements and may unveil a policy on how they should be negotiated. The New York Yankees recently signed a community benefits package with Bronx leaders involving their plans for a new stadium,leading Queens lawmakers to demand a similar pact from the New York Mets on a proposed replacement for Shea Stadium.

Posted by lumi at 11:30 AM

Sewage Beach

Summer’s almost here, and things are getting excrementally worse with our water.

New York Magazine
By Eric Wolff

New York Magazine received Forest City Ratner's press release about sewage concerns and worked it into this article about how storm water causes our sewer system to overflow into our city's waterways:

But even developers seem to recognize the issue. In part to deflect the anger of neighborhood activists, the developers of the massive Atlantic Yards complex in Brooklyn promised to build underground tanks to collect up to 800,000 gallons of storm-water runoff, and to install newfangled “waterless urinals.”

Considering that there is already a problem, and that there are thousands of residential units currently under construction, the possibility of Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) is of great concern to neighborhoods surrounding the Atlantic Yards footprint. We haven't seen anything that would lead Brooklynites to believe that the underground tanks would be a total mitigation of CSOs for Atlantic Yards.

These links outline the issue before Ratner announced his plans to build underground tanks:
Brooklyn Papers, Study:Yards feces to canal
Atlantic Yards Report, Another worry: how often would Atlantic Yards sewage overflow the system?

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Community Board 6 are sponsoring an informational forum on CSOs this Thursday, April 27 at the 3rd Ave. YWCA.

Posted by lumi at 10:58 AM


The NY Times, Metro Briefing

Hakeem Jeffries, a lawyer who has been active in Brooklyn civic activities, announced yesterday that he was running for the Assembly seat being vacated by Roger L. Green. Mr. Green is challenging the incumbent, Edolphus Towns, in a Democratic primary for the House of Representatives. This will be Mr. Jeffries's third campaign for the seat in the 57th Assembly District, which includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights. He twice ran against Mr. Green. This year he will face Bill Batson, a former aide to State Senator David A. Paterson of Manhattan. Both candidates are Democrats. Mr. Jeffries had considered running against the assemblyman two years ago, but his block was carved out of the district. Since then, Mr. Jeffries has moved to within the district's new boundaries. He said his campaign would focus on housing. JONATHAN P. HICKS (NYT)

Posted by lumi at 10:39 AM

April 23, 2006

Top 5 reasons why FCR used an old photo of the Atlantic Arts building

A NoLandGrab reader submission in reaction to "Ratner’s new Web site o’lies":

5) They couldn't find 636 Pacific Avenue (because it's actually Pacific Street)

4) The people at Ratner-funded BUILD, who work next next door, have not yet been given a $85 digital camera to help out their benefactor.

3) The budget for Joe DePlasco's services includes only words, not pictures.

2) Six months was such a tight, tight deadline to revise the project website that photos just fell by the wayside.

1) Because the Ratner people lie so much, and newspapers like the Times let them get away with it, they actually think they won't get caught.

Posted by amy at 10:58 AM

New York City Invokes Eminent Domain to Acquire New Jersey*

Buoyed by the Supreme Court's decision to expand cities' power of eminent domain, New York City filed today to acquire the state of New Jersey for commercial development.

"New York has been facing some very difficult economic decisions," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Building viable economic development strategies for the city has been our number one priority. We think that the Supreme Court decision really opens a door for us, and will allow New York City to finally resolve some of these intractable issues."

The Constitution says government may take private property "for public use" if it pays the owners "just compensation." Originally, public use meant the land was used for roads, canals or military bases, or to clear blighted areas. In today's decision, the court went a step further and said officials need not claim they were condemning blighted properties or clearing slums. Now, as long as officials hope to create jobs or raise tax collections, they can seize the homes of unwilling sellers, the court said. This "public purpose" is a "public use" of the land, the court said in Kelo vs. New London.

"The Supreme Court decision makes it easier for us to justify this course of action in the name of economic development," said Bloomberg, "although actually we could easily have made the case that taking over New Jersey would be analogous to condemning a blighted property. I mean, come on. Have you been there lately?"

New York will compensate the current residents of New Jersey with "fair market value" for their property, a total amount estimated to be well within Bloomberg's ability to pay out of his own pocket. After evicting all current residents from New Jersey, New York plans to add a new Olympic stadium, a Trump apartment complex, international airport, and, most critically, a 4,000 square mile landfill.

"I have mixed feelings about this," said Newark resident Franklin Comstock. "On the one hand, I am not thrilled to be kicked out of my home and be paid pennies on the dollar for the privilege. On the other hand, New York is evicting our state government as well, every last official and bureaucrat. That is an immensely appealing concept." Others are more concerned about the Supreme Court decision and New York's plans.

"The Supreme Court has really started down a slippery slope by expanding the definition of "benefit to society" which can be used to justify eminent domain ," said economics professor Brad Turkelson, of Cornell University. "Making way for an interstate or a military base is one thing. Making way for a new golf course is something entirely different. Where is this going to stop? What if they decide that eminent domain could be invoked for the moral benefit of society? Do we want to go there?"

If New York is successful, it would mark the first time that eminent domain was used to take over an entire state. Other states are reportedly watching New York closely, and may be considering takeover efforts of their own.

"Dibs on Nevada," said California Governor Schwarzenegger.

*Today's Sunday parody was submitted by a NoLandGRab reader. What, you didn't think it was real did you?

Posted by amy at 10:53 AM

Mike likes public housing hike

Daily News describes Bloomberg's support for hikes in public housing rents, and the dissident voice of Bertha Lewis of ACORN:

"We can give tax breaks and subsidies to millionaires and billionaires to build luxury condos, but we can't help working families?" Lewis fumed.


Wait, are you taking the kiss back Bertha?

Atlantic Yards Report details the details:

Lewis is right that reform of the subsidy program is long overdue. But unmentioned is that a lot of public housing tenants pay far less of their income in rent than those in affordable housing. For example, the affordable housing plan ACORN negotiated with Forest City Ratner for the Atlantic Yards project caps rents at 30 percent of household income--which is the standard in the definition of affordable housing. As Bloomberg said, according to WNYC, "We are proposing to raise the rent for people who pay less then 10% of their income in rent. It's a small percentage. Someone has to pay for it."

That's not true, since the calculations below show that some people facing increases now pay 20% of their income in rent. Still, the relatively best-off public housing tenants are facing less of a hit than some of the others facing increases.

Posted by amy at 10:41 AM

What Public Process?


Brooklyn Views looks at the private versus public discussions of the Atlantic Yards proposal:

So we have been informed that the public review process has begun, because in addition to private meetings, there was a public meeting for the Draft Scope of Analysis for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). (A record of the “numerous” private meetings would be helpful, because behind the blogging issue is a general sense that the information is not getting through.) Let’s be clear about what that meeting for the “general public” was. The meeting was not a discussion about the project. The stated purpose of the meeting was to receive comments on the proposed scope of a proposed study of the project’s impact, as narrowly defined as that is by the state’s EIS process. Ironically, the EIS does not include issues of sustainable design, security, or other critical design issues; the EIS is not even a full discussion of the project’s impact. While the scope of the study was discussed, the specific impact of the project on the local area was not the subject of the meeting. Again, the discussion was supposed to be only about the scope of a study, which is quite different from a discussion about the project itself. A real discussion about the project would address the process, the financing, the schedule, and the idea of what this project means for Brooklyn.


Posted by amy at 10:35 AM

Arena Spillover

The Daily Politics:

One of the interesting things about the fight over the Nets arena complex in Brooklyn is the extent to which it is spilling over to dominate the rest of the borough's politics, partly by adding a cadre of activists to the generally passive political environment around there.

A meeting last night of one of the borough's political clubs, the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, got fairly heated along those lines last night, according to a couple of people who were there. The club's leadership, defending pro-arena incumbents, moved procedurally to keep new, anti-arena members out of its endorsement votes.

Daily Gotham has a long, distressed account of the situation.

Another attendee, however, notes that the new group did score a partial victory, however, moving a State Senate endorsement away from the regulars and over to Eric Adams of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement. Just a sign of which way the wind is blowing in local politics, and on a real estate development that looks, to close observers, increasingly imperiled.


Posted by amy at 10:32 AM

More Welcome Development

Excuse me, you're in the way wants their own luxury condo, and sends a plea to Ratner for assistance:

A site in downtown Brooklyn currently being used as a parking lot is being offered for sale. It is zoned for a 130,000 square foot apartment building, which is woefully inadequate. Even at a relatively sane 700 sq ft per apartment, that's still fewer than 200 units, and once you factor in 2 and 3-bedroom units, it goes even lower. If New York is going to be adding 1 million people in the coming decades, this type of development just isn't going to cut it.

Where's Bruce Ratner when you need him?


Posted by amy at 10:07 AM

April 22, 2006

Saturday Morning Special

Field of Schemes:

One of the competing bidders for a Pittsburgh casino slots license lashed out at the Penguins for refusing to commit to the state's "Plan B" arena plan. if the team's preferred arena partner isn't awarded the license: Forest City Enterprises co-chair Albert Ratner accused the Pens of refusing to chip in more for the arena in order "to sell the hockey team at a higher price." The irony: Albert Ratner's cousin Bruce is currently seeking public subsidies to build a new Nets arena in Brooklyn, to help justify the inflated price he and his partners paid for the team.


Posted by amy at 4:44 PM

Ratner’s new Web site o’lies

Brooklyn Papers:

Almost from the moment that www.atlanticyards.com went live, critics began finding half-truths and outright dishonesty on the site — the most glaring example, a several-year-old photo of a gutted building labeled “existing conditions.”

That building — at 636 Pacific St.— was later renovated into luxury condos. Ratner wants to tear it down to make room for an arena for the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets.


Posted by amy at 3:58 PM


Brooklyn Papers:

In the wake of $66 million in public subsidies approved by the state legislature for Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, Gov. Pataki promised this week to make it a cool $100 million — even if he doesn’t know how.

“We don’t exactly know where the funds will come from, but an appropriate funding stream will be found,” said state budget spokesman John Sweeney.


Wild guess to where the funds will come from - bake sales?

Posted by amy at 3:54 PM

April 21, 2006

Bake Don't Destroy postponed

BakeDontDestroyPostponed.gif Due to a forecast of rain, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's bake sale this Saturday has been postponed by a week.


For more up-and-coming events, check out our events page.

Posted by lumi at 11:57 AM

The open space dodge: would it be built just over the rail yards?

pacificstreetopenspace01.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder has pointed out (again and again and again) that the project isn't just over the railyards.

This time he's taking Forest City Ratner to task for trying to promote the idea that Brooklynites are trading in scrap buses and a railyard for open space at Atlantic Yards.

From atlanticyards.com:

As part of the development, FCRC will transform portions of the exposed rail yards into publicly accessible open space that everyone can enjoy. (Emphasis added)

Upon visual inspection, the highly touted "publicly accessible open space that everyone can enjoy" (that means it's still private, not public, property), is facilitated by, and largely located on, what is currently Pacific Street.


Posted by lumi at 10:33 AM

Two races to watch

Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal is the proverbial elephant in the room in a few races in Brooklyn. Here's the latest:

jeffries01.jpgState Assembly, 57th District
Evidence that Hakeem Jeffries is running:
"The future website for HakeemJeffries.com" is "Coming Soon!"

NLG: Inquiring minds want to know, where does Jeffries stand on Atlantic Yards?

US Congress, 10th District
Brooklyn Downtown Star, Two Pols Seek To Become the New Towns in Town

In the 10th district, a state pol and a city pol are both challenging Ed Towns, who is hoping to win his 13th consecutive federal election.

Councilman Charles Barron, who's current city district is entirely within the larger federal district, announced his campaign to unseat Towns two months ago. Last Friday morning, 24-year incumbent Assemblyman Roger Green, whose state district overlaps with the horseshoe-shaped federal district's northwestern section, officially announced his own oft-rumored candidacy to do the same.

NoLandGrab: Green is on record supporting Atlantic Yards and Bruce Ratner claims Towns is too. Barron was an early critic of the project.

The NY Sun, Green to Voters: Don’t Focus on Ethics Violation

The Brooklyn assemblyman who briefly lost his seat over an ethics violation said voters should not hold that against him as he runs for Congress.

Posted by lumi at 8:52 AM

It was a Brick... House


Downtown Brooklyn Star
By Nik Kovac

The Gateway Demolition crew, hired by Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), has been methodically disassembling the Vanderbilt Products warehouse on the northeast corner of Dean Street and Carlton Avenues.
As of this Tuesday morning, the formerly 30-foot high structure was already less than half its former height. The overall Atlantic Yards construction project is still pending state approval, and of course will have to withstand several more anticipated legal challenges from DDDB.


Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

Community Benefits Agreements, is it extortion & who benefits?

Community Benefits Agreements have become a standard mechanism for givebacks to the community in exchange for local support for controversial projects.

But the questions linger over who negotiates and signs for the community and if the entire process is just a legal way to extort money from developers without addressing the breadth of community concerns.

Atlantic Yards Report, Systemic changes? Ratner's CBA-compliant architect is already building Downtown Brooklyn towers
Norman Oder uncovers a discrepancy between Forest City Ratner's stated intentions and its actions, as the developer hires one of the most prominent architects in New York City, who happens to be born in Mexico. The move goes towards fulfilling the minority hiring requirement of the CBA, but minorities in Central Brooklyn see little benefit.

Columnist Errol Louis wrote in Our Time Press in January, "At this stage of the game the question should be how and when the dollars will begin flowing into central Brooklyn." Though Louis is an ardent supporter of Ratner's proposal, he makes a good point. The question remains unanswered, as Ratner appears only to be fulfilling the letter of the CBA in defiance of its spirit.

Crain's NY Business, Don't put zoning up for sale in NY
Crain's Publisher Alair Townsend calls on the Mayor and City Council Speaker to rein in private deal making between developers and self-professed representatives of the community, a trend that is resulting in agreements that have "less to do with mitigating adverse impacts than with buying off opposition."

Metro NY, Queens Councilmen seek sweet deal with the Mets
Bloomberg speaks out against efforts to sign a Mets CBA:

At the unveiling of plans for a new Mets’ ballpark two weeks ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg scolded Queens Councilmen who were trying to negotiate a community benefits agreement with the team. He called their threats to stall the project a “demand to get some ransom.”

The Politicker, C.B.A.'s: Sometimes Extortionate, Sometimes Not So Much
Regarding the Mayor's comments (see above) about a Mets' CBA:

It's obvious but just needs to be said: You won't catch Mike Bloomberg saying this about the community benefits agreement undergirding the Nets stadium deal.

Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

April 20, 2006

GumbyFresh gets grumpy

michiganmicrobrew.gifIt must be the jet lag that made GumbyFresh a little cranky about not being mentioned in the NY Times's article on bloggers who critique the Atlantic Yards project. He's one of the citizen bloggers who frequently writes about life in the shadow of the Atlantic Yards proposal.

In a recent post, GumbyFresh wrestles with the problem of finding a craft-brewed beer produced in a place where the government has foresworn taking people's homes to hand over to private developers.

NoLandGrab: We like the idea of supporting Michigan microbrews since the state's Supreme Court had the courage to overturn the decades-old ruling that introduced the idea of taking a thriving neighborhood for the public's (alleged) economic benefit.

Posted by lumi at 7:25 AM

"Stretching the truth"--why can't the Times look critically at Forest City Ratner?

Atlantic Yards Report looks at the challenge of reporting on an issue in which he-said-she-said journalism doesn't tell the story. Today's post lists some of Forest City Ratner's specious numbers and claims, linked to easily verifiable documentation.

