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May 31, 2006

The Real Estate Observer: Two-for Wednesday

Mind Bender

Congrats to The Real Estate Observer for two mysteries solved in one swell foop!

1) Why are South Brooklyn politicos Kruger, Golden, Fidler and Nelson big on Atlantic Yards? Like, what's in it for them?

2) Why is Bruce Bender a key part of the Forest City Ratner team? It definitely isn't to coin more Benderisms.

We had been wondering why so many politicos from the deep south of Brooklyn had endorsed Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. State Senators Carl Kruger and Martin Golden and City Council Members Lew Fidler and Mike Nelson all wrote letters of support last summer to the M.T.A.

We wondered, are these guys all for it because their constituents are going to get some of the jobs targeted to "the community" that the arena complex is supposed to help? Or do they just happen to have a lot of Nets fans living there?

Then we hit upon a map for the 59th Assembly district, which is governed by the Thomas Jefferson Club, the Democratic clubhouse whence Bruce Bender sprang.


The Riches of Fleet Street

The Real Estate Observer is pretty damned impressed with the deep pockets at The NY Times, after Atlantic Yards Report carried news from Editor & Publisher that the NY Times Corporation has agreed to spot Ratner 119.5-million clams towards the new Times Tower if the real-estate barron of Brooklyn can't come up with it himself.


Posted by lumi at 10:02 PM

Law firm signs first lease for NYT building

Crain's NY Business
By Julie Satow

Some news about the building that Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner is building in midtown and co-owns with the NY Times Corp:

The law firm Seyfarth Shaw has signed the first lease at the New York Times Co. building under construction at 620 Eighth Ave., at 41st street.

The 17-year lease is for 100,000 square feet on floors 31 through 33. The asking rent in the building is $80 to $100 a square foot.

CB Richard Ellis began marketing the building, designed by Pritzker-Prize winning architect Renzo Piano, last year. It is the first new Class A office tower to be constructed on Eighth Ave. in several years.

"We have a number of other leases out, but Seyfarth Shaw is the first to cross the finish line," said Forest City Ratner Cos. President Bruce Ratner, in a statement.

Forest City Ratner, which owns floors 29 through 52 with its financial partner ING Real Estate, expects it will be open for occupancy by the second quarter of 2007. The New York Times owns floors 2 though 28.


Another rewrite of the press release from the local real estate trade publication, GlobeSt.com.

Posted by lumi at 9:57 PM

MEDIA ADVISORY: Maloney to Speak Out Against Brooklyn Atlantic Yards Development Project


Sean Patrick Maloney, former senior Clinton White House official and investigative attorney running for the Democratic nomination for New York Attorney General, will hold a press conference to stand with the Brooklyn community against the current process and plans for the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards development project.

June 1, 2006 at 11:00 am in front of the Williamsburgh Bank Building, 1 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, NY

Posted by lumi at 7:14 PM


NY Post points out that:

The court also accused arena foes of bringing the suit as a means of halting the entire development.


NoLandGrab: Interestingly, the evidence the court cited makes no reference to using the suit as a "tactical maneuver."

Here's the language from the ruling with links to the "evidence" so you can decide for yourself:

Third, it seems clear that petitioners intended the disqualification motion as a significant tactical maneuver in their campaign against the Project (see N. Confessore, "Demolition Can Proceed for Brooklyn Arena," New York Times, Feb 15, 2006, at B4; Press Release, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Inc., Empire State Development Corporation to Appeal Decision to Disqualify Conflicted Attorney David Paget from Review of Ratner's "Atlantic Yards," http://www.developdontdestroy.org/litigation/ESDCAppealRelease021606.php [Feb 16, 2006]).

Posted by lumi at 9:37 AM

An Appeals Court Setback for Critics of Atlantic Yards

The NY Times covered yesterday's Appellate Court ruling in an article by Nicholas Confessore:

A state appeals court dealt a setback to opponents of the proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn yesterday, reversing the disqualification of a lawyer who had advised both the complex's developer and the state agency that is conducting an environmental review of the project.

A five-judge panel of the State Supreme Court's Appellate Division found that Justice Carol Edmead, who disqualified the lawyer, David Paget, in February, "misapprehended material facts and misapplied the applicable law" when she ruled that Mr. Paget's work for the Empire State Development Corporation was on its face a conflict of interest because he had also been a consultant to the developer, Forest City Ratner.

In the same unanimous and strongly worded ruling, the court found that Justice Edmead, a Supreme Court judge in Manhattan, had acted correctly when she refused to block the demolition of six buildings on the 22-acre site where Atlantic Yards would be built. That decision had been appealed by opponents of the development.

In a statement, Candace Carponter, a lawyer and a member of the leading group opposing the project, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, said that the group was disappointed by the ruling and would explore other legal challenges to the project.

"We believe in the moral correctness of our case, and are confident that this decision will inspire the public's vigilance and scrutiny to grow even stronger," she said.


Posted by lumi at 9:23 AM

Speaker Quinn Still Mum On Atlantic Yards Arena

quinn02.jpgNY Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

It would seem like a no-brainer for the City Council Speaker to take a position against Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, given her instrumental role in the defeat of the West Side Stadium project that was planned for her district. But Christine Quinn has remained silent.

Who are the players behind the political forces on both sides of the issue trying to get Quinn to take a position on Atlantic Yards? And, will the Speaker go against the Mayor, now that she is in a leadership position?


Posted by lumi at 8:48 AM

Who benefits from the city’s building boom?

Metro NY

Reporter Amy Zimmer interviews "Louis Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers’ Association, which represents 1,500 union construction companies in the city. Coletti talked to Metro about how the unions get people working but are not the city’s magic bullet."

Coletti on the building boom:

Is there more work for your members?
We’re right at the beginning stage for really big projects. I think we’ll see a lot of shovels in the ground this summer and next. You’ll see Yankee and Shea stadiums; the Freedom Tower, the PATH station, Atlantic Yards and the city is putting $11 billion in school construction.

Coletti on Community Benefits Agreements:

Can unions meet the demands of community benefits agreements for projects like Yankee Stadium or the Atlantic Yards that call for a percentage of contracts going to minority or women-owned businesses?
There’s a disconnect because we have not been party to many community benefits agreements. Let’s say you have a project in the Bronx and you get the local politicians saying, you need 25 percent of jobs going to people from the Bronx. Well, construction doesn’t work like that. We have a lot of workers living in the Bronx, but what if they don’t want to work on that particular project. We’re not going to lower our standards. We won’t be held accountable for those numbers. We already have the most diverse work force. Match it against any non-union contractor. Too often elected officials see us as a panacea to a paycheck. Yes, there’s an unemployment problem, especially in the African-American community, but that’s not our job to fix. We’re not a social service agency.


Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

Crown of thorns

Sean Elder's Blog

A freelance writer and editor takes issue with and pokes some holes in Alexandra Lange's New York Magazine article heralding the coming of the Ratner-Gehry Atlantic Yards:

"We don't want to build tall for the sake of tall," she quotes Ratner mouthpiece Jim Stuckey saying. "Frank Gehry can frame the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower”—the current tallest, at 512 feet, compared with the 620 feet of Gehry’s main tower, Miss Brooklyn—“and make it a postcard with other buildings around it.”

You read that right: a postcard. As in, Wish you were here? No wonder the arrogant Gehry, who says those protesting the development should be protesting Henry Ford for inventing the automobile, is calling his crowned jewel, the building around the proposed arena, Miss Brooklyn. You'll miss Brooklyn, too, when these carpetbaggers get done with it.

It's a pity that Lange, who is presumably a reporter, could not have found an actual opponent to the project to quote.


Posted by lumi at 7:53 AM

E&P on the Times: loan obligation to Forest City Ratner demands more disclosure

EPtop.gif From Atlantic Yards Report:

In the June issue of Editor & Publisher, the monthly trade journal of the newspaper industry, "Ethics Corner" columnist Allan Wolper takes a look at the New York Times's dicey relationship with ["Atlantic Yards" developer] Forest City Ratner. The headline: 'NY Times' Coverage Hits Close To Home, with the subhead: Reporters challenged to objectively cover dealings of a real estate company directly involved with New York Times Co.


Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

May 30, 2006

Appellate Division rules business as usual in NY State

For you primary-source mavens, here's the link for the NY State Supreme Court Appellate Division's ruling in the case of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn v Empire State Dev. Corp.

Basically, the court found that Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) et al do not have "standing" to bring a case questioning whether or not the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner may retain the same lawyer — that right is reserved exclusively for Forest City Ratner. In other words, if DDDB's lawyer started working for the ESDC, then DDDB would have standing to bring a case according to NY State law. [Is this enough proof that we're not Dan Goldstein?]

Our favorite part is the finding that even if the petitioners had standing, there was no conflict between the ESDC and Ratner because they say so:

The motion court also erred in ignoring record evidence that ESDC and/or the developer had duly waived their rights as to potential conflicts of interest...

Oh well, it's business as usual in New York State, where it is perfectly legal for the same lawyer to work for both sides in the "collaborative" relationship between FCRC and the ESDC.

UPDATE: We claimed that Curbed.com had it wrong in its early report on the decision. Apparently, DDDB did appeal the demolitions, since they were going to court anyway over the FCRC appeal. So the following should read:

If you have something interesting to say on the subject, surf on over to Curbed.com's post, but pay no attention to their blurb. Curbed.com's LSAT batting average just hit a new low high when they missed got the point of the ruling, which had nothing also decided in favor of Ratner to do with upholding uphold the Ratner demolitions. Though the Supreme Court proceedings (including the arguments over the demolitions) were described in detail, the Appellate Court's only other task was to rule in the conflict of interest case.

Posted by lumi at 10:08 PM

DDDB Press Release: Appellate Division Overturns ESDC Conflict of Interest Case and Leaves Public Scratching Its Head

Ruling Only Strengthens Looming Eminent Domain Legal Challenge to Ratner's Foundering "Atlantic Yards" Proposal

MANHATTAN, NY - "We are obviously very disappointed with the Court's decision and its apparent position that the people of Brooklyn do not have standing to raise a conflict of interest involving the attorney retained by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), supposedly representing the public's interest in its review of the proposed development of Atlantic Yards, and Forest City Ratner (FCR), the developer proposing the project. This is just a legal decision as to whether there is a legal conflict in the ESDC’s use of the same attorney who represented FCR on the identical project. The real conflict, the one the public sees, is still glaring–the ESDC sees itself as a collaborator with Bruce Ratner, not as a protector of the public interest," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "This decision only strengthens our resolve to pursue our very strong challenge to the illegal use of eminent domain as soon as the unaccountable ESDC invokes it, as well as to legally challenge the already flawed environmental review process overseen by the ESDC, as we were invited to by the appellate court."

The Appellate Division of New York State's Supreme Court today issued a ruling overturning the lower court's decision to disqualify attorney David Paget for a gross conflict of interest: Mr. Paget represented Forest City Ratner on its "Atlantic Yards" development proposal and then was hired, at the developer's behest, by the EESDC, the unelected state agency charged with reviewing the developer's proposal and overriding all local zoning laws. The case's plaintiffs included Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and a dozen other community groups, as well as amicus briefs by the Sierra Club and New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) filed in support of the plaintiffs’ position

"It is disappointing that the Appellate Division did not find any ethical impropriety in Ratner’s lawyer also representing the government agency, the ESDC. Although the Court reversed the finding of the trial court, finding that there was no violation of any ethical prohibition, the ESDC can still choose to act as guardian of the public’s, and not the developer’s, interest by refusing to return to business as usual, and keep the attorney that it hired pending the outcome of this appeal, rather than reinstating their troubling relationship with Mr. Paget, FCR’s attorney. If Mr. Paget is reinstated as ESDC’s counsel, the reality of the conflict that we challenged as actually affecting the public decision making process will continue to exist. It is this lack of transparency, integrity, and meaningful public participation which is the drumbeat that continues to pound in the public's head and urges them to take a stand against the political cronyism that embodies this project," said DDDB legal chair Candace Carponter.

"We believe in the moral correctness of our case, and are confident that this decision will inspire the public's vigilance and scrutiny to grow even stronger. It will be telling to watch whether ESDC decides to act contrary to the expressed concerns of the local community in this regard."

Carpentor concluded, "The Court did note the importance of the public participation process under the state's environmental review statute known as SEQR, so all interested people must now join us to challenge this destructive development review process which continues to nakedly shut out the public. This is just a single step it what will continue to be a long battle."

Posted by lumi at 9:14 PM

A neighborhood welcome

NY Daily News
By Errol Louis

Introducing Errol Louis's Advisory Board on Atlantic Yards?

No. 1 on the list is Constantin (Gus) Vlahavas, the proprietor of Tom's, a diner that opened in 1936 and was once named by the Daily News as the best restaurant in New York City. " This will be a shot in the arm for us," Gus says of Atlantic Yards.

Roy Hastick, the founder and president of the Caribbean-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is another local leader who supports the project. He has been plugging away at building opportunities for small businesses for over 20 years.

Freddie Hamilton, a community leader from Clinton Hill, wants to see the project succeed. Hamilton, who tragically lost her son to gun violence, successfully sued the gun maker in federal court.

Eve Porter, also a supporter, has spent a couple of decades running the Crow Hill Community Association, which recently launched a beautification drive that has transformed a formerly drug-plagued strip of Franklin Ave.

Delia Hunley-Adossa, president of the 88th Precinct Community Council, is a city worker and activist who voluntarily shoulders the potentially hazardous job of talking openly with the cops about how and where to stop dope dealers and other crooks in Fort Greene.


Introducing another good point made by Atlantic Yards Report, "What CBA? Gaps in Errol Louis's column about AY supporters"

Freddie Hamilton and Delia Hunley-Adossa are signatories of Forest City Ratner's Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for the Atlantic Yards proposal. Other signatories to the CBA are contractually obliged to support the plan publicly, and some are receiving financial support from Ratner.

Atlantic Yards Report concludes:

We've yet to learn what support, if any, the groups Hamilton and Hunley-Adossa represent have received. But they're not simply neutral neighborhood activists.

Posted by lumi at 11:45 AM

Next Ratner project: 60 story office towers and condos in the Village

New York Games considers Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Development Group President Jim Stuckey's best argument for Atlantic Yards — density belongs on transit hubs — and posits:

Next Ratner project: 60 story office towers and condos in the Village (they'll blame Gehry for this one too). There's phenomenal growth potential between Midtown and Downtown: close the gap! This is appropriate, as the city needs growth where the A, C, E, B, D, F, V lines -- plus the nearby NJ commuter line PATH -- all converge at the major West 4th Street transit hub. The 2002 ridership of the West 4th station was 11,574,810, while for Atlantic Ave./Pacific St. it was just 7,023,218.

It's all about infrastructure. What's above grade isn't so important.


Posted by lumi at 11:06 AM

The superblock that dares not speak its name

It's an urban room, it's open space... no, it's SUPERBLOCKS!

Atlantic Yards Report

ItsSuperblocks.jpg Despite the fact that Bruce Ratner and Frank Gehry dare not utter the word, Atlantic Yards Report points out that the Ratner-Gehry plan is full of "superblocks."

But what's the big deal about superblocks? Landscape designer Laurie Olin sees it as an opportunity for open space. In fact, that's been the big sell since the concept was originally introduced: density plus open space. A win-win for cities, right? Au contraire, mon frère ("No way, bro!"). Decades of experimentation with the superblock has proven the concept to be flawed and a detriment to urban life.

So why do even architectural critics have trouble using the S-word when discussing the Ratner-Gehry plan?

Posted by lumi at 9:45 AM

"The Daily News Endorses Atlantic Yards"

From the Atlantic Yards News e-poster:

Forest City Ratner declares that the NY Daily News endorses the Atlantic Yards.

Real estate mogul and Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman must be real gung ho about the project to have given reprint permission complete with the corporate logo. Or could this just be the lone voice of editorial board member Errol Louis in his on-going attempt to pit latte sippers against affordable-housing advocates?

Atlantic Yards Report has posted additional commentary on the editorial that has become "Forest City Ratner's new ad campaign."


Posted by lumi at 9:27 AM

DFNYC Opposes the Atlantic Yards

DFNYC.jpgHere's one we missed from Democracy for New York City, Sunday, May 21:

Based on your feedback, DFNYC opposes the Ratner Atlantic Yards Project as it currently stands and cannot condone the use of eminent domain on private property for the gain of a private developer. We believe that the project backed by glossy propaganda has not taken the community's concerns into consideration and we urge those in office and those seeking office to stand with the community, not against it.


Posted by lumi at 9:23 AM

May 29, 2006

James Stuckey: Building in Brooklyn

Forest City exec takes charge of Atlantic Yards construction; faces local opposition

Crain's NY Business
By Erik Engquist
Published on May 29, 2006

A profile of Forest City Ratner's President of the Atlantic Yards Development Group, Jim Stuckey, portrays the political mastermind as a developer who needs little sleep while simultaneously working out the details of "The Project that Ate Brooklyn" and pursing a masters in theology:

Every day, James Stuckey is awake for 20 hours, and he's busy for every one of them. As he tries to transform downtown Brooklyn, the executive vice president at Forest City Ratner Cos. has more on his plate than contestants at a Coney Island hot dog-eating competition.

Mr. Stuckey was named this month to run the real estate development company's newly created division devoted to building the controversial Atlantic Yards project. The technical complexities of creating a $3.5 billion residential-office-arena complex over an active rail yard are immense. The political, legal and financial uncertainties dogging the project are equally daunting.

"This embodies everything I've worked on in the last 30 years," he says from his 12th-floor office in MetroTech, a mile from the project site. "It's an incredible challenge."

His first mission is to steer past the media-savvy blog masters who have mounted a David-like effort to stop Atlantic Yards. They say the sprawling development will destroy the neighborhood. Mr. Stuckey, who was raised in a cramped Sunset Park apartment, where he shared a Castro convertible bed with his brother, appreciates the pluck of the Brooklynites battling Atlantic Yards. He still thinks they are wrong.

Respectful disagreement

"I completely understand and respectfully disagree," he says. His primary adversary, Daniel Goldstein, owns an apartment in a building Forest City plans to raze to make way for a basketball arena for the Nets. In a Forest City conference room, Mr. Stuckey identifies the building in a tacked-up aerial photograph. He notes that Forest City has bought every other unit in it. Condemnation by eminent domain and a lawsuit by Mr. Goldstein appear inevitable.

"He's very slick and comes across as if he's caring," Mr. Goldstein says of Mr. Stuckey. "But I think he's an absolutely cutthroat businessman." While opponents of Atlantic Yards portray Forest City as coldhearted and dollar-oriented, Mr. Stuckey says he joined the company for precisely the opposite reason. For the firm to undertake a project, "it had to have a public purpose," he says. Mr. Stuckey sees the development as appropriate growth where Brooklyn needs it--above the Atlantic Avenue train nexus.

The Staten Island resident, married 32 years and a father of three, doesn't fit the mold of ruthless real estate developer. He sits on the city's Arts Commission and formerly chaired the Center Against Domestic Violence. He is currently pursuing a master's in theology.

Growing up, the talented musician turned down a cello scholarship from Hofstra University, choosing to pursue bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology at St. John's University in Queens.

Developing interest

He was closing in on his doctorate when he switched careers. He worked on the South Street Seaport construction for the city and later caught the eye of Mayor Ed Koch, who made him president of the Public Development Corp.

His contacts will help him negotiate the political minefield faced by Atlantic Yards. The project needs approval from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Empire State Development Corp. and the Public Authorities Control Board, and relies informally on the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Even some of Mr. Stuckey's foes praise him. "He's really good at what he does," says Prospect Heights activist Schellie Hagan. "He plays the game very well."


Posted by lumi at 8:49 PM

Downtown Brooklyn in 2016

Brooklyn (like it or not) will get a shimmering Frank Gehry Crown. NYMagazine.jpg

The New York Magazine annual real estate edition is devoted to the big changes planned for NYC under the Bloomberg-Doctoroff Doctrine, and heralds the coming of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards, whether you like it or not:

What’s in a name? In projecting the future of the intersection of Atlantic, Flatbush, and Fourth Avenues, what you call the area means a lot. Call it Atlantic Yards, as developer Forest City Ratner does, and you see a march—or perhaps a fashion show—of sixteen towers in glass, metal, and brick marching down Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, supplanting Grand Army Plaza’s arch as the gateway to the 21st-century borough. This name pulls Downtown Brooklyn to the heart of the brownstone belt, attracting tenants who want to look at, but not necessarily touch, the old Brooklyn at their feet.


And whether Bruce Ratner likes it or not, Atlantic Yards Report has a play-by-play commentary on the article.

New York Magazine, in a feature headlined Building the (New) New York: The Bob and Jane way, takes a look at the city in 2016, and pronounces the projected result a mix of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. A segment on the Atlantic Yards project is odd; on the one hand, it assumes that the project would be completed on time as currently scheduled (despite past delays and likely litigation) and would be located in Downtown Brooklyn; on the other, it muses about a scaleback plan (uncredited) that could be far more dramatic than than anything proposed so far.

Posted by lumi at 8:18 PM

An arena grows in Brooklyn

The Newark Star-Ledger
Architecture critic Dan Bischoff reviews architect Frank Gehry's latest designs for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal by going beyond the models to consider the implications of Gehry's method and the shortcomings of celebrity:

Part of the problem is Gehry's method. He rather famously proceeds in fits in starts, proposing designs, changing them, engaging his (usually) billionaire clients in the sturm und drang of artistic creation. It works great when you're focussed on the relationship between a single client and the architectural genius, but when the client is a thousand people, few of whom have ever wanted to live in an American suburb, it gets hairy. And we do remember the billion-dollar museum plan Gehry unveiled for the Guggenheim a few years back, slated for the East River just off the South Street Seaport. That'll never happen.

Celebrity is as celebrity does.


From Atlantic Yards Report:

So, in the third review of the new architectural plan for the Atlantic Yards project, after reviews in the Sun and Newsday (hey, where's the Times?), a critic finally looks at the bigger picture, not just the social forces behind the building battle but also whether it's worth it all. In an essay today under the cliched (and 16-towers avoiding) headline An arena grows in Brooklyn, Star-Ledger art/architecture critic Dan Bischoff notably opines that the community "givebacks... seem relatively paltry compared to the scale of the overall project."

Also, he acknowledges skepticism "about whether anything even remotely approaching these models will be built," given architect Frank Gehry's age and the typical fits and starts in an architectural project.

Posted by lumi at 2:17 PM

Does Gehry have a stake in the Atlantic Yards development?

Atlantic Yards Report author Norman Oder recently came across a review of Deyan Sudjic's latest book, "The Edifice Complex." The reviewer interviewed Sudjic, who made a point about Frank Gehry that left Oder wondering.

Deyan Sudjic:

Gehry now has the power to name his price. He’s now using his position—and the sense that his signature can transform the prospects of a commercial development—to actually take points in the development, which is fascinating.

Atlantic Yards Report: Now Sudjic was not talking directly about the Atlantic Yards project, the biggest project Gehry ever designed. Does Gehry's enthusiasm for the project extend beyond the opportunity to design his first arena, or a "neighborhood from scratch," as he erroneously said? Does he have a financial stake in the deal beyond his typical fee? We don't know, since it hasn't been discussed publicly, but the question's worth asking, especially given Gehry's assiduous support for the project.


Posted by lumi at 11:51 AM

Eminent Domain's Pre-Eminence

noedabuse-nytimes.jpg The NY Times
By Laura Mansnerus

For NLG readers who are closely following the eminent domain debate across the nation, here's a NY Times article about the rampant abuse of property rights across the river in New Jersey.


Posted by lumi at 11:36 AM

Remembering those who fought for our rights

We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who have fought and died to uphold our democracy and protect our constitutional rights.

NoLandGrab readers spend a lot of time considering the expansion of the "takings clause" of the Fifth Amendment: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
The intention of this amendment was to ensure private ownership of property.

We contend that the expansion of the definition of "public use" to include taking of private property to give to another private owner is abusive, and dishonors those who have fought to uphold the principles for which our great country stands.

Posted by lumi at 11:18 AM

Hakeem Jeffries, open letter on Atlantic Yards

Hakeem Jeffries took out a half-page ad in the Brooklyn Downtown Star in an attempt to clarify his stand on the biggest controversy in his district, Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal.

I take this issue very seriously, as I reside along with my wife and two children, just a few blocks from the proposed footprint. This development, planned for the very heart of this district, presents a combination of both opportunity and deep concern.

The candidate for the 57th State Assembly District, an open seat currently held by Atlantic Yards supporter Roger Green, has charted a very careful position, one that even Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report is having a little difficulty parsing, since each statement seems to lead to more questions than answers.

Posted by lumi at 8:23 AM

May 28, 2006


The New York Times City Section

Taking Private Property

Q. The use of eminent domain for the benefit of private entities is a hot topic nowadays. Was it ever used that way in New York?

A. Your question alludes to a decision last year by the United States Supreme Court, which upheld the right of New London, Conn., to take private property, without the owner's permission, for economic development.

As it turns out, Lisa Bova-Hiatt, deputy chief in charge of condemnation issues for the city's Law Department, said that New York State law, unlike Connecticut's, allowed municipalities to take property for economic development only if the property is blighted.

Officials of the Empire State Development Corporation, for example, have suggested that the corporation may use eminent domain to help make room for the Atlantic Yards project near Downtown Brooklyn, arguing that the blocks that make up the proposed site of the project — on and around a railyard in Prospect Heights — meet the state's definition of blighted. But many who live and work there dispute that description, saying the neighborhood is thriving.

Ms. Bova-Hiatt cited Lincoln Center, Times Square and the MetroTech office park in Downtown Brooklyn as three developments that were based on the condemnation of blighted property.


NoLandGrab: Hmmm, Lincoln Center, Times Square and MetroTech. Can you guess which one of the three Bruce Ratner hasn't had a hand in? (Hint: he was still in short pants when the Upper West Side's arts mecca was created, otherwise....)

The Times, by the way, appears to be forgetting that it's a recent beneficiary of a Times Square condemnation action - in partnership with the aforementioned Mr. Ratner.

Posted by lumi at 6:34 PM

Sunday Comic: Coming to a theater near you


Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM

HALL OF SHAME: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

GehryBilbao.jpg Project for Public Spaces

Tired of New Yorkers whining about Frank Gehry? Well, sorry, but here's one more that you have to check out before you make up your mind about the starchitect who wants to transform Brooklyn.

Read about how a middle-aged couple visiting Bilbao became an easy mark when isolated by architecture.

Though it is near the center of the city, the Guggenheim shuns any relation to its context. The building challenges locals and tourists (not to mentioned handicapped people) to enter some of the least inviting public spaces and entranceways anywhere.


NoLandGrab: To be fair, a comment posted after the piece on Bilbao observes that the Millennium Park in Chicago offers the city and its inhabitants a more usable public space.

Posted by lumi at 6:21 AM

May 27, 2006

Ratner fence falls!

DeanStFence-BP.jpg The Brooklyn Papers

Reporter Ariella Cohen covers the unsafe conditions at Forest City Ratner's Dean St. demolition site as a race between Dan Goldstein, nearby resident and spokesperson for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, who snapped the photo of the downed fence, and workers rebuilding it.

A city official, who requested anonymity, was amused by the keen reflexes of both the developer and his chief critic.

But Ratner isn’t laughing. The developer is facing a $2,500 fine from the Department of Buildings for the falling wall.


NoLandGrab: A nice horse-race story with a photo finish, but the article misses the larger point. The incident illustrates a trail of hypocrisy on the developer's part.

Forest City Ratner spent thousands of dollars in PR and legal fees to protect its right to demolish the Dean Street buildings, claiming they were a threat to public safety.

Since the February 14th decision by Justice Carol Edmead asserting FCR's right to demolish six properties (although the project has not been approved), the developer has been cited for unsafe conditions at the Times Tower site - at which debris fell on a car, injuring the occupants - and now, at the Dean Street site as well.

Too bad for Brooklyn Papers' readers that the paper didn't see fit to make this point.

Posted by lumi at 9:28 AM

Brooklyn Papers: Gehry slideshow

Gersh Kuntzman of The Brooklyn Papers has posted an online slideshow of Frank Gehry's latest images of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, accompanied by a few interesting comments.


Posted by lumi at 8:46 AM

Newsky: StopYassky Out-y!

stopme.jpg It's not as big time as the unmasking of Deep Throat, but speculation over the identity of the blogger behind StopYassky.com has become fodder for local political online forums as the race for the 11th US Congressional District has heated up. Some commentators have bristled at the tone of the web site, while others have felt that it raises valid points.

Several people have claimed ownership and others have been outed.

Suspicion fell on Gary Tilzer of Yvette Clarke's campaign, then it definitely wasn't "Gatemouth," who fingered someone he ID'd as "fat ugly smelly toothless bastard." Others speculated that David Yassky's camp was running a reverse, putting up something inflammatory so they could pin it on the Chris Owens or Clarke campaigns.

Yesterday, Daily News columnist Errol Louis (via Ben Smith's blog, Daily Politics) outed Lucy Koteen of Fort Greene, citing her Blogspot handle, "stopyassky." Some outing — NY Observer reporter Matthew Schuerman points out that Blogspot members can remain anonymous if they want. It's not clear how Louis uncovered this, but it was most likely from a comment posted on Norman Oder's blog, Atlantic Yards Report.

The question for serial-letter-writer Koteen would be which organization she was seeking to give a boost: Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, The Sierra Club of New York, The Fort Greene Association or La Leche League (a local breast-feeding advocacy group)?

Some things we don't get:

If the threat to longtime project critic Chris Owens comes from splitting the black vote with Atlantic Yards supporters Carl Andrews and Yvette Clarke, why would a neighborhood activist go after Yassky? (Point also made by "Gatemouth.") Where're StopAndrews.com and StopClarke.com?

What was Errol Louis doing hanging out in Blogspot? Is he setting up his own anonymous blog? Trying to unmask "Norman Oder?" Or, boning up on facts about Ratner's Atlantic Yards scheme?

Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

May 26, 2006

Bridezilla Hits Brooklyn

Frank Gehry to City: “Drop Dead.”

The L Magazine
By Amanda Park Taylor

This is probably one of the most amusing spankings of Frank Gehry and Laurie Olin we've read so far:


Ratner’s complex features a phalanx of towers (16 of ‘em!), wildly out of scale with the surrounding neighborhoods of three- and four-storey buildings, the centerpiece of which is a massive 650-footer, Gehry’s oh-so-charmingly christened “Miss Brooklyn”, aka “The Bride.” He claims to have driven around Brooklyn in search of inspiration and a sense of place (perhaps someone should have told him that New Yorkers don’t ride around in cars, for starters: that may be how Angelenos experience their built environment but...) and in his peregrinations saw an actual Brooklyn bride, and modeled this central tower on her.