Norman Oder also points out that one subjective characterization in The NY Times was misleading and kind of unfair:

The Times's 4/16/06 article about bloggers observed of the new AtlanticYards.com web site: "A day later, the site had already drawn jeers from at least two blogs." But I had not merely jeered at the site, I had fact-checked the site and found several errors. Later I found photos that lied.


NoLandGrab: We are lifting our veil of silence and are coming forward to say that it was us — NoLandGrab was the site that jeered at AtlanticYards.com last weekend, as cited by the Times. Even a developer who repeatedly uses eminent domain to build a real estate empire at the taxpayers expense is funny sometimes.

So Norman Oder is right, while we were being snarky, he was actually contributing to the public discourse about the project (showoff!).

Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

Gehry's Bad Skin Spreads at IAC HQ

GehryIAC.jpgYesterday was a bad skin day at Curbed.com, when the site considered the skin of New York City's first Frank Gehry building with a link to photoblogger Will Femia's shots of the frosted striped glass.

Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

April 19, 2006

"Over the railyards"? FCR says "primarily"


Atlantic Yards Report

It might seem like Norman Oder is picking on Forest City Ratner's new PR pet project, atlanticyards.com, but when the developer is setting the agenda it is worth analyzing the sales pitch to see if Ratner is making empty claims and promises.

Today's entry in the "error log" is the dubious and often repeated claim that the project is:

Located at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, bounded by Pacific and Dean Streets and Vanderbilt Avenue, and primarily situated over the MTA/LIRR’s Vanderbilt rail yards.

Can 8.3 acres out of a 22-acre project be considered "primarily situated?"


NoLandGrab: The statement implies that people and small businesses are not being displaced and that the project isn't really as big as critics claim.

Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

Atlantic Yards...What Could Have Been


From Curbed.com, more proof that developers had designs on the Vanderbilt Railyards before New York State bent over backwards for Bruce Ratner:

Before Bruce Ratner and Frank Gehry decided to play mad scientist with the Brooklyn skyline, there was a time when a different future was imagined for the Atlantic Yards. A reader reflects:

Before Ratner had his eyes on the Atlantic Railyards, Boymelgreen had big plans for Newswalk...not just the renovated Daily News printing plant, but for the whole neighborhood...all that survived was the Newswalk building, but this page from some architectural firm has some pretty hilarious sketches of what could have been...


NoLandGrab: Though the sketches might seem bizarre — "amusement park kitsch" comes to mind — on first glance we see a brew pub (perhaps for the mighty Brooklyn Brewery?) and some serious traffic calming measures that would satisfy transportation advocates. The design scheme would have put off many of those in the neighborhood, but ideas of scale, "fusing together the two neighborhoods" in a pedestrian-friendly environment, would have been welcome by many.

Commentary from Atlantic Yards Report, So, Boymelgreen had a plan for the railyards?:

Surely the goal to knit together the neighborhoods (the page mentions Crown Heights and Park Slope but, strangely enough, not Fort Greene and Prospect Heights) is a sound one. And the scale of this plan is quite modest compared to Forest City Ratner's 16-tower Atlantic Yards proposal. Perhaps it was too modest to be economically successful, even though the only housing was market-rate.

Had it been discussed publicly, perhaps local officials would have urged an RFP for the railyards, rather than let them sit. A discussion of Brooklyn's housing and retail needs might have followed, and multiple bidders might have competed. And then Marty Markowitz and Charles Gargano wouldn't be making pronouncements about how "no one has done a thing about" the railyards.

Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

Where Does Quinn Stand?

quinn01.jpg Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDb) wants to know where Christine Quinn stands on the Atlantic Yards proposal.

Quinn built her reputation as a leader in the City Council when she went to the mat against the Jets stadium proposal stating,"It seems somewhat unfair that the Jets are going to dump all of their corporate resources into this when they are up against unfunded community groups who are just trying to protect their neighborhood and fight for responsible development."

A year later, Quinn gave her support to the Yankee Stadium deal, in which neighborhood concerns were sacrificed for the richest team in baseball.

Where do these two very different reputations — Quinn the Crusader and Quinn the Dealmaker — leave Brooklynites fighting for responsible development of the railyards? DDDb suggests you ask her.

Posted by lumi at 6:48 AM

April 18, 2006

Atlantic Yards Report Roundup: Importance of covering FAR & Missing Ms. Brooklyn

Atlantic Yards Report

The Times takes floor area ratio seriously--in Williamsburg
Norman Oder notes that The NY Times ran an article about a developer's tactic to manipulate Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in his projects in Williamsburg. He suggests that the Times take a stab at seriously covering the points Brooklyn Views brings up about Forest City Ratner's stated FAR for Atlantic Yards.

NoLandGrab: If the Brooklyn Papers can cover FAR, surely The NY Times's real estate desk could take a stab at demystifying Forest City Ratner's FAR calculations and its implications.

One may say it's not against the law, but since NY State is forcing a special zoning override for this project, it's at least worthy of discussion.

From "Miss Brooklyn" to "Ms. Brooklyn": belated feminism or defensive tactic?
Ratner's tallest tower, the 60-story Miss Brooklyn, is now being referred to as "Ms. Brooklyn," but that doesn't mean we won't miss Brooklyn if Atlantic Yards is built. Norman Oder wonders why the name change.

Posted by lumi at 6:13 AM

April 17, 2006

Ratner Offers Urinal Idea for Nets Arena

waterlessurinal.jpg The Gothamist

Introducing the mintless urinal:

Oooh: In order to appease the downtown Brooklyn community, Bruce Ratner and the Nets arena development team are proposing to use waterless urinals in order to reduce the water and sewage outflow from the proposed arena. Yes, waterless urinals - crazy stuff!


NoLandGrab: Actually, the devices look pretty cool. We'd expect nothing less from the self-professed "do-gooding liberals." But seriously, is this supposed to solve the problem of the tremendous impact of Atlantic Yards and the surrounding development on Central Brooklyn's infrastructure?

Posted by lumi at 9:19 PM

Requiem for the Underberg

underbergrequiem.jpg An excerpt from Dope on the Slope's reflection on the Underberg building:

The Underberg was vacant, and few would have argued that it was a stunning architectural achievement worthy of preservation. However, it was an "old timer," and as such, it had a certain appeal. I was especially fond of its peculiar shades of green and light blue, and the contrast between the meticulously painted signage and the equally meticulous graffiti. It also imparted a sense of graceful senescence - what the Japanese might term "wabi sabi." This building wasn't so much falling down as it was fading away, that is, it was until Ratner demolished it.

Why mourn the destruction of an abandoned building?

No reason, really, except that it was the most aesthetically pleasing edifice in the immediate vicinity

Click here for a last look.

Posted by lumi at 9:02 PM

The Phantom Vetoes

The Real Estate Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

Pataki vetoed subsidies for the Mets and Yankee stadiums when the money was appropriated twice in the current budget under review. That's two line items and only one veto. Meanwhile regarding taxpayer financing for the Nets arena:

The Governor is also committed to seeing that Atlantic Yards get the full $100 million coming from the state, the aide said. That means that, in addition to the $66 million budget appropriation, Pataki will make up the difference by applying some of his discretionary funds to the arena-and-housing complex or through other means.

So much for fiscal belt-tightening.


Posted by lumi at 8:21 PM

Blog on blogs on media coverage of blogs, when will it end?

Curbed.com has a look at "The Grand Army's" reaction to being covered by the Times and muses:

God, when are these people just going to cut the wishy-washy bullshit and tell us where they stand on this whole Atlantic Yards thing?


Posted by lumi at 11:30 AM

No 1. idea for Nets' arena

Urinal proposal would be water-saver

NY Daily News
By Elizabeth Hays

Will Ratner's water-saving measures be enough to offset the increased sewage runoff into the Gowanus Canal if Atlantic Yards is built?

Ratner officials using the new no-flush [urinals] at the 20,500-seat arena would save 1.5 million gallons of water a year.
Ratner officials also plan to build underground tanks to collect up to 800,000 gallons of storm water runoff, which could be held on rainy days when the sewage system is already overwhelmed.

Or, is the system already overburdened and unable to handle developments currently under construction, much less the density of Atlantic Yards?

But Marlene Donnelly of Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus said the measures aren't enough.

"The current infrastructure lets sewage into the canal even under dry conditions," said Donnelly. "Even before Ratner's project was on the table this has been an issue down here."


Posted by lumi at 11:29 AM

Cup half full before coffers are empty

Bruce Ratner feels great about his team's chances of going all the way.

While attendance and revenues are up, he wants you to forget that the team is in the red and groundbreaking on the arena is behind schedule.

NY Daily News, Ratner willing to pay for wins

Ratner is looking forward to his second postseason as owner of the Nets. And he assured fans and players he will do what it takes to keep his team intact and competitive despite reportedly losing over $20 million last season. He stands to lose more the longer his proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, which has an arena as its centerpiece, is delayed.


Owner Bruce Ratner saw the game as another part of an already "great" season for the Nets both on the court and from a business standpoint. Forget financial losses, Ratner wants this team to stay together for as long as possible and hopefully to achieve the dream he holds for this season.

"We're going to win the whole thing," Ratner said optimistically.

Newark Star-Ledger, The way Ratner sees it, his Nets have look of a championship team

"I've never had my doubts," he said. "Even when we lost five (out of six) ... I said, 'Coach, don't worry. We're fine. We're going to do it, just stay with the whole thing. Don't worry about it. It will take care of itself as long as everybody doesn't go after each other and plays together.' And this team has stuck together.
He also is confident they'll be the first team on Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

"It seems to be going slow, but steady," he said of the move.

The lingering doubt, of course, is that he has deep enough pockets to keep the Nets solvent until the move. Recent reports indicate that even though Arena attendance has increased by 12 percent, the team lost $26.8 million in the last fiscal year.

Posted by lumi at 11:21 AM

Underberg building all but gone


set speed aka onehansonplace.com

Local blogger ltjbukem captured the twilight of the Underberg building yesterday evening.


Posted by lumi at 9:49 AM

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogs on blogs on Atlantic Yards

Yesterday's NY Times article on the bloggers covering Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal drew the inevitable reaction in the blogosphere, creating a virtual hall of mirrors.





The response to this project highlights the fact that blogging is a multidimensional writing/research/communication modality.

This article is in the Time's technology section not its media section although the implications for traditional media are perhaps more important than the mere fact of the technological delivery

Would a state agency provide a centralized comment space, for communication and dialog about its proposals?

But I wouldn't want to suggest that "professional amateur" was intended as a derogatory term in any case. Having recently returned from a eclipse-viewing trip, I know how important "amateur" astronomers are to the "professional" astronomy community. I consider it a form of "open source" culture that should be encouraged.

Posted by lumi at 7:57 AM

April 16, 2006

Sunday Comic


Posted by lumi at 10:30 AM

A Blogfest Over a Project in Brooklyn

The NY Times
By Nicholas Confessore

The media echo chamber is complete when the mainstream media covers bloggers who cover gaps in the mainstream media coverage of the largest project (ever) in Brooklyn.

Today's human-interest piece in the Metro section marks the coming out of many of the bloggers familiar to NoLandGrab readers.


NoLandGrab: Thanks to Der Meisterspinner Joe DePlasco for giving us props for our media clipping service. It saves some Forest City Ratner intern about a half an hour a day, time better spent on handing out box lunches.

As for the "sense of self-importance and anger that often pops out," any grumpiness arises from the fact that we'd rather be doing something else, if it weren't for the self-important multi-billion-dollar boondoggle that ate Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 9:45 AM

The Times & the blogosphere, ten story ideas, and some reflections on coverage

The Times rarely makes a move that goes unnoticed by Atlantic Yards Report blogger Norman Oder, and today's article is no exception. Oder offers some more detail, disputes some of Nicholas Confessore's characterizations of the band of bloggers, and submits his list of topics to cover for the consideration of the Gray Lady.


Posted by lumi at 9:45 AM

Current conditions? Don't trust the photos on FCR's web site

AYRcomparison.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

OK, everyone knows that you can't believe everything Forest City Ratner says, either because they regularly do a half-assed job or they are willing to use any tool (including deception) to make this project happen.

Read up on the photo slideshow that Ratner has released, depicting "current conditions," and get an eyeful of what some of those buildings really look like.

Also, Norman Oder links Forgotten NY's online tour of the neighborhood as the "most balanced" (warts-and-all) online tour of the footprint.


Posted by lumi at 8:57 AM

Residents at great disadvantage in eminent domain

The Cincinnati Enquirer
Your voice: Kurt J. Meier

A Fort Thomas, KY land-rights attorney explains how governments and developers establish blight:

It is common practice, assert landowners, for cities to target older neighborhoods, albeit with high owner occupancy, and create problems within a targeted neighborhood as an excuse to condemn by a blight standard.

Prove it, you say. One method is to allow private investors, usually with close political ties to City Hall, to go into a neighborhood and buy a significant number of cheap houses and board them up. When this occurs, the city does not enforce building codes and does not require teardowns. Coupled with the city's failure to maintain infrastructures, such as sewers, streets and sidewalks, the city then declares the neighborhood "blighted." It then hires a consultant to undertake an expensive study to underpin the designation of "blight.


NoLandGrab: The tactics described above are reminiscent of how Forest City Ratner cites garbage and storage on the railyards, which is State property, as evidence that the neighborhood is blighted (see online slideshow).

Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM

April 15, 2006

Atlantic Arts building in the raw

PacificArtsBuilding.jpg Here's another clue to why Forest City Ratner hasn't established a trusting relationship with the community.

The first photo of the Atlantic Arts building, taken from a screenshot of an online slideshow titled, "Existing Conditions" from the newly launched atlanticyards.com, was taken several years ago while the building was being renovated. The building in Forest City Ratner's photo clearly looks more "blighted" than the photo taken more recently (see below).

It also serves to complicate the "blight" controversy. Forest City Ratner and the lead agency, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), want the Environmental Impact Statement to consider blighted conditions using "February 2006 as a baseline date for the condition of the properties" (see Atlantic Yards Report, "Major flaws in the Final Scope" (scroll down to "Eminent Domain")). This date is a few years after the Forest City Ratner slide show photo was taken and two and a half years after the project was officially announced. Since Ratner has had a couple of years to purchase many of the properties and let them sit vacant, he has artificially created a condition by which the properties in the proposal's footprint are "underutilized."

636pacfic.jpg From Forest City Ratner's point of view, this isn't a big deal, since a seemingly minor misrepresentation that serves to aid the case for eminent domain probably isn't going to be covered by the local press.

However it's a big deal for us, because if Forest City Ratner would do the community the honor of getting its story straight, we could shut up already.

Posted by lumi at 11:22 AM


If we had carried one link to the Atlantic Yardseder, it would have been enough.

But here's another one from Daily Politics.

One "question" for your consideration:

Why do other web sites carry one link to the Atlantic Yardseder, but NoLandGrab links to many sites that link to the same site?

Dayeinu, already!

Posted by lumi at 9:34 AM

Assemblyman Formally Opens Campaign for U.S. House Seat

Despite some political baggage, Ratner-supporting State Assemblymember Roger Green announced his candidacy for US Congress against Ratner-supporting incumbent Ed Towns:

Roger L. Green, the Brooklyn assemblyman who pleaded guilty in 2004 to petty larceny, formally kicked off his campaign for Congress yesterday, announcing that he is challenging United States Representative Edolphus Towns in what is certain to be a high-spirited Democratic primary.


Posted by lumi at 9:29 AM

Atlantic Yards Report Superpost

The Times's editorial blind spot (again) regarding Atlantic Yards
The NY Times just tossed another softball to Norman Oder, whose former raison d'être was to analyze the paper's coverage of its business partner, Bruce Ratner.