After Laurie Olin waxes poetic about Brooklyn's geology and topography, we cut through the doublespeak. Gehry & Olin to Brooklyn:

“We know they’re there, but we really don’t care about the streets (which we are going to close off and cover over), or the buildings (which we’re going to seize, destroy and cast into permanent shade) or the culture (which we’ll just push out or build over) or the people (ditto). We’re just gonna do what we want, candy-coat it with idiotic imagery (did I mention that in addition to the “Bride” there is, natch, a “Groom,” and also a “Dude the Bride is Going to Cheat on the Groom With” amongst the towers?) and pretend we’ve actually paid attention to something beyond our own agendas.” Here comes the bride....


Posted by lumi at 1:19 PM

Extreme density: Atlantic Yards plan would dwarf Battery Park City, other projects

Another must-read post from Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder pokes around NYC and crunches some numbers to try to understand how Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal "stacks up" against our city's other highrise residential developments.

It turns out that the Atlantic Yards proposal would bring more apartments per acre than any other major development he could find. [Using "number of apartments" is a way to approximate the important issue of population density.]

How big should the Atlantic Yards project be (or, for that matter, any project over the railyards)? If you compare AY to other major developments around the city, it would include more than twice as many apartments per acre than at Stuyvesant Town and Battery Park City, and thus a much more dense population--one that would surpass the turn-of-the-century Lower East Side.

PC Village/Stuy Town 11,250 80 140.6
Battery Park City now 9000 92 97.8
Battery Park City later 14,000 92 152.2
Starrett at Spring Creek   5881 153 38.4
Co-op City 15,372 300 51.2
Lefrak City 5000 40 125
Atlantic Yards, 5/06 6860 20 343

NoLandGrab: Look who just caught on! (Hey we're bloggers not urban planners.)

Project critics have been comparing Atlantic Yards to the superblock development projects of the past, as a way to conveniently grasp the size of the proposal and understand the effects of street closings.

However, Ratner's proposal is a MAJOR break from the traditional superblock paradigm, which used highrise towers to maximize open space in an attempt to improve quality of life.

Ratner appears to be using highrise towers to maximize profit. With a very low open-space ratio, this project's density is off the charts in comparison to other residential housing projects and may be the first "extreme-density high-rise project."

Are there ANY urban planning principles guiding the fundamental Atlantic Yards design, except to say that "extreme density" is necessary to insure profitability?

Posted by lumi at 11:01 AM

Brooklyn Rail Yards(?) Working Trade Session


From the Darman Group's web site to solicit women and minority contractors for the Atlantic Yards proposal:

As you may know Forest City Ratner Companies is working with the New York State Association of Minority Contractors (NYSAMC) and Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), and others to ensure the maximum practicable level of minority and women owned business participation in the construction of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards Project. Concurrent with the public approval process, preparations are underway to advertise construction contract opportunities. As part of that process you are invited to attend a trade specific working session whose purpose is to introduce representatives of larger construction companies to M/WBE and local firms who have the capability and interest to participate as subcontractors.


NoLandGrab readers have probably already spotted the PR spin in the image and statement above. The Vanderbilt Rail Yards is called the Brooklyn Yards and the title insinuates that the yards comprise most of the project. Also, Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards is now Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards.

Posted by lumi at 10:27 AM

Brian Lehrer Live: Norman Oder

lehrer-oder.jpg The online videostream of Brian Lehrer's interview with Atlantic Yards Report author Norman Oder is posted on the CUNY TV web site .

Lehrer and Oder analyze the recent Atlantic Yards brochure and the latest Gehry designs.

Posted by lumi at 9:53 AM

nolandgrab.COM is for sale for $1,630

A regular reader pointed out that NOLANDGRAB.COM is for sale for a cool $1,630. Since we are an "org-y" kind of group, we'll probably pass.

But for the opposition to fair development in Brooklyn these domain names are still available:

Posted by lumi at 9:32 AM

Senator Schumer Hates You

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn responds to Senator Schumer's attack on critics of the Atlantic Yards and Brooklyn Bridge Towers in Your Park proposals.

From the Brooklyn Downtown Star:

"Marty is taking it on the chin," sympathized Schumer, "from what I call the culture of inertia, this small group of self-appointed people. If we do not grow, we will die."


Posted by lumi at 9:27 AM

Can You Say 'Hooray for Ratner'? You're Hired!

MartyMarkowitzCupCake.jpg Power Plays (the political blog of The Village Voice)

Marty Markowitz is looking to hire a "communications associate," someone who can brush up the Brooklyn Beep's bearish image. Though Markowitz is the biggest booster of all things Brooklyn, his image has taken a hit over the Atlantic Yards proposal:


The full-time post requires a college degree, city residency, and "the ability to work quickly and accurately in a fast-paced environment." Given the beep's unwavering support for the Atlantic Yards plan, spelling developer Bruce's last name correctly (it's "R-A-T-N-E-R" not "R-A-N-T-E-R") is also probably a plus.


Posted by lumi at 9:01 AM

Brooklyn elections and the developers

People's Weekly World

A socialist economic and political overview of demographic changes coming to Brooklyn, brought to you by the Bloomberg-Doctoroff big developer doctrine:

The housing, construction and development boom of recent years, which only recently has shown signs of slowing, is changing the class and nationality composition of whole cities, and with it reducing the Democratic majority.

High-rise luxury apartments, condos and offices; waterfronts privatized with luxury dwellings, hotels, recreational facilities and restricted parks; cruise liner ports; big-box stores; sports facilities featuring luxury boxes; glitzy casinos — all these are reshaping our cities. They are being financed by a host of federal, state and city public subsidies ranging from 30-60 percent of total costs, while finance capital — the big banks, developers, real estate and construction corporations — divide up 100 percent of the profit.

In Brooklyn, the fate of progressive politics is being played out over support for and opposition to the Atlantic Yards proposal:

The outcome of the Sept. 12 primary election will determine whether a progressive continues in Congress to fight the Bush administration. But it will also impact the citywide fight over whether the billionaire developers should have their way.


Posted by lumi at 8:46 AM

Atlanta: A Surprising Bastion of "New Urban" Living

A blog called Environmental and Urban Economics brings up some good points for consideration when reading this week's NY Times article about the Atlantic Station mixed-use development project in Atlanta, GA:

Below I report an interesting case study of a public/private partnership that appears to have achieved its two goals of greening a big chunk of center city Atlanta and creating urban economic development. The article does not say how much public money was spent on this project so it is impossible to begin to do cost/benefit analysis here. I'm always interested in "demonstration effects". Will politicians from other rundown places such as in Queens, NYC see the Atlanta success story and consider making similar investments? Perhaps they might anticipate the likely gentrification caused by a successful project and be afraid of losing their voting bloc? Would Jane Jacobs oppose this type of "big push" project?


Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

May 25, 2006

If Miss Brooklyn and Mr. Beekman got married

The Frank Gehry submission for the NY Times Tower design competition, disinterred by "Dave the City Planner" (via Gutter), exposes the starchitect "ripping himself off."


Posted by lumi at 8:53 AM

The Norman Oder Report

NormanOder.jpg Brian Lehrer Live

Norman Oder, author of the blog The Atlantic Yards Report, kicked butt on Brian Lehrer's call-in show on CUNY TV last night.

For those of you who missed it, the interview with the Atlantic Yards Encyclopedia Normanica will be rebroadcast on Channel 75 on:

Saturday, 10am
Sunday, 11pm (time approximate following movie)

An archived videostream will be posted here once it's available.

Brian Lehrer made the point that Forest City Ratner was invited to send anyone, including Borough President Marty Markowitz, to represent the developer's point of view before, during or after the segment, but they declined. Apparently Bruce Ratner didn't like Brian Lehrer's questioning of Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards Group President Jim Stuckey last week, on his weekday radio call-in show, or the whole gang is afraid, very afraid, of Norman Oder.

Either way, Bruce Ratner totally blew off the host of an enormously popular public-affairs radio talk show, big with the same demographic group the developer paid big bucks to reach with his 12-page liar flier. Smart PR!

The OderLehrerOderRatner Report
Uncharacteristically, Norman Oder ISN'T going to transcribe the entire interview. He has provided a summary of his appearance, with additional thoughts.

Posted by lumi at 8:35 AM

The ATURA mystery: why doesn't it overlap with AY footprint?

atura-map.gifAtlantic Yards Report

Part of the proposed Atlantic Yards footprint sits within the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area (ATURA), and part does not. (ATURA is in red, the footprint is in blue, and the overlap is both.) But if the southern blocks of the footprint, between Pacific and Dean streets, were important for the city's redevelopment plans, why did the city never add them to ATURA? The failure to do so, said Allison Dean, a Hunter College graduate student in urban planning, suggests "striking asymmetries" between city redevelopment/land use policies and Forest City Ratner's project.

Dean also reports that, "A former staffer for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which supports the Atlantic Yards project, told her that 'everyone is very skittish' about the plan."

NoLandGrab: Could the skittishness possibly be a result of these "striking asymmetries?"


Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

FUREE Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Phil Guie

At last week's 10th and 11th US Congressional District Candidate Forum sponsored by Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) to discuss "job creation, affordable housing, increased pay for child care providers, and school conditions," Joy Chattel interrupted candidate David Yassky to make the point that, as her City Council representative, he has done nothing to help her save her home, which is slated to be seized via eminent domain for the Downtown Brooklyn redevelopment plan.

Yassky defended his position supporting the Downtown Brooklyn Plan by stating he's for affordable housing and job creation.

What Yassky didn't offer is that most of the development in Downtown Brooklyn has been luxury housing, not affordable housing and offices as originally planned. The current building boom is creating construction jobs, but not the thousands of long-term jobs originally predicted.

The outburst was a dramatic segment in an otherwise orderly forum at which candidates Chris Owens, Carl Andrews, David Yassky, Charles Barron and Roger Green discussed their views and experiences qualifying them to run for Congress, which included Green's boast that, "he had been in jail more times than any other politician in New York."


Posted by lumi at 7:50 AM

Eminent Domainia: Hercules, Long Branch, Syracuse

Hercules, CA
Today's big eminent domain news comes from the town of Hercules, where the City Council just voted unanimously to use eminent domain to seize land owned by Wal-Mart because of fears that the retailer's superstore would force mom-and-pop stores out of business, generate unwelcome traffic and generally disturb the small-town flavor of the city of 24,000.

From ABC News:

"It's not right to take private property for political purposes," said Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Loscotoff.

AP, via Washington Times, City uses eminent domain to bar Wal-Mart
San Francisco Business Times, Hercules rejects Wal-Mart
ABC, Town Snubs Wal-Mart, Citing Supreme Court
Los Angeles Times, Small Town Rocks Retail Giant

Long Branch, NJ
Atlanticville, Eminent domain report gets mixed reviews
The NJ Public Advocate recently released a report which found that "current redevelopment laws in NJ do not protect the rights of property owners." There is a heated battle going on in Long Branch, where the city is seizing beachfront property from bungalow owners in order to build condos. Does this report go far enough to save the Long Branch bungalows, or is a moratorium on eminent domain seizures needed while the state legislature works things out?

Syracuse, NY
The Syracuse Post-Standard, Judge stays condemnation of stores' rights
Eminent domain powers extend to lease rights, another form of property rights:

A state appeals court judge Wednesday temporarily blocked the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency from seizing the rights of some of the Carousel Center's retailers to veto the mall's expansion.

The lease rights require the store's permission before developer Robert Congel can make any major change to the mall, including the planned addition of 848,000 square feet of new leasable retail space to the mall.

Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

Red Hook Lures Bites

BkFairway.jpg Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Nik Kovac

Last week's opening of the Red Hook Fairway brought out a bevy of pols stumping for the Bloomberg-Doctoroff Doctrine:

Schumer, Bloomberg, and Markowitz were clearly eager to use the stage of the exceedingly popular Fairway opening to argue for other projects throughout Brooklyn which have much more significant opposition, like Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Atlantic Yards proposal in Prospect Heights. "Marty is taking it on the chin," sympathized Schumer, "from what I call the culture of inertia, this small group of self-appointed people. If we do not grow, we will die."

Later on, when the Senator was asked by a reporter about the possible ill effects of gentrification, especially displacement, he reasoned, "Economic forces are strong forces, no doubt about it. We can't stop them, but we can certainly direct them. We can bring in more people with means and use them to help preserve the people who don't have means."


Posted by lumi at 6:29 AM

May 24, 2006

Dan Zanes and Brooklyn Friends
Tickets on sale in a mom-n-pop shop near you

Fundraiser for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Saturday, June 3, 11AM
Hanson Place United Methodist Church

Tickets on sale at these locations:

119 Seventh Ave., 718-622-1888

323 Atlantic Ave., 718-522-3760

Boing Boing
204 6th Ave., 718-398-0251

Green Onion
274 Smith St., 718-246-2804

LuLu's Cuts and Toys
48 Fifth Ave. (between Bergen & Dean), 718-832-3732

Mini Jake
242 Wythe Ave., 718-782-2005

Heights Kids
85 Pineapple Walk, 718-222-4271

Posted by lumi at 10:09 AM

TONIGHT: Brian Lehrer Live

Atlantic Yards Reporter Norman Oder will be Brian Lehrer's guest tonight on CUNY's live TV call-in show.

Brian Lehrer LIVE on CUNY TV, Channel 75 at 7:50 pm.

More info (including webcasting)

Though Oder has been barred from press conferences and is a regular (probably unwelcome) correspondent with the NY Times ombudsman, somehow he manages to continue peeling back the layers of Bruce Ratner's $3.5-billion project. The walking Atlantic Yards encyclopedia is on a mission to unwind Ratner's PR spin and doggedly follow each lead through the underbelly of Brooklyn politics, urban planning movements and minutiae, media criticism, financial analysis, and the secretive world of quasi-governmental state agencies and corporations.

The big question is, who is Bruce Ratner going to send to go mano-a-mano against Norman Oder?

Ratner Executive VP Bruce Bender stopped making sense a long time ago. Forest City Ratner's President of the Atlantic Yards Development Group Jim Stuckey has a poor poker face and a couple of known "tells." Ratner mouthpiece Joe DePlasco (previously on Brian Lehrer's WNYC radio show as "Joey in Cobble Hill") is more of a PR straightman and may not have the chops to deal with plan particulars. Will it be ACORN head Bertha Lewis, who is contractually obliged to stump for the project? Or, do they have a secret weapon?

Posted by lumi at 9:06 AM

Building a City Within the City of Atlanta

The NY Times
By Lisa Chamberlain

A city within a city? A mixed-use utopia called "Atlantic Station?" One academic quips, "You have apartmentville, retail town and office town." Is this a sneak preview of Bruce Ratner's plans for world domination?

Actually, it's in Atlanta; it's bigger (but way less dense) than Atlantic Yards; and incorporates the work of different architects (as opposed to Gehryland). However, like Atlantic Station's cousins, Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center, national chains proliferate.

How did a polluted steel mill site get a second chance?


Posted by lumi at 8:47 AM

Nick Perry is outta here

NickPerry.jpg The last few weeks have been quite interesting for NY State Assemblymember Nick Perry, a candidate for the 11th District US Congressional seat.

Perry scraped the bottom of the barrel to smear his opponents in a push poll, failed to get traction with the local political clubs, flip-flopped on the Brennan Atlantic Yards bill after ACORN arm twisting, then dropped out.

He spent too much money to figure out that people outside of his district have no clue who he is, except for those Atlantic Yards critics who were going to paint him as a Ratner stooge. In a crowded field of African-American candidates, there really wasn't any point to continue the campaign.

Here's the coverage of Perry's withdrawl:
Room Eight, Is Nick Perry finally pulling out?
The Politicker, Perry Drops Out
The Real Estate Observer, Nick, We Hardly Knew Ye
The NY Times, House Candidate Withdraws, Afraid of Splitting Black Vote

NoLandGrab's amateur assessment: That leaves Atlantic Yards critic Chris Owens running against a troika of Bruce Ratner supporters: Carl Andrews, Yvette Clarke, and, we hate to say it, even David Yassky.

David Yassky has carefully sketched out a vague position on the project, though he has voiced serious concerns. A recent development might indicate how Yassky's position has evolved — three out of the four African-Americans who have publicly voiced support for Yassky are signatories to Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. Coincidence? We think not.

Posted by lumi at 7:35 AM

HPD head mildly criticizes 421-a subsidies, defends "targeted eminent domain"

Today's Atlantic Yards Report post covers Shaun Donovan, commissioner of the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and a recent interview in which Donovan commented on the City's 421-a housing subsidies and eminent domain.


Posted by lumi at 7:35 AM

May 23, 2006

CURBED.COM, Scoop: Curves on Gehry's Beekman building's

BeekmanSt2004-sm.jpg Here's a surprise, the Ratner-Gehry 72-story Beekman St. Tower is shiny and curvy.

Actually this model is probably from 2004. Since no renderings have been released since, it's all we have to go on.

Comment #3 offers this funny insider description of Forest City Ratner:

i was working on this project through early 2005 when a major client pulled out. this is an old rendering (sadly they refused to release any other renderings after this one). i concur with the leaker about forest city - they are 100% pricks. it was entertaining to watch them try to do cost analysis on this and realize that 75 stories of frank gehry is NOT CHEAP, even compared to the atlantic yards mess. they really want the project to be realized and will probably (continue to) rape and pillage to get it done ...


NoLandGrab Exclusive: In searching for inspiration for the tower, Gehry rejected the bride and maiden for a genuine NYC icon, the SUPERMODEL ("if you’d seen [her], you’d understand. I fell in love...").

Posted by lumi at 10:03 PM

Time to catch the wave

NY Newsday's review of the Atlantic Yards project describes Gehry's ego trip to Brooklyn, as reviewer Justin Davidson gets Brooklyn as well as Gehry understands it's body language.

The developer Bruce Ratner wants to import the New Jersey Nets and erect for them a majestic yet intimate arena on the arrowhead-shaped lot where Atlantic and Flatbush avenues cross. Stretching to the west [um, it's east] would be a high-rise Xanadu of offices, apartments, stores and restaurants, turning a dingy-chic wedge of city into a bright new campus.

Typical architectspeak describes brownstone neighborhoods as a dull canvas in want of a stroke of genius:

All those mud colors, all the weighty Victorians and mile upon square mile of squat brick boxes will do nicely as a monochrome backdrop to his star turn.

Meanwhile, it's people who are the bedrock of this place called Brooklyn, hip and stodgy people who have resisted the anonymous grandeur of the most well meaning urban design.

Ironically, Davidson falls for the bride story, recycled from Gehry's Victorian maiden narrative, which was the part of Gehry's recent press conference that elicited the loudest collective groan.

He rode around the borough searching for inspiration and came across not a neighborhood or a civic structure, but a bride, a slow-motion vision out of a movie. Gehry, the auteur of place, had found the protagonist for his fantasy.

Gehry's fantasy could be Brooklyn's B movie, if Bruce Ratner lands the role of Moses:

Rather [Gehry and Ratner] are selling the borough on a new boast. Manhattan may get a building or two, but only Brooklyn will have a whole New Jerusalem, signed Frank Gehry.


When you're done "dancing about architecture," cruise on over to Atlantic Yards Report, where Norman Oder clears up some of Davidson's confusion over the facts and most pressing issues.

Posted by lumi at 8:40 PM

Efforts To Downsize Ratner’s Atlantic Yards Get Under Way

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Dennis Holt's latest ramblings on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal is a sign that Bruce's biggest booster may want to consider retiring, or at least seeking some editorial assistance.

"Belisario from the country of Colombia" and a "member of a hunter-gatherer tribe called Nukak-Maco" on "the future""

“The future — what’s that?”

Starchitect Frank Gehry on the future:

“There is constant change. I think the issue is how you manage change.”

Dennis Holt on the future:

"In one sense, what is planned has never been built before anywhere else."


Posted by lumi at 10:02 AM

Metro NY, Letters to the Editor:


Regarding “Letting a thousand projects bloom” (May 17): When Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Charles Gargano replied to your question about the Atlantic Yards proposal by saying, “We didn’t really have to use eminent domain because there were friendly condemnations done,” he’s either betraying a woeful degree of disengagement, living in a fantasy world or lying.

Condemnation hasn’t happened yet with this project, but if it does, it certainly won’t be “friendly” — it will most likely be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. It’s just this type of “leadership” from Mr. Gargano and the ESDC that leaves New Yorkers with a hole in the ground in lower Manhattan nearly five years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Costs to taxpayers outweigh benefits


Regarding “Letting a thousand projects bloom” (May 17): New York City prospered for centuries prior to the creation of various city and state development corporations over the past two decades. In too many cases, projects have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, commonly known as corporate welfare. Between direct government funding, low interest loans and long term tax exemptions, the bill to taxpayers may be greater than the benefits. There also is a relationship between Pay for Play campaign contributions from developers to elected officials looking for favorable legislation, permits and subsidies.

Don’t forget the conflict of interest for senior staff from city or state regulatory and permitting agencies. Too many leave at the end of any mayoral or governor administration to become employees or consultants to the same developers they previously oversaw. Too many mega developers try to purchase the support of local community groups by making so-called voluntary donations. They also make promises for capital improvements, which after the major project is completed don’t always appear.

If these projects are worthwhile, why can’t major developers use their own funds or obtain loans from banks, like medium and small businesses?

Real business people who believe in capitalism build their companies on their own. How sad that some don’t want to do it the old fashioned way, by sweat and hard work. They are looking for shortcuts in the form of huge subsidies at taxpayers expense and favors from elected officials.

E-mail your letters to: letters@metro.us. Keep them as brief as possible.

Posted by lumi at 9:48 AM

If a wall falls in Brooklyn...

If a wall falls in Brooklyn and no one is injured, does it make a sound? Not in the world's largest media market.

"If it bleeds it leads" — the mainstream media wakes up when someone gets hurt but has little interest in scrutinizing Bruce Ratner, a real estate mogul who professes to be so concerned with safety that he exploited a loophole in NY State law that allows for emergency demolitions if a property poses a public safety threat, while at the same time flagrantly disregarding the public's safety at his construction and demolition sites.

wall04.jpg Yesterday, NoLandGrab received a report that late in the day a new fence was being erected at the 461-463 Dean St. site, on which two brick townhouses stood, before the Ratner wrecking crew recently dismantled them, piece by piece.

Previously, the site was secured by a free-standing plywood wall that blew down on Sunday, collapsing onto the sidewalk. The wall was repaired, but blew down again, this time towards the site. Luckily, no one was hurt in either incident.

We hope the new fence is not another flimsy free-standing symbol of Ratner's broken promises to the community. Judging from the looks of this photo taken last night, the unfinished fence is... free standing and made of plywood.

And speaking of the community, thank you to all those who called the City to report the accident. The Department of Buildings logged the complaint (#3191408) and... did nothing.

Since Forest City Ratner's safety record has recently taken a hit, perhaps this incident will prompt Brooklyn's Development Czar to consider safety as a serious community concern, not just a loophole to facilitate demolition before the Environmental Review process has been completed, ...or not.

Posted by lumi at 8:39 AM

FCE's 10-K: has developer spent more on Nets than for Atlantic Yards?

Atlantic Yards Report takes a look at Forest City Enterprises' filing with the SEC, which suggests that the parent company of Forest City Ratner has actually spent more on the Nets than for the much more expensive Atlantic Yards project.

Are some costs hidden, or were they logged too recently to appear on the form? Is FCR hedging its bets? Has the company merely acquired options on most of the property it now "controls?" Check it out and see for yourselves.

Posted by lumi at 7:56 AM

Brooklyn Zoo

Zanes-Voice.jpg Dan Zanes builds an interactive kid rock empire one starstruck toddler at a time

The Village Voice
By Josh Goldfein

Every two-year-old in Park Slope knows that Dan Zanes is a rock star. At Franny's on Flatbush Avenue the other night, I watched one burst into Beatlemaniacal sobs the second he walked in—you can't miss his elegantly clashing wardrobe of thrifted suits, shirts, and socks, accompanied by a penumbra of Don King–at-Woodstock hair. Even when the "family music" phenom is quietly buying apples at the Cadman Plaza farmer's market, he looks like he just stepped out of the Sesame Street green room.
Zanes is venturing into activism himself, signing on to play a June 3 show for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn in its fight against Ratnerville. "What makes Brooklyn so special is not just the architecture, but the small-scale community," he says. "Say goodbye to all that."


Posted by lumi at 7:45 AM


The NY Post
By Lois Weiss

An update on the Ratner-Gehry project in Lower Manhattan:

THE Frank Gehry-designed project that Forest City Ratner is developing on the NYU Beekman Downtown Hospital parking lot is starting to shape up.

The tower's just-revealed 876-foot height will top off as the tallest City Hall area structure - yes, taller than the nearby venerable 792-foot Woolworth Building. Nevertheless, despite earlier reports, it will be shorter than all the new buildings at ground zero.

That is taller than Gehry's "ego trip," Miss Brooklyn.

The building will contain the most expensive public school in NYC history, medical offices, luxury aparments and luxury condos.

No renderings have been released.

Gehry's spirited and wavy designs are slowly taking shape as buildable ones for Forest City's other huge project in Brooklyn for the Nets and Atlantic Yards.

A Forest City spokesperson was unaware of the details and had no comment.

Carol Willis, director of the Skyscraper Museum, said, "I'm certainly curious to see it because I'm sure it will be a tower with personality, and I would welcome that on the skyline."


Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

Ratner Bros.

NY Daily News

Elizabeth Hays's profile of Kevin Keating ("Getting rough on Rudy," May 23), director of the newly released documentary, "Giuliani Time," mentions that Michael and Bruce Ratner are brothers, but not the minor fact that Michael Ratner is also an owner of the Nets:

The film began in 1998 as a short segment investigating First Amendment cases brought against Giuliani, with seed money raised by Michael Ratner - brother of Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner - who runs the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

May 22, 2006

Ratnerville safety hazard update

The wall is still down at 461 and 463 Dean St. and no one has secured the demolition site.

wall03.jpg This photo shows the latest conditions of Bruce Ratner's demolition site, where the safety wall blew down not once, but twice. The second time, thankfully, the wall blew in towards the site, unlike yesterday when the wall collapsed onto the sidewalk.

The only safety precautions appear to be two orange cones warning pedestrians of something. [The police cruiser in the photo was passing by and did not stop to take notice of the site.]

A reader has emailed to tell us that the Department of Buildings has been called, but inspectors have not arrived on the scene.

Brooklyn resident and Forest City Ratner Executive VP Bruce Bender has previously stated in the Brooklyn Papers that "Should... a wall collapse on the street, then we would be at fault."

Original post, Ratner's latest public-safety hazard

Posted by lumi at 12:15 PM

I love Brownstone Brooklyn, NY

Jag skulle inte bo här!


Riv sju bostadskvarter på Söder, bygg tio skyskrapor och en stor arena.

Tear down seven block in Söder (hip neighborhood in Stockholm, think Williamsburg), and build ten skyscrapers and a big arena.*

Varför klaga, det kommer ju att gynna hela Stockholm, att hyror i fastigheter runtomkring kommer att höjas med 100%, det gör väl inget, eller......?!

Why complain, it will benefit all of Stockholm, the rents in the neighborhood will be raised with 100% and that's ok, or...?!

En sådan "utopi" har engagerat de flesta i Brooklyn, de senaste åren. Även för mina vänner, som bor i det berörda området.

An "utopia" like that has gotten most Brooklynites engaged in the recent years. So also my friends, who lives in the threatened neighborhood.

Jag kan bara rekommendera, om du besöker New York. Våga, åk över till Brooklyn, innan "Atlantic Yard Project" har förstört mina vänners hus.

All I can do is recommend that, if you go to New York, dare to go to Brooklyn before the "Atlantic Yards Project" have destroyed my friends houses.

Kan man inte utveckla ett område, utan att förstöra? http://www.dddb.net/

Can't you develop an area without destroying it?

Posted by lumi at 11:04 AM

TONIGHT: Hunter Center for Community Preservation and Development

WHEN: Monday, May 22, 7 PM

621 Degraw Street
(between 4th Avenue and 3rd Avenue) Brooklyn, NY

Dr. Tom Angotti of the Hunter Center for Community Preservation and Development (Hunter CCPD) will be leading a presentation by Hunter students. Angotti's urban planning class has spent all semester working on some of the impact issues of the Ratner Project.

The Hunter Center for Community Preservation and Development will be participating in the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods’ EIS analysis of the Atlantic Yards proposed development.

The presentation is open to the public.

Posted by lumi at 10:26 AM

Brooklyn Papers, Letters:
Ratner's fix fails to please critics

In reference to your recent article on Frank Gehry's new Atlantic Yards design ("Meet Miss Brooklyn," May 13), maybe we really should comment Gehry. After all, he said his new designs were the result of listening to the body language of Brooklyn.

No wonder his tower looks like someone giving the arena the finger!

— Deb Goldstein, Sunset Park

Words to live by

I recently received Ratner's 12-page flyer ("Ratner's glossy fantasyland," May 6) and am sending the "reply card" to you rather than to Ratner because, I suspect, you will pay it more attention than he will.

— Howard Klang, Brooklyn Heights

As for Marty...


Here's an open letter to Borough President Markowitz:

When I spoke with you some time ago, at the march to save the historic view corridor between the statue of Minerva in Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetery and the Statue of Liberty (to refresh your memory: I was the guy in the "Yo Markowitz: It's the Community, Stupid!" traffic-sign t-shirt), you had just made a great little speech about the importance of protecting the human-scale quality of low-rise Brooklyn.

In this speech, it sounded as if you had swiped your talking points from Dan Goldstein [of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn]. But your words so contradicted your position on the hugely non-contextual Atlantic Yards project that I had to confront you with the disparity.

First, you claimed that the area in which Ratner had staked his greedy claim was not residential, as opposed to the outlying "suburban" areas of Brooklyn — Bay Ridge, etc. — which, you said, should be protected from out-of-scale overdevelopment. That, of course, is an absurd assertion. Prospect Heights is largely residential.

If you'd bother to walk around the neighborhood with your eyes even half open, you'd see that most of it is low-rise, livable, lovable Brooklyn.

Second, you told me to just wait and see. You suggested that Ratnerville would be scaled back considerably. But last week's unveiling of architect Frank Ghery's slightly revised design puts the lie to that claim as well.

This thing is still huge! It's even larger than the original plan—which is the one you and I had been discussion.

Yes, this new plan is a tad smaller than the previously unveiled "Vegas" version, but still bigger than the horrendous original.

To say that it's scaled back is to engage in the same kind of flim-flammery that unscrupulous retailers do when they mark-up prices before a sale, and then offer a small percentage off the previously hiked price.

Gavin Smith, Park Slope

Posted by lumi at 10:13 AM

It's The Scale, Stupid


5thAvenueGehry06.jpgBrooklyn Views

Here's the one view of the project Frank Gehry's photo renderings didn't offer.

Brooklyn Views sticks it to the Atlantic Yards plan in his analysis of recent comments by designers Frank Gehry and Laurie Olin and goes as far as making concrete suggestions for downsizing to "encourage the design team to provide quality design, rather than defend an indefensible program."