Oder ponders the editorial board's inconsistency when it comes to covering taypayer financing of the Nets arena. Does Bruce Ratner pull strings with publisher Arthur Sulzberger or is it sloppiness?

The demise of the "Brooklyn Nets" and the rise of the "[Corporate Sponsor] Arena"?
Atlantic Yards report looks at recent coverage anticipating a name change for the NJ Nets.

We're partial to the "Brooklyn LandGrabbers."

Posted by lumi at 8:57 AM

Frank Gehry: A Model for Every Arm

gehry-ratner.jpg Brought to our attention earlier this week by The Gutter:

This shot of Frank Gehry, the genius behind Miss Brooklyn, and Mr. Brooklyn himself, Bruce Ratner, draped by girls, girls, girls at the release party for the starchitect's new line at Tiffany & Co., proves that using the threat of eminent domain to overrun a couple of low-rise neighborhoods is real sexy.


Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

Deluxe Apartments In the Sky

Fort Greene Courier
By Stephen Witt

In an article about the groundbreaking for "the first ground-up residential high-rise project... following the approval of the Downtown Brooklyn plan in 2004," Marty Markowitz takes a shot at Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and other critics of the Atlantic Yards proposal, "claiming that their activism smacks of NIMBYism."

In a curious bit of editorializing, reporter Stephen Witt echo's Markowitz's plaint:

Curiously absent and silent from the groundbreaking ceremonies were City Councilmember Letitia James and the grassroots organization Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB).

DDDB spokesperson Daniel Goldstein countered his organization didn’t exist when the Downtown Brooklyn plan was passed, but many of its members and opponents of the Atlantic Yards project did protest about it at the time.


NoLandGrab: Where does Marty think many of the Atlantic Yards critics come from, anyway?

It is curious that Stephen Witt didn't notice that many of the same critics who attended the hearings for the Downtown Brooklyn Plan have joined the chorus against the Atlantic Yards project. Perhaps he didn't bother covering the hearings (or maybe he wasn't reporting in Brooklyn at the time).

Politicians and neighbors who claim Atlantic Yards critics are a bunch of NIMBYists unconcerned by the inevitable increase in density and traffic in Downtown Brooklyn have been asleep for the past few years. But be sure to thank them for noticing that there seems to be a problem with the impacts of overdevelopment in Brooklyn.

What's worse is that Atlantic Yards will be ADDING to density, traffic and burden upon city services without going through local review and approval like the Downtown Brooklyn plan did.

Posted by lumi at 8:13 AM

w York ime: No Nets in the Times


Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn points out that The NY Times failed to cover their business partner, Bruce Ratner, (again) by ignoring NY State's pork barrel appropriation for the Nets arena in an editorial about Governor Pataki's "budget item vetos," even though the editorial specifically mentions "$150 million to help build stadiums for the already rich owners of the Yankees and the Mets."


NoLandGrab: NY State just approved $100 million (no strings attached) for the Nets arena.

Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

Dayeinu, Bruce Ratner

BruceRatner04.jpg Gutter

Here's one we missed -- even the Guttersnipes got that old time religion at the expense of Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn:

In anticipation of this week's upcoming religion-o-rama, and despite our status as simple observers, never participants, we urge you to consider this latest, A Very Brooklyn Passover Haggadah, for an Atlantic Yardseder.


Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

April 14, 2006


Forest City Ratner finally released the spawn of BBall.Net, the developer's previous site that was much ridiculed by Ratnerville.

Yesterday's launch of "atlanticyards.con" led us to wonder, if this is such a great project, why does it need a web site?

Top 10 reasons for launching atlanticyards.con:

10. If it's on the Internet, it must be true.

9. FCRC interns can add "web developer" to their resumes, just under "box-lunch distributor."

8. It's embarassing for Jim Stuckey to have to check NoLandGrab.org for information about the project.

7. Cheaper than printing fake newspaper.

6. Easier to change phony bylines when "reporters" complain.

5. Enables "bratner@atlanticyards.com" to send email to Brooklyn Brewery's Steve Hindy, since Hindy has surely spamblocked email from "fcrc.com."

4. Very few web sites had nice things to say about the project, except when being paid.RatnerNumberOne.jpg

3. People prefer developer prop to talking about grabbing people's homes and businesses.

2. Norman Oder has free time during the holidays (see Atlantic Yards Report).

And the number one reason for launching atlanticyards.con...
1. Bruce Ratner is #1!


Send your favorite reason Atlantic Yards needs a web site, to pantsonfire@nolandgrab.org.

Posted by lumi at 11:19 AM

New Atlantic Yards web site: sorting through Ratner's spin

Atlantic Yards Report decodes Ratner's PR with links to real (and some unreal) facts and figures:

Yesterday Forest City Ratner (FCR) debuted a new web site for the Atlantic Yards project, some six months after its outdated Bball.net site was placed "under construction." While it offers more information, including official documents, than the static predecessor site site (access via the Internet Archive) that's been offline since November 2005, AtlanticYards.com includes enough distortions, omissions, and lies to provide a highly deceptive picture of the project.

Though the "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops" slogan seems to have been put aside, the site repeats the deeply dishonest claim that the project would bring $6 billion in revenues to the city and state; it promises that the project would create 18,000 jobs (though the number of people getting those jobs might be one-sixth that number); and it touts 50% of the project's rental units as affordable, even though in 2004--before the developer added thousands of market-rate condos--FCR promised that half of entire residential project would be affordable. (So did Borough President Marty Markowitz, right, at a rally for the project in 2004.)

NoLandGrab: Norman Oder's analysis makes a great primer for reporters and politicians who are tired of being spun by the developer's PR team.

Posted by lumi at 10:34 AM

Podcast: The Weekly Politics

Ben Smith of The Daily Politics (and formerly commentator of The Politicker) has added a weekly podcast to his new political blog, hosted by The Daily News.

This week, Smith interviews NY State 57th District Assembly candidate and Atlantic Yards critic Bill Batson.


Posted by lumi at 10:29 AM

Moniker mayhem

Many sporting partnerships would yield unique names

SI.com, Endgame
By Franz Lidz

With the New Jersey Nets planning to move from the Meadowlands to downtown Brooklyn in 2009, owner Bruce Ratner faces a similar predicament. He hasn't yet decided whether to rename his franchise the Brooklyn Nets or something less generic and more evocative. Among the most inspired are the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Bagels and the Brooklyn Heights. But the hometown favorite is the Brooklyn Accents.


NoLandGrab: How about the Brooklyn Superblocks?

Posted by lumi at 10:23 AM

Vince likes his present

NY Daily News
By Ohm Youngmisuk

Do the financial woes of the NJ Nets figure into the potential re-signing of Nets star forward Vince Carter?

65-carter_vince.JPG With owner Bruce Ratner hemorrhaging millions the longer his proposed arena is delayed, the Nets may not be able to afford an expensive long-term deal for Carter even if the owner will make a fortune if the arena is approved.

The Nets - who could always try to trade Carter while his value is high for a big man - likely would want to sign him for considerably less than a maximum deal. The Nets had reservations about giving Kidd a max deal when he was a 30-year-old free agent in 2003.


Posted by lumi at 10:00 AM

Report: Yanks gave funds to key pols

Metro NY

The New York Yankees spent $1,049,621 lobbying for a new stadium in Albany and the city since 2003, according to a report released yesterday by Common Cause/NY. Executives from the team and the YES Network also contributed $25,600 to the campaigns of city and state politicians, including $2,000 for City Council Land Use Committee Chair Melinda Katz, $500 for Finance Committee Chair David Weprin, and $9,850 for Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion.

Megan Quattlebaum compares the Yankee Stadium lobbying effort to the failed West Side development which also rings true for the Nets arena fight:

“On the West Side, it was Goliath versus Goliath. The Yankee Stadium debate was more of the classic David versus Goliath.”


Posted by lumi at 9:52 AM

Ratner sighting

Downtown Express
Under Cover


Beekman St. tower developer Bruce Ratner hosting Cholene Espinoza’s book party for her memoir, “Through the Eye of the Storm: A Book Dedicated to Rebuilding What Katrina Washed Away,” at the Puffin Room in Soho. Ratner’s sister, Ellen, just so happens to be Espinoza’s significant other.


Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

April 13, 2006

DDDb Press Release: State Legislators and Governor Grant $100 Million

"Atlantic Yards" Developer Receives Subsidy While Project Remains a Financial, Planning and Environmental Mystery

ALBANY, NY - State legislators in the Senate and Assembly, and Governor Pataki have proposed to grant $100 million for Forest City Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" development proposal in Brooklyn.

Developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) requested $100 million for its 17 tower and arena proposal. Last week the Assembly appropriated $33 million, and reports today say that the Senate has appropriated $33 million and that the Governor will add $34 million.

Develop Don't Destroy spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "It appears that Albany has put a mystery development proposal and potential white elephant in the state budget. This giveaway has been made without any knowledge of the proposed development’s: cost-benefit analysis, scale, density, design, environmental impact, cost of mitigation, financial viability, and security measures — to name just a few of the unknowns about the development plan.

Goldstein continued, "Granting a single cent to Ratner at this point is grossly premature. We'd like to know what other backroom politics were at play 150 miles from the people of Brooklyn who would have a front row seat to Ratner's destructive, publicly-subsidized, sweetheart, backroom deal."

Brooklyn assembly members, such as Roger Green who represents the district where the development is proposed and is an avid Ratner booster, lost their one chance at using the Ratner request for $100 million as legislative leverage to gain any meaningful concessions or mitigations from the developer. In November, Mr. Green said, “"I didn't sign the C.B.A. and that was intentional, because my position was that my ultimate endorsement on behalf of this project would be the state legislation, the legislation that would authorize the resources that they would need to complete this project."

The lone Senate vote against the $33 million appropriation came from Senator Velmanette Montgomery who represents the district where the development plan has been proposed.

"We want an explanation about this thoughtless and reckless giveaway from Assemblyman Green, his colleagues in both houses, Mr. Silver, as well as Mr. Bruno and Governor Pataki," Goldstein added.

The Daily News report on the budget item has this comment from Brooklyn state Senator Martin Golden (R-Bay Ridge): "I support it because of economic development," said. In a DDDB meeting with Senator Golden last year the Senator stated that he supported "Atlantic Yards" but would never want to see it in his district or neighborhood.

DDDB sent a letter earlier this week to Governor Pataki, Speaker Silver, and Majority Leader Bruno explaining to them why their appropriation for Forest City Ratner's proposal is premature and irresponsible and at this early stage relinquishes any leverage the state legislature would have over the proposed development plan. That letter can be found here: www.dddb.net//budget/patakiletter.pdf.

The state has granted this giveaway despite the fact that Forest City Ratner has only provided this indecipherable, meaningless 20-year profit/loss financial projection to Albany and the MTA (a real 20-year projection was required in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Request For Proposals for Vanderbilt rail yards.).

Posted by lumi at 8:55 AM

Nets new rap says Ratner’s the man

Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman

A contest to pick a rap theme song for the New Jersey Nets was won by an aspiring rapper who — surprise surprise — mentioned what a great job owner Bruce Ratner is doing with the Atlantic-Division-leading franchise.

“Check the skybox/Blackberry active/Making transactions/It’s Bruce Ratner!!” sings rapper Michael Barnes in “Going Hard.” Ratner’s Nets partner, rapper Jay-Z, created the contest earlier this year in hopes of finding a song that would pump up the volume at the Continental Airlines Arena. Does Barnes’s “song” fill the bill? We invite our readers to judge. Here are the lyrics.

Posted by lumi at 8:11 AM

A Ratner Haggadah

The Brooklyn Papers

Several objectors to Bruce Ratner’s mega-development penned an anti-Ratner parody of the Jewish Haggadah and used it at Seders this week.

In this “Very Brooklyn Haggadah,” the four questions ["To be sung by the youngest real estate developer at the seder."] don’t include, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” but, rather, “Why is it that in all other projects, buildings stand straight, but in Frank Gehry’s designs, the buildings recline to one side?”

There’s also a raucous, Ratner-ripping version of the classic Passover song, “Dayeinu” — which means “enough.” (For the full Haggadah, see www.leathertomato.com.)


NoLandGrab: Happy Passover. And, don't forget to send your own contributions to the Atlantic Yardseder to passover(at)leathertomato.com.

Posted by lumi at 8:02 AM

A stingy correction on the Times's buyouts story

Atlantic Yards Report

The NY Times published a minor correction on Monday's story about displaced footprint residents. Norman Oder lists a few more corrections for the Times's consideration.


Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

Shocked, shocked

The Daily Politics is "shocked, shocked" that Brooklyn's local political clubs are packing the membership! What's new here is that political lines are being drawn between Atlantic Yards proponents and opponents.


In other news in Brooklyn politics, Ratner supporter Roger Green is to announce his run for Congress against Ed Towns today.

Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

Most Loathsome Response

NY Press, Letter to the Editor

Brooklynite Paul Sheridan makes the case for Marty:

You ask us our opinions on your Web site—to vote for the Most Loathsome New Yorkers—and then what do you do with the results? Whatever you want! OK, so you designated Bruce Ratner #1, but what happened to our dear Brooklyn leader, Marty Markowitz? The readers voted him in as #2, but you list him as #31?

Hey, you guys got a career ahead in Ohio or Florida doing voter tabulation.

Bruce Ratner Most LoathsomeCleveland Scene, Outsourcing our scum

The top of the Most Loathsome leaderboard gets some play in Cleveland, though they may be too quick to claim their prodigal son:

New Yorkers may think they're cooler than we are, but when they need someone worthy of mockery, they turn to Cleveland.

The New York Press recently gave Forest City's Bruce Ratner top honors in its annual list of the "50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers." It seems Ratner -- or "this comb-over-mini-Donald," as the magazine affectionately describes him -- hasn't made too many friends in the Big Apple with his $3.5 billion project to turn Brooklyn into an outdoor Tower City.

Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

Eminent Domainia: Lower Manhattan, national takings and Weld's flip-flop


More than 100 small businesses - a microcosm of New York commerce that includes florists, opticians, tailors, immigration lawyers, dentists and jewelers - are being forced from their current locations to make way for a $785-million transit hub at Fulton Street and Broadway.

The Cincinnati Enquirer, City wants bond from holdouts
For a taste of the surreal, the city of Newport, OH wants Jeff and Susan Sams to pay the city $812,096 for each year that the law suit to fight seizure of their home continues, that is, if they insist on staying and defying the wrecking ball.

Hammer of Truth, Bill Weld as a Libertarian Party Candidate in New York?
A libertarian blog quotes the NY Daily News that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Weld may be seeking the Libertarian Party nomination, despite the fact that, as Joe pointed out on ThirdPartyWatch.com, "The Republican Liberty Caucus of New York has expressed reservations about Weld. He seems to be on both sides of the eminent domain issue."

Castle Watch, Stockbridge City Officials Poised to Seize Family Business
Mark and Regina Meeks's flower shop was finally saved after a County judge found that the City of Stockbridge, GA "failed to show that the shop would be used for public purposes."

Posted by lumi at 6:27 AM

April 12, 2006

$66 Million and counting...

Ratner Arena fundingThe NY State Senate appropriated another $33 million for Ratner's arena, which brings the tally to $66 million served.

While Governor Pataki is vetoing funding for Medicaid and secondary education, look for Bruce Ratner's Columbia University Law School chum to hand over more bucks to bring the tally to the grand total of $100,000,000.

Here's the coverage:
The Daily News, Senate OKs 33M for Yards Net arena
The State Senate approves Ratner arena funding over the objections of State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, who represents the district where the Atlantic Yards proposal is sited.

The Real Estate Observer, Atlantic Yards Total: $66M

The $66 million still needs to pass muster with the Governor. But something tells us that despite his slashing and burning the rest of the legislature's budget, this part will stay in. In fact, Pataki may even add to the pot from his discretionary funds.

Crain's, Atlantic Yards Cash

Posted by lumi at 5:36 PM

Taxpayers shouldn't pay for stadiums

NY Newsday columnist Raymond Keating outlines the lucrative deals that our state and local governments are cutting with sports teams for the privilege of building them new stadiums.

Keating gets into details about the financing of the Yankees, Mets, and Islanders deals, but leaves out the Nets, though back in March, 2004 he wrote:

"Hold onto your wallets; it gets worse. The Nets' new owner, developer Bruce Ratner, also is looking for handouts, including related infrastructure costs, the donation of air rights to build over the Long Island Rail Road yards in the borough, and special tax breaks to pay for the project. The Nets arena tab for the taxpayers could reach $1 billion."


Posted by lumi at 8:51 AM

Underground Railroad sites threatened?

Eminent domain could take historic Brooklyn spaces, say residents in development’s path

Eminent Domain and the Underground Railroad Metro NY
By Amy Zimmer

Atlantic Yards isn't the only land up for government grabbing here in Brooklyn and Joy Chatel isn't just trying to save her business.

Read about Chatel's fight to preserve what are possibly very important historical landmarks in Downtown Brooklyn:

Joy Chatel’s four-story building at 227 Duffield St., where she operates a hair salon, is going to be condemned. So is Lewis Greenstein’s building at 233 Duffield. The city plans to use eminent domain to take these and other properties to clear room for development in a rezoned Downtown Brooklyn.

But Chatel and Greenstein claim there’s more to save than bricks and mortar. They say their properties were once stopover sites for slaves on the Underground Railroad. Also, they say the city is steamrolling their attempts to preserve the sites.

“We found out that five abolitionists lived on this block,” Greenstein said. “We found tunnels on the block.” Someone discovered two large stoves and cauldrons in the sub-basement of his building. “Who has two stoves in the basement? It was used to feed the slaves.”


More coverage:
NY Daily News, Relics get Railroaded?
NY Sun, Landmarks To Judge Building’s Role in Abolition Movement

Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

Blogo coverage reveals bizzaro world of Brooklyn IND

After yesterday's article on OnNYTurf, describing events surrounding the Brooklyn IND club's endorsement meeting meant to break apart support for candidates who oppose the mammoth Atlantic Yards project: * The Politicker points out that "it was made clear prior to the membership deadline that new members could sign up and vote at the endorsement meeting," and * a Daily Gotham contributor posted a personal account.

Posted by lumi at 8:01 AM

Will a correction finally sideline the Times's "Downtown Brooklyn" mistake?

Atlantic Yards Report

Advocates in Brooklyn have long been fighting the notion that Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal is sited in Downtown Brooklyn, an impression that the developer has created from the start.

Atlantic Yards Reporter Norman Oder brings it up (again), after the NY Times messed up the distinction in yesterday's article in the sports section, though Oder grants that the Times has been "better but inconsistent" on the matter.

NoLandGrab: Let's hope the Times finally catches on, before Oder snopes them upside their head again.

Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

April 11, 2006

Good Streets, Bad Streets


Brooklyn Views offers this contrast with the following thought from Jane Jacobs:

“A city sidewalk by itself is nothing. It is an abstraction. It means something only in conjunction with the building and other uses that border it…streets and their sidewalks, the main public places of a city, are its most vital organs."


Posted by lumi at 2:00 PM

Forest City thinking big

Crain's NY Business

Forest City Ratner's modest reduction in the size of its proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards complex suggests that the developer feels no need to change the minds of project opponents. Assemblyman James Brennan, for example, had called for a 50% reduction, but Forest City trimmed about 5%.

The minimal change indicates that Forest City believes that its supporters--notably Roger Green, six other Brooklyn Assembly Democrats, advocacy group Acorn and construction unions--will wield enough influence to win approval from state officials for the mixed-use project featuring an arena, 6,860 housing units and commercial space.

The plan unveiled earlier this month reduces the project to 8.7 million square feet, from 9.1 million square feet. Forest City made the reduction by cutting market-rate housing while retaining all of the affordable units, which kept Acorn solidly behind the plan.

As now proposed, the project is still larger than what was originally outlined in 2003.

article (login required)

Posted by lumi at 1:51 PM

Filing: Nets lost $24M last year

Sports Business Journal logo

Team expected to keep losing money until it moves to Brooklyn
By John Lombardo

new nets arenaarticle (login required)
Published April 10, 2006 : Page 05

The New Jersey Nets lost $24 million last year, according to a recent filing by one of its top investors.

Forest City Enterprises, the publicly traded real estate company run by Nets owner Bruce Ratner, holds a 21 percent stake in the team but is responsible for around 31 percent of the operating loss in 2006, according to a March 29 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

For the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2006, Forest City said the Nets reported a pretax loss of $24.5 million, which includes approximately $16.2 million of amortized assets related to the company’s investment in the team that began in August 2004. The remainder of the loss, or $8.3 million, is related to the operations of the team for the 12-month period ending Jan. 31, 2006, the filing said. Extrapolating the percentage operating loss across the entire Nets ownership structure brings the team’s total cash operating loss to approximately $24 million.

Nets officials refused to comment on the team’s finances.

Ratner, who paid $300 million for the Nets in 2004, plans to move the club into a new Brooklyn arena in 2009. Until then, the Nets will likely continue to lose money, though losses are expected to decrease after this season that has brought a significant increase in average attendance.

Under Nets Sports & Entertainment president Brett Yormark, who Ratner hired last year to revive the historically undermarketed team, the Nets are averaging 16,719 fans per game, up 12.6 percent from last season and 18th among the league’s 30 teams, through April 3. The team’s 13 percent attendance increase is the fourth highest increase in the league, behind the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets’ 28 percent increase, the Golden State Warriors’ 13.1 percent attendance increase and the Charlotte Bobcats at 12.8 percent. The Nets have also seen a 100 percent increase in sponsorship revenue, though team officials would not disclose specific figures.

“I would expect to see the fruit of the [Nets] labors to be reflected in next year’s financial statements,” said Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp Ltd. “Yormark has done a good job in increasing the gate receipts and a strong playoff run will also enhance the team’s bottom line.”

The Nets clinched the Atlantic Division on April 4, and had a 13-game win steak that put their record at 45-28.

Posted by lumi at 12:57 PM

Nets' Chances Look Good; Books Don't

The NY Times

The NY Times
By Richard Sandomir

Despite an 11.2% increase in attendance, four modest sellouts, doubled sponsorship revenues and the (47-29) Nets' recent 14-game winning streak:

Still, none of this has made the Nets a financially solid team. They are solid only if you assume that Brooklyn will make them so. If the Nets ever make a profit, it will be in the arena that is the centerpiece of the enormous Atlantic Yards development, which has met with community opposition for, among other things, overpowering the scale of the neighborhood.

The article continues on by outlining the Nets losses:

In the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, the Nets generated an operating loss of $8.3 million for Forest City Enterprises, which owns a 21 percent stake in the Nets on behalf of its subsidiary, Forest City Ratner. But because Forest City is responsible for 31 percent of the team's losses, the $8.3 million loss computes to $26.8 million when spread out to the Nets' 100-plus investors. The filing was reported in this week's issue of the Sports Business Journal.

Forest City also reported a $16.3 million loss from amortization and insurance policies required by the N.B.A.

Those losses followed a year in which losses totaled $10.9 million for the nearly six months between Ratner's taking control of the Nets in August 2004 and the end of January 2005, a period that included less than half a season. The report did not specify how much of the loss was from team operations. (Forest City Ratner is a development partner for the office tower being built for The New York Times Company.)

Also, Sandomir reports this tidbit (emphasis added):

Ratner has so far been unsuccessful since last May in finding new equity partners to provide at least $60 million. A team spokesman, Barry Baum, acknowledged the team was seeking equity.

NoLandGrab: The lead of the story sites the Nets arena proposal in "downtown Brooklyn" — apparently the sports guys didn't get the style memo on the project and now we're going to have to sic Stormin' Norman Oder on them.

The article portrays a team that is desperate to get out of the Meadowlands. If this is the case, why are the stewards of NYC so eager to provide large cash incentives for Ratner to build an arena at one of the most congested intersections in Brooklyn. They should be using their position as leverage to improve the deal for all New Yorkers. Or is that not the Bloomberg-Doctoroff doctrine?

Posted by lumi at 11:57 AM


mbar01.jpg NY Post
By Hasani Gittens

Three years ago, nebbishy real-estate developer Bruce Ratner was best known for building shopping malls.

Now he's mentioned in a rap song - albeit one he commissioned.
Aspiring Manhattan rapper "M Bars" - actually Michael Barnes, 22 - beat out more than 700 contestants with an enthusiastic ode to the Atlantic Division leaders, called "Going Hard."


Posted by lumi at 11:43 AM

A Most Unlikely Vote Fixer in Brooklyn

OnNYTurf scoops the local media.

The fight over Atlantic Yards is spilling into one of the most "unlikely" places as organized political forces in Brooklyn try to prop up anti-arena candidates by changing the practice of "packing" the membership mid-stream in an "independent" political club:

The Independent Neighborhood Democrats executive board has moved to fix the club's endorsement for State Senate Incumbant Candidate Marty Connor and make life very difficult for Anti-Atlantic Yards candidate Chris Owens, before it's members cast a single ballot. Last Thursday, the board voted to disenfranchise 100 new club members, so as to assure that Mr.Conner receives an endorsement, and Chris Owens does not. This development is an ironic and dark twist for the Brooklyn based political club that prides itself on fighting Machine politics and helping marginalized candidates.


Posted by lumi at 10:32 AM

Making Waives for the New York Times

gagorder.jpgRatner Waives part of Gag Order...for The Times

Yesterday, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn called upon:

"Forest City Ratner to grant a universal waiver of their "gag order" contract for ALL those owners and tenants who were forced to sign it to sell to the developer...not just for the ones the NY Times (whose parent company is Ratner's business partner) wants to interview."


Posted by lumi at 9:49 AM

Gehry interviewed by Ouroussoff: signage but not scale

Atlantic Yards Report

The NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff interviewed Atlantic Yards architect and self-professed "liberal do-gooder" Frank Gehry on Charlie Rose last night.

Atlantic Yards Reporter Norman Oder tuned in to hear the scoop on signage and the animated arena.

NoLandGrab: Does Gehry ever give an interview in which he doesn't claim to be a liberal do-gooder?

Posted by lumi at 9:34 AM

Belated density in East New York, a belated revamp of subsidies, and the Atlantic Yards project

low-densityBrooklyn.jpg Atlantic Yards Report looks at the big picture of affordable housing in Brooklyn and how it may have cornered Brooklynites into the maximum-density zoning override called Atlantic Yards.


Posted by lumi at 9:23 AM

Greenburgh, 2 villages sue Yonkers over Ridge Hill

The Journal News
By Rebecca Baker Erwin and Michael Gannon

In other Ratner news:

Greenburgh and two of its villages are banding together to fight [Forest City Ratner's] controversial Ridge Hill development project in Yonkers.

The villages of Ardsley and Hastings-on-Hudson, along with three women who live near the Ridge Hill site, joined Greenburgh yesterday in suing the city, claiming that Yonkers' environmental review of the mammoth retail and residential complex was inadequate.


NoLandGrab: Brooklynites are already making the case that the environmental review for the Atlantic Yards proposal will be inadequate in the analysis of the Final Scope. However, any legal challenges to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would start if the project received approval from the Public Authorities Control Board.

Posted by lumi at 8:57 AM

Jay-Z "Nets" a New Theme Song

mbars.jpg Jay-Z announced recently that New York MC M Bars is the winner of his NJ Nets-themed rap competition.

Going Hard (Go N.E.T.S.) is the winning track for the search for a new Nets theme song.

No mention of eminent domain or backroom deals, though M Bars give Ratner some props:

We brought Kidd from the Suns
Vince from the Raptors
elite in the East
since Erving was in the rafters

Check the skybox
Blackberry active
Making transactions
It's Bruce Ratner!"


Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

Letter to the Editor: "Local communities"

NY Metro
Fort Greene
April 11, 2006

Why is the mayor giving away our land to build new sports centers? There is a massive land transference taking place in the city right now. Our homes, our local businesses and our parks are all vulnerable under the Bloomberg/Doctoroff doctrine that supports the rich and well-connected by using our precious tax dollars along with huge tax incentives to aid these land takeovers. It doesn't seem to matter that the local communities are locked out of the process and no matter how many neighborhood people protest, they are written off as a few naysayers. Imagine if these public relations efforts and money were put into solving the problems of homelessness, hunger, asthma and education.

Posted by lumi at 7:38 AM

Ratner's "Atlantic Yards News" claims project-lite

Ratner's at it again. Those who filled out and sent back the little card for their free gift from Forest City Ratner's first direct-mail flier, were treated to the next installment of Ratner's "Atlantic Yards News."

Still making hollow claims, Forest City Ratner is running last week's headlines that the project was reduced, failing to mention that Atlantic Yards is now bigger than in the original plans unveiled in 2003.

Even NY1 became uncomfortable enough with their original headline that they changed it to "Nets Sports Complex Plans Scaled Back, According To Developer."

atlanticyardsnews.gif atlanticyardsnewssub.gif

April 10, 2006

In the past few weeks there has been new information released about the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards development, the future home of the NBA Nets team. In an attempt to provide you with more information about the development, the following is an overview of the news and links to recent articles about the Atlantic Yards development.


In an article today (April 10th), The New York Times takes a look at some of the people who live, or used to live, in the development’s footprint and what the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), is doing to help ease the transition.

The article entitled, “Forced to Move, Some Find Greener Grass”, provides insight into people’s experiences with FCRC. It also looks at places like 636 Pacific Street - one of the buildings located in the development footprint - where profits for the owners ranged from 90 percent to 165 percent, though they lived in the apartments for only a short time [NLG Note: The wealthy homeowners with the most clout got the biggest windfall.]. To view the entire Times article, please click here.


On Friday, March 31st, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) released the Final Scoping document for the Atlantic Yards development. The Final Scope revealed that the development has been reduced by 475,000 gross square feet and has been lowered by 231 feet. In addition to the height and density cuts, the buildings have also been narrowed and slimmed to reduce bulk, which has allowed for more open public space on the ground. None of the 2,250 affordable residential units were affected by the cuts.

The following are links to some of the media coverage about this announcement. To view the Final Scoping Document please visit the following page.


Posted by lumi at 7:32 AM

April 10, 2006

Forced to Move, Some Find Greener Grass

NYTFootprintDisplaced.jpg The NY Times
By Nicholas Confessore

Forest City Ratner has lifted gag orders for The NY Times to interview former footprint residents who have accepted buyouts from the developer. [Q: Will FCR do the same for other newspapers, you know, media outlets that aren't business partners with the developer?]

The article presents a mixed portrait of the displaced: some lucky well-to-do condo owners scored eye-popping profits for their pads, a store owner recognizes a "blessing in disguise" despite the fact that it has been "a real struggle" to relocate her business, and a renter who is a bit more circumspect about the bigger picture.


Count on Norman Oder to fill in some of the blanks in the Atlantic Yards Report.