Brooklyn Views makes a couple important points about:

making the world a better place,

How does ignoring any guidelines provided by existing zoning, providing no alternative energy ideas, no concept of security, privatizing public streets and calling them the project’s “open space”, and proposing a development that totally circumvents the city’s process for public review make the world better?

density over a transit hub,

This project (now 8.66 million sf) would be like locating the former World Trade Center towers (only 7.6 million sf combined) plus Madison Square Garden, somewhere near the W.4th Street Transit Hub because of all the trains there.

and infrastructure costs.

Many of the infrastructure costs identified by FCRC are merely a result of the proposed scale of the project, not the other way around.... Don’t provide venue parking and you won’t have to excavate for it. Don’t close the streets and you won’t have to relocate sewers and utilities.

Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

Ratner's latest public-safety hazard

The scene at 461 and 463 Dean Street yesterday was in stark contrast to the posture assumed by Forest City Ratner (FCR) as a defender of public safety, in order to secure an "emergency action" to demolish buildings they claimed were in "danger of collapse and posed an imminent threat to public safety."

These photos (click to enlarge) were taken yesterday after the safety wall protecting FCR's site was blown down. Luckily for everyone, no one was injured or killed.

As Forest City Ratner Executive VP Bruce Bender pointed out in a January, 2006 letter to the Brooklyn Papers, "These buildings are under our control and as such are our responsibility. Should a fire break out, a brick fall or a wall collapse on the street, then we would be at fault."

Neighbors and critics of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan had repeatedly called for buildings at 461 and 463 Dean Street to be spared until the public review process was completed, pointing out that the buildings had been recently occupied and that subsequent structural damage to the buildings was possibly caused by the windows Ratner had left open in the rear, exposing the structures to the elements.

Now the buildings are gone.

Last month, a serious accident at Forest City Ratner's Times Tower job site led New York City's Dept. of Buildings to issue several safety violations and to temporarily close that site. It is unclear if the Dept. of Buildings is aware of the Dean St. wall collapse.

The neighborhood didn't believe Ratner when he made the initial claims that the Dean St. buildings posed a threat to public safety, but we are still stunned when presented with repeated evidence of his disingenuousness.

The final approval of the project is still pending the environmental review. However, recent events lead Brooklynites to wonder if Ratner was really just looking for a way to jump start demolitions, since his project is nearly two years behind schedule and is losing public support with every day.

UPDATE: The wall was repaired last night but blew over again. That would make two opportunities for Forest City Ratner to have caused a serious injury in Prospect Heights.

If anyone knows if the Department of Buildings has inspected the site, please send us the tip.

Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

"Sketches" of Gehry, but unencouraging hints for Brooklynites

Sketches of Frank Gehry Movie PosterAtlantic Yards Report

The ads for Sydney Pollack's new documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry excerpt words from reviews: “absorbing,” “seductive,” “superb,” and “a very fine documentary about our era’s master builder. Refreshing, instructive, and satisfying.”

Yes, Gehry’s designed some terrific buildings and had an important influence on architecture--and the camera loves the curves of the Guggenheim Bilbao and other sinuous structures. But international fame does not equal responsiveness to the community. While the film makes no reference to the Atlantic Yards project, but, viewed through a Brooklyn-centric lens, it offers offers some unencouraging hints: Gehry comes off as artist, not urban planner, is shown to possess a monumental ego, and appears to have been more concerned about being a "good neighbor" in Los Angeles than in Brooklyn. (At right, the director and his subject, old friends.)


Posted by lumi at 6:43 AM

May 21, 2006

Simon Liu's art supply business to move after deal with Ratner


Atlantic Yards Report:

Simon Liu Inc., a highly-regarded art supply business with 25 employees on Dean Street within the proposed Atlantic Yards project footprint, has long been mentioned as a business threatened by eminent domain. Liu last year told the Daily News that he was seeking a new building but that all options were too expensive. (The 6/24/05 article, headlined Unfair & un-American, biz cries, came after the Supreme Court's Kelo eminent domain decision, and focused on another business outside Brooklyn.)

Now, however, Liu plans to move; the Brooklyn Papers reported, in an article this week headlined For gallery's last show, look up in the sky (p. 4), that Liu sold his building to Ratner several months ago. (The terms have not been disclosed; will Liu be allowed to discuss the deal with the press?)

"It's a real tragedy," gallery manager Leon Kalas told the newspaper. "Simon's gallery had become an important gathering palce for artists, and now it's all being destroyed."


Posted by amy at 10:40 AM

The Manhattanville Project


New York Times Magazine:

As Justice Clarence Thomas noted in his dissent in the recent Kelo case, concerning New London, Conn., an expansive definition of "public use" in the 50's and 60's permitted local governments to eliminate entire minority neighborhoods through eminent domain in the name of "urban renewal" — soon known as "Negro removal" among blacks. Not surprisingly, Columbia's talk of seizing property does not go over well in Harlem. Still, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has come out in strong support of eminent domain — which also figures in the developer Bruce Ratner's controversial efforts to construct a basketball stadium and condos in the Atlantic Yards area of Brooklyn. Without it, "every big city would have all construction come to a screeching halt," Bloomberg said recently.


Atlantic Yards Report applauds the New York Times for keeping up their impressive error per sentence ratio:

First, it's an arena (indoor facility, with a floor or rink), not a stadium (usually outdoor, with a field).

Second, the plan currently would include 4500 rental units and 2360 condos.

Finally, there's no such thing as "the Atlantic Yards area."


Posted by amy at 10:30 AM

May 20, 2006

TODAY: Bake Don't Destroy, Redux

Buy a Cake, Save a Community

Saturday, May 20

In front of Edmonds Playground
DeKalb Avenue near Adelphi Street
Fort Greene

All proceeds will be donated to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.
For more information, phone 718-362-4784.

Click to enlarge image.

For more information on up-and-coming events, check out our events listing.

Posted by lumi at 11:48 AM

TODAY: Families United for Racial & Economic Equality’ Presents (FUREE) Annual Convention - 2006

Every year, FUREE brings our community together to address the issues we face. This year is an election year & we have invited Candidates from District 10 & 11 Congressional Race 2006 to come & hear us about our issues.


District 10: Councilmember Charles Barron, Congressman Ed Towns

District 11: Chris Owens, Councilmember Yvette Clark, Assemblyman Nick Perry, State Senator Carl Andrews, Councilmember David Yassky


Lunch will be provided from 1pm to 2pm

FOR MORE INFORMATION Please call (718) 852-2960 (ask for Tamar at ext. 307 or Rusia at ext 300) Visit FUREE at 81 Willoughby Street, Suite 602 (corner of Lawrence Street) Email Us at info@furee.org, rusia@furee.org, tamar@furee.org Check Out FUREE's Website at www.furee.org

Saturday, May 20

1pm to 4pm

p.s. 261 (Pacific on the corner of hoyt)

Posted by amy at 11:47 AM

Bill: State should pay Bruce to build less at A’Yards site

Brooklyn Papers Gersh Kuntzman

To compensate Ratner for the smaller project, Brennan’s bill would give the developer the Atlantic Yards site for free, rather than charging him $100 million for it. The MTA had appraised the site at $214 million.

In addition, Brennan’s bill would relieve Ratner of his obligation to renovate the Long Island Rail Road yard, saving him another $200 million, the assemblyman said.

Brennan’s bill would also require the state — rather than Ratner himself — to subsidize the 50-percent of the project that Ratner agreed to set aside as affordable housing.

“This bill is like negotiating with a hijacker,” said Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for the anti-Atlantic Yards group, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.


Posted by amy at 11:39 AM

Brennan’s bonehead bill

Brooklyn Papers editorial:

Lest we forget, Bruce Ratner did not have a gun to his head when he made the promise to set aside half his project for affordable housing (since downgraded to half the rental units, by the way). He was not obligated by the state or city.

He made the vow in a deal that he voluntarily entered into with eight community groups. His underlings have said repeatedly that Ratner made the deal out of love for the community and to meet the needs of Brooklyn. Ratner’s latest Atlantic Yards mailings even tout the 50-percent affordable housing promise as “legally binding.”

But Brennan would not only allow Ratner to reneg on that promise — but pay him to do so! Brennan, a man said to be considering a run for city comptroller, should be ashamed of this bill. The Atlantic Yards project still needs state approval, where it could still be changed or even killed — on its own merits and without a ridiculous “bailout.”


Posted by amy at 11:22 AM

Ratner $$ can’t buy love

Brooklyn Papers covers moms, money and guilt at PS 321. Or "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Corporate Contributions."

Smartmom, looking decidedly un-’60s in black Aerosole sandals and a silk jacket, was more concerned about the article Dumb Editor asked her to write about the controversy surrounding Forest City Ratner’s cash donation of $7,500, his “underwriting” of the event.

For this low, low price, he got a big, big mention in the auction program. For some parents, just seeing “Forest City Ratner” on the program killed the party mood. A few even refused to participate.
“He got away awfully cheap,” Cool Architect Mom pointed out. “For $7,500, he gets his name big on the program and creates the perception that PS 321 supports the project. And we don’t. It goes against everything the school stands for.”

And that is? “Community,” she said without missing a beat. “This school is about community, inclusion and human scale — the opposite of Ratner’s project.”


Posted by amy at 11:12 AM

Schumer’s Way: Timothy P. Carney on big government serving big business


New York Sun covers Chuck Schumer's position on eminent domain. Hint: He's for it.:

Mr. Schumer’s group had a solution to this vexing problem. His report recommended “[m]aking greater use of public condemnation for assemblage,” explaining that “[t]he use of the powers of eminent domain eliminates a number of the barriers to assemblage by compelling property owners to sell and severing the leases of existing tenants.”

Mr. Schumer’s paper specifically called on the government to go after “holdouts,” those pesky landowners who won’t sell, even when it is for the greater good (remember, we’re talking office buildings here, not schools or military bases).

The report exhorts the government to “[a]dopt the practice of removing office site holdouts via condemnation. Holdout condemnation would permit the completion of assemblage when 85% of a site is controlled and development plans are ready to proceed. This would eliminate the leverage of one or two small property owners who might refuse to sell, thereby allowing private developers to move ahead on a development.”
Given his full-throated support of eminent domain for corporate gain, it is no surprise that Mr. Schumer reeled in $1.8 million from the real estate industry during his first term, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — more than any other Senate candidate that year.


Posted by amy at 11:00 AM

Two Years Later

The Real Estate:

Suddenly, two years after downtown Brooklyn was rezoned, activists are waking up to a crop of luxury condos thriving in what used to be a low-income area. First, it was ACORN's report on how just 7 percent of the new units planned for the area are affordable to low- or middle-income families. Now, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality will hold a "boisterous march" and forum Saturday afternoon with Congressional candidates from the 10th and 11th districts at P.S. 261.

All fine and good, but if they are so against all the luxury housing, where were they two years ago, before the rezoning passed the City Council, when they would have had more leverage?
We imagine that on Saturday, the candidates will be asked where they were two years ago also. Three were and are still City Council Members: Yvette Clarke, David Yassky and Charles Barron. Only Barron expressed any dissent towards the downtown Brooklyn plan.


Posted by amy at 10:57 AM

FCRC Mute On Atlantic Yards Security In Event of Terror Attack


If terrorists decide to target the Nets basketball arena planned for Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, it is unclear how the arena’s developer would keep the team’s fans safe, or how the 19,000 people that the arena is planned to seat would be evacuated.
What is clear is that the possibility of a terrorist attack in the area is real, and according to Alan Rosner, a retired strategic and business analyst, will become greater should the contentious Atlantic Yards project come to fruition.

Rosner, who is the co-author of “Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise and Arena Development Project,” a report released in July 2005, says he is concerned that the design of the arena project will invite terrorism to a region that is already a prime target because of its proximity to the Atlantic Avenue train station and three major thoroughfares: Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue and Fourth Avenue.


Posted by amy at 10:49 AM

District Leader Says She’ll Challenge For Green’s Seat



Among the issues that separate the three candidates thus far is the proposed Atlantic Yards project.

While Batson is firmly against the project and Jeffries rides the middle ground, Hamilton supports the project.

Freddie then goes on to say “I will also look at development in the district to make sure that there is an equitable blend of old and new that meet the needs of all of our residents.”

What part of knocking down an entire community and building 16 skyscrapers is an 'equitable blend'?


Posted by amy at 10:12 AM

Atlantic Yards Report Round Up

Norman Oder breaks down Forest City Enterprises' anuual report:

From Forest City Enterprises' annual report: optimism and caveats

and takes a look at Forest City's "sensitivity to the community":

Two Urban Land Institute awards go to Forest City projects

Posted by amy at 8:42 AM

May 19, 2006


Crain's Insider

Housing group ACORN is pressuring Democratic legislators to drop their support for a bill to reduce the size of Brooklyn Atlantic Yards. The bill was introduced this week by Assemblyman Jim Brennan with the backing of local colleagues.

So far, only Assemblyman Nick Perry has asked that his name be pulled from the bill. Perry is running for Congress, and insiders suspect he fears ACORN's political might. ACORN is also leaning on Assemblyman Roger Green, a key supporter of the development and a candidate in another congressional district. Brennan is proposing additional subsidies and a 33% reduction of the 8.7 million-square-foot project.

NoLandGrab: Since the Brennan bill would allow for at least 80% and as much as 98% of the affordable units promised by Ratner, one has to wonder what's motivating ACORN's pressure tactics.

We know they're obligated by the CBA to shill for Ratner, but does helping Bruce get his deal done now take precedence over affordable housing?

Posted by lumi at 4:19 PM

New Jersey Public Advocate Says Municipalities Have Too Much Leeway to Seize Land

The NY Times
By David W. Chen

New Jersey's provisions to sieze private property via eminent domain seem just as abusive New York's.

New Jersey's laws allowing local governments to use eminent domain for private redevelopment are so broad that they are prone to misuse and often fail to protect the people and businesses that are displaced, according to a study released on Thursday by the state's public advocate.

Wading into one of the most contentious issues in the country, the public advocate, Ronald K. Chen, said that the use of municipal condemnation power has "expanded to the point where it provides virtually no limitation on taking private property for redevelopment, in apparent violation of the constitutional intent to limit this power." The law has become so permissive that no other state gives local government more leeway to interpret what constitutes a "blighted area," the legal basis upon which property can be taken, the report found.


NoLandGrab: The difference between NJ and NYC is that NYC Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum has avoided the issue, even going so far as promoting the notion that eminent domain will not be used for Atlantic Yards, based upon personal assurances from Bruce Ratner.

Posted by lumi at 7:38 AM

Amateur bookmaking on monstrosities

Left Behinds are giving 3-2 odds that Atlantic Yards get built.


Posted by lumi at 7:19 AM

Thousands of million-dollar condos, the AY scale, and FCR's bottom line

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner executive Jim Stuckey, in a radio interview Monday, defended the size of the Atlantic Yards project, saying "Unfortunately, if you want to build on this site, the infrastructure costs and the land costs are so significant that it does require that you build to a certain scale."
The fact is, until and unless Forest City Ratner releases its pro forma economic projections, as rival bidder Extell did, we're in the dark about Stuckey's claim. And the infrastructure costs and land costs cited by Stuckey certainly deserve more scrutiny.


Posted by lumi at 7:04 AM

Yonkers community input wanted on downtown plans

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

"We must learn from the mistakes of the past," [said Joseph Apicella, a senior vice president with Cappelli Enterprises], without naming a specific developer or project. "We're going to make this as inclusive as possible."

The City of Yonkers is getting burned over Forest City Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill plan and has decided to get public input for their next big development project.

The move is intended to avoid the type of pointed criticism — for not seeking community input early in the planning — other developers in Yonkers have faced in the past, Apicella said. One project that generated such criticism, Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill Village, now faces two lawsuits, despite having won City Council approval last year.


Posted by lumi at 6:58 AM

May 18, 2006

Pol Position: Chocolate Thunder Down Under

Brooklyn Downtown Star

It’s fitting that Chocolate Thunder is shilling for FCRC, considering the man practiced his own personal form of eminent domain in opposing teams’ lanes - and he didn’t wait for official approval - racking up a whopping 379 personal fouls in one season - a record. That mark stood until Chocolate Thunder decided to break it himself in the 1983-84 season by committing 386. Furthermore, he was a one-man demolition crew, taking out blighted backboards across the country.
May we offer up a few suggestions to Chocolate Thunder for ways he could describe the Nets arena project? Just to get the creative juices flowing, of course.

How about “Insane Eminent Domain?” Or perhaps “No Hand Land Grab?” Or maybe “In Your Face Tenant Displace/Railyard Skimmin’/Grassroots Trimmin’/Ms. Brooklyn Risin’/CBA Signin’/Dan Goldstein Condo Takin’/Center Court Makin’/Arena Supreme-a?” Of course, we’re perfectly happy if Chocolate Thunder just want to call it “Turbo Sexophonic Delight.” How can you not be on board with that?


Posted by lumi at 11:13 PM

FCRC Mute On Atlantic Yards Security In Event of Terror Attack

Courier-Life Publications
By Emily Keller

If terrorists decide to target the Nets basketball arena planned for Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, it is unclear how the arena’s developer would keep the team’s fans safe, or how the 19,000 people that the arena is planned to seat would be evacuated.

Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), the developer of the Atlantic Yards project that includes the arena and 17 residential and office towers, says the company does not discuss security with the public.

When asked whether the company will purchase terrorism insurance, how the development is designed to deter terrorists, and how Nets fans would be evacuated in the case of a terrorist attack, FCRC spokesperson Joe DePlasco said:

“We do not discuss security issues. We do, however, as we have said, meet with security experts and the [New York Police Department] NYPD to ensure that security is a priority in all stages of development. As we have done for all of our projects, we have also hired security consultants who regularly interface with the NYPD on behalf of the company.”

What is clear is that the possibility of a terrorist attack in the area is real, and according to Alan Rosner, a retired strategic and business analyst, will become greater should the contentious Atlantic Yards project come to fruition.


Posted by lumi at 10:02 PM

Gehry in Brooklynighton

Veritas et Venustas


The form of the towers in Brooklyn, Gehry says, come from trying to understand the buildings of Brooklyn. And the form of the towers in Brighton come from trying to understand the buildings of Brighton. But anyone but Gehry would say the towers look a lot more like each other than anything else in either place.

John Massengale also reveals another example of the canned spam that Gehry uses in his PR poesy that reminds Brooklynites of a recent press conference.

Gehry's inspiration for Brighton:

"One thing that impresses me is the Victorian character of the town. I've got this picture of the maidens in their floating dresses in Brighton on the wall of my office. It's a kind of inspiration and the towers now do look as if they relate to that."

Gehry's inspiration for Brooklyn:

“When we were studying Brooklyn, we happened upon a wedding, a real Brooklyn wedding. And we decided that ‘Miss Brooklyn’ was a bride. She’s a bride with flowing veils. OK, I got carried away. But if you’d seen that bride, you’d understand. I fell in love with her.”


Brooklyn, Brighton,
To-may-to, to-mah-to,
Let's call the whole thing off.

There's a passionate defense of the ladies from the gentleman at Dope on the Slope:

Do you love the Brooklyn Bride with her flowing veil or is it the Billowing Brighton Betties with their floating dresses that inspire you? What other paramours do you have stashed around the globe? Please do the honorable thing sir. We must maintain some standards of decency.

Posted by lumi at 6:47 PM

Raising hell? Allan Temko and the "foxes" critiquing architecture today

Atlantic Yards Report

So, are architecture critics raising hell the way Allan Temko used to? Not quite, according to those gathered two weeks ago for the 2006 Temko Critics Panel in honor of the recently-deceased San Francisco Chronicle critic, who felt that architecture criticism should not be reactive but proactive, to “get in and fight before the damn thing is built,” as Daniel Rose, chair of the Forum for Urban Design, said in his introduction.
The panel included Robert Campbell of the Boston Globe, John King of the Chronicle, Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times, and Paul Goldberger of the New Yorker. Robert Ivy of Architectural Record moderated the session, sponsored by the Forum For Urban Design and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. But the panel—despite prediction of a “smackdown” on the architectural blog The Gutter—was mostly a cordial affair. Some differences (and some chuckles) emerged, but the panelists were more united in a weariness toward the coarse collective culture than frustrated with architects or, dare we say, developers. (And, no, the issue of Atlantic Yards didn't come up--until I raised it after the fact with the moderator. Scroll down.)


Posted by lumi at 6:36 PM

Revised Atlantic Yards Plan Less Bulky, Yet Still Huge


In the Architectural Record's account of last week's Frank Gehry press conference, reporter Sam Lubell included this alarming tidbit (emphasis added):

But Stuckey says his team has already met with many local groups. Public review of the project is now scheduled for the end of June, and completion of an environmental impact statement is set for the end of July, he says. He adds that the team has now procured 90 percent of the land it needs for the project, and hopes it will not have to resort to eminent domain to get the rest.


NoLandGrab: The statement is cryptic, but it's implications aren't.

According to Stuckey, either the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be released or the public hearing to comment on the Draft EIS is to occur at the end of June.

For the the "completion of an environmental impact statement" to be "set for the end of July," that implies that the Final EIS will be released or that the public review will occur at the end of July.

Either way, it looks like they are planning a 30-day period for interested parties, like local community groups and other stakeholders, to review and prepare commentary on a document that will be several-thousand pages long.

Posted by lumi at 8:53 AM

Hevesi Weighs in on Subsidy Reform Debate

DMI Blog
By Adrianne Shropshire

Here's something to think about the next time Forest City Ratner claims that its Atlantic Yards proposal would "create" or "provide" 18,000 "new" or not-so-new jobs:

An audit released yesterday by the office of the state comptroller found that 2/3 of Industrial Development Agencies across the state did not meet job creation goals. While this news is not a shocker (NY Jobs with Justice issued a report last week showing that 63% of IDAs give subsidies to companies that cut jobs once they receive tax breaks) it does add a new dimension to the growing calls for subsidy accountability in the state.

Hevesi's report was accompanied by draft legislation that reinforces the kinds of reform measures being pushed by the NY Initiative for Development Accountability.


Posted by lumi at 8:29 AM

Brennan Halves Brooklyn's Baby

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Nik Kovac

As the old saying goes, a compromise ain't good unless both sides think it's bad. Judging by that criterion, State Assemblyman Jim Brennan has recently had a stroke of genius regarding the constantly controversial Atlantic Yards proposal for Prospect Heights. He has managed to get Jim Stuckey and Dan Goldstein to finally agree on something. They both don't like his bill.

"The whole premise of the bill is wrong," argued Goldstein, the spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), in a phone interview with the Star over the weekend.

"In many ways," dismissed Stuckey, president of the Atlantic Yards Corporation, during a WNYC radio interview this past Monday morning, "all proposals that purport to have you do less density on that site are a ruse."


Posted by lumi at 8:06 AM

High-rise vs. low-rise; the Times resists corrections, maintains false dichotomy

Atlantic Yards Report has a bone to pick with The NY Times's characterization of the Extell alternative plan for the Vanderbilt Railyards as "low-rise," instead of "high-rise."

Though the characterization either favors the opponents of Forest City Ratner's (FCR) Atlantic Yards plan by showing a viable "low-rise" alternative, or favors FCR by promoting a false dichotomy, the mission of Norman Oder's blog has been to clarify the debate by focusing on verifiable facts and figures.

Starting with a detailed letter to the corrections department, Oder engages in an exchange with the corrections editor, who somehow concludes that no correction is warranted.


Posted by lumi at 7:46 AM

That's No Lady, That's Ms. Brooklyn

Brooklyn Downtown Star

Nik Kovac reports from last week's Gehry-Stuckey-Olin press conference, at which points made by starchitect Frank Gehry and his colleagues led to contemplation of the loss of Brooklyn's manufacturing base, the "contrived-for-effect whimsy of the consummate artiste," and Bruce Ratner's love of Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 7:32 AM


For those of you who personally know Forest City Ratner Executive VP Bruce Bender, the public recognition of the "Benderism" will probably come as no surprise.

But for the uninitiated, a Benderism is a sentence or phrase that uses too many words to say something unbelievably boneheaded and/or impolitic.

Yesterday's Benderism prompted several readers to laugh their glasses off and beg for more.

As luck would have it, today's Brooklyn Downtown Star article on last week's press conference by Nik Kovac recorded yet another Benderism [Bender is on some kind of roll]:

"What you don't see, is all the hours, all the meetings, all the cross-country trips we take trying to figure out what's best for Brooklyn."

Posted by lumi at 7:06 AM

May 17, 2006

Letting a thousand projects bloom

Metro NY
By Amy Zimmer

The Empire State Development Corporation (the lead agency for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal) is involved in more development projects today than ever before. ESDC Chairman Charles Gargano talked to Metro about the expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Moynihan Station and other ongoing projects.

What do you say to Brooklynites concerned about the Atlantic Yards?

The facts are that we didn’t really have to use eminent domain because there were friendly condemnations done. The amount of condemnation that we had to do was very small. I grew up in Park Slope, and another big blunder by the city was we lost the Brooklyn Dodgers. They wanted to build a new Ebbets Field at the Atlantic Yards. And because of that blunder in the ’50s, we have had a blighted look in the Atlantic Yards for nearly 50 years. There will always be people who object because everybody has different personal interests, and that’s OK. But I think what you have to do is do it for the majority.


NoLandGrab: Whether Gargano pleads insanity or ignorance, he's dead wrong. The use of eminent domain is still pending for the Atlantic Yards project.

And what the hell is a "friendly condemnation?" The Chairman is just nuts.

Check out Atlantic Yards Report for the complete lowdown on Gargano's lies and damn lies.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn can only come to one conclusion that makes sense, Charles Gargano is reporting from the future.

Posted by lumi at 5:33 PM

Cachet War Escalates Around Atlantic Yards Project

atlantic-wnyc.jpg WNYC News Radio

WNYC's Andrea Bernstein reports on increasing opposition to Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, personified by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Advisory Board members Dan Zanes, Jonathan Lethem and Francis Morrone.


NoLandGrab: We're amazed that Ratner still lets Executive VP Bruce Bender speak to the media, but we hope he won't stop soon.

Today's Benderism:

While people may not want the arena, we want to make it better.

Posted by lumi at 12:15 PM

Miami 4, New Jersey 1, Bruce Ratner -$20 Million

The season ended for Bruce Ratner's New Jersey Nets in last night's 106-105 nailbiter.

Though the team's foray into the post-season provided additional revenue for the Nets, Ratner likely faces eight-figure losses for the season.

Here's the local coverage:
The Bergen Record, Nets Wade away
NY Daily News, No way vs. Wade
NY Daily News, Jersey could use a shakeup
AP, via NY Newsday, Heat win series vs. Nets, 106-105
The NY Times, A Pass Too Far
The Newark Star Ledger, DOWN AND OUT

Posted by lumi at 8:57 AM

More on the Atlantic Center mall towers: hints but no details

Atlantic Yards Report AC.jpg

Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards Development Group President Jim Stuckey tried to avoid talking about the additional construction over the Atlantic Center Mall by complaining to Brian Lehrer that, "those who oppose the project sort of bring things out and recreate them every six months or so."

If Stuckey doesn't feel like talking about it, fine, but that isn't going to stop Stormin' Norman Oder:

While there were "no detailed design plans for the sites" two years ago, given the presence of Atlantic Center towers in the Forest City models presented publicly, and Frank Gehry's statement that he was designing 20 buildings, it's reasonable to ask what the plans are now, so the additional development can be discussed publicly as well as evaluated for its environmental impact.

Stuckey pointed out that these towers were "studied in the Downtown Plan’s EIS," and approved by the City Council, so Oder went poking around:

When the city issued the DEIS, there was no timeline for development at Site 5, while new development was projected for 2008 at the Atlantic Center site. Notably, the 308 residential units then planned for Site 5 would occupy the already allowable 308,000 square feet; the second MOU has shifted 328,272 square feet from the 1.586 million square feet allowable at Atlantic Center, so the building at Site 5 (right) would be much bigger.
Perhaps the developer will answer some questions about its plans and timetable for towers at the mall.


Posted by lumi at 8:03 AM

A Redevelopment Scuffle in Queens

The NY Times
By Terry Pristin

An article about development in Queens gives Brooklynites a lot to think about.

NY City has ignored the Willets Point section of Queens for decades, but small businesses, primarily auto-parts and auto-repair shops, have made a go of it. Now Willets Point is the latest frontier for the Bloomberg-Doctoroff Doctrine, and those businesses must try to figure out how to respond to the threat of eminent domain.


Apart from the streets and 13.5 acres owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the remaining 46 acres of Willets Point are privately owned and home to 250 businesses employing at least 1,200 people, by the city's count. Not all these businesses are expected to go quietly.

[A fraction of the land belongs to the MTA, the rest is privately owned — sounds very familiar.]

Undaunted by the nationwide furor over eminent domain resulting from a Supreme Court ruling last July — which upheld a decision by officials in New London, Conn., to force property sales to foster economic development — city officials say they are prepared to use their condemnation powers at Willets Point. Citing various environmental violations, including illegal dumping and open petroleum spills, they say the area is a public health hazard.

"In some ways, this is the most compelling case for eminent domain," said Daniel L. Doctoroff, the deputy mayor who oversees economic development. "It has nothing to do with the uses. It has to do with intolerable conditions."

And what would an NYC eminent domain fight be without Bruce Ratner chomping at the bit?

In February, the city invited eight development teams, including some of the most active companies in the city — like Forest City Ratner (which is the partner of The New York Times Company in its new headquarters building on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan), Vornado Realty Trust and the Related Companies — to submit proposals for the "creation of an experience unique to the New York metropolitan region" at Willets Point.

Here's an example of how the city planning process is supposed to work:

Developers' submissions are due in mid-June, with the rezoning process set to begin in January. A development partner will be selected once the plans are approved by the City Council.

In the case of Atlantic Yards, Bruce Ratner proposed the plan, the state is circumventing the rezoning, and the City Council has no say.

A local city planning activist who has been vocal in his concerns over Atlantic Yards, Brad Lander of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, makes some good points on the planning process and the use of eminent domain:

[Lander] said the city should have led "a public process, informed by data" before asking developers to submit detailed proposals.

"This seems to me to fly in the face of one of the few things that Kelo says you have to do," he said, referring to the majority decision in the Supreme Court eminent domain case, Kelo vs. New London. "You have to have a planning process to determine if there's a public good to the thing you're doing."

We'd like to hear Lander's views on the use of eminent domain in cases in which there has been NO planning process, like Atlantic Yards.


Posted by lumi at 7:03 AM

B'klyn Bridge Park bldg. booed

The Daily News
By Elizabeth Hays

Nearly 18 months after luxury condo towers were added to the upcoming Brooklyn Bridge Park, outraged advocates sued in a bid to stop the private development in a public park.

Charging that housing in the park would set a dangerous precedent, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Legal Defense Fund filed the lawsuit against state planners yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

"This is a test case for parks," said Defense Fund President Judi Francis, adding it would be the first new park in New York State to have private housing built within its borders.
The lawsuit also charged planners failed to adequately study traffic impacts on the park by excluding other large-scale projects planned for the area, such as Atlantic Yards.