Posted by lumi at 10:10 AM

Public Funding of Atlantic Yards Is A-OK, Says Ratner Exec

Park Slope Courier
By Stephen Witt

The Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) executive who successfully lobbied the state for infrastructure money in regards to the proposed Atlantic Yards project, last week, defended the move. ...
“He’s [Ratner] made an incredible investment without a shovel in the ground and the people of the borough should thank him,” said [Bruce] Bender.

Other's have a different opinion:

“It appears that Albany has put a basketball arena in the education budget,” stated [Develop Don't Destroy spokesperson] Goldstein in the emails.

“To make matters worse, this giveaway has been made without any knowledge of the proposed development’s cost-benefit analysis, scale, density, design, environmental impact, cost of mitigation, financial viability, and security measures–to name just a few of the unknowns about the development plan,” he added.

Meanwhile, up in Albany:

Skip Carrier, spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, said the speaker signed off on the money after polling the Brooklyn assembly delegation and finding consensus support for the project.

NoLandGrab: Carrier's claim that there is "consensus support for the project" is factually incorrect. Only seven of 21 Brooklyn representatives sent letters of support to Silver's office. It would appear that there is only a consensus of support for the project amongst those who support the project.

Posted by lumi at 9:55 AM

Whose "Atlantic Yards News" do you use?


If you thought that last week's eNewsletter from Forest City Ratner, titled, "Atlantic Yards News," sounded familiar, then you probably remember the first street sheet that came out last spring debunking some of the myths behind Ratner's arena and highrise proposal.

It's all very reminiscent of the NYC pizza wars of the '80s. Let's set the record straight, the editorial position of "the famous original Atlantic Yards News" is diametrically opposed to Ratner's Atlantic Yards News, which has given project critics news to abuse.

Posted by lumi at 8:57 AM

Local Activist Seeks to Bring Creativity to the State Assembly

Brooklyn Rail
By Brian Carreira

Out of necessity, [Bill] Batson thinks “Brooklynites have to start taking care of ourselves because nobody is going to take care of us. Elected officials aren’t, corporations aren’t, so what do we have left but each other. Neighbor to neighbor.”

The most important issue that the 57th district currently faces is the Atlantic Yards proposal pushed by Forest City Ratner. Like many in the community, Batson has strong reservations about this massive complex of skyscrapers and wants to ensure that a dissenting voice will be heard in the State Assembly race. The proposal, he says, “has got everything that’s wrong about overdevelopment in it. It has eminent domain, it has a bogus parallel structure called a Community Benefits Agreement. It’s a three-card monte proposal that changes every time you look down.”


Posted by lumi at 8:47 AM

Atlantic Yards position AWOL on Yassky's campaign web site

Atlantic Yards Report

davidyassky01.jpg City Councilmember and US Congressional candidate David Yassky has taken a position on censure of President Bush, but where does he stand on Atlantic Yards?

Yassky does have a record of mixing enthusiasm and concern. At the 5/26/05 City Council hearing, according to a 6/2/05 Brooklyn Downtown Star article headlined Hearing Turns Into Back-'Yards' Brawl, ACORN's Bertha Lewis declared, "It's time for some affirmative support...I want the councilmembers to roll up their sleeves and help us on this," and Yassky responded by taking off his jacket and began rolling up his sleeves.

Later, however Yassky expressed concerns about traffic, project scale, and the project's impact on city and social services. "I don't think it's adequate to leave it to the ESDC and wait and see," he told FCR VP Jim Stuckey. "There are concrete things that we can do ahead of time."

Stuckey responded that the responses would be in the project's environmental impact statement (EIS). "It doesn't make sense to speculate right now," Stuckey insisted.

But Yassky's instinct to address problems sooner rather than later seems sound. The Draft EIS won't arrive until late May or early June, and Forest City Ratner president Bruce Ratner expects government approval (meaning Final EIS, plus other signoffs) by mid-fall. That's not a lot of time.


Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM

Gehry discusses inspirations

Yale Daily News
By Jerry Guo

During a talk at the School of Architecture on Friday, architect and visiting professor Frank Gehry said he has lately drawn great inspiration from the music world and has even discussed his shifting interests with hip-hop artist Jay-Z -- a co-owner of the Nets basketball team, for which Gehry has designed a new stadium in downtown Brooklyn.
Gehry said his background in urban planning influenced his design of the Nets arena, which is part of developer Bruce Ratner's controversial redesign of the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.


NoLandGrab: Gehry must have studied urban planning during the hey-day of superblocks, because you can't spit on the Atlantic yards plan without hitting a tower in a park.

Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

Making the right bet

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Editorial

Forest City Enterprises's (the parent company of Forest City Ratner) bid to bring casino gambling to Ohio faces a competing proposal from racetrack owners who want to limit slot machines to the track.


NoLandGrab: Keep in mind that Bruce's parent company is also looking to build a railyard-sized slot machine casino in Pittsburgh.

Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal would fit the profile for Forest City's expansion into casino gambling if it were legal in NY State.

Posted by lumi at 7:36 AM

April 9, 2006

Brooklyn & Bronx Blighted By Billionaire Boondoggles

Save Our Parks takes on Ratner vs. Steinbrenner:

Ratner wants to seize 22 acres of residential buildings to build several 20-sory and 60-story buildings thereby destroying the community.
Steinbrenner wants to seize 22 acres of our centralized Macombs Dam and Mullaly Park to build the Steinbrenner Stadium thereby destroying the community.

Ratner proposed project costs $3.5 Billion of which about 40% ($1.5 Billion) is to be taxpayer subsidized.
Steinbrenner proposed project costs $1.2 Billion of which about 40% ($480 million) is to be taxpayer subsidized.

Ratner talks about 400 jobs for the Nets Arena but doesn’t reveal that the workers currently in the Meadowlands would get first dibs on the new proposed stadium.
Steinbrenner talks about 900 jobs for the Steinbrenner Stadium but doesn’t reveal that the workers currently in the House That Ruth Built would get first dibs on the Steinbrenner Stadium.


Posted by amy at 9:10 AM

Marty's dance of avoidance on Atlantic Yards


Atlantic Yards Report discusses the information missing from Marty's Brooklyn!! newspaper, namely the Atlantic Yards project, and speculates that this is due to the controversy surrounding the project including the following:

But a 1/16/05 New York Daily News article headlined Apple polishers fatten Mike fund explained that the Bloomberg administration has raised $36 million in private money over last three years for the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City.

Ratner, a member of the fund's 49-member board, "donated more than $60,000 from his company and his foundation for, among other things, a long-stalled statue of Brooklyn Dodgers greats Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese," the Daily News reported.

Why keep quiet about such a public-spirited effort (sports, Brooklyn, racial harmony), especially since Ratner has more prominently promoted other local donations? Maybe, as the Daily News reported, because "some donors have business links to the city - raising eyebrows among good-government groups, since the mayor has called for strict curbs on donations from city contractors to candidates in the campaign-finance program."


Posted by amy at 8:56 AM

April 8, 2006

A Brooklyn Passover Haggadah

The Four Questions
(About Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project)
To be sung by the youngest real estate developer at the seder

Why is the Atlantic Yards project different from all other real estate development projects?

Question 1:

Why is it that Brownstone Brooklyn consists of unleavened low-rise buildings, but at Atlantic Yards Bruce Ratner wants to build seventeen high-rise buildings?

Question 2:

Why is it that in all other projects the community would be happy for a real estate developer to bring them "jobs, housing and hoops," but in this project the community is so extraordinarily bitter?

Question 3:

Why is it that in all other projects, the developer dips only into his own budget, but in the Atlantic Yards project the developer dips twice - $100 million from the state's budget and $100 million from the city's budget?

Question 4:

Why is it that in all other projects, the buildings stand straight, but in Frank Gehry's designs for the Atlantic Yards project, the buildings recline to one side?

Don't miss the additional Passover ideas here!

Posted by amy at 9:13 AM

NJ Nets Mull Name Change For Brooklyn Tip Off

Park Slope Courier:

How about the Brooklyn Blacktops or the Brooklyn Attitudes instead of the Brooklyn Nets?

Speculation increased recently that the Nets moniker may be changed once the NBA franchise moves to the borough.


NoLandGrab: The New York Press renamed the team in February 2005...

Posted by amy at 9:02 AM

April 7, 2006

Free parking for Forest City Ratner crew

Brooklyn Papers:

Several of the company’s development parcels east of the proposed Nets arena, between Sixth and Vanderbilt avenues, can be used for “interim parking” during construction of the Atlantic Yards project, according to new documents released by the project’s lead agency, the Empire State Development Corporation.

“One little line gives Forest City the ability to park cars wherever there isn’t construction,” said architect Jonathan Cohn, whose Brooklynviews blog broke the story. “You’ll be seeing a parking lot for about a decade.”


NoLandGrab: HMMMM...Atlantic Avenue, Free Parking...add a top hat and a 'get out of jail free card' and you might be on to something...

Posted by amy at 8:51 PM

Bruce reamed over Yards ‘concession’

Brooklyn Papers describes some of the grand changes to the Atlantic Yards proposal, as shown in the scoping document:

For example, the developer renamed the flashy, glass-sided edifice that will connect the arena to the Atlantic terminal mass transit complex. Now, that Frank Gehry-designed pedestrian mall will be referred to as the “Urban Room.”

Another modification shrunk a private open space on the rooftop of the arena from two acres to one, endangering an arena-top wildflower meadow shown in plans presented in November by the project’s landscape architect Lauri Olin.


Posted by amy at 8:46 PM

Ratner’s assembly buddies

Brooklyn Papers rounds up comments from assembly members regarding "$33-million subsidy for Bruce Ratner’s still-unapproved Atlantic Yards project":

Roger Green (D-Prospect Heights) “Ratner gave a good presentation. The questions are the same — scale, size and traffic — but we have to think about the community benefits.”

Joan Millman (D-Brooklyn Heights) “They were kind of between a rock and hard place,” a spokesman said. “This is funding that she and a lot of residents have been fighting for a long time ... I don’t know why the Ratner money was put there ... [Millman] was the only person who spoke out on the floor against the appropriation.”


Posted by amy at 8:42 PM

Brooklyn brew out at Freddy’s


Brooklyn Papers:

At around 7:30, O’Finn started the extrication process, first taping a red circle and slash over the Brooklyn Lager neon sign in his window. Next, at 8:30, he covered the “Brooklyn Lager” sign above the bar with a “Labatt” sign. Only one customer clapped — though more applauded when O’Finn covered over Brooklyn Lager’s $4 price with the new $3.50 price for a pint of Labatt. (Clearly, beer price trumps beer politics.)


NoLandGrab: The hard-hitting coverage continues with the Brooklyn Papers editorial, Lousy Labatt is new Bud.

Posted by amy at 8:12 PM

Shape Shifting Atlantic Yards: Scoping Document Done, But Critics See Major Flaws


Park Slope Courier mostly reprints FCR's press release on the final scoping document, but includes some non-FCR quotes near the end:

“Ratner is pretending he’s scaled his proposal down, but it is at least 600,000 square feet bigger today than when it was unveiled in December 2003, and the building heights are a total of 228 feet higher,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein.

“It’s still an urban planning disaster and an offense to the community, and the final scoping document has too many flaws which will lead to grossly flawed and absent findings in the environmental review process,” he added.


NoLandGrab: In an ironic blend of photo and caption, the Courier includes this photo of only the Vanderbilt Railyards and indicates that the entire Atlantic Yards project would be built on them. Anyone with a sharp eye will note that the picture was taken from one of the buildings in the project's footprint.

Posted by amy at 7:53 PM

Major flaws in the Final Scope: traffic, parking, and some mysterious open space solutions

Atlantic Yards Report

What's wrong with the Final Scope of Analysis for the proposed Atlantic Yards project released by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC)?

A lot, notably a new plan for surface parking, an unwillingness to examine the traffic impact on major arteries such as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and a time frame apparently chosen to accentuate claims of blight.


Posted by lumi at 9:13 AM

Serf City Here We Come!

Dope on the Slope

According to today's New York Times, Mayor Landgrabber is encouraging the rest of the BBC (Billionaire Boy's Club) to hasten the feudalization of New York City by being very discriminating about which political candidates they fund:

At a luncheon of 100 political donors at the Four Seasons, Mr. Bloomberg handed out wallet-size plastic cards — labeled "The New York City Card '06" — that listed five political priorities for the city: $2 billion in federal money to finance a rail link connecting Lower Manhattan, Kennedy Airport and Long Island; anti-terrorism financing based on threat assessments; opposing restrictions on eminent domain; authorizing more charter schools; and financial incentives for low-cost housing.

There you have it. Mayor Bloomberg is in favor of UNRESTRICTED EMINENT DOMAIN!
When you couple unlimited power to seize property with a complete by-pass of community oversight, you have the perfect recipe for massive redistribution of valuable land from the middle class to the most rarified strata of the uppercrust. An uppercrust consisting of the real-estate robber barons who have the time and money to buy their government positions of power, or rent whomever currently holds the office.


Posted by lumi at 9:10 AM


Area sports teams are getting a free pass and lots of loot to boot to build new arenas and stadiums.

The NY Sun, All Area Teams Angle for Arenas

The NY Sun, Editorial Big Idea for the Little League
Some thoughts on the Yankee's Community-Benefits-Agreement-cum-slush-fund and the patronage that goes with all these local sports venue deals.

The NY Sun, Fans Welcome New Stadiums; Will Stadiums Welcome Fans?

Fans better become accustomed to higher prices, because the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, Devils, Nets, Islanders, and Red Bulls will all be playing in new or renovated facilities within the next five years with all the requisite “fan amenities” that teams tout.

“Fan amenities” is code for raising prices and weeding out poorer fans and replacing them with customers who have the means to buy higher-priced tickets, beer, soda, hot dogs, team apparel, parking, and will order off the menus at in-facility restaurants.

In a carefully choreographed move, The Mets unveiled their plans for a new ballpark one day after the new Yankee Stadium passed final approval by the NY City Council.

MLB.com, Mets unveil model of new stadium
NY Newsday, Mets release details of new stadium plans
The NY Times, Wilpon Is Walking Again Through Ebbets Rotunda
NY Daily News, Home Run!
NewYorkGames.org, Mets & Yanks Plans Lack Olympic Stadium Deal

Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Nik Kovac

beerspill.jpg Freddy's dumped the remainder of the last keg of Brooklyn Lager as it joined the Brooklyn Brewery Boycott, though:

"If my family were here they'd be upset," observed [owner Frank] Yost, from his customary perch at the end of the bar, while he watched the bar's manager, Donald O'Finn, pour out the end of the last Brooklyn keg (top picture). "They don't like to see waste."

Freddy's hoped to replace the brew produced by the Bruce-Ratner- supporting Steve Hindy with a beer from a country that does not use eminent domain to take private property. They're still looking.


Posted by lumi at 8:18 AM

14 and counting

NY Newsday
By John Jeansonne

The drum beat by the press persists in another article referring to Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project as a done deal:

For the Nets, who haven't lost since March 12 and already have locked up the division title with eight games to play, matters appear to be moving well beyond nice architectural drawings to the near completion of a beautiful edifice. Something like the arena owner Bruce Ratner plans for the team in Brooklyn by 2009. But that is getting far ahead of matters.


Posted by lumi at 8:14 AM

Orwellian Final Scope for EIS for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project

Big Cities, Big Boxes on the "Final Scope of Analysis" for the Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Statement:

This Orwellian document--usually the developer writes it, not the State, although the State releases it--urges a project requiring the State to transfer property from private owners to Bruce Ratner by eminent domain, and so it speaks of "blighted" lots and promises "improvements." In this case as in too many others, the Bloomberg administration and the State have awarded a massive development project to a favored developer and affected a community without democratic processes, and so the scoping document tells us that Mr. Ratner has arranged a so-called Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). The project will rupture the networks of brownstone neighborhoods and small businesses in Prospect Heights, and so the scoping document states that Atlantic Yards will make downtown Brooklyn a destination.


NoLandGrab: Forest City Ratner Executive VP Jim Stuckey introduced the adjective "Orwellian" to the Atlantic Yards debate in The NY Times, which resonated with critics and opponents.

Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

This might be blight: One Hanson Place

Curbed.com, Sneaking Into One Hanson Place


Take a sneaky peak at the latest blight to hit the pavement. No, we're not talking about Ratner's latest demolition-in-a-hurry.

Dubbed "the groom" to Frank Gehry's Miss Brooklyn, One Hanson Place (aka "The Clock Tower") is being converted to luxury condos.

NoLandGrab: It's more proof that the neighborhood doesn't need the eminent-domain addicted Bruce Ratner to build a mini city to either turn around or destroy the fabric of one of Brooklyn's great neighborhoods, depending on your point of view.

Posted by lumi at 7:34 AM

Forest City Ratner: Atlantic Yards eNewsletter

Hot off the presses, Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards eNewsletter.

This is not only their best pitch, but it also contains their PR gems:

One statement we call can agree upon is that "Atlantic Yards is about much more than just basketball."

atlanticyardsnews.gif atlanticyardsnewssub.gif

Welcome to the Atlantic Yards News email list. Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of Atlantic Yards, will be providing these periodic email updates on the Atlantic Yards development and our progress on bringing the NBA’s Nets basketball team home to Brooklyn.

The Nets will be Brooklyn’s first major professional sports team since the Dodgers left in 1957, but Atlantic Yards is about much more than just basketball.

Currently, the development will create roughly 6,860 mixed-rate apartments (2,250 of which will be set aside for low and moderate income families), produce over 18,000 construction and office jobs, develop over seven (7) acres of beautiful open space that will be available for everyone, generate over $6 billion in tax revenue and, of course, create a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena that will not only be the new home for the Nets, but also bring family oriented and world–class events like concerts, circuses and fine arts events to Brooklyn. In addition, the arena will also be available for local high school and college graduations and special community events. Above all, we are trying to build the development in a sensible and respectful manner. Since we first unveiled our plan back in 2003, we have participated in and hosted numerous community meetings and question and answer sessions. Our goal is to provide information and obtain feedback and ideas on the development from the community, its leaders and elected officials.

From these meetings came New York’s first Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). The Atlantic Yards CBA is a legally-binding agreement between the developer and eight (8) local community and advocacy organizations which will guarantee a variety of programs, including:

  • Middle income and affordable housing
  • Environmental assurances
  • Educational initiatives
  • Jobs for minorities and women
  • Pre- and post-construction job training
  • Commitment to develop community facilities such as childcare, youth and senior centers
  • Community access to utilize the arena for local events such as religious congregations and high school and college graduations

Local elected officials and Community Boards (2, 6 & 8) also served as advisors in crafting the CBA, and over 200 community leaders and organizations have affirmed their support for this landmark agreement.

There will be more information coming soon, so watch for more updates in the coming days.

If you do not wish to receive these email updates, please click here and we will delete your address from the list remove@atlanticyards.com.

Posted by lumi at 7:11 AM

April 6, 2006

DDDb Press Release: Ratner/ESDC "Atlantic Yards" Scope of Analysis Seriously Flawed

Developer Increases Project Size, Makes Hollow Claims and Ignores Community

BROOKLYN, NY– At 5pm last Friday developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) and the Empire State Development Corporation released the Final Scope of Analysis for the proposed “Atlantic Yards” development plan. This document finalizes the areas of study and analysis for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)–a document of many thousands of pages, projected to be released in early June.

There are numerous serious gaps and major flaws within that document.



Though the http://dddb.net/EIS/FCRFinalScopeRelease.pdfdeveloper is pretending the proposal has gotten smaller, the new plan is http://dddb.net/EIS/finalscope.phpsignificantly bigger than what was originally announced in December 2003. It is at least 600,000 to 1million square feet bigger today than when it was unveiled in December 2003 (when it was way too big already), and the building heights are a total of 228 feet higher. The proposal also has 2,360 more housing units than when first unveiled in 2003.


The environmental review will not consider security and terrorism issues as related to the unique design, location and use of the proposal, as well as the financial impact of such prevention measures; this despite the debacle that occurred when such a pre-design analysis was left out of Ground Zero planning.


The final scope says that there will be “interim surface parking” on the eastern (Vanderbilt Avenue) and northern (Atlantic Avneue) parts of the proposed site, through at least 2010. Turning that part of Prospect Heights into a parking lot for the foreseeable future is unacceptable. Details of this “interim parking” must be provided in the DEIS.

The environmental review will not consider the traffic impact on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or the East River bridge crossings, despite the fact that the whole arena financial analysis by Dr. Andrew Zimbalist projects a substantial number of current New Jersey based fans to attend games. The BQE and the bridges should be included in the DEIS.

Traffic modeling should not rely on the outmoded models used for the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning review. Traffic simulation modeling is the only way to demonstrate the availability of road capacity for the “Atlantic Yards” proposal. Without it the numbers would be fake.

Widening of Flatbush, Atlantic and Sixth Avenues are antithetical to contemporary smart planning solutions to urban transportation problems.


The scoping document uses February 2006 as a baseline date for the condition of the properties in the proposed footprint. The baseline date should be December 2003 when the proposal was unveiled, since which time Forest City Ratner has been purchasing, vacating warehousing and demolishing properties to create stagnation and “blight” conditions, which the ESDC will try to use to justify eminent domain. Without FCR and the proposal stagnating the neighborhood in the proposed footprint, development would be continuing apace with the surroundings. This baseline date must be changed for the DEIS.

Also, with proposed street widenings, there is reason to suspect that more eminent domain takings might be enacted.


Though the final scope indicates that the environmental review will include three alternative plans, including the financially backed Extell Development Company community based plan, it remains to be seen as to what detailed extent the DEIS will analyze these plans versus the Ratner “Atlantic Yards” proposal.

The community requested that the final scope include an analysis of alternate locations for an arena (on top of the Atlantic Center Mall site, Coney Island, East New York, the Brooklyn Navy Yard) but this was ignored by the ESDC and FCR.


Though described by ACORN and Forest City Ratner as a 50% affordable housing project, the final scope describes 2,250 low-, middle-, and moderate-income housing out of a total 6,680 units (4610 market rate units). That is a 32.7% “affordable” housing plan, contingent on securing an extraordinary package of housing subsidies, which has been left to ACORN to secure. At best 10% of the housing would be available to families earning at or below Brooklyn’s median income and no housing for people living at or below the poverty level.

There have been rumors of additional off-site "affordable housing," but such housing is nowhere to be found in the final scoping document.


The final scope will not review the project’s financial viability or the developer’s financial projections. The document says that the environmental review will “disclose, to the extent known, the public funding for the project.” (Shouldn’t the State’s lead public agency, the ESDC, know the exact amount of public funding?)


The final scope document does not respond to this serious request from the community: “There must be a detailed analysis of the project’s impact on Engine Company 219/Ladder Company 1, at 494 Dean St., abutting the project site; and the 78th Precinct at 65 6th Avenue, less than two blocks from the site. The impact on these facilities, and their response times, during and after construction should be studied in detail, especially considering the nearby street closings and street widenings.”


“Ratner is pretending he’s scaled his proposal down, but it is at least 600,000 square feet bigger today than when it was unveiled in December 2003, and the building heights are a total of 228 feet higher. Its still an urban planning disaster and an offense to the community,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “And the final scoping document has too many flaws which will lead to grossly flawed and absent findings in the environmental review process.”

“Accommodating additional traffic created by the arena's parking lot, ESDC and Ratner have called for ‘improvements’ such as the widening of Flatbush, Atlantic and Sixth Avenues. New York may very well be the last major city in the Western World that is trying to solve urban transportation problems by widening roads and creating big new parking lots in its urban core,” said Aaron Naparstek, Project Director at The Open Planning Project. “The proposed ‘new design’ only means more big gaps in the street-wall, a less healthy and viable pedestrian environment, fewer opportunities for street level retail and, almost certainly, more dead, semi-useless ‘open spaces’ on the interior.”

"Perhaps the most disturbing development is the proposed creation of a huge interim surface parking lot on the eastern end of the footprint," said Eric McClure, Atlantic Yards campaign coordinator for Park Slope Neighbors. "Forest City Ratner has repeatedly claimed to be 'listening to the community,' but I'm not sure who in 'the community' would've told them we were clamoring for a gigantic traffic magnet. Even a small downturn in the housing market could change its status from 'interim' to 'permanent'. We thought the whole idea of building on a transit hub was to discourage traffic, not help create it."

Posted by lumi at 6:06 PM

NY Loves Bizness, it's just not sure where to mind it

The Scoping documents for the Environmental Impact Statement are posted on the Empire State Development Corporation's web site, although the latest "Final" edition can be found in the "PennStation" directory.

Draft scope URL:

Final scope URL:

So much for making fun of the Empire State Development Corporation — after tweaking the quasi-governmental corporation about putting the Atlantic Yards Final Scope of Analysis of Environmental Impact in the "PennStation" directory on the NYLovesBiz.com web site, they've moved the document to http://www.nylovesbiz.com/pdf/AtlanticYards/ArenaFinalScope3-31-06SC.pdf.

Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

The "urban room" evolves toward civic (?) space, and another look at "significant cuts"

Atlantic Yards Report

The Atlantic Yards "urban room," described as "a highly transparent, grand civic room containing meeting space and cafés as well as ticket windows for the arena, access to the arena and other uses on the arena block, and connection to the Atlantic Terminal mass transit complex," is now being counted as "open space" in the Final Scope Environmental Impact Statement by Forest City Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation.

Norman Oder points out:

The dictionary defines "civic" as "Of, relating to, or belonging to a city, a citizen, or citizenship; municipal or civil." If some people wanted to exercise their citizenship by handing out political literature (or even literature critical of the Atlantic Yards project) inside this "grand civic room," would they be allowed to do so?

The "urban room" wasn't mentioned in the Draft Scope, and its sudden appearance in the Final Scope leaves citizens no opportunity for comment.


NoLandGrab: This description would classify most most malls and concourses in NYC as "open space." Very clever, Bruce.

Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

5 N.Y. issues Bloomberg wants donors to discuss with candidates

AP, via NY Newsday

Opposition to eminent domain reform is on the list of Mayor Bloomberg's five priorities for political candidates who are campaign fundraising in New York City.

#3) The opposition to federal eminent domain legislation that would cripple responsible redevelopment and revitalization.


Posted by lumi at 6:59 AM

April 5, 2006


The city stands by stadium giveaways

NY Press
By John DeSio

There was nothing organic about any of the four stadium plans put forth to the city. The community did not rise up to offer their input and demand new stadiums. These franchises, in cooperation with their partners in city government, have delivered these stadium proposals in a top-down, ham-fisted manner. Sure, community input is nice to have. But what they say doesn’t really matter.


Posted by lumi at 11:01 PM

NEW ENCLOSURES: Downtown Brooklyn Ride

Date: Sunday, April 9th, 2006
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: Fulton Ferry

Summary: A bike ride tour to explore & expose the current redevelopment of Downtown Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Metrotech, Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning, BAM Cultural District, Atlantic Malls, Atlantic Yards:

The current narrative for downtown Brooklyn is relentlessly upbeat: Brooklyn is booming in an unparalleled renaissance.

Is there another side of the story? This ride will explore some of these mega-projects and probe their less heralded impacts: privatized open space, demapped public streets, gentrification, business improvement districts, surveillance cameras, eminent domain, astroturf lobbying, private security forces, the war on vendors.

Is Brooklyn becoming a privatized zone for high-income consumption? Where do YOU fit in?


TIME'S UP! is a grassroots environmental group that uses educational outreach and direct action to promote a more sustainable, less toxic city.

Posted by lumi at 10:44 PM

NY Press, Letter to the Editor

Re: Bruce Ratner #1 Most Loathsome New Yorker

Your article naming Bruce Ratner as the most “evil” New Yorker was a pathetic attempt to appease your hipster über-liberal reader base. Your article generalizes and negates most of the facts. Ratner has acquired 95 percent of the private property necessary for the project and those 5 percent of people who haven’t sold aren’t holding back to protect their properties they are holding back because they know that Ratner needs to warehouse land for his mega-development.

Also the comment about the effect on small business is also false; no businesses have been unwillingly affected the project. However, the biggest omission is the fact that people in Brooklyn want a sports team and that the tax base is eroding in Brooklyn. If you want to support all of your liberal social welfare initiatives what do you need, a tax base. If you want good schools for your kids what do you need? A tax base. This project is going to create a very strong tax base for the city of New York and the people of Brooklyn while filling a void for entertainment not to mention providing Frank Gehry designed housing to the people of the borough. Next time, don’t be so ignorant.

Alex S. Bresler

NY Press's snappy reply: Did you mean “tax base” or “tax abatement”? We get those two mixed up.

Brooklynite Paul Sheridan also slaps the wrist of the NY Press for ignoring the will of the readers by designating "our dear Brooklyn leader, Marty Markowitz" #31 instead of #2, according to the reader poll.


Posted by lumi at 10:34 PM

The Yankees’ $700,000 Play: ‘It Is Not A Shakedown.’

The Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

A report about the Yankees Community Benefit Agreements in NYC and how it may affect the legitimacy and support for other such agreements:

Back in the late 1980’s, developers of controversial projects were so desperate to get into the good graces of the locals they bought off local chambers of commerce, senior centers and neighborhood groups, writing out fat checks to get their endorsements.
Condemned as shakedowns, those practices largely died out when they were hauled before the public in the press.


Posted by lumi at 10:25 PM

Forest City’s Revised Plan: The Details

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Dennis Holt heralds the release of the Final Scope, declaring:

After nearly three years of commentary and discussions, the plan for this development is entering its final stages. Full state approval could be obtained by the fall.


NoLandGrab: Holt is forgetting the years of litigation that the Atlantic Yards proposal will surely spawn.

Posted by lumi at 10:12 PM

Atlantic Yards Opponents Tell Ratner: Thanks, but No Thanks

Changes Fail To Pacify Arena Foes

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Raanan Geberer

Reductions in the scope of Forest City Ratner’s giant Atlantic Yards arena/ housing project (see story above) planned for the area near the LIRR terminal, have not stopped criticism from foes of the plan. A sampling of comments on the “Brownstoner” blog showed this to be true — although it also showed some writers in support of the plan (“Reaction is predictable, opponents will only be satisfied if Ratner is not involved.”)


Posted by lumi at 10:00 PM

NoParklandGrab: City Council Vote TODAY on Yankee Ballpark Deal

Public funding and public land for sports venues, community benefits agreements brokered by handpicked groups, politicians lining up declaring it's a done deal -- New York has it in spades.

Today the City Council is set to vote on the Yankee Stadium deal.

The coalition fighting Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan has expressed support for the community opposition.

NY1 is fielding an online poll and Brooklyn Fights For Bronx put their petition online.

MetroNY is reporting on an "11th hour" attempt by a local coalition to present an additional Community Benefits Agreement.

WYNC reported on a last-minute attempt by the Governor and Mayor to get the MTA to agree to building a Metro North train station for the new stadium to assuage transportation advocates and community groups.

Meanwhile, check out Google News for all the latest coverage and commentary.

Posted by lumi at 9:34 AM

The Bad News Nets

surfaceparking.jpg Naparstek.com

Aaron Naparstek, a frequent critic of the Atlantic Yards plan and proponent of working to convince the "developer, state and city to come to their senses," is aghast at the latest details of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, released Friday in the Environmental Impact Statement Final Scope.

Bad news according to Naparstek [emphasis added]: * "The new plan is significantly bigger than what was originally announced in December 2003." * "It is also even more Towers-in-the-Park-ish than the old plan." * It's a throwback to 1960's-era housing projects. ["This new design only means more big gaps in the street-wall, a less healthy and viable pedestrian environment, fewer opportunities for street level retail and, almost certainly, more dead, semi-useless “open spaces” on the interior."] * "The announcement of an interim surface parking lot of unspecified vastness on the eastern end of the project footprint." [Naparstek explains how "interim" becomes fixed with a simple downturn in the market.] * Widening of Flatbush, Atlantic and Sixth Avenues. ["New York may very well be the last major city in the Western World that is trying to solve urban transportation problems by widening roads and creating vast new parking lots in its urban core."]


Posted by lumi at 9:25 AM

The $6 billion lie redux: ESDC guidelines ignore Ratner claims (but also ignore "true value")

Atlantic Yards Report is digging into the Final Scope of the Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic Yards.

A couple of things reporter/blogger Norman Oder noticed:

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) does NOT use "income taxes of new residents" to calculate the economic benefit. That's contrary to Ratner's methodology that came up with a sales pitch that the economic benefit of the project over 30 years will be over $6 billion. This means that the Environmental Impact Statement will probably debunk that myth.

A pro forma financial analysis of the plan, though requested by the community, it isn't required by SEQRA. So no one but the developer Forest City Ratner will know how much profit they'll make at the expense of nearly $2 billion in subsidies.


Posted by lumi at 9:15 AM

Frank Gehry: Fish, Torque, Orchid

Frank Gehry JewelryThe Frank Gehry Collection: Tiffany & Co.

Though his fluid buildings have wowed the world of architecture, when Frank Gehry interprets his signature forms and materials for the human body, the results are remarkably unoriginal.

This assesment is contradicted by the promotional materials:

The Gehry Collection is based on Gehry’s lifelong obsession with art. Just as he has built profoundly brilliant works of architecture set in a myriad of landscapes, so does he turn to the most intimate of all the arts, jewelry design, creating provocative new forms scaled perfectly to the body.*


Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

Gehryland, USA

Metropolis via Business Week
By Christopher Hawthorne

The Metropolis article about how two of America's most prominent metropolitan centers are giving free rein to Frank Gehry is published online on BusinessWeek.com.

Brooklynites may want to give it another read, now that the Final Scope of Analysis for the Environmental Impact Statement has been released.

When Gehry shows the models for the Atlantic Yards to a community group or a reporter, there might come a moment when he imperceptibly readies his hand atop one of the residential towers, back by the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street. Then just as he is saying that what he really wants to do is convince the client to make the design more modest in scale, he pulls that part of the model off with a dramatic flourish, magically providing light and air to the miniature Brooklynites walking on one of the model's interior paths. He holds that chunk of tower in his hand and says he's worried, he's concerned, if you ask him the whole thing ought to be smaller, it would just work better that way. And somewhere, as his handpicked architect gets to the end of this tremendously effective monologue, Ratner smiles.


Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM


The NY Post seems to be singing Freddy's swan song just as the beer boycott has begun:

The venerable Freddy's Bar and Backroom, which will lose its nearly 100-year-old quarters to make way for the new home of the New Jersey Nets, on Monday traded its once-local-favorite Brooklyn Lager spigot for Labatt's Blue, a popular Canadian beer.

"It was time," said owner Donald O'Finn, who poured his last two gallons of Brooklyn Brewery suds down the drain. It was done in protest of the local beer maker's support of developer Bruce Ratner's planned construction of a basketball arena and skyscrapers in Prospect Heights.

"People expected me to join [the boycott] right away, but I had four barrels in the basement. I'm a small business."


Posted by lumi at 8:32 AM

April 4, 2006

Brooklyn Residents, Developers Still Fighting Over Size Of Arena/Housing Plan

By Jeanine Ramirez

BruceBender.jpgBrooklynites love it when Ratner lets Bruce Bender out of his office to speak to the press because Bender stopped making sense a long time ago.

Here's a quote in an NY1 interview that may be headed for the Bender Hall of Fame:

"We've taken out some of the bulk. So some of it was a little bit larger on the side, and what we did was we narrowed and made it up by taking away from the bottom,” says Bruce Bender of Forest City Ratner. “And that's just by listening to the community and listening to some elected officials."


NoLandGrab: "Made it up" is obviously the operative phrase.

Posted by lumi at 10:18 AM

Interim Surface Parking

Brooklyn Views

interminsurfaceparking.jpgYikes, while everyone is parsing "gross" and "zoning" square feet and arguing with the press that the project is bigger not smaller, Brooklyn Views noticed an "admission" in the Final Scoping document that will make transportation advocates' heads spin.

One change in the Final Scope is the admission that an unspecified amount of “interim surface parking” on the eastern part of the project site will be constructed during Phase I. (P.14). This “use” of the site could be in-place for some time. While the Phase I analysis year is 2010 and Phase II is 2016, schedules for large projects are notorious for being accurate only at the moment they are proposed.


Posted by lumi at 9:56 AM

"Coming way back"? FCR disses Gehry's prediction, lies twice in press release

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder states it plainly:

What's clear is this: the developer proposed a huge project, made it bigger, than scaled it back modestly and claimed it had been responsive to community concerns. That's hardly an unusual scenario in the development game.

Apparently, Oder is the only person who actually reads Forest City Ratner's press releases, as he stumbles into Bruce Bender's lie (or gross misunderstanding):

"For nearly three years, and long before the formal review of the project began last fall, we have been meeting with elected officials, community leaders and civic and local organizations to incorporate their ideas into the Atlantic Yards project."

"we... have identified innovative ways to scale down the original design to better meet the needs of the borough and the surrounding communities."

Oops Bruce, if you are referring to the "original design" from "three years" ago, then the project clearly hasn't been scaled down.

Oder's media analysis takes the Post, Daily News and NY1 to task for not even mentioning the fact that the project is bigger than originally proposed, notes that Marty "would not yet say whether he believed the project had shrunk enough," and calculates the new "50/50 affordable housing" percentage to be 41%.


Posted by lumi at 9:28 AM

Resurrection Monday Feature: Atlantic Yards - Bigger not Smaller

It smells like the classic "bait and switch" — Ratner increased the size of the project and then reduced it, calling it a concession to the community.

OnNYTurf spells out in this table the detail "that was NOT clearly reported" in most of the press:

Total Square Feet
Total Building Height
5395 feet
5854 feet
5623 feet

In OnNYTurf's quick review of the media coverage, The New York Times gets an honorable mention:

"(Forest City Ratner) announced yesterday that it would reduce its size, granting some concessions to critics who have said that it would overwhelm the surrounding neighborhood." -- NY Times, April 3, 2005

If the Times can show one critic of the plan who thinks the new figures are a concession, then they truly have a scoop.


Posted by lumi at 9:04 AM

Ratner's "Downsizing" Could Upsize Office Space

The Real Estate Observer

Matthew Schuerman points out that according to the Final Scoping document for Atlantic Yards, Ratner is hedging his bets on the ratio of commercial to residential space...

A chart included in the document (page 5), which sets out the scale of the project to be studied in the next step of the approval process, shows that variation A would have 6,860 condos and rentals and 606,000 square feet of offices. Variation B would have 5,790 apartments and 1.8 million square feet of offices. And even though the Ratner press release acts as if there is only one proposal on the table and that proposal has the same specs as Variation A, the scoping document treats both variations as equals.

...wondering if "Variation B" will maintain the same amount of "affordable housing" units.

The press release states that Ratner will keep the same number of affordable apartments (2,250) even though the project shrank by 5 percent since the fall. How many affordable apartments will there be if he goes with Variation B and builds only 5,790 apartments total?


Posted by lumi at 8:55 AM

Freddy's bar joins Brooklyn Beer boycott.

Game on — Freddy's is replacing the Brooklyn Lager tap with Labatt's, in a misplaced attempt to carry a beer from a country that doesn't use eminent domain (alas, in Canada, it's called "expropriation").

Brooklyn Brewery owner and Ratner supporter Steve Hindy sheds crocodile tears for his former customer:

I’m very sorry to hear that Freddy’s thinks that selling a beer owned by the biggest beer conglomerate in the world is better for them and their community than Brooklyn Lager.

Freddy's manager has vowed to fight on:

To [Brooklyn Brewery], it’s all just about business accounts, but to us, it’s about our home.

NoLandGrab: Though a cool pint of Labatt's doesn't impart the characteristics of a fresh craft-brewed beer, at least the company isn't publicly beating the drum for Freddy's demise, claiming it will be a boon for Brooklyn.

Here's the coverage:
The Brooklyn Papers, Freddy's bar joins Brooklyn Beer boycott
Metro NY, Labatt replaces Brooklyn in Ratner brew battle
The Real Estate Observer, You Can Take The Brooklyn Out of Freddy's ...
Daily Heights Forum, Freddy's: Brooklyn Beer Boycott + "Best of Cringe"

Posted by lumi at 8:29 AM


The NY Post
By Steve Cuozzo

In an article about the fear that the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center could become a "white elephant" if built on spec, Steve Cuozzo cites Ratner's Times Tower as the only recent such project that has failed to sign up a tenant. Columnist Cuozzo's colleague, Lois Weiss reports that "Ratner may finally have a big tenant interested."

Just one spec project has yet to find tenants: The top half of the New York Times headquarters on Eighth Avenue, where Bruce Ratner has 700,000 square feet to rent. (The Times owns the tower's bottom half; Ratner, the top.) Ratner's space has been on the market for more than a year - yet no one is bellyaching that it's a "white elephant."

Cuozzo's main point is that office space built on spec doesn't remain vacant for long.


Posted by lumi at 8:03 AM

Fewer seniors can pay the price after project's costly shift

Some new developments will leave many potential buyers with few choices

Staten Island Advance
By Karen O'Shea

Forest City Ratner was recently dropped from a controversial Staten Island development for seniors:

Rapfogel said his organization and Forest City Ratner parted amicably when it became clear that the cost of the Staten Island project was likely to be higher using the busy development company, which is currently pursuing a plan to build a sports arena in Downtown Brooklyn for the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association.


Posted by lumi at 7:58 AM

Ex-Yank Bouton cries foul

Ex-Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton calls a foul over the Yankee Stadium plan and makes a larger point about taxpayer-financing of sports venues:

“I don’t know how a businessman can walk into a community with overcrowded schools and ask that city for a dime,” he said. “That’s what’s happening in New York City. In Pittsfield they were turning out streetlights; in New York City they’re closing firehouses. The city’s in this huge debt mode, and they’re going to spend hundreds of millions on a stadium?”


Posted by lumi at 7:50 AM

April 3, 2006

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Sends Public Letter Calling on City Council to Oppose Yankee Stadium Plan

Steinbrenner Plan, Like Ratner Plan, is an Affront to Communities and a Rip-off of Taxpayers Around the City and State

BROOKLYN, BRONX, MANHATTAN, QUEENS, STATEN ISLAND–Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn sent the following letter today to the City Council in opposition to George Steinbrenner's Yankee Stadium development plan. The letter, in its entirety, follows below.

Dear Honorable Speaker Quinn; Planning, Dispositions & Concessions Committee Members, and all Council Members:

I am writing on behalf of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which represents over 5,000 people, to say very clearly that you must vote NO on the Yankee Stadium Plan.

In Brooklyn, we are not only watching this issue closely, but we are actively involved in opposing the Yankee plan to take up and break up that Bronx community's parks, and overwhelm the neighborhood with a massive sports/shopping complex. This is a citywide and statewide issue, despite Bronx Borough President Carrion's offensive suggestion that anyone concerned with the Stadium plan is an "outside agitator."

In Brooklyn, the thousands that are opposed to the Forest City Ratner "Atlantic Yards" proposal are acutely aware of the issues at stake in the Bronx, because they are so similar to the issues at stake with Ratner's proposal, and the development issues at stake in nearly every neighborhood throughout the city. In the Bronx you have the chance to do right by the people; unfortunately, without any protestation from the Council, the city gave up its chartered right to oversight of the Ratner proposal so you will have absolutely no say in the largest single-source development proposal in the history of New York City.

Most of the citizens of this city are becoming more and more disturbed at the willingness of the Bloomberg Administration, in partnership with the Council, to give away our dollars, our air, our light, our parks, our streets, our land, our homes, our businesses, our neighborhoods, and our communities to billionaires or anybody else while locking our communities out from any genuine input or say in our future. We are at a tipping point with the Yankee proposal and the Ratner proposal.

There is great gravity to the decision you make during this lead up to the scheduled vote on Yankee Stadium on April 5th. Your choice is between representing the people or representing George Steinbrenner's need for luxury boxes and minimizing construction time. Your choice is to defend smart, fair, and sustainable urban planning or promote profit-driven, destructive non-planning which would repeat the terrible mistakes of the past.

It is simple, in the end: Your choice is between standing with the people or standing against them with wealthy developers and sports barons.

The eyes of New Yorkers will be focused on you on April 5th to see where you stand. We fully expect you to stand with the people and vote NO on the Yankee Stadium plan. Then we can work together to improve the parks in the Bronx, where they need improvement, and renovate the great House that Ruth Built.


Daniel Goldstein On behalf of Develop--Don't Destroy (BROOKLYN)

Posted by lumi at 10:10 AM

Market forces driving configuration of Atlantic Yards?

Forest City Ratner's announcement on Friday that the number of luxury condos has been reduced by 440 units may have as much to do with market forces as community opposition to the density of the plan.

Ratner previously converted 1.54 million square feet of office/commercial space to luxury condos. He has reserved the option to change this back (Draft Scope, page 2).

With promises to rebuild Lower Manhattan, Ratner knows that there isn't a market for millions of square feet of office space at Atlantic Yards.

And now, with hundreds of premium-priced signature starchitect-designed units sitting on the market, and more on the way, Brooklynites have to wonder if there is a market for Ratner's latest vision - and if not, then what?

Posted by lumi at 9:31 AM


WhistleBlowerApril_'06.jpgHow bureaucrats steal homes, trample the Constitution and destroy lives


The Supreme Court's widely condemned "Kelo" decision – which allows government to use the power of eminent domain to seize your home, small business or church against your will, and give it to a developer to build a casino, resort or apartment building – has led many citizens to conclude private property rights are dead in America.

Their fears are fully justified, as the stunning April edition of WND's acclaimed Whistleblower magazine – titled "THE END OF PRIVATE PROPERTY" – dramatically proves.

Posted by lumi at 8:44 AM

April 2, 2006

Condos With a Name: 'Available'


Wall Street Journal: The Architect May Be A-List, But the Location Often Isn't; Meier, Libeskind Languish By TROY MCMULLEN

It sounds like the ultimate home: A stylish urban condo with huge windows, sleek surfaces and the imprimatur of the star architect who designed it all.

Yet some high-end developers are discovering that it takes more than a name to move the merchandise.

Daniel Libeskind, famed for his plan to rebuild Ground Zero, designed an angular, 56-unit building in downtown Denver, yet the project hasn't recorded a sale in seven months, leaving 15 apartments unsold. Architect Robert A.M. Stern's name tops the marketing brochures for a high-rise in Stamford, Conn., but half of the 91 apartments remain available 18 months after sales began. And after two years of high-profile promotion, the newest Manhattan tower by Richard Meier, architect of Los Angeles's Getty Museum, has sold just 15 of its 31 units (not counting five bought by its developers).

Backers of these projects had hoped the cachet of a famous architect would inoculate them from a real-estate downturn. They have been charging a premium for their properties, and most aren't lowering prices. Yet these developers often ignored the first rule of real estate -- location -- and built in marginal neighborhoods far from other luxury homes and upscale stores. Some buyers, meantime, may simply have grown weary of all the name-dropping about these "starchitects."

The slowdown appears to have prompted some developers to exaggerate their sales figures. Marketers for Mr. Meier's 165 Charles Street, along Manhattan's Hudson River waterfront, had widely distributed information to potential buyers and the media stating that 24 of the building's 31 units had sold. But a look at deeds filed with the city showed a much lower number.

Izak Senbahar, co-developer of the project, says 15 apartments have been bought by outside buyers. He and his business partner bought five units, and deals for four more are in progress, he says. Mr. Senbahar defends the initial sales figures his group distributed, saying they never attempted to mislead buyers by purchasing the five units and lumping them into the sales totals. Moreover, he says, the number of unsold units "is not a factor for sophisticated buyers. If they like what they see they'll buy it." He adds that he and his partner are unsure what they ultimately will do with four of their units -- the fifth will be used by the building's superintendent -- but they may eventually put them back on the market.

A co-developer of Mr. Libeskind's Museum Residences in Denver, Corporex Colorado, reported a year ago that the project had sold two-thirds of its units. Reached last week, Glen Sibley, a vice president at the company, recited the same figure. "Perhaps the earlier number was a bit high," Mr. Sibley says.

"Developers try hard to create buzz for a project," says Las Vegas developer Laurence Hallier. "Telling buyers or the media that a project is nearly sold out or is going fast is all part of the game."

Charles Auster, a 54-year-old investment banker, says he considered buying in one of the half-dozen architect-branded buildings in lower Manhattan, but he choked on their prices and was wary of their out-of-the-way locations. "I'm not sure there's value there," Mr. Auster says, adding he feared the condos may not do well in the resale market. Instead, Mr. Auster spent about $2.4 million for a 1,450-square-foot apartment in Midtown with a fireplace, den and views of Central Park. "You can't get that [view] in those buildings," he says.

One building Mr. Auster had considered is Mr. Meier's waterfront tower in Manhattan. The white-metal-and-glass structure, standing next to two similar ones also designed by the architect, is priced at about $2,500 a square foot -- well above the $1,610-a-square-foot average for other luxury buildings in Manhattan in the fourth quarter of 2005, according to appraiser firm Miller Samuel. Yet instead of Mr. Auster's Central Park views, the project abuts a noisy highway with unobstructed views of New Jersey. No sales contracts have been executed in the building since December, says co-developer Mr. Senbahar.

No Bidders

But at least that tower got built. Two years ago, developer Frank J. Sciame hired Pritzker Prize-winning Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to create one of the most highly stylized apartment houses ever envisioned for New York. The building in lower Manhattan would consist of 10 cube-like apartment units, each 45 feet high, cantilevered one atop each other around a central axis. Yet none of the units -- asking $29 million to $45 million each -- has even received a bid, let alone sold, says Mr. Sciame, and construction hasn't started. Other high-profile Manhattan projects have been scrapped outright, including costly condos that were to be designed by architects Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.

In Miami, a tower designed by Mr. Meier also hasn't broken ground. Real-estate brokers with knowledge of the development say the 101-unit structure, Beach House, may soon be canceled because of a lack of preconstruction sales. The developers, Lynx Strategic Development, didn't return calls seeking comment.

In Denver, the Museum Residences saw an initial rush of sales after Mr. Libeskind's design hit the market in 2004. But there hasn't been a sale since September, says the developer. The apartments start at $500 a square foot, a record for the Colorado capital. But the project's location isn't as high-end: It's near the city's courthouses, and bail bonds are sold in converted Victorian homes nearby. Yet a few blocks away, a 15-story luxury condo called the Beauvallon has sold out. Though it wasn't designed by a famous architect, it's closer to a more desirable residential neighborhood and its units were priced at $140 a square foot.

Hope Engsberg-Rauzi was looking to downsize when she put her six-acre, Denver-area property on the market last year. The 46-year-old anesthesiologist says she'd heard a lot about the Libeskind-designed apartments but suffered sticker shock when she walked into the sales office. "The cheapest thing in my range was over a million dollars," she says. Instead, Ms. Engsberg-Rauzi paid $810,000 for a three-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot condo at a complex under development west of downtown. "I got more bang for the buck," she says.

At Mr. Stern's Stamford high-rise, called Highgrove, the cheapest two-bedroom unit starts at $1.35 million -- well above similar-sized apartments in the coastal Connecticut city. While the Stern project sits half empty, Mill River House, a recently completed project a few blocks away, sold all 92 of its condos since they went on sale 16 months ago, says co-developer Seth Weinstein. Prices ranged from $350,000 to $550,000.

Yet developers of architect-promoted buildings maintain they aren't concerned by the slowdown. "This is a premier property, designed with the best of everything," says David Wine, vice chairman of Related Cos., developer of a New York building called Astor Place. He says apartments at the undulating glass tower, designed by architect Charles Gwathmey, are worth their prices. But just one condo has sold since September, leaving 15 of the 39 units empty.

Real-estate-market analyst Lewis Goodkin, of Goodkin Consulting in Miami, says these developers seem to think it's still 2004 and that the allure of the architects' names will attract wealthy buyers. "The market has adjusted since then, but they haven't," he says.

Some developers of the star-architect buildings have reacted to the slump by stepping up their marketing -- hiring pop stars to host sales events, handing out freebies such as iPods to potential buyers and even offering free memberships in a vintage-car club. Astor Place turned over an empty apartment to Esquire magazine last November for 20 days. The unit, listed at $12.5 million, got a lavish, full-page photo spread in the monthly. It's still on the market.

Not all celebrity-architect buildings have been slow to sell. Mr. Stern's prewar-style apartment house on Manhattan's Central Park West is more than 50% sold after just two months on the market. Elsewhere in New York, apartments at a building that's a collaboration between the French architect Jean Nouvel and hotelier Andre Balazs went on sale two months ago and buyers already have signed contracts on 31 of its 40 units, its developers say.

Despite the languid market, more architect-linked apartments are in the works. Astor Place developer Related Cos. has begun working with Mr. Gehry on a 50-story condo complex across from the architect's Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Phillip Johnson and the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, which designed London's Tate Modern museum, have been hired for condo buildings in Manhattan. Mr. Libeskind has signed on to design condos in Covington, Ky., and Sacramento, Calif. And Mr. Stern's firm has apartment projects under way in Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

Mr. Stern, who is dean of architecture at Yale University, says architects take on some risks to their reputation when a project with their name on it doesn't sell strongly. But, he says, a noted designer will ultimately be judged on the quality of his work, not on sales figures, which he says are linked to the overall real-estate market. "The product is the product," says Mr. Stern. "If a building's design is well-perceived, but unfortunately doesn't do well, it should have no effect on the architect."

Posted by amy at 9:59 PM

Opponents of Ratner's Atlantic Yards Plan Gain, Reducing Size of Project and Re-shaping Scoping Process

Big Cities Big Boxes:

The document on which State environmental review focuses is called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). For every project, the developer and the state, with limited opportunity for public comment, determine what questions--the "scope" of review--this environmental study must answer. Thus, ESDC's concessions in the scoping process are, as The Times says, "significant victory" for critics. Up until now, the ESDC has refused to consider alternative proposals, and it has maintained that study of the project's effects should be limited to its immediate area. The three alternative proposals the ESDC will now consider, however, will include the proposal from the rival developer, Extell Corporation, that project critics in the coalition Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn themselves brought into the bidding process for the Atlantic Yards site with the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The ESDC has also agreed now to expand the main geographic area of the study to half a mile from the project site, from a quarter mile, and to increase from 65 to 93 the number of intersections where traffic impact will be studied.

The Ratner project remains far too large for Brooklyn, too tall, too dense, and too wide, even after yesterday's five-per-cent reduction in bulk. As DDDB spokesman Dan Goldstein told The Times, it is larger than when Ratner first announced his plans. In addition, the scope of the environmental review, as a vice-president of the Regional Plan Association, Christopher Jones, noted, fails to consider the project's impact beyond its expected completion date, 2016.


Posted by amy at 9:36 PM

Albany Priorities: Money for Private Developers, Not Enough Money for Schools

Daily Gotham:

Albany has repeatly been ordered by our courts to give more money to NYC schools. Yet Pataki and the Republican dominated State Senate repeatedly short change our schools. Pataki refuses to give us the money the courts have ordered him to give. NYC education is not an Albany priority.

But what is? Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project. Ratner has been lobbying for Albany to give him $100 million for his Atlantic Yards project. This is a private developer asking for money from the government to build his dream project. Albany just eagerly gave him his first installment: $33 million dollars. That's our money, folks. While our schools suffer, our subways decline, our subway fares climb, and Pataki and the Republican dominated State Senate tell NYC schools to go to hell, they give our tax money to Bruce Ratner so he can build 17 skyscrapers and an arena in the heart of Brooklyn.


Posted by amy at 9:32 PM

Nice ass Mr. Community Activist


The Life of 2ME:

But this left me pumped about fighting for my community and opposing all the overdevelopment that is being allowed here in Brooklyn. I think everyone is, especially those who live near the proposed Nets arena (which is getting little press--as if it doesn't matter) in downtown Brooklyn. That eyesore will be a disaster for my borough if it goes through. Riding around the next day, I ran across many rats here in Brooklyn. Giant ones, placed my the construction workers union at sites where they use non-union workers (i.e. cheap day laborers). Not only are many not fully skilled but they work in dangerous conditions which have lead to many injuries and a few deaths. Some sites have ambulances idling to whisk the injured and uninsured off to who knows where. Seems the three nastiest developers are Bruce Ratner (Nets arena) and Shaya Boymelgreen and Isaac Katan (they're responsible for many out-of-context buildings in my area). Remember their names if you're buying a condo here in Brooklyn. They're not worth the money (shoddy work).


NoLandGrab: Historically, Ratner has used union labor, but Brooklynites agree that he is nasty for plenty of other reasons.

Posted by amy at 9:10 PM

Brooklyn vs. Bush

In lieu of Sunday Comix this week, we invite you to watch the following music videos by Steve DeSeve. Cover your children's ears.

THE USE OF THE THREAT OF EMINENT DOMAIN: Bruce and brother and coinvestor Michael Ratner have been using something called "The Threat of Eminent Domain," to push people into signing insane contracts saying they will not talk about their dealings with the Ratner corporation AND that they will not DONATE MONEY TO ANY NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATIONS FOR THEIR DEFENSE AGAINST EMINENT DOMAIN. THIS IS HOW THEY BLIGHT A NEIGHBORHOOD WHEN THEY PREPARE TO TAKE IT OVER FOR THEIR HIGHRISES. THEY USE THE USE OF THE THREAT OF EMINENT DOMAIN AS THEIR FORM OF CARPET BOMBING.

A Ratner Day: Bruce and brother and coinvestor Michael Ratner have it all worked out for themselves.

Posted by amy at 3:33 PM

If it looks like a boycott...

Brooklyn Papers letter to the editor:


Posted by amy at 3:25 PM

Ratner's Rubberstampers


Brooklyn Papers editorial criticizes Albany's approval of $33 million for Atlantic Yards project in the Education budget.

Posted by amy at 3:18 PM

Checkin' in with Bill Batson


The Brooklyn Papers interviews Assembly candidate Bill Batson. Click on the photo for full article.

Posted by amy at 3:14 PM

Demolition Starts Clearing the Way For Ratner Plans


Park Slope Courier:

“I’ve walked around and looked at the building (585 Dean Street) as hard as I can and it looks incredibly sound,” said Patti Hagan, of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition.

“I can’t see the building hazardous to anybody, but Ratner’s project,” she added.


Posted by amy at 3:07 PM

Ratner Opponents Promise to Have More Tricks Up Their Sleeves


Park Slope Courier covers the Atlantic Yards forum in Brooklyn Heights:

In an essay called “Vanishing Vistas” published in the spring 2005 issue of The Brooklynite (www.thebrooklynite.com), Morrone discusses his Jersey City theory and places the yards proposal into historical context, linking the flourishing of Fort Greene, Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill with their having passed under the radar of 1950s urban renewal measures, and having received historic district designations.

“The proposals on the table, however, beg the question of whether Brooklynites’ urban success stories have taught us anything at all, or just paved the way for thoughtless mega-development,” he wrote. “Disinvestment is bad. So is over-investment. And it seems that in some parts of Brooklyn we may be going from the one to the other.”


Posted by amy at 2:58 PM

April 1, 2006

The only thing shrinking around here is...

Forest City Ratner has released their Final Scope of Analysis. Although claiming to have reduced the size of the project, it is actually 1 MILLION sq. feet larger than when announced in December of 2003.

Final Scope of Analysis

Forest City Ratner Press Release

DDDB analysis of FCR's April Fool's Joke

Media Regurgitation of FCR press release, aka Newspaper Headline Claims Corporate Press Release to be Entirely True:

NY1: Developer Scales Back Nets Sports Complex Plans

New York Times: Arena Complex Shrinks by 5% in Latest Plan


The Real Estate: Ratner-Lite

and one gets it right:

The Real Estate: Atlantic Yards 2006 vs. 2003

Posted by amy at 10:32 AM

Jersey swamp people ready for Brooklyn invasion

Brooklyn Papers disses Jerseyites and Atlantic Yards opponents, but not Nets CEO Brent Yormark (except for taking liberties with the spelling of his name):

“Obviously, the anchor is Nets basketball, but this is going to be almost a community center,” Yormack said. “We’re anticipating dates, concerts, shows. We’ll have something for everyone, in and around the community.”

Not surprisingly, opponents of the Atlantic Yards project accused Yormack of not knowing the community in which he hopes to move his team.

“The arena is not a community center, it is a for-profit TV studio that is inappropriate at an overburdened intersection in a residential neighborhood,” said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.


Posted by amy at 10:21 AM

State finds new lawyer

Brooklyn Papers:

The swiftness with which ESDC replaced Paget — and the generally accepted competence of Healy — had many Atlantic Yards opponents scratching their heads about what all the fuss was about.

“We always said their argument was specious,” said Jeff Baker, lawyer for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a Ratner opponent. “There are clearly plenty of competent lawyers in New York.”

Healy did not return a call seeking comment on his competence.


Posted by amy at 10:17 AM

State gives Ratner $33M

Brooklyn Papers:

Legislators in Albany have handed developer Bruce Ratner his first public subsidy for his Atlantic Yards project, allocating $33 million for the still-unapproved mega-development.

Three weeks after Ratner dispatched his troops to Albany to lobby for a $100-million handout, state officials this week earmarked one-third that amount for his $3.5-billion project in Prospect Heights.
By Assembly tradition, lawmakers often defer to local elected officials before signing big checks. But even though two of the four Assemblymembers who represent areas in or surrounding the Yards’ 24-acre footprint oppose the project, the initial Ratner subsidy was expected to pass handily.


Objection from local lawmakers - CHECK. Monies for unapproved project - CHECK. Ratner, here's your CHECK!

Posted by amy at 10:03 AM


Bruce Ratner and the Brooklyn Papers employ the Media Rule of Three: If you say something three times, people will believe it. Are they trying to convince us, or themselves?

“It’s fair to say when we get to Brooklyn, it’s going to be the moment this franchise has been waiting for probably since it got into NBA,” said Nets CEO Brent Yormack. “Everyone that works for this team realizes that, we believe it and we’re betting on it.” The National Basketball Association takes a very dim view of gambling.


Posted by amy at 9:55 AM