NoLandGrab: Planners involved with this project failed to consider traffic impacts of Atlantic Yards. The Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Statement traffic study will exclude the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, Grand Army Plaza and the bridge crossings.

The avoidance of a comprehensive traffic study for the area gives planners an excuse to kowtow to developers by pursuing a piecemeal approach. Brooklyn deserves better.

Posted by lumi at 6:46 AM

Mayor To Name Development Tsar To Oversee Downtown Brooklyn

NY Sun
By David Lombino

The Bloomberg administration is looking to boost downtown Brooklyn by naming a Brooklyn development tsar to oversee the planned growth of the city’s third largest business district.

If the city’s initiative moves ahead as expected, the tsar would oversee a new organization that would coordinate economic development in the area and market downtown Brooklyn as a mixed-use neighborhood that is a cultural and entertainment destination. Development analysts said the reorganization shows the mayor is prioritizing Brooklyn’s development, but critics said a centralization of development functions would stifle local input.


Posted by lumi at 6:40 AM

May 16, 2006

Smaller Size Proposed for Atlantic Yards

The NY Times
By Nicholas Confessore

From Metro Briefs:

Assemblyman James F. Brennan, a Brooklyn Democrat, introduced legislation yesterday that would require the developer Forest City Ratner to reduce the size of its proposed Atlantic Yards real estate development by about three million square feet, or roughly a third. In exchange, the bill would offer up to $15.4 million a year in state money to subsidize below-market-priced housing in the project, a 22-acre residential, commercial and arena development near Downtown Brooklyn. The bill would also relieve Forest City Ratner of about $310 million in costs associated with renovating and buying building rights over the railyards on the site of the project. Five other Brooklyn members of the Assembly are also sponsoring the legislation.


NoLandGrab: It will be interesting to see how Ratner responds to this proposal.

Where did Brennan come up with these numbers? One troubling aspect of the proposal is that it requires additional massive public subsidy, a reward for Ratner to not overdevelop on the site. Taxpayers should be privy to the profit projections for the project to know if this is a good deal or not, especially if these figures were released to the politicians acting on our behalf.

It also does not address the issue of eminent domain and would therefore not satisfy many of those who do not believe that eminent domain for a private development is Constitutional.

Posted by lumi at 11:22 PM



Cris de coeur or call to arms?

A new blog has been launched with one mission, Stop Yassky.

Reasons given that Yassky needs help stopping himself: * Yassky's run in a voting-rights district, * Yassky's African-American roster ripped from Ratner's, go figure, * Yassky's cash, lots of it, * Yassky's funding sources (BIG real estate money, OUTSIDE the district),
* Yassky's flip flops (Yassky-Nossky), * Yassky's non-existent Atlantic Yards position, * Yassky's goofy matzoh mailing, * Yassky's push polling on Atlantic Yards, * Yassky's stonewalling of landmarking, etc.

Yassky Linky

Posted by lumi at 7:05 PM

Frank Gehry Presents: Atlantic Yards Mad-Libs!

mad_libs.jpg It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world as a Gutter reader consoles Brooklynites:

One small silver lining to the abomination darkening the skies of Brooklyn is that it’s given us the Gehry-Matic Mad-Lib Archi-Bullshit Generator. It’s fun for the whole family. Just in time for final reviews!

Head over to The Gutter:

to discover Frank's debt to Jane and the secret meaning of "fake scholarly humanist noun."

Posted by lumi at 5:15 PM

FCR's Stuckey, DDDB's Goldstein in shadow debate on Brian Lehrer

DanGoldstein-WNYC.jpg Atlantic Yards Report brings us the transcript of the Brian Lehrer interviews with Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Development Group President Jim Stuckey and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Dan Goldstein, complete with running commentary (you don't think that Norman Oder could resist the opportunity to make points along the way?).

Here's Oder's setup:

A segment on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC radio yesterday, titled Can't See the Forest, wasn't a real debate about the newly released models of the Atlantic Yards project, just a chance for Jim Stuckey of Forest City Ratner and then Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn to make their points--and to be questioned by the host (right).

As might be expected, there was little agreement, though Lehrer at least established that the project would be in Prospect Heights, not Downtown Brooklyn (as the developer maintains) and that the debate is between very high-rise development and high-rise development, not high-rise vs. low-rise (as the New York Times suggested).


Posted by lumi at 5:00 PM

Fire Storms

An inferno in Greenpoint highlights a drop in the number of fire investigators

The Village Voice
By Tom Robbins

The 10-alarm conflagration in Greenpoint and recent deadly fires on a Pacific Street "strip adjacent to developer Bruce Ratner's proposed new Nets arena and soaring high-rises," highlight the relationship between a hot real estate market and arson.

Cuts in city services reduced the number of fire marshals from 180 in 2001 to a current count of 80.

Emergency dispatchers say it's not unusual to hear fire chiefs at late-night suspicious blazes calling in vain for investigators to report to the scene. "On a continual basis we are trying to come up with fire marshals to respond to ongoing incidents," said David Rosenzweig, president of the Fire Alarm Dispatcher's Benevolent Association. "Unfortunately, due to the decrease in the number of fire marshals, it is becoming more and more difficult to provide them."


NoLandGrab: With city services streched thin, the City is supposed to protect the residents living in overheated real estate markets with the marshals that remain.

Meanwhile, Ratner has secured $100 million from the City Council, though no guarantees have been made that city services (i.e. fire, police, water/sewers, education, etc.) would be increased in the areas abutting the proposed "Atlantic Yards" footprint.

Posted by lumi at 4:56 PM

Miss Brooklyn?

Tony Fletcher's ¡JAMMING!

“We spent an enormous amount of time studying Brooklyn… trying to get a sense of what it is.” — Frank Gehry

The transplanted Brooklynite responds:

There are millions of people who live in Brooklyn, who love the Borough dearly and deeply, and have an intrinsic understanding of what works visually and structurally for its future benefit. Frank Gehry is not among them. That’s why he’s flailing around “trying to get a sense of what it is.” Anyone who has to deliver such a labored quote as that does not deserve to design the tallest skyscraper the Borough has ever seen. Nor should anyone who confesses to naming that building “my ego trip” be allowed to name it Miss Brooklyn. Unless he plans on putting a question mark after it? In which case the building name will prove all too prophetic.


Posted by lumi at 4:24 PM

Gehry Jedi mind tricks working

In a sign that the fanciful Gehry photo renderings are managing to soothe some critics, One Hanson Place offers a comparison of one of the Gehry images with a view of the Manhattan skyline from Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (photo grabbed from NYC-architecture.com).

The Gehry rendering depicts buildings five short blocks* away as being more faint than buildings that are nearly two miles away in the Greenpoint photo.


Imagine a view as imposing as the Greenpoint view, only it's just down the street. At least Greenpointers don't have to deal with the additional traffic from the Citicorp building and the monolithic Trump World Tower.

* Note: Gehry's image locates the intersection just four blocks away, at St. Marks, while in reality, it's the intersection of Prospect Place.

Posted by lumi at 3:02 PM

Letter to the Editor, re: NY Times/Atlantic Yards "infomercial"

Brooklynite Doug Hillstrom makes a good point in a letter sent to the editor of The New York Times:


Dear Sir or Madam:

Is your video on the "new" Atlantic Yards proposal an infomercial? If Mr. Ratner did in fact pay for this piece the Times should have labeled it "ADVERTISEMENT."

If the piece is not a paid advertisement, your news staff should be embarrassed. As usual, pro forma mention is made to "opponents" of the Atlantic Yards project, but no "opponent" appears in the video, while Mr. Gehry and Mr. Olin offer their lengthy appologia for the Atlantic Yards design. The video is more advertisement than news; you should give a spokesperson from "Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn" equal time.

Doug Hillstrom

Posted by lumi at 2:39 PM

Some Views on Two Forest City Ratner Developments

Attorney Debra Cohen explains how Forest City Ratner systematically ignores the concerns of people who presently live in the communities near two local controversial project proposals, Yonker's Ridge Hill and Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards.

At a recent Yonkers City Council meeting a member of the public pointed out to a developer, who was there seeking approval to build an apartment building along the Hudson River, that he had neglected to provide schematics of the view commuters at the nearby train station would have of the river and the Palisades after his project was completed. A city official standing in the wings was overheard to snort somewhat disdainfully, “What’s the big deal? When I’m at the station, I’m watching for the train not looking up at the view”.

I was reminded of this incident while reading two articles in this morning’s papers that both discussed problems developer Forest City Ratner is having with developments in Brooklyn and Yonkers. They both provoked thoughts of how one’s vantage point changes one’s “views”.

In an article in The New York Times, “Developer Defends Atlantic Yards, Saying Towers Won’t Corrupt the Feel of Brooklyn”, FCR defends its plans for a massive redevelopment that includes a sports arena and commercial and residential buildings. The developer’s world-famous architect described his vision as creating “different levels of iconicity”. A spokesman for a coalition of neighborhood groups who have joined together in response to the project say that 16 skyscrapers will be “slammed on top of and next to low-rise, historic neighborhoods. The architect calls it progress and says the project’s critics “should’ve been picketing Henry Ford”. The community people call the developer’s vision for the neighborhoods an “urban planning disaster” because the architect and the developer “continue to ignore the community”.

Traveling 20 miles north to Yonkers, the headline in today’s Journal News reads “Ridge Hill Project Proceeds Despite Court Ruling Against It.” Again developer Forest City Ratner has put forward an ambitious development plan that the surrounding communities believe must be altered or it will permanently destroy the character of their neighborhoods and quality of life of local residents.

The article describes how FCR is “forging ahead with its Ridge Hill Village proposal seeking regulatory approvals” despite a successful lawsuit by local residents that invalidated a zoning ordinance necessary for the project to move forward. FCR’s spokesman justifies their aggressive approach because, “We feel we have vast support of the vast majority of Yonkers residents and taxpayers and we are confident we can get it approved”. This in spite of the fact that critics include thousands of residents represented by every neighborhood association encircling the perimeter of the 81 acre project, who say that the developers have isolated themselves from the public and refused to give serious consideration to their concerns that the project, as presently planned, will overwhelm the area with traffic and fails to accurately delineate the economic costs and benefits it will bring to the City.

How do we reconcile the differences between Forest City Ratner’s visions for the neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Yonkers from those of the people who presently call them home? What do its executives see when they look out the window of the top floor of their massive Brooklyn headquarters? Does their view from the executive suite include the people sitting on their front stoop, watching their children play, while sharing a cup of coffee with friends? Similarly, what do they see when they look down from the top of Ridge Hill in Yonkers? Does it allow them to understand what makes each neighborhood surrounding their proposed “village” unique and strong?

Perhaps Forest City Ratner has the money and power to bulldoze its vision over the will of the people whose communities they seek to change forever. Maybe they are willing to risk their projects’ futures on the chance that people power can’t triumph over money and political connections. On the other hand, they could discover that this way of doing business is as outdated as Henry Ford’s Model T. Perhaps “progress” would be to stop “developing” communities by waging war with the people who will be their future neighbors, tenants and customers. And perhaps better developments would be the result if they came down more often from their executive suites, and the top of the hill, to appreciate the perspective of the people who look up to enjoy the view.

Also posted on YonkersTribune.

Debra Cohen is an attorney based in White Plains, N.Y. who has worked with many community groups in Westchester and New York City to support their meaningful participation in the development process.

Posted by lumi at 1:09 PM

Sun critic dislikes Gehry, misreads opposition, misdescribes site

Atlantic Yards Report analyzes James Gardner's critique of Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards design from today's NY Sun. Mentioned are the dubious description of the site (NEWS TO THE MEDIA: only 8.4 acres of railyards comprise the 22-acre site) and the characterization of the opposition.


Posted by lumi at 12:30 PM

How Big Is It Now?

GehryModel03-NYT-BV.jpg President Jim Stuckey, did you really say that the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for the Atlantic Yards project is "around 8" on the Brian Lehrer Show?

Brooklyn Views calculates the project's current square footage of 8.66-million square feet divided by 958,320 square feet (22 acres) to equal an FAR of 9.0.

BV then explains how city streets, which serve as open space, are not used to calculate FAR. Eliminating the streets Ratner plans to close, the FAR jumps to 10.5.

Then keeping in mind that the FAR of the arena is very low, though the footprint is large, that means that the other portions of the site are even more dense.

President Stuckey still has a chance to redeem himself by sending BV specific dimensions of the project for a more accurate calculation.


Posted by lumi at 8:13 AM

Who's Bigger?

stoopwars.jpg The Real Estate Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

Gehry's proposed stoop at Atlantic Yards is being called the "biggest stoop in Brooklyn." But back when the Brooklyn Museum was completing its new facade, Director Arnold Lehman bragged about building "Brooklyn's newest and largest 'front stoop.'" It was designed by Polshek Partnership.

At 10 steps each, Schuerman tempers the debate with this caution, "Remember: Size doesn't matter. It all depends on how it gets used."


NoLandGrab: We are enjoying watching designers Frank Gehry and Laurie Olin making a big fuss over researching "Brooklyn." Somehow they missed the biggest stoop in Brooklyn down the street.

Some mavericks!

Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

Can’t See the Forest

Brian Lehrer The Brian Lehrer Show

It wasn't a mano-a-mano Dan Goldstein smackdown of Forest City Ratner's President of the Atlantic Yards Project Jim Stuckey -- but since Stuckey wasspinning like a dj and Goldstein got the last word, it pretty much was a unanimous decision for Develop Don't Destroy's spokesperson.

Amazingly, the call-in happened to feature guest appearances by "Al [Rosner] from Brooklyn" and "Anthony [Pugliese] from Brooklyn." Do you think that one of these days some regular caller is going to get through to say his or her piece on this issue? Or, are the lines usually flooded by the foot soldiers for the cause, whichever side they may represent?

Highlights were Goldstein's visual aids (leave the Power Point at home Dan, it's radio!) and Brian Lehrer's appreciation of being emailed a filing cabinet's-worth of documents on the controversial development for some light rainy-weekend reading.

Apparently Goldstein didn't point Lehrer to Brooklyn Views' tutorial on Floor Area Ratio (FAR), because once Stuckey started riffing on the comparisons between Atlantic Yards and the Downtown Brooklyn Plan, there was no stopping him. Stuckey should have been given a warning for holding - holding onto the notion that talk radio hosts don't do FAR.

Listening links here.

Posted by lumi at 7:25 AM

In Favor of Building — Just Not These Buildings

NY Sun arts critic James Gardner takes the view that something will be built, but takes Gehry's design to task.

The implication is that it is the manifest destiny of Brooklyn to be built up and that Luddite reactionaries should not stand in its way.That may indeed be the case, but surely we can come up with something better than what Mr. Gehry has conceived.
Rising some 20 to 30 stories, these particolored buildings rear up over the Brooklyn skyline in wobbly set-backs that are simply too adorable to join at right angles. The conflict between the typology of the 1930s skyscraper, with its drably regular windows, and the ohso-contemporary betrayal of that regularity is to be taken, apparently, as a hallmark of Mr. Gehry’s rebellious integrity.

Worst of all is the projected centerpiece of the development, which bears the overly cute name of Miss Brooklyn. To say that this ill-kempt, misshapen and misbegotten vulgarity is poorly composed is to do nothing more than to acknowledge the stated aim of Mr. Gehry himself.There is supposed to be something bawdy and daring and rough-and-tumble about it — qualities that, we may suppose, Mr. Gehry associates with his mythologized view of Brooklyn. But the jazz and jauntiness fail to materialize in this out-sized and inert structure, which itself recalls the populist postmodernism of the early 1980s,a style that has long since ceased to amuse.



NoLandGrab: Gardner betrays some bias towards Bruce Ratner's spin when he writes that he's in favor of, "replacing the massive rail yards that now occupy the site to be developed."

Either Gardner actually knows that the 8.4-acre railyards is only a fraction of the 22-acre site and doesn't care, or he has just received an earful of spin from the Gehry-Olin dog-n-pony show making the rounds at an editorial board near you.

Posted by lumi at 7:20 AM

May I Build Something in Your Neighborhood?

How About a Skating Rink?

Civic Strategies

What? Developers who get projects done by reaching out to the community? Listening? Negotiating? And they still make a profit?

That's crazy talk:

To most people's minds, real estate developers and neighborhood activists are the Mars and Venus of urban politics, meant never to talk civilly with one another, nevertheless get along. And no question, the history of building new things in old neighborhoods is filled with tales of broken promises, end-runs, threats and screaming matches. But some developers are reaching across that reservoir of mistrust these days. What they're finding is, if not open arms, at least a willingness to listen, talk and, in time, even work together.

The Wall Street Journal recently profiled such a developer, Rick Caruso of Los Angeles, who has learned to do what others couldn't, which is include neighborhood associations in designing his projects. Caruso is no bleeding heart; he's a bottom-line guy, and there's a limit to how much he far he can go with neighborhood demands. "The question," he told the Journal, "is how many (neighborhood) benefits a project can support before it no longer makes sense."


Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM

May 15, 2006

Voodoo Alert: Gehry Inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge

The Gutter stops short of saying that Frank Gehry is full of it, but lays it into him for "the sort of sloppy thinking that drives us totally insane," after viewing the video of the recent NY Times interview.

The good do-gooders at Atlantic Yards Report point us to their coverage of a recent Times video in which the starchitect-in-a-china-shop explains the, um, "research" he has undertaken to understand the culture and texture of the borough into which he is preparing to plop eight zillion square feet of generic fun-times crap.


The Gutter put out a call for more verse on Gehry and Atlantic Yards after saluting Dope on the Slope for last week's limericks (here and here).

Today's poetic offering, "To Frank Gehry on the Occasion of his Outer-Borough Success" may be a classic.

Posted by lumi at 12:26 PM

Gehry images reveal Atlantic Yards is smaller and shorter than Brooklyn

Our bad! The project isn't nearly as big or tall as we thought, at least according to Gehry's renderings.

Luddite activists standing in the way of progress can now safely go home, or picket Henry Ford instead, because, clearly, they were wrong.

As evidence, we offer Gehry's photographic renderings from several different locations and perspectives in surrounding neighborhoods.

The two photos that include the "Clock Tower" show clearly that the "iconic" Miss Brooklyn would not be as tall as all that (click to enlarge):

gehry11b.jpg gehry14b.jpg

In fact, Atlantic Yards is shorter than most trees and existing structures:

gehry10b.jpg gehry15b.jpg
gehry16b.jpg gehry18b.jpg

Atlantic Yards will also be mostly invisible (Site V in Park Slope is, like, barely there):

gehry12b.jpg gehry13b.jpg

And, Atlantic Yards won't have more than three or four buildings at a time:

gehry9b.jpg gehry17b.jpg

Atlantic Yards to Brooklyn: "Just pretend that I'm not even here."
There could be Gehry photo renderings that back the conventional wisdom that the project is enormous and out-of-scale, but these are all the images Forest City Ratner released.

On the other hand
For a purely amateur, but wide-angled and contrasting point of view, check out OnNYTurf's photo map of the project footprint and surrounds (mashup brought to you by Google Maps and 3-D renderings by Google Earth).

Posted by lumi at 11:25 AM

A super design for a great project

Forest City Ratner couldn't have said it better themselves. This weekend's Daily News editorial on the Atlantic Yards proposal is effusive in its support (emphasis added):

The latest designs for the Atlantic Yards development are in, and they are stunning. More than ever, this is a project that must be built - for the good of the city, for the good of Brooklyn and for the good of the thousands of working-class New Yorkers who will get affordable apartments in a spanking-new neighborhood.


Atlantic Yards Report actually takes time to issue a point-by-point rebuttal of the editorial.

Posted by lumi at 9:59 AM

Catching up with Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder is posting up a storm in the wake of the Stuckey-Gehry-Olin show, in which the new "Three Men in a Room" revealed the new-ish plans for the arena and 16 high-rise proposal.

Here are some AY Report posts we missed:

Hidden in plain sight: new towers over the Atlantic Center mall
Here's one the entire press corps missed -- Frank Gehry and Jim Stuckey failed to mention the three towers over the Atlantic Center Mall. In January, Gehry spoke of some 20 buildings to be designed by him at the site (NY Times Arts & Leisure Weekend).

If the Atlantic Center Mall towers are the missing buildings and are part of a separate-but-related plan, the discussion of these high-rises should not be limited to Atlantic Yards Report and the second un-released Memorandum of Understanding.

ACORN's Lewis vs. three Community Boards: is one side lying?
ACORN's Bertha Lewis says that "people" who signed the Ratner Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) were not hand-picked, they "self selected in, and self selected out."

Community Boards 2, 6, & 8 do not name names, but contend that "some eventual signatories barred us from attending the working sessions" for the CBA.

Atlantic Yards Report wonders "is one side lying?"

Hint: One side is contractually obliged "to take resonable steps to publicly support the Project." (see HousingMOU.pdf)

Stuckey's stonewall re CBs: another detail

In an article headlined Community boards to Ratner: Stop your fibbin’, the Brooklyn Papers adds an important detail to the story on the complaint by three Community Boards that the developer has misrepresented their participation in "crafting" the Community Benefits Agreement.

The detail: The response by Forest City Ratner VP Jim Stuckey came in a statement, not an interview. In other words, Stuckey chose to dance around the question, with no opportunity to follow up.

Comparing AY 2005 vs. 2006--and why did the Times downplay the latest?
The last time Frank Gehry unveiled design updates for the Atlantic Yards plan it was a front-page NY Times exclusive. This year, Gehry unveils his new designs and it lands on page B5 (Metro section).

Did the Times downplay Gehry or did Gehry downplay the Times?

Posted by lumi at 8:58 AM

NY Loves Business?

Here's more evidence that Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal is becoming synonymous with Big-Business Boondoggles.

Vertebrae, an upstate economic-development property-rights policital-watchdog blog, considers the claims on the NYLovesbiz.com website, the official site of the Empire State Development Corporation, the lead agency for the Atlantic Yards proposal (emphasis added):

The fact is, offering shovel-ready sites and providing subsidies to a very small number of pet projects--many of which are dubious in nature (see the Atlantic Yards fiasco in Brooklyn)--does not imply or equate to a business friendly environment. New York City is successful for reasons other than the State's "business friendliness," and the biggest flops and fiascos going on in NYC (Ground Zero development, Atlantic Yards) have the State's hand firmly implanted in the project. Upstate is self explanatory.


The Times Ratner Report posted an analysis on NYLovesBiz and the ESDC's chairman, Charles Gargano, in February, 2006.

Posted by lumi at 8:31 AM

Preserving the 'sanctity' of free markets

By Raymond J. Keating

In a column about the activities and views of the Foundation for Economic Education, Keating mentions the November edition of the group's publication, The Freeman, which was devoted to the issue of eminent domain. One of the two local issues cited was Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards:

The November issue included several articles describing the ills of government abuse of eminent domain. That's certainly a hot-button topic locally, with abuses ranging from the potential taking of property for a sports team owner in Brooklyn (Bruce Ratner and the NBA's Nets) to actually doing so in the name of preserving farmland in Brookhaven.


NoLandGrab: We link Keating's column to point out that Bruce Ratner's in fast becoming the posterchild of eminent domain abuse.

Posted by lumi at 8:23 AM

The News Interview: Frank Gehry

NY Daily News

Frank Gehry and Laurie Olin are taking their dog-n-pony show on the road, visiting editorial boards at the local dailies.

A short "softball" piece from the Daily News still manages to reveal that Gehry channels Jane Jacobs during his ego trip, in which he imagines he's "listening a lot to the neighbors":

There are some buildings that are background, some that are foreground. Miss Brooklyn (the tallest building), I call my ego trip. The rest of it is city planning, city organization, and we're having a lot of public input. We're listening a lot to the neighbors.

I spent a lot of time looking around Brooklyn, seeing what it is, what it has been in the past. And there's a kind of friendly messiness that I found. This is a way of expressing that.


NoLandGrab: Jane Jacobs used the term "messiness" to describe the chaos endemic to the organic development of livable neighborhoods. Lucky for Frank Gehry, Jacobs has passed, for surely she would bristle at the arrogant notion that "messiness" could be engineered and planned by a single architect for a single client.

Is the self-professed "liberal do-gooder" pretending that he met with the community, or has he actually met with them and is pretending to listen?

Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

Can’t See the Forest


The Brian Lehrer Show
It's Stuckey vs. Goldstein!

Tune in Monday morning at 11:05am to WNYC 820AM, 93.9FM:

Forest City Ratner VP Jim Stuckey says architect Frank Gehry’s new slightly scaled-down plans for the Atlantic Yards arena development in Brooklyn make it a better fit in the neighborhood. Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which opposes the project, disagrees.

Posted by amy at 7:37 AM

May 14, 2006

Mom and Poppa Starbucks

starbucks.jpgDevelop Don't Destroy:

Above is a sketch from Laurie Olin, Ratner's landscape architect, of some hard to determine angle of their "Atlantic Yards" proposal. (We think its the corner of Atlantic and Sixth Avenue). Ratner/Stuckey have talked a lot about providing retail space for Brooklyn Mom and Pop shops (the small business engine that drives this country). The only retail signs shown in any of the renderings or sketches is the sign above–yup, its Starbucks. Next stop Poppa Sammy Walton.


Posted by amy at 6:01 PM

Blogger, Journalist or Both?

i-Team Blog:

The question came up after Dan Klores Communications, the public relations firm hired by Nets owner Bruce Ratner to put a postitive spin on his proposed $3.5 billion megadevelopment, barred Norman Oder from its press conference with architect Frank Gehry and landscape architect Laurie Olin. Oder is a longtime journalist who is the blogger behind The Atlantic Yards Report, and he has been one of Forest City Ratner’s most dogged critics.

Oder is certainly not a neutral, objective observer in this fight, but the guy has an encyclopedic knowledge of the issues surrounding the Atlantic Yards and consistently raises good questions about a project that will influence Brooklyn’s future for decades to come. And that’s a good thing for a project with so many question marks: What will be the health and environmental impacts? What about traffic and parking? Where will the thousands of new kids in the neighborhood go to school? How much money will Bruce Ratner and his partners make on this deal? What’s it ultimately going to cost taxpayers?


NoLandGrab: The Ratner crowd insists that their opponents are against progress and change. Ironic that they do not embrace new media.

Posted by amy at 12:43 PM

Gehry, Olin unveil progress on Atlantic Yards design

The Architect's Newspaper:

As the design is subject to change before the building is fully approved (final approval is expected after the Environmental Statement Impact and public review in October of this year), the purpose of the press conference remains a bit unclear. The greatest opposition to the project—concerned residents and community members—weren’t allowed into the fiercely guarded, press-only conference, which seems like an attempt to dodge accusations of secret planning that developers like the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation constantly face. Given the finality and certainty with which the designers and development team spoke, it seems that New York’s Gehryville, U.S.A. is here to stay.


NoLandGrab: We hope we detect a bit of a facetious jab in that last line...

Dan Goldstein responds to the article:

Dear Editors:

Jaffer Kolb, in his article "Gehry, Olin unveil progress on Atlantic Yards design," is absolutely right when he says the Gehry/Ratner plan " remains largely unchanged. " The presentation of the new plan was a closed-door PR event with little meaningful substance. But Mr. Kolb gets one major thing wrong (besides his dates–the plan was first unveiled in December 2003), which is understandable due to marketing trickery by the developer's, Forest City Ratner, team.

Kolb writes:

"The development, which includes a new 850,000-square-foot arena for the soon-to-be-relocated New York Nets, 600,000 square feet of office space, 6.8 million square feet of residential space, and a 165,000-square-foot boutique hotel, has developed significantly since designs were first unveiled last in 2004. In response to an influx of criticism from the community, 500,000 square feet has been shaved off of the original proposal, said Atlantic Yards Development Corporation president Jim Stuckey. "

Only the design (look and feel) has developed "significantly" and the shift of nearly 75% of the originally proposed commercial space–not viable in this market–to residential space has made one drastic change, reducing the original speculative job numbers 70% from 10,000 to roughly 3,000 only 700 of which might be new.

Even more striking is this. In December 2003 when the project was unveiled as a done deal with a summer of 2004 ground-breaking date, the project was 8.0 million square feet. In May of 2005 it was increased to 9.1 million square feet. Today the project is 8.6 million square feet. Though Gehry and Ratner's PR spokespeople would call that a scale down, mathematicians would call it a 600,000 square foot increase.

The developer and his architect think they can pull slick ones on the people of Brooklyn and New York City. But we are not fools.


Daniel Goldstein Develop--Don't Destroy (BROOKLYN)

Posted by amy at 10:54 AM

Arena signage in a residential district: only during games?

Atlantic Yards Report looks into the Daily News story about the minimizing of the neon:

How firm is Ratner's pledge? Would they not turn signs on for the circus? The Ice Capades? A concert? Note that this was a lobbying visit to the editorial board.
Panelist Michael Kwartler, an architect and planner, said the lighting might bring glare, perhaps so bright it would obscure the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. "You can either think of it as a positive or as light pollution," he added, noting that it might be helpful to pedestrians but a traffic hazard for vehicles.


Posted by amy at 10:49 AM

Shooting from the lip

Mike Lupica, Daily News:

And isn't it interesting that every time they hold another press conference over there, the way they did this week, that everything possible is done to exclude Ratner's opposition?

And that everybody, starting with architect Frank Gehry, wants to talk about everything except the high-rises?

It's like talking about Manhattan and talking about everything except the real tall buildings.

This remains, in broad daylight, one of the great shell games in the history of real estate in New York City.

Only the people in the neighborhood look at this thing honestly.

But isn't that what politicians - honorable ones, anyay - are supposed to do?


Posted by amy at 10:45 AM

The AY Monologues: Gehry invokes the Brooklyn Bridge, Olin laments those "frightened" of change

Atlantic Yards Report includes a transcription and analysis of the Atlantic Yards Proposal video appearing in the New York Times:

The newly-posted Times video titled New Design for Atlantic Yards verges on an infomercial--even though the new 'video' section of the Times web site is supposed to feature "more original Times video reporting," the Times Company said last month.


Posted by amy at 10:40 AM

May 13, 2006

Nets' Brooklyn arena design unveiled

NorthJersey.com has some bad news for all of you hoping for the cheap seats:

The Brooklyn arena would have only about 400 seats more than the arena being built in Newark for the New Jersey Devils hockey team. But about 3,200 of its seats would be premium, or "club," seats -- 50 percent more than in Newark. Nets owners also anticipate having nearly 120 luxury suites, compared with 74 in the Newark building.


Posted by amy at 2:48 PM

Blocking the Clock and More Deception

From Develop Don't Destroy:


Posted by amy at 2:43 PM


New York Post prints the following letters to the editor in response to this article:

Contrary to Andrea Peyser's latest diatribe, thousands of lifelong Brooklynites oppose Bruce Ratner's 24- acre land grab ("Celebrity Moles Boro-ing Under B'klyn's Hopes," May 9).

Did it make Peyser feel good to imply that their views somehow belittle poor Tajmere Clark's murder?

And that hypodermic needle trick has already been done by Ratner's p.r. team. Doesn't Peyser have any new ideas up her sleeve?

Maybe she resorted to those ugly tactics because she knows the Ratner boondoggle can't stand up to the slightest criticism, let alone real public scrutiny.

If hate wins the day, Ratner has an invaluable ally in Peyser.

If common sense and the democratic process win, she and Ratner are both in big trouble.
Jezra Kaye


I rent in the giant footprint of Ratner's plan.

Ratner's architect, Frank Gehry, boasts that this is his chance to "create a neighborhood from scratch."

Memo to Gehry: The neighborhood is already here. I live in it, and so do 15,000 others.

We live here because we want to, and we think it's beautiful.

While I don't share Peyser's contemptuous take on Prospect Heights, I do agree that movie stars, who know the neighborhood even less than she does, look pretty foolish as pop-up Jane Jacobses.
Kris Hackett

Peyser's venomous and utterly misinformed article warps reality and defrauds her readers - but that's her stock in trade.

Just one paragraph of lies shows that her column's best use is as fish wrap.

Twenty-six of our 33 board members live within walking distance of the proposed project.

Most have lived in Brooklyn for decades, contributing to its evolution through journalism, fiction-writing, filmmaking, art, architecture, design, music, acting, firefighting, education, publishing, preservation, business, religion, politics, activism and civic leadership.

The remaining seven are experts in issues related to Ratner's proposed plan.

The project, which includes 16 towers and an arena, proposes abusing eminent domain and taking homes, businesses and city streets in the midst of five thriving, low-rise, historic residential neighborhoods.
Daniel Goldstein
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Brooklyn

Posted by amy at 2:30 PM

No neon for Nets arena, but foes still turned off

Daily News:

Don't expect flashy neon signs at the proposed Nets arena in Brooklyn.

Instead, developer Bruce Ratner plans to project images directly onto the glass building during games - but turn them off at other times to help it blend in with the surrounding area.


Because if it's not glowing we won't notice how big it is?

Posted by amy at 2:26 PM

Pols try cutting Ratner's Yard by third

Daily News:

A group of Brooklyn legislators is trying to force developer Bruce Ratner to scale back his massive Atlantic Yards arena project by about a third.

Assemblyman James Brennan (D-Brooklyn) and five Brooklyn colleagues - including vocal arena-supporter Assemblyman Roger Green - are introducing a bill that would cut the size of the project to 6 million square feet from nearly 9 million square feet.

In exchange, the bill would slash the amount Ratner has to pay to the MTA to buy and prepare the site to $140 million, down from $450 million.

The state would also pick up the tab for subsidizing the roughly 2,000 affordable apartments proposed for the site, so Ratner wouldn't have to build so big to reap a profit, Brennan said.


Atlantic Yards Report posts Pols would shrink AY by a third--with some big carrots for Ratner, calling the new plan "A Rube Goldberg affordable housing strategy."

Posted by amy at 2:23 PM

Atlantic Yards Project Releases New Plans



New plans unveiled by architect Frank Gehry did not placate opponents of his high rise and arena development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

REPORTER: Daniel Goldstein of the group Develop, Don't Destroy called the slightly scaled down version "window dressing" and that the buildings are too tall for the neighborhood.


Posted by amy at 2:17 PM

Report from Democracy for NYC's Brooklyn Candidate Forum

While the unveiling was the media event of the week, Brooklyn political candidates were talking up a storm at Thursday's Democracy for NYC's Brooklyn Candidate Forum at Brown Memorial Church. Here is how they answered questions from the public about the Atlantic Yards Proposal:

State Assembly in District 57:

Bill Batson On fighting AYP: It's impossible to have an argument with a shadow. We don't know who is doing what, we don't know what they're doing. I'm on Community Board 8 – all we got from FCR was a sheet of paper – not the showy stuff, a Xerox paper that said CBA, which I'm thinking is either Consultants Benefit Agreement or Corporate Benefit Agreement.

I want to reopen CBA and make it binding. There's no veto that we have as a community, we don't have a secret veto that if they engage in a real debate we can suddenly pull it out and say 'gotcha.' You know, like a "Don't Build" card. So why can't they talk to us, civilized, like over a table, with real issues and take our input? It's always staged, it's always very manufactured, consultant driven, and very offensive. Why is our fate being decided in Albany?

We don't get anything in Brooklyn for centuries, and then they want to build everything – 400 years of stuff all at once, without planning. And they don't want to have to debate about it. Well they're going to have to debate about it.

Hakeem Jeffries Supports a 'principled compromise' on AYP with three caveats: real affordable housing, no eminent domain for an arena, and that the "CBA promises to deliver what it intends to deliver." Also said he was concerned about the scale of the project. Also declared that the people on Ratner's side are being unfairly demonized. Also explained that his definition of affordable housing is about purchasing, not just renting, and that the income limit for a family of four to qualify for affordable housing should be raised to $195,000.

U.S. Congress in District 11: (The current representative Major Owens is retiring so this is an "open seat.")

Carl Andrews This project needs to be very very very very very closely scrutinized. (environmental impact, jobs, affordable housing, effect on community) It's a good project even though there might be some concerns as to the way it is being implemented and the manner they are gathering community input.

Yvette Clarke Said she did not know what role the federal government would have in being able to prevent developments that could be terrorist targets.

Chris Owens I'm one of the folks that advocates for Brooklyn jobs, not simply saying we're going to promise construction jobs and promise jobs in arenas and developments that may not exist. There ought to be industry here in Brooklyn that is supporting alternative energy. Where were these colleagues in Dec. 2003 who could say, you know what? If the local elected officials have a problem with [AYP] so should we. They didn't say a word. They waited to see the benefits they would get from the developer.

Nick Perry You don't do things without community input and you always make sure it is substantial, that it counts, you listen to the people. And so my instinct is to listen to the people who live around the area of the proposal and get a sense of what they want. Mind you I am generally supportive of development, as I'm sure most of you are, but we can't move along with a project when so many of the people who live in the precincts of the project raise serious questions and concerns. I have been working with my colleagues who represent the immediate vicinity around the project, [Brennan, Millman, Montgomery and James] and I have been very cautious in taking a position on this project. [Supports Brennan bill] Would not support the use of eminent domain in this project.

David Yassky Was for waterfront rezoning, de-landmarking of the Austin-Nichols Warehouse and removed people from their homes. Said that $50,000 donations from two developers (one of which is of Greenpoint Terminal fire fame, and their families, per the Daily News) to his campaign is not a large amount of money and does not influence his politics. Insists that most of his money is from environmentalists because he personally sued Exxon-Mobil.

State Senate in District 20:

Eric Adams First of all I am not in support of subsidizing developers to build luxury houses. There's no such thing in New York as non-prime real estate, so why are we paying developers to develop it….To deal with the AYP directly – I cannot support that project as it stands. [reasons: terrorism, asthma, sewer, traffic, evacuation] I would never be supportive of any project that deals with eminent domain. Until we answer all of those questions, it's difficult to move ahead with any project of that magnitude.

Anthony Alexis Started by saying the AYP is in Downtown Brooklyn. Against eminent domain and subsidizing private development, but supports projects where people say in good faith that the intention is to create jobs in our community, which he says is the case with the AYP. "We need to continue the dialog with the developer, but unless people come to the table with a real plan about how to help the community create jobs and other issues then clearly to me it's just playing politics. When I say I support the project, it doesn't mean the project is perfect, it simply means that I think that might be an opportunity to help our community in terms of creating jobs."

Elizabeth King I want to tell you from working on a construction site that it is a myth that jobs will be provided to the community. It's not gonna happen. It is a myth that there's gonna be affordable housing, it's simply not gonna happen. I work at a construction site in the community at Medgar Evers College, the community comes in every day in great numbers, they're all looking for jobs, where are the jobs? There are no jobs. If I get elected I will put your voices ahead of anything that comes from the construction industry. I know that many people are concerned about what Ratner is able to do, and developers are able to do, but there will be no jobs, I can attest to it. I have to tell people every day, there are no jobs.

Posted by amy at 2:12 PM

May 12, 2006


We've been trying to stay on top of the coverage and response to Gehry's latest designs for Atlantic Yards, chaotically throwing up links as them come in.

To mitigate the effects of the "delirious pile-up" of posts and the "messiness" of the media response, we offer this "usable" directory of posts since the Gehry-Olin-Stuckey media event.

Associated Press, Architect Gehry reveals more of plan for Nets arena in Brooklyn
Metro NY, Here she comes, Miss Brooklyn
The Newark Star-Ledger, A nirvana for the Nets brews in Brooklyn
NY Daily News, A trim for Yards work
NY1, Architect Frank Gehry Presents Designs For Atlantic Yards Project
NY Newsday, B'klyn Atlantic Yards plans unveiled
The NY Times, Developer Defends Atlantic Yards Plan for Brooklyn
NY Sun, Critics Unimpressed With Gehry's New Take on Arena
Reuters, Gehry unveils vision for Brooklyn arena

Archinet, NYT: New Design for Atlantic Yards Presented
Brooklynian, "How much uglier can it be?"
Brownstoner, Gehry's New Vision for Atlantic Yards
Curbed, Ratnerville Update: Frank Gehry's Latest Revealed
Develop Don't Destroy, New Atlantic Yards Proposal, Same as the Old Proposal
Dope on the Slope, Journalist Barred from Gehry Press Conference
Dope on the Slope, Son of Frankengehry
Dope on the Slope, A Limerick for Dr. Frankengehry
Gothamist, Gehry Redesigns the Atlantic Yards
Gowanus Lounge, And...Here's the View of Gehry Land from The Street: Big. Very Big.
The Gutter, Frank Gehry Goes Plop in Brooklyn
Jefferson St. Station, File under "any irony is purely unintentional"
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, I REALLY LIKE FRANK GEHRY BUT...
NoLandGrab, Ground Control to Major Tom, Gehryland is Outta this World
The Real Estate Observer, Gehry, Gehry Everywhere...
Set Speed One Hanson Place, Looking forward to this?
Snarksmith, Up Goes Brooklyn (And Residents' Blood Pressure)

We couldn't keep up with Stormin' Norman Oder, so here are all of his links to his posts in the past two days:
Gehry: starchitect, "liberal do-gooder," misreader of community concerns
Street walls would be modest on Dean Street--well, part of Dean Street
FCR bans journalist from Gehry press conference, invites "community"
Ratner vs. Ratner: what a difference a week makes
Fantasyland views from Dean Street and Sixth Avenue
The view from Park Slope: huge (and where's the clock?)
Ms. Brooklyn at night (sans traffic)
A first look at the revised Ms. Brooklyn (and where's the traffic?)

Community boards to Ratner: Stop your fibbin’
Going Yard on Bruce
Marty snubs Ratner foes
Ratner’s poster girl is unhappy

The Journal News, Ridge Hill project moves ahead in Yonkers, without zoning

Posted by lumi at 9:33 AM

A Limerick for Dr. Frankengehry

Dope on the Slope

There once was a Brooklyn boondoggle
Its sheer size and scale made minds boggle
Taxpayers were piqued
So the starchitect tweaked
But this new lipsticked pig won't hornswoggle


But wait, there's more...

Posted by lumi at 8:46 AM

File under "any irony is purely unintentional"

Jefferson St. Station

They should've been picketing Henry Ford. There is progress everywhere. There is a constant change. The issue is how to manage it. —Frank Gehry

Mr. Gehry made this remark in reaction to protesters who objected to the proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. There's nothing like labeling your opponents as enemies of progress.


NoLandGrab: We've resisted calling Frank Gehry arrogant, because, to a certain extent, the project is dictated by his client Bruce Ratner. But to label those who are against '60s-style superblock urban renewal as "enemies of progress" is ironic indeed.

Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM


Saturday, May 13, 9am—6pm
205 Berkeley Place
(Between 7th and 8th Avenue, Park Slope)

"Garden Don't Destroy - Brooklyn" plant sale fundraiser for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

Your chance to get THREE things done at once! * Beautify your block with the best annuals from the Brooklyn Terminal Market. * Get a great plant for your Mom (Mother's Day is May 14!). Houseplants will be available too. * Help raise funds for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM

Gehry: starchitect, "liberal do-gooder," misreader of community concerns

Atlantic Yards Report

Barred from the press conference, Norman Oder catches up and comments on the mainstream media's coverage:

So here's what I missed when I was blocked from attending the press conference yesterday: architect Frank Gehry, a self-described "do-gooder, liberal," accusing critics in Brooklyn of being, basically, Luddites. “There is progress. There's constant change,” said Gehry, according to NY1. “People aren't riding around on horseback anymore.”
Why did Forest City Ratner hold the press conference yesterday rather than weeks earlier--when the slightly downscaled plan was released--or sometime later? No press outlet offered an explanation, but it might simply have been keyed to the new documentary, Sketches of Frank Gehry, directed by Sydney Pollack, opening today.


Posted by lumi at 8:22 AM

Son of Frankengehry

GehryatNight03.jpg Dope on the Slope

Forest City Ratner held a "spin and grin" today so that world-famous architect and cartoon character, Frank Gehry, could unveil his latest creation for the proposed Atlantic Yards megadevelopment.

Q: So what does 'Thoughtful analysis of Brooklyn "Body Language" to adapt the design so that it may be integrated into the surrounding community seamlessly" buy you these days?

A: Wow!!! The difference is so... so... Negligible.


Posted by lumi at 7:58 AM

Here she comes, Miss Brooklyn

GehryModel03-MetroNY.jpg Metro NY
By Amy Zimmer

Some interesting bits from the Metro NY article with running commentary:

Developer Bruce Ratner mailed several hundred thousand glossy brochures to Brooklynites recently in anticipation of a public meeting next month about his arena project. That meeting will kick off an approval process to bring the Nets to Brooklyn in 2009.

The public has not been informed of any public meeting next month. Reporter Amy Zimmer may be referring to the anticipation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Architect Frank Gehry, who called the design process a “monumental effort” in terms of the amount of models he has created for the project, is still in the process of “refining” the buildings. But throughout the process, the L.A.-based architect said he had been carefully studying the borough.

If you have the sense that the project looks better from above than at ground level, it's because Gehry's design process is very sculptural, using models to test and refine ideas. Bruce Ratner pays millions of dollars for these models, and the tab is rising.

According to Jim Stuckey, Forest City Ratner’s president of the Atlantic Yards Development Corporation, the buildings “have been brought down considerably in size” in a process that was “strategic and sculptural.”

A five-percent reduction from the previous plan is still an overall increase in size from the original scheme unveiled in September 2003. It would also hardly represent being "brought down considerably in size."


Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM


Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn

OTBKB worships "at the altar of Frank Gehry" and then defends her borough.


I really, really respect the guy. Clearly this is a project close to his heart. What architect doesn't dream about creating a city from scratch. The trouble is: Brooklyn doesn't need a city within a city, a skylline within a skyline. It already is a city, a city with landmark architecture and one-of-a-kind beauty. It's just not the right blank canvas for Frank Gehry.


Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

Up Goes Brooklyn (And Residents' Blood Pressure)


Not since Judy Davis ("I wrote a paper at Radcliffe on how Bauhaus was the aesthetic equivalent of fascism") tried to f*ck Liam Neeson in Husbands and Wives have New York Jews been so angry about architecture.


Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM

Developer Defends Atlantic Yards Plan for Brooklyn

The NY Times
By Nicholas Confessore


From across the room, the new plastic-and-wood model of Brooklyn's proposed Atlantic Yards project — unveiled by the developer Forest City Ratner at a news conference today — looked a lot like the old one sitting a few feet away: A 22-acre swathe of glass, brick and metal towers that will loom over the surrounding neighborhoods and forever alter the borough's otherwise sparse skyline.

The Atlantic Yards design, unveiled today by the developer Forest City Ratner, faces opponents with a different vision for Brooklyn.

But in an hourlong presentation, Frank Gehry, the project's architect, and Laurie Olin, its landscape designer, emphasized details that they said would harmonize the project's scale with the neighborhoods it would border. They described shorter and thinner buildings on Dean Street, where the project abuts a mostly low-rise neighborhood, extensive use of glass walls at street level, and what Mr. Olin described as "the biggest stoop in Brooklyn," a sort of public porch planned for the southeast corner of Flatbush and Atlantic.

"It still feels like Brooklyn," Mr. Olin said.

But Mr. Gehry, Mr. Olin and Forest City Ratner officials made clear that the developer and its opponents still have vastly different visions of what, exactly, Brooklyn should feel like, at least in this corner of the borough, where the bustling downtown commercial district shades into a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood of brownstones.


NoLandGrab: Despite the weekly prodding and flogging that The Times gets from Norman Oder's Atlantic Yards Report, reporter Nicholas Confessore takes a fairly evenhanded approach to the controversial Atlantic Yards development in this article (including a full disclosure of the relationship between Ratner and The NY Times Company and the use of eminent domain).

Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

A nirvana for the Nets brews in Brooklyn

The Newark Star-Ledger article by Matthew Futterman focuses more on the arena portion of Frank Gehry's latest design:

Continental Airlines Arena it's not.

In an atmosphere more akin to the opening of a major art exhibition than the unveiling of a sports venue, the Nets and architect Frank Gehry showed off the latest design of their planned arena in Brooklyn yesterday.

Since purchasing the National Basketball Association team two years ago, Bruce Ratner has been promising to deliver an arena unlike anything any sports fan has ever seen. Yesterday Ratner's hand-picked architect delivered on that promise.

During a 45-minute slide show at the Atlantic Center Mall across from the proposed site, Gehry delivered an illustrated tour of an arena designed to be both large and intimate.


Posted by lumi at 7:11 AM

Ridge Hill project moves ahead in Yonkers, without zoning

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

Forest City Ratner gamely forges ahead with its controversial Ridge Hill project in Yonkers, even though zoning changes were invalidated by a state judge last week:

The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency last night held public hearings on tax breaks proposed for the $600 million housing and retail project, between the Sprain Brook Parkway and New York State Thruway, and the possible use of eminent domain to acquire several commercial properties needed to build access roads to the site.
"We believe in the project," Forest City Ratner spokesman Ed Tagliaferri said. "We feel we have vast support of the vast majority of Yonkers residents and taxpayers and we are confident we can get it approved."

Furious opponents of the project are demanding the city defer consideration of any approvals for the project until after the zoning issue is resolved, either in court or through negotiation.


Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

Critics Unimpressed With Gehry's New Take on Arena

GheryModel03-NYSun.jpg NY Sun
By David Lombino

This image ran on page one.

Here's the lead from the article on page two:

New designs by one of the world's most renowned architects are failing to win over neighborhood critics of the most ambitious development project planned for Brooklyn in decades.


Posted by lumi at 6:53 AM

A trim for Yards work

New & smaller look for B'klyn buildings

NY Daily News article by Jego R. Armstrong and Elizabeth Hays says the new design is "kinder and gentler" and finds two people in Brooklyn who agree that it "looks more like it suits Brooklyn."

Architect Frank Gehry now has a kinder and gentler vision for Brooklyn.

Nearly a year after his futuristic designs for the controversial Nets arena complex sent shudders through parts of the borough, Gehry released revised plans yesterday.

The article quotes Gehry channeling the late Jane Jacobs, repeating one of the terms that informed her vision of livable neighborhoods, "messiness":

"We've tried to break down the scale," Gehry said, and mirror "the messiness of Brooklyn - messiness in a good way."


Posted by lumi at 6:42 AM

NYT: New Design for Atlantic Yards Presented

Archinet, News

Some reaction to the photo that ran with the NY Times article:

"it looks like the newyork new york casino in Las Vegas. haha. good luck Brooklyn"

"gahaha... what an obvious curve ball. bunch of units and and a baseball love... gahaha. whata pitch. i can see run lola run circling the condostadium..."

"of course the design sucks but oh well. Forget listening to the people who know nothing about architecture and are anti progressive. Well they should be listened to but also told that this is it. skyscrapers and higher density. I think it's a great center piece."


Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM

Community boards to Ratner: Stop your fibbin’

Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman


Three central Brooklyn community boards are demanding that Bruce Ratner stop claiming the boards participated in a “community benefits agreement” between the developer and eight local groups.

In a mass mailing to several hundred thousand homes last weekend, Ratner claimed that Community Boards 2, 6, and 8 “served as advisors in crafting the CBA.” Says him.

“This statement overstates our participation,” the chairs of the three boards — Shirley McRae, Jerry Armer and Robert Matthews — wrote to Ratner last week.

“We were invited to play a limited role that ended months before … we were barred from attending the working sessions [for the CBA],” the letter continued


Posted by lumi at 6:06 AM

May 11, 2006

Architect Gehry reveals more of plan for Nets arena in Brooklyn

AP, via NY Newsday
By David B. Caruso

AP sends a new reporter who has a hard time parsing fact from fiction at the Ratner press conference.

By 2009, the NBA's Nets could be playing home games beneath the billowing glass skirts of a 60-story skyscraper nicknamed Miss Brooklyn.

To start with, anyone who believes that the Nets will be playing in the arena in 2009 is probably in contract for a nearby bridge.

So far, Caruso is the only reporter who bought the parking line:

Any fans thinking about trying to drive in for a game should fuhgeddaboutit.

"It's not an arena in a parking lot, like in the Meadowlands," Gehry said.

Last month, Aaron Naparstek and Jonathan Cohn both revealed that Ratner planned on using the eastern portion of the site as surface parking for the arena until (and if) the rest of the project gets built.

And here's Ratner's party-line coup:

Few are mourning what Ratner's development will replace _ a railyard, ugly industrial buildings and hodgepodge of auto repair shops _ but hundreds of protesters have marched and rallied to complain about the expected influx of new residents and traffic.

Huh? Which one of those would be Dan Goldstein's place?


NoLandGrab: This article has been picked up by media outlets nationwide, which is too bad. It's really not Caruso's fault; our experience watching the mainstream media cover Bruce Ratner's $3.5-billion development has informed us that reporters who are green to this story usually fall for Ratner's spin until they get up to speed on all of the issues.

Typically, we leave the detailed media commentary to Atlantic Yards Report, but this article was so far out in Gehryland that we had to do our own "Oderous" analysis.

The Reuters wire story, "Gehry unveils vision for Brooklyn arena," by Martine Geller is more straightforward (read: isn't a publicity coup for Bruce Ratner).

Posted by lumi at 10:23 PM

B'klyn Atlantic Yards plans unveiled

NY Newsday sports writer Barbara Barker doesn't fall for the hoops hype:

Architect Frank Gehry unveiled a revised plan for a proposed Nets Arena complex in Brooklyn Thursday, one that the project's developer is touting as a friendlier, scaled-down version of the mini-city that also includes a hotel, office buildings, apartment towers and retail space.

The new proposal keeps the 18,000 seat sports arena, but reduces the maximum size of the Atlantic Yards project by more than 400,000 square feet, down to under 8.7 million feet. Most of the reduction will come from the elimination of market-rate condominium units, though the project remains Oz-like in scale, including 16 towers, ranging in height from 19 to 58 stories.


Posted by lumi at 10:11 PM


Gehry lightly tweaks Ratner’s ‘Yards’ plan, says boro wedding inspired tallest tower

Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman


The “bride” will wear aluminum.

Architecht Frank Gehry unveiled slightly slimmed down towers and an update on the classic Brooklyn stoop, in fresh renderings for Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development revealed Thursday. He also told how he came up with the design for the project’s most controversial building — the 62-story “Miss Brooklyn Tower” — likening it to a bride.

Opponents of the 22-acre, $3.5-billion project were unimpressed.

“It’s a Frank Gehry sheen on repudiated, 1960s-style urban renewal,” said Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

Discussing “Miss Brooklyn,” which would sit at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, Gehry said, “When we were studying Brooklyn, we happened upon a wedding, a real Brooklyn wedding. And we decided that ‘Miss Brooklyn’ was a bride.”

The renderings of Miss Brooklyn showed a shimmering, wavering, aluminum-clad tower, with a 120-foot glass-walled atrium called “the Urban Room,” a hotel in the first few floors, dozens of stories of office space, and residental condos up top.

“She’s a bride with flowing veils,” Gehry said. “OK, I got carried away. But if you’d seen that bride, you’d understand. I fell in love with her.”

Kuntzman also busts Gehry for felonius use of Jane Jacobs, as the starchitect co-opts the verbiage of the Urbanist movement to convince detractors that his latest designs sincerely embrace the principles of "usable space," "existing fabric" and "connection to the texture of existing buildings."


Posted by lumi at 9:39 PM

Going Yard on Bruce

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn's star-studded advisory board speaks out

Brooklyn Papers
Compiled by Ariella Cohen and Louise Crawford

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn unveiled a star-studded advisory board this week featuring some impressive names (unless you’re Andrea Peyser of the New York Post, that is). Several members of the board shared their reasons for opposing Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project with The Brooklyn Papers.

Speaking out: Michelle Williams, Peter Galassi, Jonathan Lethem, Susette Kelo, Frances Morrone, Steve Buscemi, Marian Fontana.


Posted by lumi at 9:26 PM

Ratner’s poster girl is unhappy

Meer.jpg Brooklyn Papers

Ratner postergirl tells all:

Meer said she spent five hours being photographed. “It was fun, and it was a pretty good deal because I’m an actress and they offered to let me use the photos, too,” she said. She had virtually forgotten about that day — until the phone rang last week.

“Why the hell are you doing posing for Bruce Ratner?!” a friend asked.

“I admit I have no one to blame but myself,” she said. “I signed the release. I got my $100 [for the shoot]. But I’m still mad at Ratner.”

Meer called her experience “the seedy underbelly of Ratner’s marketing campaign.”

“What, he couldn’t find actual people to smile for his cameras? He needed to buy stock images of people having fun?”


Posted by lumi at 8:50 PM

Marty snubs Ratner foes

The Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman

A petty snub by the borough president or a show of respect for his mother — you decide.

In the program at the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats' annual fundraising dinner, Marty Markowitz congratulated all award recipients, except for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

Of course, it was no oversight.

“I am a proud CBID member ... but on rare occasions, I may not agree that one of their honorees is worthy,” he told The Brooklyn Papers in a statement. “Besides, my mother always taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”


Posted by lumi at 8:44 PM

Gehry Redesigns the Atlantic Yards


Much will be made about Gehry's general comments about Brooklyn: "We're trying to understand what is Brooklyn, what is the body language of Brooklyn and trying to emulate it without copying it. Copying it would trivialize it." Wait a minute - doesn't a massive development literally trivialize other parts of Brooklyn?

Develop-Don't Destroy Brooklyn says the new designs are just windowdressing - it's still too big! Gehry's diss to the protesters: "They should've been picketing Henry Ford. "There is progress everywhere. There is a constant change. The issue is how to manage it." DDDB's response: Gehry and Ratner never met with the community. This could go on forever! Or until the last piece of glass or brushed metal is put in place.


NoLandGrab: What have we gotten ourselves into? That last piece of glass or brushed metal, according to Ratner's schedule, is at least a decade away!

Posted by lumi at 8:34 PM

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: New Atlantic Yards Proposal, Same as the Old Proposal

New Design Is 16 Skyscrapers Worth of Windowdressing

BROOKLYN, NY ­ Today sports baron/developer Bruce Ratner's architect Frank Gehry unveiled updated plans for their "Atlantic Yards" proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Except for handpicked supporters on Forest City Ratner’s payroll, the community was barred from the press conference, held in the architecturally and economically failed Atlantic Center Mall which happens to house the state agency (ESDC) charged with “reviewing” Ratner’s plan.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "The new design unveiled by Gehry and Ratner today is 16 skyscrapers worth of window-dressing. It puts a Gehry sheen on top of repudiated 1960's style urban renewal. It's still way too big, and does not change the fact of 16 skyscrapers slammed on top of and next to low-rise, historic neighborhoods. It does not change the fact that the proposal abuses eminent domain, spends at least $1.6 billion in taxpayer dollars, creates a traffic nightmare at Atlantic and Flatbush, is a security risk or that this project is a land grab by a wealthy sports baron developer.”

“The proposal remains an urban planning disaster in waiting, and this is because Mr. Gehry and Mr. Ratner continue to ignore the community. We are disappointed with Mr. Gehry, as he has never met with the communities surrounding the proposed development site. Thus DDDB and the community's fight continues with great strength," said DDDB President Eric Reschke.

The design unveiled today is over 600,000 square feet bigger today when the proposal was first announced and unveiled in December 2003. “Ms. Brooklyn,” the developer’s brand name for the 620 foot tower that would be built at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic hulking over and blocking views of the borough’s landmark Williamsburgh Bank Building, has not been reduced in size. Three buildings along the Western end of Dean Street, across from low-rise brownstone-type buildings would be 322 feet, 428 feet, and 272 feet. The heights of the buildings in the project overall would range from 190 feet (approximately 19 stories) to 620 feet (approximately 60 stories), with 11 of 16 buildings over 300 feet.

“Nothing released today comes even close to making a meaningful change in the proposal’s overwhelming impacts and size, and does not respond at all to the communities’ concerns. In fact, the proposal shown today is 600,000 square feet larger than when unveiled in 2003. Forest City Ratner and its architect Frank Gehry pretend that they are working with and listening to the community. They must be living in a sound proof booth.” Goldstein concluded.

Posted by lumi at 7:59 PM

Gehry, Gehry Everywhere...

GehryatNight2.jpg The Real Estate Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

The big Forest City Ratner high-security press conference today produced little news but lots of images: fewer crooked buildings and more straight lines, more titanium siding and less Las Vegas.

That different sense of scale, of course, is a lot smaller than the type of bulding he has been commissioned to design here. He does make a few token gestures to fit into the borough, however, but they definitely are tokens. The main one is the "largest stoop in Brooklyn" at the point of Atlantic and Flatbush, in front of the arena.


NoLandGrab: Not so fast. Gehry may not be showing off the Las Vegas aspects of the arena, but they're still on the drawing board.

On April 10, Times architecture critic Nicholai Ourousoff (filling in for Charlie Rose) and Gehry discussed new signage technology to be used at the arena (transcript via Atlantic Yards Report):

NO: We're talking about a layering around the exterior, this is around the arena in Brooklyn, it starts to peel apart, where the advertising and the facades of the buildings start to blur.

FG: So it's not there sometimes and it's there sometimes. There's a little bit of it, and there's more of it. And it can be used for community issues, as well as advertising. It has a social function, if it's played right, it can be used for art... How do you make that--everybody's getting it, whether they like it or not, it's all over us.

NO: Meaning people will have to live with this, so the question is: what can you turn it into.

FG: If I look at what Peter Arnell and I are doing right now, they're baby steps. I really think we've got to get into the technology and see where really the root of it. Y'know, LED is little tiny things, they sit on black background--it's not pretty yet. How do you turn it into something--that's the trick. And maybe there's something other than LED.

Today's press conference didn't reveal the signage in store for Gehry's Atlantic Yards because the public backlash to "Viva Las Vegas" would has been overwhelming, but like many things in Gehryland, you're not supposed to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

On another note, we're not sure that Gehry's Urban Room "stoop" would actually be bigger than the current biggest stoop in Brooklyn, the new plaza/entrance at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Posted by lumi at 7:35 PM

And...Here's the View of Gehry Land from The Street: Big. Very Big.

FlatbushStMarksSmall.jpg Gowanus Lounge

Don't know about you, but this new rendition of Atlantic Yards as seen from Flatbush Avenue is a real, um, eye opener.

We will avoid the temptation to get into detailed analysis of Frank Gehry's redesign, the mass at immediate street level, etc. As one who is not averse to Gehry (and who actually finds the buidlings striking in some respects), GL would love the structures if they were in, say, Midtown.


Posted by lumi at 7:29 PM

Looking forward to this?

GheryModel3a.jpg OneHansonPlace.com notes that the aerial photo of the model makes Miss Brooklyn seem smaller than the blog's namesake.

Note the PC Richards/Modells site now has a very large Metrotech-like building on it.

And for some reason, with the Bank Condos in the forefront and is that the Atlantic Center in the back? It looks larger than it really is. Perhaps FCRC is trying to engage in some not-to-scale hijinks?


Posted by lumi at 7:10 PM

Gehry Slam

Wanna hear what others are saying about the project, or just need to vent?

Head on over to Brooklynian.com, "How much uglier can it be?", where they are taking an online poll and soliticting your comments.


Brownstoner.com is hosting a Gehry Slam in their comments section of this afternoon's post that simply showed the launch pad photo and asked, "So waddya think?" Even supporters of the project are disappointed.

And when you're done, make sure to write Marty with your critique of Gehryland, USA.

Posted by lumi at 6:45 PM

Ratner n Gehry Add New Defense To Atlantic Yards Plan



Bruce Ranter and Frank Gehry this morning released new images of their intentions for Atlantic Yards, and it looks like they have added a new defense to fight off criticism:

It seems to be some sort of catapult! or just loosely tethered 2 x 4's designed to collapse on critic's heads? They need a frenchman up there!

link in the "general direction"

NoLandGrab: We should probably leave the French out of this. We already have them to thank for the design of Grand Army Plaza, the most perplexing traffic puzzle in NYC that is NOT being studied in the Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Statement.

Posted by lumi at 6:22 PM

Frank Gehry Goes Plop in Brooklyn

The Gutter

But let us add this to the bitstream, overheard by a pal at the press conference: "They brought me a bunch of silver mesh one day and a couple of fake trees and I just went plop."


From Curbed Ratnerville Update: Frank Gehry's Latest Revealed

Kiss the hand of the 620-foot Miss/Ms. Brooklyn. Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Daniel Goldstein wins our quick-on-the-draw award, delivering the lacy Gehry goods above, just unveiled this morning.

Posted by lumi at 5:41 PM

Architect Frank Gehry Presents Designs For Atlantic Yards Project

ny1gehry.jpg NY1

Famed architect, Frank Gehry, says the borough inspires his vision for the area.

"We're trying to understand what is Brooklyn, what is the body language of Brooklyn and trying to emulate it without copying it,” said Gehry. “Copying it would trivialize it."


Posted by lumi at 5:33 PM

Street walls would be modest on Dean Street--well, part of Dean Street

deanstreetplan.gif Atlantic Yards Report ponders details released about the "street wall" along Dean Street, an adjustment to the plan meant to placate neighborhood critics.


Posted by lumi at 5:22 PM

Ground Control to Major Tom, Gehryland is Outta this World

2006_05_atlanticyardsgehry.jpeg The lost brochure photos were found at this morning's press conference which was closed to the community and bloggers alike.

The word is that Gehry Studios is striving to "emulate" the "body language of Brooklyn," which according to Gehry's latest renderings must be a gigantic launch pad.

OK seriously, we love "fabulous" architecture as much as the next guy, but images released at today's press conferenece leave a lot of outstanding questions:

Would all this glass and steel withstand the NYPD terrorism and security scrutiny that drastically altered the Freedom Tower?

How is this project smaller than originally announced? Yeah, Forest City Ratner made the project bigger in between the initial project announcement and the Final Scope, but the press doesn't fall for that stuff, right?

Was Gehry's press conference supposed to deflect attention from the public ridicule of last week's brochure, or was last week's brochure sent out to deflect attention from the public ridicule of this week's press conference?

And what about: * eminent domain, * MTA land going to the lowest (not highest) bidder, * taxpayer financing of stadiums and arenas for multi-millionaire team owners, * increased traffic and pollution, * an impending urban planning disaster, * and the fact that this project may be approved by an un-elected board?

The weird thing about the press conference is that the entire bunch must be drinking the same kool-aid. Otherwise, why would Forest City Ratner and their PR batallion think that Brooklynites and the press would fall for a plan that is somewhat smaller than previously announced, but bigger than the initial rollout, just because Frank Gehry has now wraped the tall buildings in his signature skins and has decided to share his thoughts and feelings on Brooklyn.

The NYC cultural elite isn't spellbound by Frank Gehry anymore, the press is getting tired of being played by the Ratner PR machine, and Brooklynites are frustrated that Ratner and his pet pols do not seem to be listening.

Posted by lumi at 4:34 PM

FCR bans journalist from Gehry press conference, invites "community"

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards Reporter Norman Oder was banned from the Forest City Ratner/Frank Gehry/ Laurie Olin press conference, which was open only to the mainstream media and handpicked members of the community.


Dope on the Slope on banning Oder from the press conference:

The only conceivable reason that Forest City Ratner would bar Norm Oder from today's carefully orchestrated PR event is that they know their boondoggle cannot stand up to detailed scrutiny. Exposing Frank Gehry to questions from someone who actually knows what they are talking about, rather than someone who has been spoonfed pablum from Ratner's flaks, might expose some inconvenient facts. These facts just might be overheard by the so-called "professional" journalists in attendance and actually get reported in the mainstream press. If this happens, these facts might cut through the fog of disinformation that Ratner is depending on to obscure this gargantuan boondoggle's invasion of brownstone Brooklyn.

As a serious journalist, Norm Oder would not stoop to name calling or finger wagging. Forutnately, I am unencumbered by such constraints. My response to Ratner's shut out of Mr. Oder is "shame on you, you lilly-livered blackguard."

Posted by lumi at 4:17 PM

TONIGHT: Democracy for NYC's Brooklyn Candidate Forum 

DFNYC.jpg Thurs., May 11, 7pm
Brown Memorial Baptist Church, 484 Washington Ave., Brooklyn

Join Democracy for NYC for an exciting candidate forum on Thursday, May 11 featuring three Brooklyn races including the only "open" congressional seat in NYC.

The 11th CD will be sending a new member to congress to represent us all. We will begin voting for the DFNYC endorsement after Thursday's forum and will keep mail in voting open until next Wednesday, May 17. All DFNYC voting members (including those who do not live in the district) are eligible to vote. Come hear from the candidates this Thursday and make an informed decision.

Directions: Take the C train to Clinton-Washington; get out at the Washington Ave. exit; cross Fulton St. and walk 1 block to the church

Brooklyn Democratic candidates (listed in alphabetical order) running for:

U.S. Congress in District 11:
(The current representative Major Owens is retiring so this is an "open seat.")
Carl Andrews, Yvette Clarke, Chris Owens, Nick Perry, David Yassky

State Senate in District 20:
Eric Adams, Anthony Alexis, Elizabeth King

State Assembly in District 57:
Bill Batson, Hakeem Jeffries

Visit the Democracy for NYC website for links to additional details about the candidates.

Posted by lumi at 10:11 AM


Monday May 22, 7:30 PM
Fifth Avenue Committee
621 DeGraw St. (@4th Ave.)

Hunter College Planning Studio students will present the results of their studies on Atlantic Yards: AY and City Policies; Demographic and Housing Trends; Security/Terrorism; Pedestrian Impacts; and Alternatives.

Posted by lumi at 7:36 AM

Some heft for the community: CBN retains consultant to run DEIS review

Atlantic Yards Report covers yesterday's announcement by the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods that it has hired a consultant to review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) — "expected to be issued in the next weeks or months" — and the local Community Boards' response to the release of the document that will likely be thousands of pages long.

The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN) has stepped forward and announced it has retained Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates (PPSA) to act as the lead consultant for a review of the DEIS. Last December, CBN issued a Request For Proposals to top environmental planning firms to help review the DEIS.

The response to the RFP brought forward dozens of firms and organizations, CBN said in a press release, and PPSA--the city’s largest independent planning firm--will coordinate those efforts. It's not clear whether the Community Boards will participate. While CBN has no official position on the Atlantic Yards project, given the job of responding to the environmental review, many of its member groups oppose the project, and the Community Boards may be wary of the association.

Then again, the CBs don't have the money to hire experts. Nor does the CBN--at least, not yet. "Our budget overall is somewhat in excess of $500,000," CBN's Jim Vogel told me. "We have positive indications for funding from both the City Council and the State Legislature, but we continue to hold our breath. Our consultants are aware of our budget and the somewhat tenuous funding position and are being very cooperative."


Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM


NY Press

You can't blame stargazer Steve McCauley for taking a snarky jab at "urban-planning luminaries as Jonathan Safran Foer and Rosie Perez" on the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Advisory Board. Either McCauley doesn't know the urban-planning and preservation luminaries on the Advisory Board list, or bashing glitteratti makes better copy.


Posted by lumi at 6:26 AM

Olympic Sites Become Topic Of Hot Debate

NY Sun
By David Lombino

Nearly a year since the Bloomberg administration’s Olympic dreams died, the legacy of its elaborate citywide development plan is a subject of debate. Advocates say the plans laid the groundwork for future growth, while critics charge the mayor was overeager and cost taxpayers.

The New York 2012 Olympics plan called for more than 20 venues to be built across the five boroughs, pairing sports like beach volleyball with the Brooklyn waterfront and whitewater kayaking with Flushing. Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement last week that the city would not pursue a 2016 Olympics bid signals that most of those planned venues will never come to fruition. Still, the administration is touting the Olympic legacy as a spur for some of the broad economic development that is occurring across the city.
The author of the Web site newyorkgames.org, Brian Hatch, an advocate of the Olympics who has been critical of the Bloomberg administration’s bid, said most of the development on or near the planned Olympics venues would have happened anyway in today’s booming development environment. Instead, he said, the administration’s rabid interest in the Olympic sites had a negative effect for taxpayers.

“The deals got better for the developer in most instances,” Mr. Hatch said.
[Julia] Vitullo-Martin pointed to Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project as an example of where Olympic dreams may have clouded [Deputy Mayor Dan] Doctoroff’s judgment. She called the project, which would have housed the gymnastics competition, “way too big, and way too subsidized.”


Posted by lumi at 6:13 AM

May 10, 2006


Architects to Discuss Plans for Atlantic Yards - the Residential and Commercial Development that Will Also be Home to the Nets Basketball Team

(Brooklyn, NY) - May 10, 2006 - Architect Frank Gehry and landscape architect Laurie Olin will discuss their work on the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn and present new images of the 22-acre project tomorrow, Thursday May 11 at 10 a.m. at the Atlantic Yards Information Center in the Atlantic Center shopping Center (625 Atlantic Avenue, 3 rd floor.)

Gehry and Olin will discuss overall design themes and the on-going design process. While they will share new images and plans, these are not final images and it is expected that they will continue to change throughout the public review and design process. The proposed 22-acre Atlantic Yards project that will be situated at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in Brooklyn will provide affordable and market rate housing and retail and commercial space as well as the new arena for Nets basketball team. (A disk with selected images will be available for distribution to members of the press.)

Please note that this press conference is open to reporters with valid press credentials. If you do not have press credentials, we require a request from the publication that you will be representing. The request on letterhead should be faxed to 212.981.5449.

What: Frank Gehry and Laurie Olin discuss Atlantic Yards Project for Brooklyn. Will present new design images of the 22-acre site, including newly designed buildings and the proposed arena that will become the home to the Nets.

When: Thursday, May 11, 2006 at 10:00 a.m.

Where: Atlantic Center Shopping Center (625 Atlantic Avenue, 3 rd floor)

(Subway: Take 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, to Atlantic Avenue or M, N, R, W to  Pacific Street.) 

(Best entrance located on Atlantic Ave. at S. Portland Ave beneath the Circuit City sign. Elevators just inside the door lead directly to the 3rd floor.)


Posted by lumi at 5:31 PM

Covering Ratner's brochure: why not treat it like campaign advertising?

KnickerbockerSKD.jpg Atlantic Yards Report makes the case that the three brochures that Forest City Ratner has sent to area residents constitute a political campaign. Heck, they even hired Knickerbocker SKD, an advertising/direct-mail firm that specializes in political campaigns.

In political campaigns, however, newspapers have learned they must evaluate political advertising--to not rely on critics or political opponents but to use basic journalistic practices and check claims against the record. Other press outlets do it too and the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania offers the Annenberg Political Fact Check for regular nonpartisan analysis.

Last summer, for example, the Times twice analyzed ads produced by KnickerbockerSKD for Morganthau's campaign.
Forest City Ratner's campaign deserves no less scrutiny. Outside the blogosphere, the Brooklyn Papers' Kuntzman has been the only journalist to take a look.


NoLandGrab: Besides the issue brought up by Atlantic Yards Report, two questions come to mind:

1. If these two local Forest City Ratner project proposals are such great ideas, then why do they need a political-style PR campaign?

2. If Forest City Ratner has millions of dollars to spend on PR, then why do their projects require government subsidies above those that are "as of right?"

Posted by lumi at 4:48 PM

Why is this woman smiling?

smiling.jpg Field of Schemes reporter Neil DeMause's second round of comments on the three brochures Ratner sent his household:

Not only did New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner's new glossy brochure depict an arena as an open field - it's apparently supposed to be a private roof garden, but you tell me - but it managed to use an arena opponent as one of its cover girls.


Posted by lumi at 4:39 PM

Jobs at Atlantic Yards: from "created" to "provided" to [blank]

Atlantic Yards Report charts Ratner's rhetorical retreat on jobs from "jobs created" to "jobs provided" to just "jobs."

Watching the watchdog: This post marks Norman Oder's all-time record for brevity.

Posted by lumi at 4:33 PM

Forest City Ratner Press Conference Unveiling New Gehry Plans

10 AM
FCR's Atlantic Center Mall "exhibition" office (above Pay/Half).

NoLandGrab: If Forest City Ratner's recent 12-page booklet is any indication, the "new" Gehry plans will be radically different, having replaced the arena with a meadow and the towers with Brownstones.

Posted by lumi at 4:09 PM


Community Organizations Join Together to Participate in the Environmental Review of the proposed Atlantic Yards project

The COUNCIL OF BROOKLYN NEIGHBORHOODS (“CBN”) today announced they have retained  Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates to act as the lead consultant coordinating the CBN review of the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) currently being prepared on behalf of the Empire State Development Agency, the New York State agency charged with the environmental review.

In December 2005, CBN issued a Request For Proposals to  top environmental planning firms to assist in the review of the DEIS, which is expected to be extremely technical and thousands of pages long. CBN recognized early on that the communities would require expert assistance to ensure effective public participation in the review process. The response to the RFP brought forward dozens of firms and organizations anxious to assist CBN in accomplishing its sole purpose. PPSA will be coordinating the efforts of this impressive team of experts.

John Shapiro of PPSA described the challenge:

"This job is about making a complex project understood by the people most affected by it, and thus allowing THEM to be the best advocates for their own interests and concerns -- whether that is in support, opposition or simply expressions of concern.. I have worked on a number of large-scale projects, but I can't think of any that has a larger impact on my home borough than this."

"We are excited about the brain power and talent that is engaged on this. Pratt Center is the original advocacy technical assistant for neighborhood groups; the newly created Hunter Center; the Simulation Center, the Project for Public Spaces, the City College Center, individual experts on the team with extensive knowledge of Brooklyn neighborhoods, and other team members are all the best at their particular disciplines. Plus there is a wealth of talent lodged in the CBN membership, including architects, planners, engineers, computer simulators, and more. Our challenge will be how to best organize and tap this talent."

Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, New York City’s largest independent planning firm, is a planning and real estate consulting firm based in New York City with offices in central New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Founded in 1968, the firm specializes in zoning and land use regulation, real estate advisory services, market and feasibility analyses, comprehensive and community planning and expert testimony. Its expertise is in zoning and economic development; and its portfolio of work is regional, not local. The firm’s work has earned many awards, including the nation’s top planning award for advocacy planning for five South Bronx community development corporations.

The COUNCIL OF BROOKLYN NEIGHBORHOODS is a coalition of recognized diverse community groups active in Community Boards 2, 3, 6, and 8. CBN is comprised of 40 community organizations that have joined together to ensure meaningful community participation in the environmental review of the proposed Atlantic Yards development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. As a group, CBN has experience in civic advocacy, transportation planning, neighborhood preservation, urban planning, the development of affordable housing, safety and security improvement, quality of life promotion, and business development. CBN’s collective background enables them to represent the concerns of the area communities.

For more information please contact CBN at 718-408-3219 or via email at cbrooklynneighborhoods@hotmail.com.

Posted by lumi at 2:50 PM

An Amazing Technical Feat of Illusion

OlinSlideshow08-sm.gif Now that Brooklyn Views mentions it, this image (click to enlarge) from the Laurie Olin slideshow (5.3MB) on AtlanticYards.com is part of Forest City Ratner's PR strategy of hoping that Brooklynites won't notice the forest of buildings through the trees.

By glossing over the inconvenient reality of sight lines, and in an attempt to make the landscaped areas seem larger than they could really be, a natural park-like setting replete with waterfalls and forest is superimposed on the base of a proposed tower.

NoLandGrab: Is Brooklyn Views saying you CAN'T have highrises and trees in the same spot?

BV's latest post also covers the promotional booklet, the program for the arena and the case of open space.


Posted by lumi at 10:14 AM

Farewell to Jane Jacobs (and to Williamsburg, too)

The Brooklyn Rail salutes Jane Jacobs by letting her speak for herself.


Ed.’s note: In one of the final written statements about urban planning, the legendary Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) commented on the future of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront. Last May, the Bloomberg administration and the city council rezoned the waterfront, providing for high-rise towers on the waterfront and a privately built waterfront esplanade, with some affordable housing to be built in Bushwick. Jacobs’ contrasts the local community’s plan for the area versus the developer-friendly rezoning that ultimately prevailed.

Jane Jacobs to NYC Mayor Bloomberg and NYC Council:

But the proposal put before you by city staff is an ambush containing all those destructive consequences, packaged very sneakily with visually tiresome, unimaginative and imitative luxury project towers. How weird, and how sad, that New York, which has demonstrated successes enlightening to so much of the world, seems unable to learn lessons it needs for itself. I will make two predictions with utter confidence. 1. If you follow the community’s plan you will harvest a success. 2. If you follow the proposal before you today, you will maybe enrich a few heedless and ignorant developers, but at the cost of an ugly and intractable mistake. Even the presumed beneficiaries of this misuse of governmental powers, the developers and financiers of luxury towers, may not benefit; misused environments are not good long-term economic bets.

Come on, do the right thing. The community really does know best.


Posted by lumi at 9:53 AM

Rhetoric check: the use and misuse of "Atlantic Yards"

AtlanticYards.jpg Atlantic Yards Report points out that "Atlantic Yards" is not an actual place, it's the name of Forest City Ratner's proposed project and a brand extension of Ratner's Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls.

Local officials and reporters, encouraged by the developer, have used terms like "at the Atlantic Yards" or "on the Atlantic Yards," without explaining that it's a proposed development site.

These seemingly minor errors serve Forest City Ratner's interest. They falsely conflate the developer's commercial branding--a project called Atlantic Yards--with a much smaller piece of publicly-owned land.


Posted by lumi at 8:53 AM

CB6 analysis of Draft and Final Scope

Comparison of Brooklyn CB6 Comments on the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Project’s Draft Scope of Analysis (issued 9/16/05) with the Actual Final Scope of Analysis (issued 3/31/06)


This document is not an exhaustive comparison of the differences between the Draft Scope of Analysis (9/16/05) with the Final Scope of Analysis (3/31/06). There are many differences between these two documents beginning with the description of the proposed project itself.
This document is simply an analysis of the changes between the Draft Scope and the Final Scope as compared to the October 28, 2005 comments submitted by Brooklyn Community Board 6 on the Draft Scope, which are preserved throughout the document.

Interest parties are encouraged to review the Final Scope of Analysis document for themselveswhich is available online at: http://www.nylovesbiz.com/popup/features.asp?id=41

Click here to download the CB6 analysis.

Posted by lumi at 7:55 AM

May 9, 2006

President Stuckey
Atlantic Yards, GEHRYLAND, USA

JimStuckey01.jpgMatthew Schuerman is reporting on The Real Estate Observer that Forest City Ratner Executive VP Jim Stuckey has been promoted to President of the Atlantic Yards Development Group.

Stuckey has been the de facto Project Manager for the $3.5-billion Atlantic Yards project.


NoLandGrab: Is this a febrile attempt to generate some positive news for Forest City Ratner, since the past week has seen a serious on-site accident at their Times Tower construction site, a major setback in their Yonkers Ridge Hill project, the announcement of DDDB's Advisory Board, a pointed wrist slap from Community Boards 2, 6, & 8 and an amusing backlash to their most recent publicity flier?

Or, are Stuckey's fortunes actually tied to the success or failure of this project?

Posted by lumi at 9:34 PM


In a caustic name-calling column, Andrea Peyser goes on the attack against the DDDB Advisory Board:

The ninnies who condescend to spend millions to buy up the greenest, priciest sections of Brooklyn - and constantly boast about their "edgy" lifestyle - are banding together to make sure nothing grows here. Ever.
If only one of these guys came up with a better plan.


NoLandGrab: The column hardly deserves a response except to say that Atlantic Yards critics have been advocating all along for more neighborhood-friendly alternatives that promote jobs, affordable housing and do not rely upon eminent domain to force people from their homes.

FYI: Peyser is on record in her support of the plan. Atlantic Yards Report cites:

A 4/12/04 New York Post column by Andrea Peyser, headlined "NETS' ARENA WILL 'WORK' WONDERS," began: The naysayers, whiners and professional "no" people will whine and say nay. But I offer 10,000 incontrovertible reasons why the planned Nets basketball arena in Downtown Brooklyn is not just a good idea, but a crucial one: Ten-thousand jobs.

Has Peyser's support waned now that Forest City Ratner has cut their still-inflated jobs claims to eliminate 4,000 of Peyser's "incontrovertible reasons?"

Posted by lumi at 8:44 AM

Ratner courting Brooklyn support

NY Daily News
By Michael O'Keefe Richard Lipsky

Bruce Ratner's proposed $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards may face vociferous opposition across Brooklyn, but the borough's amateur sports community is in the Nets owner's corner, especially after Forest City Ratner began sponsoring local basketball events and asked local athletic organizations to draw up a wish list of programs and facilities. Ratner will formalize that relationship this summer with the creation of the Brooklyn Amateur Sports Alliance, a Forest City Ratner-funded organization that will help promote youth basketball and other sports in the borough. Richard Lipsky, the lobbyist hired by Forest City Ratner to reach out to the borough's sports programs, has scheduled a May 30 meeting with Brooklyn sports officials to lay the groundwork for the BASA.

The article continues with a reminder of another organization that was funded by Forest City Ratner.

full article on iTeam blog

NoLandGrab: Richard Lipsky is a lobbyist who built his reputation uncovering the negative impacts to the community of large-scale developments containing national chains and box stores. Could it be that Ratner hired Lipsky to eliminate a potentially powerful voice against the project?

Ratner has also hired "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz and Andrew Zimbalist, other prominent experts who typically would voice concerns over traffic-generating billion-dollar boondoggles like Atlantic Yards.

Posted by lumi at 8:09 AM

California Town Uses Eminent Domain To Block Wal-Mart

NY Sun
By Josh Gerstein

America’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, already besieged by anti-globalization protests, discrimination lawsuits, and critical documentaries, now faces a new threat: the use of eminent domain powers to seize its real estate.

Wal-Mart opponents in Hercules, Calif., a small city 20 miles north of Oakland, have persuaded local officials to begin eminent domain proceedings to take possession of a 17-acre parcel that the company hoped to develop into a new store.

“The city is being very brave,” a Hercules resident who supports the effort to drive Wal-Mart off the land, Jeffra Cook, told The New York Sun. “It is a big fight. It’s a brave step.”

The attempted land seizure is a kind of turnabout for Wal-Mart, which has repeatedly encouraged other local governments to pursue eminent domain takings to clear the large lots the company needs for its stores.

The typical staunch-Conservative/Libertarian response:

A spokesman for a national group critical of eminent domain takings, the Castle Coalition, said seizing the property from Wal-Mart would be wrong if the city is simply planning to hand the land over to another developer.“If they do intend to transfer it to another private owner,it’s an abuse like any other,” the spokesman, Steven Anderson, said. “It doesn’t matter whether Wal-Mart may have benefited from eminent domain in other situations.”

The all-too-typical Progressive/Liberal response:

An official with the local branch of the Sierra Club, Michael Daley, said he had no qualms about invoking eminent domain to block Wal-Mart. “In a lot of cases, we would be appalled by what happens with eminent domain,” he said. “This seems like a last resort, but of course when you’re dealing with Wal-Mart, it’s no surprise you need the last resort.”


NoLandGrab: Local governments deciding which private retailer serves the public good is an example of the Kelo decision run amok. Since Hercules isn't planning on building a public park or trying to change the zoning, one can only assume that they town wants to give the land to another company.

We point out the difference between the extremes of the political spectrum to illustrate why liberals tend to consider eminent domain on a case-by-case basis, but generally oppose its use when low-income homeowners are the victims of government takings.

Conservatives whose sympathies lie with big business will frequently keep mum on the topic, which leaves Libertarians like the Castle Coalition to spearhead the movement for eminent domain reform.

Posted by lumi at 7:56 AM

The Influentials: Real Estate

The Neighborhood Changers
Building, blocking, brokering, they’re transforming the city piece by piece.

NY Magazine

Bruce Ratner, Forest City Ratner
When he’s finished replacing 22 acres of brownstone Brooklyn with the Atlantic Yards project, the borough will never be the same.


NoLandGrab: In the interest of fairness, the project is over 8 acres of railyards. The rest is a mixed-use commercial/residential neighborhood nestled in Brownstone Brooklyn, which would receive the brunt of the environnmental impacts from the project.

Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

Ratner's Full-Court Press

The Real Estate Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

Forest City Ratner's Executive Vice President Jim Stuckey got promoted today to President of the Atlantic Yards Development Group. The new title means he will continue to see through other commercial projects but not take on development of new ones, devoting more time to the 22-acre controversy in Brooklyn. Pipeline work will go to MaryAnne Gilmartin, newly anointed Executive Vice President for Commercial and Residential Development, who has been in charge of the new New York Times headquarters, among other deals.


Posted by lumi at 6:59 AM

Atlantic Yards Report: Two for Tuesday

existingconditions.jpgCB6 confronts the ESDC's dis; how to respond to an inadequate scope?

The Community Boards (CBs) were dissed; Stuckey is pissed; and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is just around the corner.

What are the CBs' next steps? How can CBs be effective when the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) has a track record of failing to address their submitted comments? Will an invitation by the ESDC to serve on a "Community Advisory Committee" make a difference?

Viewing the AY site from above--and a Marty encounter
Norman Oder visits the observation deck of One Hanson Place at the Fort Greene House Tour. A chance encounter with Marty Markowtiz gives him the opportunity to ask a few follow-up questions.

When I asked him why he declared that the brochure was "another step in familiarizing Brooklynites with the details of the project," he said that only people concerned with policy like me would be upset with the omissions. (Well, the omissions were huge: not just the towers but the failure to acknowledge that the project has just begun the environmental review process.)

Posted by lumi at 6:47 AM

May 8, 2006

"Ratner is public enemy number one at my house"

RatnerPosterGirl.jpg The iTeam Blog, (NY Daily News Sports Investigative Team), Ratner Foe Ends Up in Atlantic Yards Brochure

“Ratner is public enemy number one at my house,” says T Sahara Meer, whose Prospect Heights home has a “Stop Eminent Domain Abuse” in the window. “This makes me really want to fight harder against Ratner. I have to redeem myself.”

Meer wound up on Ratner’s brochure by accident: An acquaintance who works as a photographer asked the actress, writer and Web designer to pose in Prospect Park for some photos that would later be sold to a stock photo agency. Meer said she was between gigs and needed the money, so she accepted the job. “I thought the worse thing that would have happened is that I’d wind up on a herpes brochure,” Meer says. “But that would have been preferable. When I learned I was on the Ratner brochure, I was nauseated.”

Josh Isay, president of KnickerbockerSKD, the political communications firm that designed the brochure, says his company didn’t know it had selected a photo of an anti-Ratner activist. “Like all advertising firms, we use stock images like this one in our advertising, purchased from stock photography agencies,” Isay says. “We have no contact with any stock photograph subjects. The model in question agreed to have her picture used for any and all purposes and she is paid for doing so. We will not use this image in any further materials.”

Curbed.com, Ratner Model Calls Experience "Nightmarish"

We hesitate to appear to be jumping on a bandwagon, given the attention garnered by the celebrity studed anti-Atlantic Yards advisory board, but Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards marketing material that went out last week seems to have stirred up multiple cauldrons of, um, opposition.

Posted by lumi at 9:06 PM

More from the blogosphere on DDDb advisory board

The iTeam Blog, (NY Daily News Sports Investigative Team), Ratner's Heavyweight Opponents

If the battle over Bruce Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards was decided by star power, the Nets owner wouldn't stand much of a chance.

Blogcritics.org, Celebs Oppose Brooklyn Development Containing Nets Stadium

Aside from calling the "arena" a "stadium," blogger Jon Sobel understands what the project is about:

A group of prominent actors and writers, including Heath Ledger, Steve Buscemi, and Jonathan Lethem, is lending star power to a neighborhood movement opposing the Frank Gehry-designed Brooklyn development that would include a stadium for the National Basketball Association's Nets.

Although the stadium gets the most attention, it is only a small corner of developer Bruce Ratner's plan, which would essentially drop a whole new city of high-rises into the midst of established, low-rise Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Posted by lumi at 8:44 PM

Zanes not singing Ratner's tune

NY Daily News, The Score
By Eric Barrow

Bruce Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards already faces plenty of opposition in Brooklyn, but now a whole new generation is being primed to fight against his $3.5 billion development.

Dan Zanes has jumped into the fight.

Aging hipsters remember Zanes as the lead singer of the Del Fuegos, the '80s roots rock band, but these days the Cobble Hill resident speaks to a much younger audience: their kids. Zanes, a leading act on the burgeoning children's music scene, fears Ratner's monster project will destroy the neighborhoods that make Brooklyn special.

"I met more people in the first six weeks I lived in Brooklyn than I met living seven years in the West Village," says Zanes, whose latest album, "Catch That Train," includes "Wander in the Summer Wind," an ode to Kane Street, the F train and hanging out in Prospect Park. "I sit on my stoop and play my mandolin and the neighbors stop by, and I'm in paradise. That is something we can't take for granted."

Zanes will play a June 3 benefit at Brooklyn's Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, the coalition of groups opposed to Ratner's development.

"He's just a developer and he's just doing what real estate developers do," Zanes says. "Developers want to build as far and wide as they can, and they want to do it without public scrutiny. The enemy is public indifference and a lack of information. So much good can come out of a community fight like this because it gets people involved."

Posted by lumi at 8:35 PM

Celebs join Ratner foes

Actors, writers backing effort to block arena

NY Daily News
By Elizabeth Hays

Opponents of Bruce Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards Nets arena complex are getting out the star power.

"Brokeback Mountain" star Heath Ledger and actor Steve Buscemi from "Fargo" and "The Sopranos" have joined a new advisory board formed to battle the controversial project, which would bring 17 high-rise residential and office towers to Atlantic and Flatbush Aves.

The 33-member board also includes prominent Brooklyn-based writers, artists and preservationists who argue the project is too big for Brooklyn and will swamp the surrounding area with traffic.


More coverage:
Metro NY, Stars team up to stop Nets arena in Brooklyn

From the blogosphere:
The Real Estate Observer, Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams: We Hate Ratnerville!
Curbed.com, Stars of Brooklyn Unite Against Ratner, for Wedding Bells?
The Gutter, Ledger: I Wish I Could Quit You, Ratner
Brownstoner, DDDB Signs On Brooklyn Star Power for AY Fight
Gawker, Celebrity Brooklynites Unite to Save Their Borough
Field of Schemes, Celebs join Nets fight

Posted by lumi at 12:00 PM

Marty snubs DDDb at CBID

MartyCBIDAd.jpg Was it a printer error or sour grapes when Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's ad in the program for last night's Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats Annual Dinner congratulated all award recipients except for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDb)?

Markowitz was spotted outside the Montauk Club, but in a move uncharacteristic for Mr. "Hello Brooklyn," he never joined the cadre of local pols who made an appearance or attended the dinner.

The awardees, Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights, South Park Slope Community Group, Park Slope Neighbors and DDDb, were all commended for their local battles to promote smart development in Brooklyn and to preserve the integrity of our neighborhoods.

Markowitz is fond of reminding Brooklynites that people of goodwill can disagree, so we'll chalk this one up to a simple oversight.

Posted by lumi at 11:40 AM

Yassky strategy

Yassky-DailyNews.jpg Kicks off 11th C.D. run with rainbow of support

NY Daily News
By Jotham Sederstrom

When City Councilman David Yassky formally announces his run to represent the 11th Congressional District today, he'll roll out a rainbow coalition of supporters to deflect "colonizer" accusations.

Black, white, Jewish and Pakistani leaders plan to bless Yassky's controversial campaign at the Wyckoff Houses today, the Daily News has learned.


NoLandGrab: Sederstrom's article does not cover the fact that three out of the four African-American Yassky supporters listed in the article are signatories to Bruce Ratner's Community Benenfits Agreement: James Caldwell, Charlene Nimmons and Freddie Hamilton.

Councilmember Yassky has staked out a careful position on Atlantic Yards by straddling the issue — he supports the project, but is concerned about traffic and scale. Today's announcement will add another question to the depth of Yassky's concern for the environmental impacts of the project.

It's an interesting political calculation. Today's announcement has the potential of turning away voters in Yassky's current City Council district who are concerned with his alignment with Bruce Ratner supporters.

Will Ratner's community crew pull in enough votes in the African-American community for Yassky to offset votes from constituents who may now pull the lever for Atlantic Yards opponent Chris Owens?

Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

DDDB's new advisory board, Jane Jacobs, & "angry blogs"

Atlantic Yards Report reviews New York Magazine's coverage and the potential effects of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Advisory Board.


Posted by lumi at 8:22 AM

E-mailer Fighting Ratner Suit Over Fake Missive Battles for Anonymity

The NY Sun

An e-mailer who has been sued by the developer Bruce Ratner is fighting in court to preserve his anonymity.

Nearly two months ago, Mr. Ratner filed a federal lawsuit against an emailer who pretended to be Mr. Ratner in an e-mail regarding the Atlantic Yards Development Project. The lawsuit claimed the message was intended to undermine public support for Mr. Ratner’s project, which has drawn opposition from some residents near downtown Brooklyn.

Mr. Ratner’s attorneys have subpoenaed the Internet service provider Earthlink, demanding that it identify the person who sent the e-mail.

In papers filed last month in federal court in Atlanta, where Earthlink’s legal division operates, a lawyer for the e-mailer opposed the subpoena.


Posted by lumi at 8:09 AM


dgflier-full.gif We can still hear the tittering coming from Bruce Ratner's offices in Downtown Brooklyn. Today's joke is on Dan Goldstein, spokesperson for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

While Dan sits around waiting for an eminent domain eviction notice, he can peruse his own personal copy of the glossy four-color 12-page brochure promoting the project that seeks to kick him out of his Pacific Street residence.

Included in the info-sational brochure is a mail-in card, on which Dan can check off all the things he likes about the project. Or, he could just tape the card to a brick and drop it off at the post office, since Ratner is responsible for all postage costs.

Posted by lumi at 7:36 AM

This week in stadia

Bruce Ratner sent Neil DeMause three pamphlets last week because he really wanted to make sure that the Field of Schemes author was paying attention to the happy Brooklynites and brownstones in "Atlantic Yards":

The latest bulk mailer to Brooklyn residents from New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner - my house, incidentally, got three copies - includes a new twist on selling an arena plan to residents: In overhead renderings, the arena itself is now disguised as an open field of grass. (To see what it would actually look like from ground level, visit the fabulous onNYTurf.com.) The chairs of three local community boards, meanwhile, issued a public letter to Ratner charging that the brochure falsely implies the boards were involved in crafting his "community benefits" plan, and requesting that "you discontinue all mention, in any form, of our participation." Maybe Ratner's designers could photoshop in a field of grass instead.


Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

Yonkers groups want to share in prosperity

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

With several billion dollars worth of development planned in the city [of Yonkers], minority business leaders who have long lived and worked in communities targeted for renewal are increasingly demanding that they be able to share in the lucrative construction and service contracts that come with it.

The article mentions Forest City Ratner's controversial Community Benefits Agreement for Atlantic Yards.

Though local developers tout their jobs programs and their own record of hiring women- and minority-owned contractors:

Critics say community benefit agreements are a part of the political process of winning support for projects that alter the economic landscape of a community and could ultimately drive some of its residents away.


Posted by lumi at 7:00 AM

A Question for Bruce Ratner Supporters: What About the Lies and Corruption?

Daily Gotham

Mole333 reviews his coverage of Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards proposal and reacts to the "pamphlet of lies":

Come on folks! How can we trust a man who deals in secret, is corruptly connected with state and local agencies and politicians, and who outright lies to the entire community?


Posted by lumi at 6:51 AM

May 7, 2006

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Announces Formation of Advisory Board

Brooklynites Including Rosie Perez, Steve Buscemi, Jonathan Lethem, Heath Ledger, Jhumpa Lahiri, David Salle, Dan Zanes, Nelson George, Congressman Major Owens and Supreme Court Eminent Domain Lead Plaintiff Susette Kelo Join the Fight Against Bruce Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" Behemoth and For Sensible, Democratic Development

BROOKLYN, NY – Question: What do Brooklyn residents such as author Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude), actor and filmmaker Steve Buscemi (Fargo, The Sopranos), actors Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain), actor Rosie Perez (Do the Right Thing, Lackawanna Blues), artist David Salle, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake), musician Dan Zanes, filmmaker and critic Nelson George (Everyday People), author Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything Is Illuminated), activist and radio personality Bob Law, and Congressman Major Owens know about Bruce Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" development proposal that has compelled them to lend their names and support to the fight against it–and for democratic, sensible, sustainable, and community-based development?

Answer: That "Atlantic Yards", the largest single-source development proposal in the history of New York City, would cost taxpayers at least $1.6 billion; with 16 high-rise towers and a 20,000 seat sports arena the project is wholly out of scale and character with the historic, low-rise residential communities that surround it; has no local legislative oversight or genuine community input; would create a traffic nightmare at Brooklyn's crossroads of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues; relies on an unconstitutional use and abuse of eminent domain; and places the greed and profit of one wealthy developer above the real needs of the communities it would effect.

After more than two years of advocating for community-based planning' accountable and transparent processes, sustainable and contextual development, and fighting against Forest City Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" proposal, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) today announced the formation of its Advisory Board. The board is comprised of 33 prominent individuals–predominantly New Yorkers and Brooklynites–from diverse fields and areas of expertise, including the heroic lead plaintiff in the lightning-rod Supreme Court eminent domain case, Susette Kelo.

The Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Advisory Board members are:

Mr. Pheeroan akLaffMusician
Ms. Jo Andres Artist
Mr. Marshall BrownProfessor of Architecture
Mr. Steve Buscemi Actor, Filmmaker
Reverend Dennis DillonChief Executive Minister, The Brooklyn Christian Center
Reverend David DysonPastor, Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church
Ms. Jennifer EganAuthor and Journalist
Mr. Sean ElderProfessor and Journalist
Mr. Jonathan Safran FoerAuthor
Ms. Marian FontanaFounder, 9/11 Widows and Victim Family Association
Dr. Mindy FulliloveAuthor and Professor
Mr. Peter GalassiMuseum Curator
Mr. Nelson GeorgeWriter, Filmmaker and Cultural Critic
Ms. Christabel GoughPreservationist
Ms. Sheri HolmanAuthor
Ms. Susette KeloHomeowner, Lead Plaintiff in Kelo v. City of New London
Ms. Nicole KraussAuthor
Mr. Clem LabineEntrepreneur and Preservationist
Ms. Jhumpa LahiriAuthor
Mr. Bob LawEntrepreneur and Community Activist
Mr. Heath LedgerActor
Mr. Jonathan LethemAuthor
Mr. Francis MorroneAuthor and Literary Historian
Ms. Peggy NorthropEditor, More Magazine
Ms. Evelyn OrtnerPreservationist
The Honorable Major OwensUnited States Congressman
Ms. Rosie PerezActor
Mr. David SalleArtist
Mr. Robert SullivanAuthor
Ms. Michelle WilliamsActor
Ms. Martha WilsonArtist and Founding Director, Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.
Mr. Dan ZanesMusician
Mr. David ZirinSports Commentator

DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "Ratner's ‘Atlantic Yards' proposal is the largest single-source development proposal in the history of New York City. Such a massive scheme, with its multitude of controversies, enormous public cost, potential impacts and ramifications, deserves much greater scrutiny from our elected representatives, from the press, and from the public. The astounding diversity and prominence of the members of our Advisory Board is conclusive evidence of deeply important issues at stake and of the strength and breadth of the opposition to Ratner's undemocratic, destructive and costly plan. Mr. Ratner and his political supporters wish to marginalize us, but with the formation of our Board it is clear that the opposition is bigger and stronger than ever."

"Our DDDB Advisory Board members were recruited because they predominantly hail from or reside now in Brooklyn.  They respect and appreciate the Brooklyn that we do, and have chosen to join with us and the community so that our collective voices resonate even more clearly in the cacophony," said DDDB President Eric Reschke.

"We are very concerned about the scale and scope of Ratner's 'Atlantic Yards' proposal. The lack of transparency, the absence of genuine community input, and the bypassing of political oversight is very troubling. We are proud to join and support the work of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn in the struggle they are leading to protect our communities from proposed overdevelopment and in their advocacy for sensible, community-friendly development that can work for all of us."
­ Jo Andres, Artist and Steve Buscemi, Actor and Filmmaker

"Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff is our new Robert Moses, the unelected destroyer of neighborhoods, the man who gets his way through eminent domain and public authorities. But who is our new Jane Jacobs? Will it be citizen groups like Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn?"
­ Christabel Gough, Preservationist

"To my mind Ratner's plan does not respect what is unique, inherent and crucial to Brooklyn's landscape and history. The ‘Atlantic Yards' proposal is completely out of character with the existing scale and mocks Brooklyn's beautiful diverse cultures. His vision will increase traffic, pollution and asthma. My husband Heath and I moved to Brooklyn for light and space and air. If Mr. Ratner lived here he would understand what we love about it and why we want to preserve our open skies."
– Michelle Williams, Actor

"As a firefighter widow, we cannot overlook the myriad issues concerning the safety and security of the Ratner project.  Not only have skyscrapers been proven unsafe, but terrorism preparedness is a key issue the development review process has not addressed.  In the past two years, numerous firehouses have been closed in the area surrounding the 'Atlantic Yards' site, increasing response times and overwhelming an already depleted fire department."
­ Marian Fontana, Author and Activist

"Ratner's plan doesn't belong in Fort Greene. It suffers from gigantism and would cast a long shadow over our community. This is a vibrant, historic neighborhood that has been steadily growing and improving from within; the last thing it needs is to be so radically altered in the name of development."
­ Jhumpa Lahiri, Author

"I've lived in Fort Greene over twenty years and seen it pull itself up out of the hole red-lining banks and crack dealers put the neighborhood in. It has grown and matured into one of the most attractive communities in the city. The ‘Atlantic Yards' development would not only destroy Fort Greene's progress, but put a big, sun-blocking, traffic-clogging, subway station-taxing boondoggle amid the beauty of brownstone Brooklyn. It won't benefit the current residents or enhance the quality of life in the area. This is a Trump-sized mistake in a borough that doesn't need or deserve 'development‘ like this."
­ Nelson George, Writer, Filmmaker & Cultural Critic

"The fact that this proposal has proceeded as far as it has without adequate public debate or vote is just an obscene abuse of power."
­ David Salle, Artist

"I have signed on to help in the efforts of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn to fight Forest City Ratner's over-development plan for the ‘Atlantic Yards' project in Brooklyn. The project is an urban planning disaster and should be stopped in its tracks. For the longest time I wasn't paying enough attention to this situation. I thought that it was far enough away from my house that it wouldn't affect me to any great degree. I thought that it was inevitable. I was completely wrong on both counts!! This is a critical time for those of us who live in Brooklyn to become engaged. Sixteen skyscrapers and a sports arena is more than our communities can handle, but this plan can be defeated!"
­ Dan Zanes, Children's and Family Musician, International Pop Star

"Sports is supposed to be most fundamentally about fair play. The Ratner stadium ploy is not fair play for the people of Brooklyn, but a battle of power and money against the will of a proud people. Whatever side wins will say a great deal about the future of Brooklyn and the entire city of New York."
­ Dave Zirin, Sports Commentator

"Development that is out-of-scale, conceived without public input, and built for the well-to-do threatens the health and well-being of the neighborhood and the city.  The Atlantic Yards development is such a project.  We must go back to the drawing boards in order to protect the citizens of New York."
­ Dr. Mindy Fullilove, Author and Professor

"The work and mission of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn is truly commendable and worthy of support and validation. Where injustices exist, the voices of reason and "rightness" must seek to rise above the chatter. DDDB is one such voice that shouts with clarity and the kind of integrity and potency that must drown the billowing public relations noises of a developer and government leaders dead set on misleading our community, distorting objections and derailing the very keen government system established to embrace equitable development."
­ Reverend Dennis Dillon, Chief Executive Minister, The Brooklyn Christian Center

"New development at the Atlantic Yards must serve the people and culture that have made downtown Brooklyn the world-class location that it is today. Instead of selling out for short-term profit, development at the Atlantic Yards should be an investment for the long term."
­ Marshall Brown, Architecture Professor and Lead Architect on the UNITY Community Development Plan

Children's/family music icon Dan Zanes, in a rare Brooklyn performance, will headline a benefit concert for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn on June 3rd, at 11 AM, at Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church, 144 St. Felix Street at Hanson Place, Brooklyn. Tickets can be purchased online at www.dddb.net (TicketWeb) and can be bought on the day of the event. Tickets: $12 for children (13 and under), $15 for adults. All ages welcome, babies in arms enter free. Doors will open at 10:15 AM.

DEVELOP DON’T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them.
We oppose Forest City Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
Over 5,000 members.


Posted by amy at 10:57 AM

Can Heath Ledger Save Bklyn? Or can Buscemi?


New York finds a gaggle of celebrities supporting Develop Don't Destroy:

Since angry blogs haven’t managed to derail Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards complex, maybe celebrities will. Last week, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn created an advisory board of boldfacers. New recruit Steve Buscemi got right on the phone and was right on message, declaring, “The lack of transparency, the absence of genuine community input, and the bypassing of political oversight is very troubling.” DDDB activist Francis Morrone hopes celebs like Rosie Perez and Jonathan Safran Foer can affect the “significant segment of elite cultural opinion which thinks that this development is perfectly all right and that the people who are opposing it are a bunch of cranks who are stuck in the Jane Jacobs era.” Interestingly, the celebs sound positively Jacobean in their concerns. “The Atlantic Center Mall, which Ratner built, is such an aesthetic and functional horror,” declares David Salle. The new project is “out of scale and out of step with the neighborhood it’s going to overwhelm,” says Jonathan Lethem. Michelle Williams says she and husband Heath Ledger “moved here for light, space, and air. If Mr. Ratner lived here, he would understand what we love about it and why we want to preserve our open skies.”


Posted by amy at 9:49 AM

Spitzer Praises Robert Moses, Cross Harbor

In the wake of Jane Jacob's death, some politicians quoted her or paid tribute to her ideas. Spitzer chooses to celebrate Robert Moses instead. New York Sun:

Spitzer praised Robert Moses and said another biography of the master planner could be titled "At least he got it built." [updated]

Spitzer supports the Cross Harbor Tunnel, which is opposed by Mike Bloomberg and activists in Brooklyn and Queens.


Posted by amy at 9:46 AM

Winners; Yassky and None of the Above

New York Sun:

Last night, Brooklyn's Independent Neighborhood Democrats endorsed David Yassky for congress in the 11th congressional district, and decided not to endorse incumbent Ed Towns or any of his challengers in the 10th (even though there was this passionate plea from the head of Develop Don't Destroy, Dan Goldstein: "I'm Jewish, I'm white and I love Charles Barron.").

and the rebuttal in the comments section:

What Azi seems to have left out of his first paragraph is that Mr. Goldstein was responding to a outburst by a member who screamed of his outrage claiming that Charles Barron was a racist and anti semite among other things. Mr. Goldstein was responding, he was not simply stating his religion for the fun of it.

The rest of the IND endorsement votes were like a kindergarten playground at best. They endorsed a status quo schlub who came with a canned speech and a smirk, telling folks to vote from their heart and refused to acknowledge the passion and actual speaking from the heart that someone like Chris Owens can bring to a room. Yassky will be eaten alive by Washington. This is not a progressive group by any stretch. Fresh ideas, and real passion are lost on this bunch. It's business as usual at the ole IND.


Posted by amy at 9:40 AM

Shooting from the lip

Mike Lupica of the Daily News:

Even the NBA commissioner, David Stern, sounds giddy at the prospect of RatnerWorld, a development that will forever alter the skyline of Brooklyn, like a little chunk of Manhattan going up over Atlantic Yards.

The people behind this still play everybody for suckers, talking about building on those railyards, even though that is just a piece of Bruce Ratner's land grab, about one-third of a footprint as big as Shaq's.

They talk about affordable housing and hardly ever talk about the 16 high-rise buildings being built around all of Ratner's basketball players, whomever they will be by 2009 and 2010.

They try to make the opponents of this, the people from the neighborhood, sound shrill and hysterical.


NoLandGrab: We'll take 'shrill' over 'shill' any day...

Posted by amy at 9:22 AM

Planners, Activists, Debate Jane Jacobs' Legacy


A little more than a week after Jane Jacobs died, planners, activists and thinkers have been debating her legacy. WNYC's Andrea Bernstein has been listening in. She filed this report.


NoLandGrab: Brooklyn Views Jonathan Cohn talks about superblocks at Atlantic Yards in one of the interviews.

Posted by amy at 9:18 AM

Yonkers Plaintiffs Laud Legal Victory for Public’s Rights in Development Process

Yonkers Tribune:

Justice Nicholas Colabella invalidated the 4 to 3 vote by the City Council that lowered from 5 to 4 the number of votes needed to approve a project rejected by the Westchester County Planning Board. If not for the change, the “super-majority” requirement would have applied to the City Council’s subsequent consideration of a zoning change for the proposed Ridge Hill Village. The provision was applicable because the County Planning Board had recommended against the massive project moving forward in its present form because of inadequate traffic measures, the County’s public policy concerning large-scale retail developments and the general unsuitability of the Ridge Hill Village to accommodate the anticipated project.


Posted by amy at 9:15 AM

May 6, 2006

"Harlem Today" Fake Ratner Publication


BrooklynVsBush looks at the quality publication, Harlem Today, brought to you by the letters F, C, and R?:

You won't see the skyscrapers or their victims in this fake publication. What you will see is a magazine designed to get black people in HARLEM on the side of the man who doesn't want to let the black people of BROOKLYN into his shopping mall.

(ed's note: That's not entirely true: Ft. Green residents CAN walk around the entire mall and will be let in. It's only 3 or 4 long city blocks to get to the side with the entrance. So the younger people can walk the extra quarter mile just fine. It appears he's only trying to keep the older black people out. Especially the ones in walkers.)


NoLandGrab: Somehow it does not seem likely that Ratner considers the "Favorite Fact" on page 1 to be one of his favorites: "1. The arena project has not received all environmental approvals, and the state and the city still need to approve $200 million in financing to improve roads and utilities near the arena." Favorite Fact interpretation: So far this project proposal exists only in Ratner's mind!

Posted by amy at 3:24 PM

Critics Blast Latest Ratner Mailer As ‘Propaganda’


“The mailer is a piece of fiction,” said Goldstein.

“Ratner does not show the skyscrapers, makes the arena look like a beautiful meadow, repeats false and inflated job claims, repeats false and inflated revenue numbers, repeats the false claim that there has been ample, genuine community input, and through photos pretends that his proposal fits into the low-rise, residential neighborhood character that Brooklynites hold so dear,” he added.

Additionally, several blogs that have been highly critical of the FCRC proposal questioned the validity of the CBA.

These blogs pointed out that several of the signatories received money from FCRC, were not registered non-profit organizations prior to the CBA negotiations, and said that the document wasn’t inclusive of the entire community.


Norman Oder examines the 'mysterious' blogs on AtlanticYardsReport: FCR's Stuckey stonewalls re CBs; brochure poster girl rips Ratner

Posted by amy at 3:18 PM

Errol Louis stays on course, careless with facts


Errol Louis is back on his Atlantic Yards hobbyhorse. The Daily News columnist and editorial writer, in his column in Brooklyn's black-oriented Our Time Press, takes aim at me and other unnamed Atlantic Yards critics, at the same time betraying his own tenuous grasp of facts.


Posted by amy at 3:11 PM

Toddler troubadour sings against Ratner


Brooklyn Papers:

If you’re under 10, this is your Woodstock: Children’s folk singer Dan Zanes — the Bob Dylan of the pre-school set — has joined the opposition to Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project and will headline an anti-project concert next month.

Zanes, a resident of Cobble Hill, became a member of the advisory committee of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn last month and now hopes to spread his anti-Ratner message through song.

“My opposition is mostly about saving the soul of Brooklyn,” Zanes (pictured right) told The Brooklyn Papers. “Everything I do is about community — in my case, the spirit that comes from making music. That’s what Brooklyn means right now. That’s why we came here. But Ratner’s project is in direct opposition to all that’s good, soulful and communal about Brooklyn.


The Brooklyn Papers also published the lyrics to one of Zanes' songs about strolling through a low-rise borough:

Wander in the Summer Wind

Take a left on Kane Street
Another one on Henry
Take a look around us
For anyone we know
Up the hill and down again
Hand in hand
We’ll be feeling grand
When we wander in the summer wind

I’ll take you to the river
Maybe down to Red Hook
Eat a few tamales
Over by the soccer games
Basketballs are flying
Over by the schoolyard
I hear the breeze
Call your name

High and low
People that we know
They say, “Hey there”
And “How’ve you been?”
Good, good, good
And do you think you would
Like to wander in the summer wind
We can take the F train
Right on up to Ninth Street
Walk on to the park
To where the steel drums play
Dance around in circles
With anyone that we meet
All this could happen
On a summer Saturday

Posted by amy at 1:08 PM

Blacks blast Bruce

Brooklyn Papers covers last week's Atlantic Yards forum at First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn Heights:

The Rev. Dennis Dillon of the Brooklyn Christian Center in Fort Greene joined Law in his opposition to Atlantic Yards — but Dillon focused on the type of permanent jobs Ratner says will be created at the arena.

And he was more circumspect in his rhetoric.

“The black community is not all about some low-paying jobs that will force us to live elsewhere anyway,” said Dillon, who evoked the civil rights movement as a model for black opposition to Atlantic Yards.

“We believe, like Martin Luther King did, that justice must roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” he said.


Posted by amy at 1:04 PM

Ratner’s glossy fantasyland


Brooklyn Papers dissects the Liar Flier including this juicy bit about the model pictured:

Page 8: That smiling woman isn’t smiling anymore. Actress T. Sahara Meer (pictured above), the woman in the picture, told The Brooklyn Angle that she posed for the photo because she was “between gigs” — only to find out that the photographer sold the photo to Ratner. “That innocent day in the park [is] one of the most nightmarish experiences of my life: I have become Bruce Ratner’s poster girl,” said Meer, who has a “Stop Eminent Domain Abuse” sign in the window of her Prospect Heights home. “My only hope for redemption is to fight harder. So, thanks, Bruce, for fueling my fire, my anger, my ire, my hatred of you.”


In case you are unfamiliar with the term "liar flier," the Double Toungued Word Wrester Dictionary is here to help:

Catchword: liar flier
Part of Speech: n.
Forest City Ratner has just mailed its third direct-mail propaganda piece, each one a bigger production than the last. These pieces have been dubbed “liar fliers” (we don’t know who coined the phrase), due to their willful disregard for common-sense facts.

Posted by amy at 12:53 PM

Ratner hires rival’s chief

Brooklyn Papers:

The chief of staff to one of the highest-profile opponents to the Atlantic Yards project has quit her job to work for her former boss’s biggest foe — Bruce Ratner.

It is unclear what Janella Meeks, former chief of staff to City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Prospect Heights) will be doing for Ratner, but the still-unpublicized revolving-door move certainly had insiders buzzing.


NoLandGrab is ever so disappointed to have not yet received a financial offer from FCR. Is the going rate for buying off bloggers too high for Bruce to handle, or does he realize that like plucking a white hair, two more bloggers would appear in our place?

Posted by amy at 12:49 PM

Letter to Ratner

Dear Mr. Ratner:

I received in the mail today your awesome, multicolored, multi-photographic brochure. But, there were a number of serious, and necessarily deliberate omissions. Your publicist/PR firm/spin doctor failed to include the most important and revealing item: a pictorial rendition of your project! To be clear, there is no image whatsoever in your beautiful, utopian and, I bet and hope, very expensive mailing (how many lucky Brooklynites were targeted?), of the actual visual appearance of the buildings you are planning for the site. There are two further, glaring and deliberate omissions: (1) any discussion of, or proposal/planning for the enhanced infrastructures that would be needed to support the high influx of new residents, new office workers, new cars, etc. that your project would generate; and (2) what the cost of that indispensable infrastructure -- sewers, roadways, parking, public transportation, schools, etc. -- would be, and who would shoulder it (we the taxpayers, perhaps? You don't say!). Finally, I really appreciate the prepaid "survey" card. Too bad that it does not provide for any dissenting answers! You must really think that you are dealing with a bunch of illiterate, uninformed and disenfranchised, blighted-neighborhood dwelling Brooklynites! WRONG on all counts!

And why, pray, should we support you and your ill-designed and ill-conceived project, given what you and your pseudo architect/s have already bestowed upon us? The horrendous shopping mall at Atlantic and Flatbush? No self-respecting person could ever claim title to that abomination! The hideously ugly, irredeemably offensive Court Street Movie Theaters? C'mon!

Please delete me from your mailing list, it will be a saving to you and one less piece of junk mail I have to recycle. Thank you.

Beatrice Beccari

Posted by amy at 12:42 PM

May 5, 2006

Thank you Mayor Bloomberg

noedabuse-doggie.jpg We'd like to thank the Mayor for a lot of things, but the best thing Bloomberg has done for Brooklynites critical of Bruce Ratner's $3.5-billion-and-counting boondoggle is to elevate the profile of the debate over eminent domain, the power to seize people's homes and businesses for a "public use."

These days in NY City, "public use" means taking people's property to hand over to well connected real estate moguls. "Jobs, Housing and Hoops" is the new public use.

Yesterday, fellow media mogul Rupert Murdoch used column inches in his tabloid to criticize Bloomberg's campaign to save eminent domain abuse.

Until now, neighborhood groups in West Harlem, Central Brooklyn and Willets Point have been trying to get someone, anyone, to pay attention. Developer Bruce Ratner, who is emerging as the Urban Planning Czar of Brooklyn, repeatedly uses eminent domain to expand his own private real estate empire, but who cares?

So thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, for being so tone deaf to the one issue that unites the entire political spectrum, and for getting busy New Yorkers talking about eminent domain.

The Real Estate Observer, Murdoch on Bloomberg on Eminent Domain
The NY Times, Bloomberg Says Power to Seize Private Land Is Vital to Cities
The NY Sun, Columbia's Domain

Posted by lumi at 8:49 AM

Lessons in fund-raising

Some schools barely scrape by

NY Daily News
By Tanyanika Samuels and Elizabeth Hays

The Daily News looked into the Ratner sponsorship of the PS 321 PTA fundraiser and found a disheartening pattern in local schools.

It turns out that Forest City Ratner gave $7,500, thanks to FCR Exec VP Bruce Bender and his wife Amy, who is the PTA Co-President.

When Public School 321 parents party at the school's swanky annual dance and auction at the Brooklyn Museum of Art next week, they'll have developer Bruce Ratner and two local real estate companies to thank.

While other Brooklyn public schools struggle to raise money through bake sales and pleading for supplies on eBay, the Park Slope school has become a well-oiled fund-raising machine.
"We don't get the financial support [from the state] to pay for enrichment programs that are important to our parents and children," said Amy Bender, association co-president. "We are the ones who have to raise this money."


NoLandGrab Take-Home Message: Forest City Ratner brings its hearts-and-minds campaign right into the center of one of Brooklyn's most affluent neighborhoods while other schools in the Heart of Brooklyn languish.

To Amy Bender's point, perhaps if New York State wasn't in the business of handing so much money to Bruce Ratner, there would be more financial support for school programs.

Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

May 4, 2006

Community Boards to Ratner, "discontinue all mention of our participation"

CB268Letter.gif From a Community Board insider, in reference to Forest City Ratner's claim on AtlanticYards.com and the new promotional flyer that, "Three local Community Boards [2, 6, & 8] and other elected officials also served as advisors in crafing the CBA (Community Benefits Agreement)":

"We are disturbed by FCRC's overstatement of our role in the CBA process especially in consideration of the rude treatment we received by being forcibly barred from the process months before it was brought to conclusion. CB6 at their last meeting passed a resolution to bring this matter to their attention in concert with our sister boards. Attached is the letter that was sent." [Click image to read the letter.]

Here's the online coverage:
Atlantic Yards Report, CBs say Ratner "overstates our participation" in Community Benefits Agreement

The three Community Boards around the proposed Atlantic Yards site footprint are not happy with Forest City Ratner, which has been claiming that the CBs participated in crafting the "historic" Community Benefits Agreement.

The Real Estate Observer, CB's: We Did Nothing

The developer, Forest City Ratner, had advertised the community boards' involvement in brochures and e-mails as a way to enhance the agreement's legitimacy by claiming that the community boards were advisors. [Emphasis added.]

Posted by lumi at 11:50 PM

Dan Zanes and Friends

DanZanes-n-Friends.jpg Benefit Concert for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Saturday, Jun 03, 2006 11:00 AM
Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church

Refreshments for Sale

$12.00 for Children (13 and under) $15.00 for Adults

All Ages - Babies in Arms Enter Free [Babies in Arms are Free]

Purchase tickets online at Ticketweb.

Posted by lumi at 10:49 PM

Atlantic Yards Flier Glosses Over Arena, Towers



The entire wing of the blogosphere devoted to Atlantic Yards watchdoggery has been all over it this week, but it's worth a chuckle: Check out the above graphic from Develop Don't Destroy and imagine watching the Nets setting up a full-court press on the new great lawn of Prospect Heights.


Posted by lumi at 10:18 PM

Outside Opinion: AtlanticYards.con: Ratner's Orwellian Strategy

Brooklyn Downtown Star publishes Norman Oder's Op-Ed about "atlanticyards.com," Forest City Ratner's new web site promoting its controversial project.

Forest City Ratner (FCR) recently debuted a new web site for its Atlantic Yards mega-project, six months after the developer took the earlier version offline and company VP Jim Stuckey told The New York Times that it was almost "Orwellian" for critics to call for more openness. But the distortions, omissions, and lies in the new AtlanticYards.com show that FCR deserves the "Orwellian" moniker.


Posted by lumi at 9:37 AM

A Housing Development Without Housing

The Real Estate Observer notes no buildings here:

the 12-page brochure, which is arriving at Brooklyn addresses this week, does not show any sketches of the actual buildings in this 6,900-unit apartment complex, only shots of the brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods that have spawned the project's fiercest opponents. (In the one exception, a nondescript building stands in the background obscured by a sort of Japanese garden.) Maybe because if people saw how high the towers were (up to 650 feet), they wouldn't want to live there?


Posted by lumi at 9:25 AM

Times Tower

Here's the local coverage of Tuesday's incident at Forest City Ratner's Times Tower construction site.

NY Daily News, Pair dodges death from Times tower
NY Times, Pipe Falls at New York Times Construction Site, Injuring 3 in Car

Posted by lumi at 9:06 AM

Three buildings would shrink--how much of a difference would that make?

Atlantic Yards Report looks at the height difference between the Atlantic Yards proposal as described in the Draft Scope and Final Scope and wonders if it makes that much of a difference, and what it means.

BUILDING # Previous Current Difference


Posted by lumi at 8:58 AM

Building bigger at Site 5: a correction and clarification

Atlantic Yards Report runs a mea culpa and gets DDDb to correct the record, though the mainstream media also missed the story.

Q: How does Forest City Ratner Corporation (FCRC) get permission to build up to 350 feet high on the tip of Park Slope?

In a quest to learn more about how, in another end run around the local planning process, the State is allowing Ratner to "build more than twice as big as previously allowed" on Site V, Norman Oder reviews the details of the second Memorandum of Understanding between FCRC and NY State's lead agency for the project, the Empire State Development Corporation.


Posted by lumi at 8:17 AM

Jane Jacobs and New York

Gotham Gazette

Professor Tom Angotti remembers Jane Jacobs:

Jane Jacobs was hardly a traditionalist. She was truly a rebel. She dared to look lovingly and with care at her neighborhood. She stood up to the powerful Robert Moses. She criticized racial discrimination in housing and employment (for example, in her book The Economy of Cities, she cites W.E.B. DuBois and goes on to criticize the inadequacy of programs to aid minority contractors). Her family’s opposition to the war in Vietnam drove her to self-exile in Canada. And ever since then she supported progressive planning, and good hearty urban protest, throughout North America. She most recently sent a message of solidarity to community groups in Greenpoint/Williamsburg (Brooklyn) fighting the city’s massive waterfront rezoning project. Jane Jacobs was a true New Yorker.


Posted by lumi at 8:02 AM

Ratner sponsors Elvis in Brooklyn

From the Brooklyn Philharmonic web calendar, Elvis Costello brought to you by Bruce Ratner:


NoLandGrab; We aren't for a moment claiming that Bruce ratner is trying to buy Elvis Costello's support, though we wonder if the singer/songwriter has opinions about land-use issues in Brooklyn.

While Elvis is Watching the Detectives, we're keeping tabs on how Bruce Ratner is spending those massive public subsidies he receives for his projects.

Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

Decision Will Delay $600M Project

GlobeSt.com's coverage of the big setback for Bruce Ratner's Ridge Hill project in Yonkers carries reaction from Yonkers Mayor Phil Amacone and Forest City's Bruce Bender.

“The city is appealing and we are confident we will win on the merits.” He did say that the ruling will delay the Ridge Hill project by months from breaking ground.
“We are disappointed by this decision, but confident that it will be overturned on appeal,” says Bruce Bender, executive vice president for Forest City Ratner, in a prepared statement. “The real losers in this senseless political battle are the taxpayers of the City of Yonkers. As forces both inside and outside the city posture, Yonkers taxpayers are being deprived the $23.7 million in annual taxes and the local economy is being cheated out of the 9,000 construction and permanent jobs that Ridge Hill will bring.” He later adds that the company remains committed to the Ridge Hill project.


Posted by lumi at 7:20 AM

TONIGHT! Public Forum: The 2006 Temko Critics Panel, "The Question of Activism."

May 4th at 6:00 pm
137 East 22nd Street,
The Oak Room.

Free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Forum For Urban Design and the Lincoln Institute.
Hosted by the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute.

Listing from the Forum For Urban Design web site:

In 1961, Allan Temko joined the San Francisco Chronicle as architecture critic. Over the course of a Pulitzer Prize-winning 45-year career, he inserted himself into almost every significant debate over development in the Bay Area. Allan relished his reputation for being an activist critic; as he later recalled,“my job was to raise hell.”

Before his death this January, Allan had been working with the Forum For Urban Design to plan a conversation among architecture critics on this very subject. Can a critic, Allan wondered, do more than simply wait for mistakes to happen and then complain about them in print? On May 4th at 6:00 pm, we will explore this question in his honor, as we suspect he already had his answer.

Posted by lumi at 7:20 AM

Ratner snub in Yonkers sign of Ridge Hill's tenuous status

The headline for Michael Gannon's article in today's Journal News story about Ratner's no-show at yesterday's Yonkers Business Week breakfast points out that Ratner's "snub" is a sign of the Ridge Hill project's "tenuous status."

Couldn't it be a sign that Ratner is a bad sport?


NoLandGrab: His crack PR team could have told him that the classy and confident PR move was to show up and talk about how he is looking forward to working with the community. Perhaps he couldn't even fake it.

Seriously, the reason for observing events in Yonkers is to understand the corporate philosophy of Forest City Ratner and consider its implications for Brooklyn.

This week we have observed that Bruce Ratner is tone-deaf to the community, a better winner than loser, and more comfortable with wielding the levers of power than breaking bread with his critics.

Posted by lumi at 7:11 AM

Rescuing Ridge Hill

Today's editorial in The Journal News identifies the middle ground between the plaintiffs, who successfully sued to reinstate City Council rules, and Bruce Ratner, whose controversial Ridge Hill development in Yonkers was dealt a big setback:

The council did not have a supermajority necessary for the zone change last year, and it is doubtful that one exists now. Ridge Hill opponents seem implacable, regardless of what concessions are made. Lesnick, though, does not appear to be one of the diehards. He told Cablevision News 12 Tuesday that the lawsuit was about principle, "never about stopping Ridge Hill," which he called "a good project." We agree. Now it is up to him as council president, with credentials as a professional planner and former Yonkers director of development, to move it along.


NoLandGrab: Since the court's ruling puts some of the decision making process back into the hands of the community, Bruce Ratner will be forced to listen to the community's concerns, largely over traffic circulation, in order to advance his project. He should try it - it might be habit-forming.

Posted by lumi at 7:00 AM

Yonkers Plaintiffs Laud Legal Victory for Public’s Rights in Development Process

Yonkers Tribune

One of the plaintiffs in the case against the City of Yonkers' creative use of City Council rules to greenlight Bruce Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill project explains why they brought the suit:

Councilperson Dee Barbato, in whose district the Ridge Hill site is located, declared Judge Colabella’s decision a vindication for the public’s right to have a meaningful voice in development decisions. According to Barbato, “This lawsuit was not about stopping Ridge Hill. It was about respecting people’s right to be heard before officials make major decisions that impact their lives.”


Posted by lumi at 6:48 AM


NY Sun

This article about Mayor Bloomberg's support for eminent domain presents the views of local supporters and critics.

Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel says eminent domain has "run amok" in NYC, while US Rep Jerrold Nadler pretty much supports the status quo while paying lip service to eminent domain abuse.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney supports eminent domain, but only for a "public use," not for private develpoment.

State Assemblymember Richard Brodsky recognizes that the issue has united the political left and right, and notes that the problem is in NY State's definition of "blight."


Posted by lumi at 12:28 AM

Dean Street Stoop Sale

Clean out Your Closets!

It's time for the annual Dean Street Stoop Sale.

Saturday, June 10th
11:00 am to 4:00pm
in front of 420 Dean Street

All proceeds to benefit Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

Join your neighbors, donate your white elephants, find new treasures.

Questions? Contact Ellen.

Volunteers are needed to help set up, sell and clean up.

NoLandGrab: This event isn't going to be called "Stoop, Don't Destroy," is it?

Posted by lumi at 12:04 AM

May 3, 2006

Falling Debris Injures Family Of Three In Midtown

timessquareviolation.jpg NY1

A piece of steel came crashing down on a Pennsylvania family's car near Times Square Tuesday, injuring a couple and their young child.

City officials say a steel rod fell from the site of the new New York Times building under construction at the corner of 41st Street and Eighth Avenue. The rod may have fallen from as high up as the 43rd floor of the building.

No one was seriously injured. The couple even tells the Daily News the toddler slept through most of it.

The Department of Buildings issued four violations to the building’s owner, and issued a stop work order until the repairs are made and the site is re-inspected.

The violations are for missing rails, guards and netting, all issues related to ensuring public safety near high rise constructions.


NoLandGrab: Brooklynites may feel concerned that Forest City Ratner's recent focus on public safety in Prospect Heights may be nothing more than posturing.

Posted by lumi at 10:20 AM

Atlantic Yards: The Picture Novella

AtlanticYardsBooklet.jpg Forest City Ratner has just mailed its third direct-mail propaganda piece, each one a bigger production than the last. These pieces have been dubbed "liar fliers" (we don't know who coined the phrase), due to their willful disregard for common-sense facts.

Atlantic Yards Report has already sifted through the 12-page novella, which relies more on photos than facts to promote the Atlantic Yards project. Strangely, the cover features typical Brooklyn street scenes, though none of the like would be built at Atlantic Yards.

In his post titled "Where are the towers? FCR's curious new propaganda brochure," Norman Oder notes what isn't included in the booklet as well as what is: * Aerial view shows roof garden, but no arena, * Happy Brooklynites of all races, but no traffic, * Brownstones, but no highrises, * Guranteed Community Benefits Agreement seal of approval, * Marty Markowitz's imprimatur, and * repetition of figures that Oder has already debunked.

Oder's analysis gives Brooklynites a good idea as to what issues Forest City Ratner finds the most embarassing about its own project.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn let Atlantic Yards Report do the heavy lifting, but pointed out a couple of things: * the arena appears to be a green meadow, which is actually the one-acre private rooftop park for residents of the luxury condos. * the "guarantee" stamp appears on several pages in case you didn't believe it the first time, and * the booklet puts the Atlantic Yards project in Downtown Brooklyn again, even though The NY Times knows that isn't true.

arenaroofgarden.jpg NoLandGrab: The NY Daily News logo appears on the third page, which may mean that real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman is willing to use his brand to promote the project.

The flyer repeats the claim that Community Boards 2, 6 and 8 served as "advisors" to the CBA.

Posted by lumi at 8:36 AM

Engineering a Safer, More Beautiful World, One Failure at a Time


The NY Times profiles engineer, Dr. Henry Petroski, the author of a sleeper hit, "The Pencil," a 400-page thriller on the importance of chronicling and understanding failure in engineering.

Dr. Petroski's latest book "Success Through Failure," chronicles inevitable unintended consequences:

Take Frank Gehry's design for the Walt Disney Concert Hall building in Los Angeles, which Dr. Petroski describes in his latest book, "Success Through Failure," published this year by Princeton University Press. According to Dr. Petroski, the high gloss of one side of the building reflected so much light at a condo across the street that residents suffered blinding glare and 15-degree temperature increases until the offending wall was resurfaced in a matte finish. This problem is the kind of "latent failure" that emerges only when a design is in use.


NoLandGrab: Dr. Petroski could have just as easily cited Gehry's project at Case Western Reserve University where titanium panels similar to the ones used in LA melted the snow that collected on the roof panels, thus creating avalanches of sliding snow and ice over the main entrance.

The impacts of REFLECTED LIGHT are NOT being studied in the Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Review, according to the Final Scope. How Gehry's signature titanium surfaces would affect the adjacent neighborhoods in Brooklyn is anyone's guess.

Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

Oder's blog a t(h)reat

The iTeam Blog, (from The NY Daily News Sports Investigative Team)

Daily News sports reporter/columnist Michael O'Keefe pays respect to Norman Oder and his blog, The Atlantic Yards Report.

Norman Oder’s Atlantic Yards Report should be a regular must-read for both opponents and supporters of Bruce Ratner’s proposed project.

Oder is certainly no fan of the Nets owner’s gargantuan proposal, but his blog is intelligent and well-reported; the long-time journalist sticks to the facts rather than falling back on the personal attacks employed by both sides of this issue.

All this attention to Stormin' Norman's relentless reporting is ruffling the feathers of the normally cool Ratner PR genius Joe DePlasco, who would prefer the media to be spoon fed by his crack team:

DePlasco dismisses Oder as “someone with too much time and not enough to do” and he says Daily News reporters should stop using the Brooklyn blogger as a resource and instead focus on the positives an NBA franchise will bring the Borough of Churches.


NoLandGrab: Oo-o-o-oh, this is a first — the normally measured Joe DePlasco has taken a personal swipe at Norman Oder, who probably doesn't have much free time since he started looking into fantastical claims made by Der Meisterspinner himself.

Has anyone noticed that the "Borough of Churches" is being converted to the "Borough of Highrises," with Ratner's projects leading the way?

Posted by lumi at 7:03 AM

Ratner’s big coup

Hires away opponent Tish James’s chief of staff

The Brooklyn Papers
By Ariella Cohen

The chief of staff to one of the highest-profile opponents to the Atlantic Yards project has quit her job to work for her former boss’s biggest foe — Bruce Ratner.

Sources say that James and Meeks —sister of pro-Atlantic Yards Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) — disagreed on Ratner’s plan to build a basketball arena and 17 skyscrapers within James’s district. Before going to work for James, Meeks was an aide to arena cheerleader Assemblyman Roger Green (D-Prospect Heights).


More coverage:
The Politicker, Ratner Hires Meeks

NoLandGrab: Meeks's move makes great headlines, but if she has been a supporter of Atlantic Yards from the beginning, it's surprising that Ratner didn't hire her before.

Though the Post article quotes an arena supporter claiming that Meeks hiring was "'a blow' to [the arena opponents]," no arena opponents were asked if they were blown away by the move.

Posted by lumi at 6:51 AM

Gehry on Film

The Real Estate Observer
By Michael Calderone

Sydney Pollack's first documentary, Sketches of Frank Gehry, was screened last night at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film will be released in theaters on May 12.


Posted by lumi at 6:47 AM

Press Release: 53 Organizations Request Senate Action on Eminent Domain Abuse; Lack of Senate Action Leaves Homes, Businesses, Churches Vulnerable

The national debate on eminent domain is heating up as the US Senate considers eminent domain reform legislation. While NY Mayor Bloomberg beats the drum for the status quo, groups across the political spectrum call for reform.

This press release is from a conservative coalition led by the Property Rights Alliance:

WASHINGTON, May 2 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Today, a letter signed by fifty-three national and state organizations from across the country was delivered to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) requesting that the Senate advance legislation to limit the ability for states and localities to abuse eminent domain. The letter can be viewed at http://www.propertyrightsalliance.org .

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4128, the "Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005" in early November by a vote of 376-38, but the measure has mired in the Senate Judiciary Committee without a scheduled vote. The legislation seeks to curb eminent domain abuse by withholding all federal economic development funds for two years from states and localities that use this right for private commercial development. The House passed the measure in response to the Kelo v. City of New London, CT court case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer.

And the American public continues to fervently oppose this type of government takings. One national survey after another demonstrates a minimum of eighty-five percent of public support in reforming eminent domain abuse to protect homes, businesses and churches from government's grasp.

"Americans remain vulnerable to government's ability to snap up a family's home or church today and turn it into a mansion tomorrow," said Scott A. LaGanga, executive director of PRA. "As indicated by the organizations on this letter and countless public opinion polls, Senate action is vital to protect the future of private property in the United States."

As stated in the letter, "The freedoms enshrined by the Framers of the Constitution over two hundred years ago must be once again upheld and protected by Congress today. The passage of this type of legislation is an essential milestone in reaffirming the rights of American property owners."

The following organizations signed the letter to Chairman Specter (letter can be viewed at Property Rights Alliance website):

60(Plus) Association

Alabama Policy Institute

American Association of Small Property Owners

American Conservative Union

American Family Business Institute

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Land Rights Association

Americans for Limited Government

Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Tax Reform

American Shareholders Association

Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions

California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights

Center for Individual Freedom

Citizen Outreach

Citizens for Limited Taxation

Commonwealth Foundation

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Defenders of Property Rights

Eagle Forum

Ethan Allen Institute

Evergreen Freedom Foundation


Frontiers of Freedom

Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Illinois Policy Institute

Independence Institute

James Madison Institute

Liberty Coalition

Maryland Taxpayers Alliance

Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights

Missouri First Montana Policy Institute

National Center for Public Policy Research

National Taxpayers Union, Kristina Rasmussen

Nevada Policy Research Institute

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Pacific Research Institute

Property Rights Alliance, Scott A. LaGanga

Property Rights Alliance: Hawaii

Public Research Institute

Reason Foundation

Republican Liberty Caucus

Rio Grande Foundation

Small Business Entrepreneurship Council

South Carolina Landowners Association

South Carolina Policy Council

Tennessee Center for Policy Research

The Maine Heritage Policy Center

The Rutherford Institute

Virginia Institute for Public Policy

Property Rights Alliance (PRA) stands as an advocacy organization dedicated to the protection of physical and intellectual property rights, domestically and internationally. PRA is a special project of Americans for Tax Reform.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Scott A. LaGanga at 202-390-6978 or at slaganga@propertyrightsalliance.org .

Posted by lumi at 6:45 AM

Bloomberg Says Power to Seize Private Land Is Vital to Cities

The NY Times
By Diane Cardwell

Wading into yet another contentious national debate, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg came out vigorously yesterday in support of the government's right to seize property by eminent domain, and said Congressional attempts to limit those powers would have dire consequences for the nation's cities.
The mayor is most concerned that the pending legislation would cut off all federal economic development funds to state or local governments for up to two years if they use eminent domain in private development projects. Bloomberg administration officials warned that passage of the bill in Congress could, at a minimum, mean the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars and almost 100,000 jobs for the city.

The article cites Atlantic Yards as an unpopular local use of eminent domain and includes a double disclosure:

In New York, for example, the proposed use of eminent domain by the developer Forest City Ratner to bring a basketball arena and a swath of residential, office and commercial towers to the Atlantic Terminal area touched off fierce opposition, especially in surrounding neighborhoods.

The concept, though, proved unpopular elsewhere as well. A New York Times poll in April 2004 found that only 18 percent of city residents favored the construction of a new basketball arena in Brooklyn it if it required the demolition of homes and businesses. (Forest City Ratner is the development partner of The New York Times Company in building its new Midtown headquarters, a project that itself involved government condemnation of private property.)

Supporters of eminent domain claim that its use requires a determination of "blight." Dana Berliner from the Institue for Justice points out:

"New York's blight designation is a joke," Ms. Berliner said. "You can call anything in the state blighted under New York's definition."


In reference to the 18-percent figure cited in the article, Norman Oder notes in Atlantic Yards Report that, "The Times finally reports (two years late) on poll results opposing Brooklyn arena."


Posted by lumi at 6:40 AM

Judge: Yonkers council vote that preceded Ridge Hill improper

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill project in Yonkers just hit another roadblock.

BACKGROUND: Late last year, the lame-duck Yonkers City Council favored the Ridge Hill project by a slim one-vote majority, while the zoning changes neccessary to approve the project required a two-vote margin. A recent election had tipped the make up of the Council against Forest City Ratner's project and the Council session was winding to an end.

So what did the City Council do? They voted to change the rules (rules changes only require a one-vote margin), allowing a simple majority to carry zoning changes, and then voted to approve the zoning. There was no public notice or hearing on these rules changes. Critics, and even some moderate supporters of the project, cried foul.

Yesterday, Justice Nicholas Colabella, in a 13-page decision issued in White Plains, said there were procedural defects.

Colabella's ruling yesterday said the city should have first held a public hearing and alerted the Westchester County Planning Board before lowering the required vote total.

The City has vowed to appeal the ruling, while critics have called for a compromise that would mitigate traffic concerns.


Also: The NY Times, Ruling Sets Back a Development in Yonkers

NoLandGrab: Backroom deals and extraordinary procedural actions have become a hallmark of Forest City Ratner's more controversial projects.

The article also reports that Bruce Ratner cancelled an appearance at the Yonkers Business Week breakfast. Who knew that he was such a bad sport.

Posted by lumi at 6:11 AM

May 2, 2006

Letter to the editor: Why are Ratner buildings hazards?

Metro NY

Regarding “More Nets arena demolition today” (April 25): How is that so many buildings now owned by Bruce Ratner suddenly have all these health hazards? Must be a new record for the city. I smell a rat!


Posted by lumi at 10:26 AM

Park Slope PTA sponsored by Ratner

PS321 Park Slope For the second year in a row, Forest City Ratner is sponsoring PS 321 PTA's annual fundraiser.

Some wonder who the Park Slope PTA wouldn't take money from, while others note that the PTA funds the desperately needed after-school and arts programs for the nearly overcrowded school in one of Brooklyn's more affluent neighborhoods.

Whatever your take, you gotta admire the chutzpah of Amy Bender, wife of Ratner's Executive VP Bruce Bender. Not every spouse would use his/her position as PTA Co-President to grease palms and buy some friends for Ratner.

This, we hope, will spark a debate, and maybe we'll be treated to one of those famous scrums on the Park Slope Parents message board. It's innocent little sponsorships like this that we find the most hurtful…

Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM


The News Hour
By Spencer Michels

California has been fighting over eminent domain laws since the Supreme Court's Kelo case resolved that a city could seize private homes for economic development projects.

In the argument for and against using eminent domain for private development purposes, the lines are drawn between the citizens' right to live and work in the neighborhoods the city wants to redevelop.


Posted by lumi at 7:09 AM

Nets' owner is willing to pay for his thrills

The Newark Star-Ledger
By Matthew Futterman

The optimist looks at the Nets and sees a dynamic team with three of the most exciting players in the game.

The pessimist sees a team with a $66 million payroll fighting for its playoff life that will lose as much as $25 million for the second consecutive year.

If the Nets manage to get bounced by the Pacers (the series is tied, 2-2), team owner Bruce Ratner will have produced the two most costly first-round exits from the playoffs in recent history.


Posted by lumi at 7:03 AM

The headline you never saw: "Atlantic Yards jobs estimate cut by 40%" (or 75%)

jhhbutton-40.jpg Atlantic Yards Report explains how Forest City Ratner's [FCR] estimated jobs figures for the Atlantic Yards project decreased from 10,000 permanent jobs to 6,000, and attempts to explain why we never heard about it from the media.

When FCR announced a reconfiguration of the project at a City Council hearing 5/26/05, the press missed part of the story. Most press outlets emphasized an increase in housing and acknowledged a cut in office space (see for example the Daily News article headlined Ratner quietly moves in), but didn’t explain that the loss of office space meant a loss in jobs.


Posted by lumi at 6:22 AM

May 1, 2006

There’s A (Private) Beach Under The Street

OlinSlideshow02-sm.gifBrooklyn Views reflects on Ratner's private beachhead, what we have learned from Jane Jacobs, and how "pile-on opportunism results in yet another dysfunctional plan."

In 1968, as students in Paris ripped up paving stones and hurled them at the police, one of the rallying cries was “sous le pave: la plage” (under the pavement: the beach).
The beach chairs shown in the latest renderings, sitting on what is now Pacific Street, are illustrated to support the taking of existing public streets and small parcels to make a huge assemblage of private property, and building towers in a park.
Pretty drawings do not convince us that you can build more dense than mid-town Manhattan, include an 18 or 20 thousand seat arena, and yet maintain a one-to-one relationship with nature for individuals sitting on beach chairs. On-grade, in open space, in the middle of 8.7 million sf of new construction. Anything can be drawn. But ultimately, judged as a vision of the public good and aspirations for a better world, this defense of this economic model for aggregating public space is deeply cynical.


Posted by lumi at 8:38 AM

What Isn't Bruce Ratner Saying

Atlantic Currents
Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association Newsletter

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner organized two breakfast meetings with Avenue merchants in March. Ratner representatives seemed to be trying to put a positive spin on concerns anticipated from the massive development. But in answer to questions about the impact of 20 years of construction, traffic, and ever-rising rents, Ratner representatives had little to offer beyond that they are working with local banks to open a line of credit to assist merchants with the inevitable rent increases and construction disruptions.

A Billion Plus in Subsidies
Recently hurt by several years of construction during Atlantic Ave.'s water main/sewer project, merchants are receiving no economic compensation from the City. Ratner, on the other hand, is being promised $1.5 billion in subsidies from the Mayor and Governor.

NYS Empire State Development Corp. (ESDC) has just released a "Final Scope," detailing the latest report of the ever-changing Atlantic Yards plan; while it says that the project is reduced by 5%, the tower at Atlantic/Flatbush will still rise 620 feet. Adding up the square footage in this latest version reveals a plan larger than Ratner's original proposal.

Gates around Green Space?
In this newest plan, Ratner still intends to close several public streets, thereby isolating his project from the surrounding neighborhoods (think MetroTech), and to tear down all the buildings on Pacific and Dean between Flatbush and Vanderbilt, using buyouts or eminent domain to remove those unwilling to sell. Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) would own all green space accessible to the public, and it will have gates!

Opponents of the FCRC project won a small concession in this Final Scope when ESDC agreed to study the Unity Plan and Extell Proposal—which both used the community development guidelines—as well as the Pacific Plan as project alternatives.

Taxpayers Always Get the Burden
What FCRC didn't talk to merchants about... * That Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) proved in a court of law that ESDC had a conflict of interest: hiring an FCRC lawyer to generate the Environmental Impact Statement on an FCRC project. That FCRC has been allowed to demolish six buildings prior to the completion of the Environmental impact Statement (EIS). * That taxpayers always carry the burden of government subsidies. FCRC is asking for discretionary benefits for the Yards project beyond the usual subsidies available to any developer; already the legislature has voted $66 million for the Nets Arena-Railroad Yards project. With real estate values at an all-time high, there is no need for massive government infusions of money. In fact, small businesses surrounding the proposed project area are thriving—without government support. * That the MTA discarded Extell Corp.'s three-times higher bid; instead it accepted the lower bid offered by FCRC on the value of the MTA yards.

AABA continues as a member of the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Coalition to fight this boondoggle.

NoLandGrab: For clarification, there are several properties on Dean Street, most notably the recently rennovated Newswalk building, that are being spared Ratner's wrecking ball. Click here to view a map of the footprint.

Posted by lumi at 8:35 AM

Dan Zanes Newsletter: On a Brooklyn Note

danzanes.jpg Dan Zanes, a Brooklyn-based musician with fans of all ages, is blowing the whistle on Ratner's very enormous it-isn't-a-done-deal arena-and-17-extremely-large-buildings urban-planning disaster. From Zanes's most recent newsletter:

on a brooklyn note: i have signed on to help in the efforts of develop don't destroy brooklyn to fight the forest city ratner's over-development plan for the atlantic yards here in brooklyn. this project is an urban planning disaster and should be stopped in its tracks. for the longest time i wasn't paying enough attention to this situation. i thought that it was far enough away from my house that it wouldn't affect me to any great degree. i thought that it was inevitable. i was completely wrong on both counts!! this is a critical time for those of us who live in brooklyn to become engaged. 17 skyscrapers and a sports stadium is more than our communities can handle, but this plan can be defeated! for more info and updates go to http://www.dddb.net.

NoLandGrab: The most recent documents released by Ratner show 16 highrises accompanied by the arena for the project Ratner calls Atlantic Yards ("Vanderbilt Yard" is the actual name of the train yard).

Posted by lumi at 8:12 AM

A veiled defense of Atlantic Yards? The Times's Ouroussoff on "Outgrowing Jane Jacobs"

jacobs-v-ouroussoff.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

In the lead article in today's New York Times Week in Review, architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff offers a Critic's Notebook, headlined Outgrowing Jane Jacobs, arguing, as he has done in the past, that a veneration for Jacobs precludes us from embracing more ambitious projects that address challenges unforeseen during Jacobs's heyday more than 40 years ago.

Ouroussoff makes some provocative points and, read through a Brooklyn-centric lens, it's hard not to sense a defense of the Frank Gehry-designed Atlantic Yards project. Curiously, though the critic's most recently-published criticism of Jacobs came in his 7/5/05 assessment of the Atlantic Yards design, and in January he defended Gehry's design publicly--even denying that it would include a superblock--he chose not to mention the project in today's essay.


Posted by lumi at 8:10 AM

Ridge Hill hearings

The Journal News, Editorial

Forest City Ratner's two most controversial projects in the region, Atlantic Yards and Yonker's Ridge Hill, have a couple things in common: considerable public subsidies without any clue about what the developer Bruce Ratner stands to gain, and eminent domain.

Despite having been around for three years, the project's financial lines are still murky.


Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM