« May 2006 | Main | July 2006 »

June 30, 2006

The Park Is Not in the House (or vice versa)

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Phil Guie

The Brooklyn Bridge Legal Defense Fund's lawsuit against the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) alleges that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is flawed because it doesn't take into account traffic generated by the Atlantic Yards Plan.

In the same hearing, NY City prevailed in its petition to join the lawsuit as an "interested party." The attorney for the City, Susan Amron, opined that "'city property is going to be part of the park. The city has committed $65 million to [its] development.' She called Brooklyn Bridge Park a paradigm for other parks in the city."

Attorney David Paget, already known to Brooklynites from the suit brought by DDDB and other neighborhood organizations, plays a starring role, representing the Empire State Development Corporation.


NLG Q: Will the Atlantic Yards EIS take into account traffic that may be generated by other development proposals? Community folks want to know if anyone at the Department of Traffic and Transportation is minding the store, and if Brooklyn will get the comprehensive traffic/transportation study and plan it deserves?

The "paradigm" Amron cites is the model of the "self-sustaining park."

Which begs the question: Why must a park be self-sustaining, while Atlantic Yards must receive billions of dollars in tax subsidies?

Posted by lumi at 8:50 AM

How BIG is big?

So just how big is Atlantic Yards really?

The Municipal Art Society pointed out that the entire project is larger than THREE EMPIRE STATE BUILDINGS, or 23 WILLIAMSBURGH SAVINGS BANK TOWERS.

Now this just in from Curbed: Miss Brooklyn will be over twice the height of the Coney Island Parachute Jump.


Posted by lumi at 8:33 AM

Atlantic Yards Traffic and Parking

StreetsBlog gives props to Atlantic Yards Report for "continuing to ask the questions that don't seem to occur to his salaried colleagues in the local media":

Norman Oder has recently been digging into the critical issues of traffic and parking around Forest City Ratner's massive urban renewal plan for Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

On 6/28/06:

Oder questioned the Empire State Development Corporation's decision to exclude the East River bridge crossings from its public environmental review process.

On 6/29/06:

Oder ponders the mystery of how much "interim surface parking" will be included in Forest City's plans for blocks that are not scheduled to be developed for at least another decade.


Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

Democratic Party Machine embraces Jeffries

The Democratic Party Machine, which has consistently supported Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, is still alive and kickin' despite recent scandals.

The latest pol to receive support from 'dem Dems is Hakeem Jeffries. Though the candidate for the 57th State Assembly District has charted a cautious position on Atlantic Yards, the appearance of Ratner spokesperson (and Jeffries' friend) Lupe Todd at recent events and the inclusion of a couple cogs in the machine on Jeffries' "committee to fill vacancies," has led Atlantic Yards critics, some political watchers and constituents to wonder, "who is the man behind the curtain?"

Fifty First State, County's Condition
Daily Politics, Vacant


Posted by lumi at 7:59 AM

June 29, 2006

Are nine acres of interim surface parking part of the plan?

Atlantic Yards Report

"Interim surface parking" at "Atlantic Yards" is another issue that Forest City Ratner doesn't want the community to think about — enter Atlantic Yards Reporter Norman Oder.


Missing from Forest City Ratner’s latest brochure and the AtlanticYards.com web site is any mention of the two huge interim surface parking lots planned for the Atlantic Yards site, in the north central and southeast blocks of the site, blocks that are later slated for towers and landscaped open space.

How big? How many spaces? For whom? For how long? We don't know yet. The two large blocks occupy about nine acres of the 22-acre footprint. An acre can typically accommodate spaces for about 130 cars (plus driving lanes, etc.), so nine acres could provide parking for 1170 cars. It's unlikely that the entire blocks would be used for parking, though.

Still, the project would take at least ten years to build, so it's possible those parking lots could persist in whole or in part, especially if changes in economic conditions alter the development.


Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

Brooklyn: Appeal Sought in Atlantic Yards Case

The NY Times ran this brief item by Nicholas Confessore about the latest legal developments in the Atlantic Yards fight:

A group opposed to the proposed Atlantic Yards project is seeking to appeal a recent appellate court ruling regarding the project's legal representation. The group, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, and 15 co-plaintiffs sued the project's developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, and the state agency sponsoring the project, the Empire State Development Corporation, in January after the agency retained an environmental lawyer, David Paget, who had earlier advised the developer on the project. In May, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court struck down a lower court's ruling that Mr. Paget's involvement was a conflict of interest. Opponents hope to appeal that decision to the State Court of Appeals.


Also check out Curbed.com, "Another Atlantic Yards Legal Appeal?," where a real PR pro is making Ratner's case in the comments section.

Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

Press Release: Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and Co-Plaintiffs File Motion

Plaintiffs Seek Fairness in Process in Which Attorney David Paget is Shared by Forest City Ratner and ESDC on “Atlantic Yards” Proposal Review

NEW YORK, NY— Today Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and 15 co-plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to appeal a case it had won in State Supreme Court but was overturned last month by the Appellate Division. The case the plaintiffs won in the trial court centered around environmental attorney David Paget, of Sive, Paget & Riesel, who had an apparent conflict of interest as he had represented developer Forest City Ratner for its “Atlantic Yards” proposal and then switched to represent the state public agency-the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC)–charged with representing the public interest in the environmental review of the same development proposal.

Forest City Ratner’s “Atlantic Yards” is the largest single-source development proposed in the history of New York City.

In their motion for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals (the highest court in New York State), Develop Don’t Destroy and its co-plaintiffs (“the petitioners”) contend that:

The specific conflict of interest issue presented here appears to be a case of first impression in New York State courts, and implicates fundamental issues of governmental integrity and accountability in the context of an enormously controversial development project that will have a significant impact on hundreds of thousands of citizens and significantly change several Brooklyn neighborhoods…

To hold that the ethical rules applicable to a public entity acting for the benefit of the public are the same as the rules applicable to purely private conduct, particularly in the context of the State government’s oversight and review of a publicly subsidized, large-scale community redevelopment project, undermines public trust in the integrity of government…*

Because this issue is vitally important to the public and presents a novel issue of law, petitioners respectfully submit that leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals should be granted.*

“Our community intends to fight for justice and transparency in the environmental review process at every turn. To the extent that the political and economic elite think that they can run roughshod over the residents of Brooklyn by sharing advisers and ignoring the rules, we will seek the guidance of the highest court available,” Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn legal committee chair Candace Carponter said. “In this case, the trial court saw through the sham of the government and the developer sharing the same attorney on the same development proposal, Forest City Ratner’s ‘Atlantic Yards.’ Although the Appellate Division thought this conflict was acceptable, we hope the Court of Appeals will decide to hear the case and independently evaluate the situation. As such, we are making application to the Court of Appeals to review this case and to, we hope, rule in favor of transparency, fairness and the obligation of all parties to play by the rules; it’s the least we can ask for when so much is at stake.”

All case files can be found here: www.dddb.net/php/reading/legal/democase/index.php

Posted by lumi at 7:16 AM

Demand for Midtown Office Space Pushes Prices Up

The NY Times
By Terry Pristin

The market for Class A office space in Midtown is so hot that The Times found an example where a landlord paid its tenant to move in order to lease out the space for more than double the previous rent.

While the vacancy rate in Midtown over all is said to be about 8 percent, space is even tighter in the so-called Plaza submarket, from the Avenue of the Americas to the East River and 51st Street to 63rd Street.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner is watching market trends for Class A office space very carefully, as Forest City Ratner is currently trying to fill its share of the Times Tower with tenants.

How does this affect Atlantic Yards? Continued demand for Class A office space could lead Ratner to convert some space in the proposed skyscrapers back to office/commercial space, as originally planned. However, the movement to diversify back-office operations of large corporations, post-9/11, has run its course, and the demand for Class A space in the outer boroughs hasn't materialized, as evidenced by the failure of the Downtown Brooklyn Plan to build anything but luxury housing.

Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

StreetsBlog Interview: Stefan Schaefer

StreetsBlog.org interviews filmmaker Stefan Schaefer, who makes this observation about his own block, Dean St. between 4th & 5th Aves.:

We get a lot of the spillover traffic from Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues and our block probably has over one hundred kids on it.


Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

Atlantic Yards Opponents Clash Over Building Plans

Courier Life
By Steven Witt

James-MAS.jpg In the Courier Life's most recent update of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, reporter Steven Witt unwittingly mixes up a couple of facts. For instance, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and the Municipal Art Society (MAS) probably both swallowed a bug when they read:

Those opposing the project carted out a high-brow writer and the Manhattan-based Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) to decry the plan

DDDB made clear at the MAS presentation that they felt that the critique of the plan didn't go far enough, as the MAS was struggling to be politic as they entered a hot bed of urban design controversy. Also, the MAS has established a reputation for fairness and intelligence, and therefore usually isn't "carted out" by local grassroots organizations.

Witt also covers the overwhelming response to Forest City Ratner's mailer, you know, the one promoting Brooklyn and showing little of the project. A 20K response to such a promotional mailer is suspiciously high.


NoLandGrab: We could continue turning over rocks in this article, but we have to leave time to read Norman Oder's latest analysis at AtlanticYardsReport.com.

Posted by lumi at 6:34 AM

June 28, 2006

Transportation changes: are congestion pricing, East River tolls on the agenda?

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder spends an evening at a transportation forum to learn more about the City's plans (or lack thereof) to combat the Atlantic Yards bugaboo, TRAFFIC.

One huge challenge for the Atlantic Yards project--or any other major development at the crossroads of Atlantic, Flatbush, and Fourth avenues--involves transportation, and the solution involves citywide issues, not merely project-related fixes. That's why the decision by the Empire State Development Corporation to exclude the East River crossings from the Final Scope of Analysis--the prelude to a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Yards project--was so shortsighted, especially since a good chunk of Nets fans are expected to come from New Jersey.
But the issue goes beyond arena attendance, a transportation consultant Brian Ketcham has stressed, since most of the new traffic would be generated by new residents. Markowitz remains optimistic, according to the Post, that Forest City Ratner will mitigate the impact of the project, such as by providing incentives for people visiting the arena to use mass transit.

The problem is much bigger than the Atlantic Yards project, and whatever changes are proposed by the developer will have to be seen in context of some citywide planning issues. After all, Also, 40 percent of the traffic in Downtown Brooklyn is going into Manhattan, according to traffic consultant Bruce Schaller, and that could be cut if the city implements some systemic changes.


Posted by lumi at 7:51 AM

Kelo on Kelo: I'll keep my illusions

Providence Journal, Op-Ed
By Susette Kelo

Hardly a day goes by as I work in my garden or have a cup of coffee in my kitchen, both of which overlook the Thames River and Long Island Sound, that I don't ask myself, "If I had to do it all over again, would I?" Even on my worst days, and there are many, my answer is the same: "Absolutely yes."
Mark Twain wrote, "Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live." My illusion has been, and will continue to be, that my home is mine.

Had the City of New London needed our homes for a school or a fire station, we would have understood that it was truly a "public use" and we would have complied. But there is no public use here. Building a hotel or upscale condominiums so someone else can live here is not a public use or even a public purpose. And in fact there are no specific plans for the land where our homes stand.
At some point, a day of reckoning will come for all. We will all have to answer for things we've done or failed to do. On that day, I would much rather be me than be the people trying to take my home.


NoLandGrab: This weekend, NoLandGrab paid a visit to Kelo's little pink house in the Ft. Trumbull neighborhood of New London.

Posted by lumi at 7:16 AM

Gehry's Death Wish for Brooklyn.

HereinVanNuys.com considers novelist Jonathan Lethem's open letter to architecht Frank Gehry and agrees that Gehry's legacy stands in the balance.

Lethem predicts that if Gehry stays connected with this ill-conceived project, that his legacy in New York will be judged badly.
Lethem’s political analogy is correct. Back room builders and politicians, to promote an agenda of regressive and exploitative development, now own the name “Frank Gehry” in a PR mission to sell the public junk architecture. Like the flags waving in the background of Fox News, Gehry’s name on a project is a way to make palatable the civic destruction, governmental bribery and tax loophole mendaciousness of our new robber barons.


Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

Etc. etc. etc.

Apparently there are more reasons that average community folks oppose Bruce Ratner's boondoggle than there are highrises in Atlantic Yards. Yesterday, we listed them and solicited some more.

Add these to the list: * Destruction of a thriving community, * Blightification of buildings purchased and owned by Bruce Ratner, * Criminal harassment tactics against remaining residential tenants, * Unsafe demolitions, * Failure to register its own residential building and tenants with city and state agencies...

Keep em coming via email.

Posted by lumi at 6:50 AM

Rule of Law: The Specter of Condemnation

ScottBullock01.jpg The Wall Street Journal, Op-Ed
By Scott Bullock

The Senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, who argued the Kelo case before the U.S. Supreme Court, reviews the state of eminent domain abuse, one year after the controversial US Supreme Court decision.

Kelo is the most universally despised Supreme Court decision in decades. And it touched off a nearly unprecedented, grass-roots backlash against eminent domain abuse -- where land is taken, not for a traditional public use like a road or a public building, but from poorer folks and given to wealthier folks, all in the name of "development."

Americans are virtually united in opposition to this practice. Polling on this matter is off the charts. Consistently, 80% or more of the people are opposed to the Kelo decision and want something done about it. The opposition cuts across the usual political divides that separate Americans today. Property owners in blue states oppose eminent domain abuse just as much those in red states. Republicans such as Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. James Sensenbrenner stand shoulder to shoulder with Democrats such as Bill Clinton and Reps. John Conyers and Maxine Waters.

Indeed, about the only people who support the abusive practices are those who stand to benefit from it: local political officials, including big city mayors such as New York's Michael Bloomberg; and planners and developers. What these beneficiaries lack in numbers, however, they more than make up for in political muscle. The result is a massive struggle in state legislatures.


Posted by lumi at 6:46 AM

Press Release: Forest City Builds on Strategic Commitment to Sustainability with Appointment of Two Directors

Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: FCEA and FCEB) today announced the recent appointments of two directors to lead the Company’s sustainability and energy management initiatives.

Jon Ratner has been appointed director of sustainability initiatives, providing leadership of sustainability-related best practices and procedures. Joyce Mihalik, a Certified Industrial Energy Consultant, was named director of energy management, responsible for the development, implementation and coordination of energy management and conservation strategies for the Company’s Commercial Management portfolio. ... Jon Ratner formerly served as development project manager for mixed-use, office and multifamily projects at Forest City’s Denver Stapleton project. Located on the site of the former Denver International Airport, the 4,700-acre Stapleton development has served as a cornerstone to increase the Company’s awareness and experiences with sustainability principles. Established in 2001, Stapleton has won a number of awards for sustainability and environmental stewardship, including a “Best in American Living” Award for Smart Growth; Colorado Environmental Achievement Award; U.S. Conference of Mayors Award for Excellence; and Stockholm Partnerships for Sustainable Cities Award from the King of Sweden.


Posted by lumi at 6:33 AM

June 27, 2006

Bard of Brooklyn savages Gehry's 'wedding dress' blocks

Gehry-Press-UKGuardian.jpg The Guardian
By Paul Arendt

Frank Gehry is fighting a war on both sides of the Atlantic. The Pritzker prize-winning septuagenarian architect is already embroiled in a long-running battle to build a pair of tower blocks on Hove seafront, described by Gehry as "Victorian women in wind-blown dresses". Now it seems that he has some even more formidable opponents than the genteel residents of Brighton and Hove: angry Brooklynites.
Like Brighton's controversial towers, the tallest block in the development was inspired by female fashion. Its billowing lower planes were based on a wedding dress, and Gehry has christened the 620ft block "Miss Brooklyn" - which has enraged Lethem even further. "Pardon me, but bleeech," he wrote. "I don't know whether many great buildings have been founded on notions at once so metaphorically impoverished and so slickly patronising. But somehow I doubt that any have."


Posted by lumi at 8:31 AM



Nikkei Net covers Zanes-san's benefit for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and the fight to save Prospect Heights from Bruce Ratner and "the development trader":



Babelfish Translation:

As for Brooklyn the community which is history. The high rise building and enormous franchise just destroy area.

NoLandGrab: So-o desu ne.

Posted by lumi at 7:43 AM

VOTE FOR ME because I am against the Bruce Ratner's Community ...

Community Average Folk 101 questions why Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal has become a flashpoint for local politics.

VOTE FOR ME because I am against the Bruce Ratner's Community Benefits Agreement: Atlantic Yards Project. How contemptible is this?


The average community seems to be upset about any number of the following: * EMINENT DOMAIN for a private developer who already owns most of the recently developed commercial property adjacent to the site, * PUBLIC FUNDING of stadiums and arenas, * A questionable COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENT signed with groups receiving money from the developer, * A project the size of THREE EMPIRE STATE BUILDINGS nested amidst four residential neighborhoods (including public housing), * The DENSEST PROJECT in NYC history (as far as anyone can tell), * MORE TRAFFIC for one of the busiest intersections in Brooklyn, adjacent to neighborhoods with some of the worst asthma rates in the nation, * Billions of dollars of SUBSIDIES with no financial transparency, * Heavy-handed developer and his PATRONIZING STARCHITECT, * Discredited SUPERBLOCKS planning, (Why are we letting Bruce Ratner own and close our streets?), * MTA land being awarded to the LOWEST BIDDER (again), * An AFFORDABLE HOUSING program being exploited by a developer who has a terrible track record for keeping promises (there are better ways to build affordable housing), * The proliferation of BOX and CHAIN stores in Ratner malls, * SECURITY NIGHTMARE (A glass and steel structure over a transit hub at a busy intersection -- where's the NYPD viability study?), * State takeover SUPERCEDES LOCAL ZONING, * NO LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT of a major urban development, * TAX BREAKS for luxury housing, * PORK BARREL spending for a FAVORED DEVELOPER where two-thirds of the profits will flow back to the publicly traded parent company in Cleveland...

What's not to love about the project? Email us if your serious concern about the Ratner scheme isn't on the list of why Atlantic Yards has become a dominant issue in the races for the 57th Assembly and 11th Congressional Districts.

...AND FURTHERMORE (add these to the list and keep 'em coming):

Posted by lumi at 6:55 AM

Executive Order: Protecting the Property Rights of the American People

president_seal.jpg President Bush's Executive Order makes a forceful statement against eminent domain abuse, but since it only addresses the "taking of private property by the Federal Government," it probably has no bearing in Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn high-rise and arena plans, which will be a "taking of private property" by NY State.

However, the order raises a couple of important points:

This solidifies the 180-degree position reversal for the White House. Before the Kelo case was heard by the US Supreme Court, the White House planned to submit a friend of the court brief on behalf of the City of New London. The Oval Office agreed to keep silent on the issue after being petitioned by conservative groups.

A year after the Kelo decision outraged individuals and groups across the political spectrum, the issue has shown no signs of going away any time soon.

The House passed an eminent domain reform bill and the Senate continues to receive pressure to pass their own. NYC Mayor Bloomberg has stepped up his campaign to lobby the US Senate to pass on the bill which would eliminate federal funds for projects that use eminent domain to transfer property to a private party. Though most commentators and editorial boards support reigning in or restricting the power of eminent domain, there are still some editorial boards who continue to support the status quo.

Posted by lumi at 6:42 AM

Eminent Domain Anniversary Good Time For Senate To Protect Private Property

Environmental News Network
Press Release: National Center for Policy Analysis

Previously approved by the House of Representatives, the Senate Judiciary Committee is sitting on legislation that would limit federal funds for development projects that take private property. It would prohibit states and municipalities from using eminent domain to take property for economic development if they have received any federal economic funds within that fiscal year. The bill would also dissuade local governments from using eminent domain power to help private developers by restricting federal economic development funds for two years after any violation and creating the right for land owners to use the courts to enforce the bills provisions.


Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

June 26, 2006

So, Where Does NY Times Stand on Eminent Domain For "Atlantic Yards"?

from Develop Don't Destroy

Today the NY Times editorialized for the broadest use of eminent domain, claiming that projects like the one they are constructing (their new headquarters) are projects that meet the "public use" clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The editorial goes on to state that: "Taking away private property for public use should not be done lightly. Owners must receive just compensation. Procedures must be fair, and property owners must be given an adequate opportunity to be heard. Eminent domain should be used only for truly public purposes. These rights are already recognized in the law, but there is no harm in firming them up."

Since "Atlantic Yards" has had no fair process, and will have no fair process, to determine the use of eminent domain (which has already been used as a heavy-handed threat by the developer) we wonder: Where does The New York Times stand on the use of eminent domain for the Forest City Ratner proposal?


Posted by amy at 11:08 PM

Crain's poll on Atlantic Yards project misses the point

Atlantic Yards Report

On the heels of Crain's New York Business editor Greg David's misinformed column supporting the Atlantic Yards project, Crain's now offers a stilted poll canvassing readers' opinions: Developer Bruce Ratner's plan for the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn calls for less commercial space than he had originally envisioned, along with 6,800 residential units--nearly a third of which would be affordable housing.

THE POLL QUESTION: Do you agree with the Atlantic Yards plan?

Yes, the housing market is already tight, and the city needs more affordable units

No, the huge development would destroy the borough's character

Given that the developer traded office space for more lucrative luxury condos in May 2005, the question is a little late--and it treats "the Atlantic Yards" as a place rather than a project. More importantly, it ignores the fact that the developer originally promised 50 percent affordable housing, but violated the spirit--if not the letter--of the affordable housing agreement by adding the condos.

It treats the scale and density of the project as a matter of opinion, rather than something that could be assessed by (or at least in relation to) zoning, or evaluated in comparison to other projects.

article and Norman Oder's alternative questions
The Poll

Posted by amy at 10:53 PM


New York Sun

Don’t expect Mayor Bloomberg to let up on his fight to use eminent domain to seize private property in so-called “blighted” neighborhoods just because President Bush issued an executive order on Friday saying that federal agencies cannot seize private property other than for public use. Mr. Bloomberg’s spokesman, Stuart Loeser, said yesterday there is “no need for further federal action.” The federal order came a year after the Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London, Conn., had the right to use eminent domain power to take property from homeowners and give it to a developer. Mr. Bloomberg has argued that the responsible use of eminent domain in depressed areas is crucial for economic development.


Posted by amy at 8:05 AM

Newark Takes a Hard Lesson In the Pro Stadium Game

New York Sun

James finally signed a deal with the Devils last fall after years of negotiating with New Jersey Nets ownership to move the NBA team to Newark. When Bruce Ratner decided to move his Nets to a proposed arena in Brooklyn, James turned to Vanderbeek, who still expects the building to open its doors in the fall of 2007. It’s unknown what would happen to the Devils if Booker terminates the deal.
You might think a city as rich with business opportunities as New York would be immune to this sort of predicament. But at the height of the West Side Stadium battle last year, Mayor Bloomberg said that if the city failed to build the stadium, it would deter businesspeople who want to invest with the city. The West Side stadium was killed by Assemblyman Sheldon Silver about a year ago, but life went on, and Bloomberg quickly announced that the city would partner with George Steinbrenner to build a new stadium for the Yankees and with Fred Wilpon to construct a new Mets facility.

It would not be surprising to see Bloomberg and New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner use the same mantra in boosting the Ratner-proposed Brooklyn Arena project at the Atlantic Yards. If Ratner’s plans to build an arena for his Nets is eventually shot down, it will send out a bad message to those who want to do business in New York: You can’t trust New York to follow through.


Posted by amy at 7:57 AM

June 25, 2006

In Shirley Chisholm's Brooklyn, Rancor Over White Candidacy

New York Times
Diane Cardwell

But as Mr. Yassky works to spread his message about the need to promote a more aggressive Democratic agenda in Washington, race is clearly weighing on the minds of some voters. As he campaigned that same Saturday in Ditmas Park, a part of Flatbush where home values have been rapidly rising, some nonblack voters expressed qualms about his candidacy. One white couple told Mr. Yassky that they planned to vote for Chris Owens. And at a greenmarket, Joe Wong, 29, an Asian-American, said that he, too, was leaning toward Mr. Owens because he opposed the Atlantic Yards development and because he had reservations about voting for a nonblack candidate.


It is also of interest to note that the Yassky supporter listed in the article, Charlene Nimmons, is a CBA signatory.

Posted by amy at 9:10 PM

Atlantic Yards is not about sports

Crain's New York Business Greg David

As Bruce Ratner tells the tale, the Atlantic Yards project took off in 2003 following a phone call from the Brooklyn borough president. The New Jersey Nets basketball team was for sale, and Marty Markowitz pleaded with Mr. Ratner to buy it and return a professional sports team to Brooklyn.

Sports and the borough's psyche had been linked decades earlier, and just as the Dodgers' departure in 1958 seemed to start years of decline, so bringing the Nets to Brooklyn would put an exclamation point on its economic revival.

Three years later, sports are merely a footnote to the project. Atlantic Yards now concerns making choices about the city's future. Mr. Ratner knew nothing about professional basketball when Mr. Markowitz called. What he did understand was Brooklyn, where he had built Metrotech in the 1980s. The office complex saved the borough's downtown and the city 10,000 jobs that had been headed to New Jersey. Mr. Ratner had long believed that a site nearby, where the Long Island Rail Road parked its trains, was suitable for the next major development. But he couldn't figure out how to get the public money or political support needed to proceed--until the Nets came along. His original concept envisioned a sports arena, 2 million square feet of office space and 4,000 apartments. Sept. 11 sent Mr. Ratner back to the drawing board. Demand for office space weakened, and Atlantic Yards could be seen as a threat to Lower Manhattan, which would split the politicians he needed in his camp.

Escalating apartment prices rescued Mr. Ratner. Adding residential units would produce the revenue needed to pay for the arena and for about $1 billion in infrastructure. One of the top priorities of the Bloomberg administration was more housing, so it would be supportive. Mr. Ratner slashed Atlantic Yards' commercial space and turned it into a residential neighborhood with 6,800 units. Mr. Ratner, always a politically astute developer, added an important twist. The condos would be so lucrative that he would use some of the profits to set aside almost a third of the units as affordable housing--more than any developer had ever done in a similar project. Such a move would be popular not only with the mayor but with advocates for the poor. The developer signed them on as supporters; the most notable was the outspoken group Acorn. But his opponents aren't giving up. They claim that Atlantic Yards will destroy Brooklyn's character.

Their hope is to preserve the status quo, even as tens of thousands of people come to New York because of its vibrant economy. If the city is to thrive, it will need to build places for them to live by Manhattanizing some sections of Brooklyn and Queens. With residential housing prices so high, developers can subsidize substantial numbers of less expensive units for the endangered middle class. Mr. Ratner has worked out the economics of this game plan for the future. The fate of his project is a test of whether the rest of New York will embrace it.

Posted by amy at 8:57 PM

Crain's editor Greg David gets it wrong: chronology, housing, density, and "status quo"

Atlantic Yards Report

Crain's New York Business editor Greg David, in a column dated 6/26/06 headlined Atlantic Yards is not about sports (subscribers only), repeats some Forest City Ratner talking points, forgets the eminent domain issue that he's previously addressed, and adds some other misreadings.
As for the economics of the plan, why does David trust Ratner's claims, given that the developer has been unwilling to produce his economic projections for the project? Is Ratner's claim of $6 billion in revenue from the project credible? Are the subsidies and public costs deserved? And does David remember that, last December, he wrote, regarding eminent domain: What makes the issue so compelling in New York is that eminent domain is exercised here by undemocratic and politically motivated agencies like the Empire State Development Corp.


Posted by amy at 8:52 PM

Phantom Project Pork

Develop- don't destroy BROOKLYN
For Immediate Release

State Finalizes $100 Million Appropriation for Highly Speculative Ratner "Atlantic Yards" Proposal

BROOKLYN, NY—The New York Post reported today that the Governor, Assembly and Senate have finalized an agreement to appropriate $100 million for Forest City Ratner's proposed "Atlantic Yards" development in Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Brooklyn. The 8.7 million square foot development proposal­including 16 skyscrapers and a 20,000 arena in a low-rise residential community­is the largest single-source development proposed in the history of New York City.

The city has already approved $100 million for the proposal but the $200 million city and state total is just the tip of the iceberg. The developer claims the project would cost the public $1.1 billion while a study done by project opponents, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), shows that the total public cost could reach $2 billion or more.

The appropriation has come before the public and elected officials even know what exactly the project is, what its total public cost would be, what its return would be, what the environmental impact would be and if those impacts could be mitigated. The appropriation also comes without any public disclosure by Forest City Ratner of its profit-loss statement, and before the state mandated environmental review has even begun.


Posted by amy at 8:49 PM

Nets arena taps $100m, sun's life-giving rays

Field of Schemes

The state of New York has approved $100 million in subsidies for developer Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, which would include a Brooklyn basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets, according to the New York Post. The money, said the Post, was included in a last-day-of-session budget agreement - the New York legislature loves to vote on controversial bills then skip town before anyone notices - by which "Gov. Pataki set aside $34 million of economic-development pork money he controls, while the Assembly and Senate committed $33 million each." Presumably this means that the money is coming out of various discretionary funds, instead of via the normal budget process - I'll see what I can find out once legislators are back in their offices tomorrow.


Posted by amy at 8:44 PM

Turf wars


1. Should average "regular" community folks opinions count?
Of course, we shouldn't let the extremely high-priced PR professionals employed by Forest City Ratner dominate discussion of the project.
2. How does one determine whose opinion(s) are more urgent and/or significant than others?
I think the groups that raise the greatest sums from the developer probably have the most valid opinions.
3. What makes folk think that they have all the answers?
That's a zen, right? Oh no, it's not, is it? It's the first recorded use of a Markowitzism
4. How do you feel about the Atlantic Yards Project (AYP)?
Like "The Warriors", it makes me nostalgic for the 70s, when such stupidity was cutting edge. Quite often I've lain awake at night and wondered "what if all of Brooklyn looked like Metro Tech?"


Posted by amy at 6:00 PM

June 24, 2006

ED tourists on the Kelo anniversary, June 23

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the announcement of the US Supreme Court decision Kelo vs. New London.

The Eminent Domain tourist will have no trouble finding the Fort Trumbull neighborhood of the historic port town of New London, CT; just follow the signs to Ft. Trumbull State Park. The tall grass will alert you to the fact that nature is paving over the foundation stones of an almost-bygone community.

The Fort Trumbull neighborhood, where only two homeowners remain, was eerily quiet, empty of all normal neighborhood activity; only reporters lurked, trying to get the scoop on a vague deal just announced by Governor Jodi Rell's office.


Susette Kelo's proud pink house, overlooking the port of New London, is a cozy fortress, as defiant and courageous as its owner. Pfizer's R&D facilities can be seen in the background — the future of New London.

FtTrumbullKeloNeighbor.jpg Next door to the Kelo house, all that remains are an accidental cafe, an old foundation, the stone wall with stairs (Are we all thinking the same thing, "They don't build them like that anymore?") and overgrown remnants of someone's garden.

The Eminent Domain "tourist information booth" details the history of the struggle.

FtTrumbullReporters01.jpgBy making a premature announcement, the Governor appears to be trying to force a final settlement between the city and remaining homeowners. Susette Kelo remained scarce, avoiding reporters trying to make their deadlines.

Posted by lumi at 8:20 AM


New York Post

The New Jersey Nets got an assist yesterday from the state in their bid to move across the river to Brooklyn.

A budget agreement approved yesterday contains $100 million in capital funds for the controversial $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project.

Gov. Pataki set aside $34 million of economic-development pork money he controls, while the Assembly and Senate committed $33 million each.


Posted by amy at 7:49 AM

Ratner Gets Slap On the Wrist For Violating Order

Emily Keller

The city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) is no match for Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC).

Earlier in June the company demolished a building at 622 Pacific Street despite a stop-work order and three other building code violations issued June 10. A fourth, for failing to comply with the stop-work order, was issued June 14. By that time FCRC had completed its demolition.

The penalty? FCRC will be fined up to $2,500 for each of the four violations.


Posted by amy at 7:33 AM

Municipal Arts Society’s Suggestions Bring New Dimension to Ratner Debate

By Dennis Holt Brooklyn Daily Eagle

It was clear from comments made during the presentation, at least to this observer, that the MAS and Forest City staffs have had many productive discussions on these and other issues since October. Meeting with the press after the MAS presentations, Jim Stuckey, head of the project for Forest City, commended the society for its work and thoughts and said it agreed with MAS on three of the five principles — open park space, lively streets and transportation concerns.


If you're counting principles, Holt is saying that FCR does not agree that the project should “respect the existing neighborhoods,” and FCR believes they should “eliminate streets.”

Posted by amy at 7:20 AM


Letter to the Editor from native Brooklynite Greg Holder in response to the NY Post article 'NET' RESULT: TRAFFIC CHAOS

Mr. Calder,

In reading your article in today's edition of "the NY Post" about the controversy surrounding the proposed 'Atlantic Yards' development you presented the basic viewpoints as represented by the opposing sides. However, there are a few points that the proponents of this project seem never to address in their public response to their critics.

As mentioned in your article this proposed project will add over 6,800 new residential units and approximately 20,000 new residents. Additionally, it proposes the addition of 853,000 square feet of additional office and retail space. The project's proponents, including Borough President Marty Markowitz, generally dismiss the impact of the additional traffic generated by these residents on the transit system, vehicular traffic and parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. It is also said that the additional influx of approximately 18,000 fans to the arena on game nights will also be of minimal impact.

To begin with, this is already the most heavily trafficked and congested area in the borough of Brooklyn on any average day. Conditions there already border on massive gridlock. In viewing their responses to critics, it seems that the developers and supporters of this proposed project would have everyone else assume that the none of the new residents would have vehicles of their own. This is illogical. It is also illogical to assume that they would neither attempt to drive their vehicles during peak hours, or need parking.

Similarly, it would seem as if they would also ask everyone to assume that none of the retailers and their employees, and none of the people working in the new offices would drive their vehicles into the area. That too is preposterously illogical. Their arguments also fail to recognize that where there are offices and retailers there will, inevitably, be deliveries, and delivery vehicles. Invariably, this means additional trucks on Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, and the corollary increased congestion.

In your article you referred to their references to the 18,000 fans that would come to the arena for games. The implication of this is the suggestion that to the degree that these fans would be a problem, it is a problem that would occur only 46 - 60 times per year (41 home games + exhibitions and possible playoffs).

What this position tries not to address is the fact that nobody builds an arena such as the proposed arena, and expects to operate it only 40-60 times a year. Invariably, there will be other events - the circus, rodeo, ice skating, track and field, boxing, wrestling, conventions & exhibitions, college basketball, tennis, demolition derby, auto shows, concerts, etc. The operator of an arena of this type would certainly seek to maximize its profitability, and to do this they would book as many events as possible. Each of these events has the potential to draw thousands (or tens of thousands) of visitors to the arena, and into the neighborhood. With these visitors there will be additional traffic, and additional congestion.

In spite of suggestions that there will be financial incentives for season ticket holders to use public transportation, this only affects a small percentage of the events I just described. Moreover, it may only involve a small percentage of those, even, who attend Nets games.

Is there any place more crowded than midtown Manhattan? Is there anyplace where on-the-street parking is less available, and commercial parking more expensive, than midtown Manhattan? Nevertheless, there are many people attending events at 'the Garden', who choose, in spite of the cost and the traffic, to drive into midtown instead of using public transportation. I, myself, have done this on many occasions. One reason, is that when you consider the cost of using public transportation, even during off-peak hours, for a family of four or five it is sometimes cheaper to drive. Also, where MSG brings thousands of people into midtown for events, it is not situated in the midst of what is essentially a residential neighborhood.

There is also another issue that is 'glossed over' by the project's developers and supporters. This additional traffic would be added to the additional traffic from other developments in the 'downtown' Brooklyn area. There is the continued expansion of Metrotech. There is the Mark Morris Theatre and the other proposed arts venues. There is the proposed addition to the Brooklyn Museum (to be located in the space occupied by the BAM parking lot and a nursery between Ashland Place, Flatbush Avenue and Lafayette). There are already other residential projects underway, such as the tower on Flatbush near Seventh Avenue, that will add to the density of the area. Finally, just over a mile down Atlantic Avenue are the new piers with several cruise lines as their tenants. Is it likely that persons embarking on cruises from Brooklyn will travel to the piers on public transportation with their luggage?

Finally, one could have less fears about these types of concerns if there were greater confidence in the developer's sensitivity to these types of concerns. However, there are reasons why this is difficult for some. In presenting plans for Phase II of the Atlantic Terminal Development, the Ratner Group had initially proposed locating the loading dock for the site directly in front of One Hanson Place. As this was a one-way street, which because of the presence of the bank and the many doctors' and dentists' offices in the tower, had extremely heavy foot traffic, this did not seem to be a reasonable location for the loading dock and the traffic congestion it would cause. It was also pointed out that this was a street frequently used by school children utilizing the subways below to go to and from schools in the area, especially Brooklyn Tech. The dock was moved to the other side of the site.

There were also concerns raised about the effect of shadows that would be cast by the office tower proposed for that development project on the building at One Hanson Place and on the Methodist Church that is next door. It was suggested that the tower be moved closer to Atlantic Avenue on the development site. The Ratner Group's representatives responded that this would not be possible because, "a platform constructed over the rail yards wouldn't support the weight of an office tower of that size". Yet, five years later the same Ratner Group proposes the construction of an arena and seventeen high-rise buildings on platforms over the same railyards, some of these towers to be sixty stories high. I guess one could only be amazed at the advances in construction technology in just five or six years.

Sincerely, Greg Holder

Posted by amy at 6:09 AM

Bruce Ratner and the Atlantic Yards vs. THE SUN

Gothamist on shadows:

The good news is that the shadows would be pretty minimal during the summer months. The bad news is that Bruce Ratner appears to be following Monty Burns down a path of unspeakable evil: "since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun. I will do the next best thing...block it out!" (ok, Ratner didn't actually quote Mr. Burns, but still, we're worried!)

Curbed chimes in:

Seems it wasn't long ago we were worrying about blinding heat rays reflected off architect Frank Gehry's titanium panels. So what'll it be, Brooklyn: fire or ice?


Posted by amy at 6:01 AM

June 23, 2006

Ratner’s shadow looms

Pratt study: Atlantic Yards would put Fort Greene in darkness

The Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman


According to a new analysis by a Pratt Institute professor and two students, shadows from the developer’s Atlantic Yards mega-project would darken a wide swath of Brooklyn from Prospect Heights to Downtown — including a strip in Fort Greene that won the “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” contest in 2002.

At its worst — at 9 am on Dec. 21 — the shadow from the 62-story “Miss Brooklyn” building, proposed for the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, would extend all the way to Fulton and Gold streets.

“Shadows from September to March will be severe,” said Brent Porter, the Pratt professor. “Once those buildings go up, the shadowing will be forever.”

Porter said he and his students — Roman Strazhko and Samantha Sommers — do not have an official position on Ratner’s 17-skyscraper, 8.7-million-square-foot arena, office and hotel development, but were speaking out now because so little has been said about the effect of the shadows.
Porter said that shadows will be minimal during the summer, when Brooklyn, like the rest of the northern hemisphere, is tilted towards the sun.

“But in the winter, suddenly there’ll be no light across most of Fort Greene most of the day,” said Porter, who added that a forthcoming Environmental Impact Statement for the project “won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on” if only summer shadow impacts are analyzed.


Posted by lumi at 8:23 AM

MAS presentation on design principles, brochure now online

MAS_Atl_Yds_Brochure2.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder is reporting that the Municipal Art Society has posted online its presentation on the Atlantic Yards proposal and the brochure handed out at the event (PDFs). Also included are the speech by MAS President Kent Barwick and press coverage of the event.


Posted by lumi at 8:12 AM

Build Planned Nets’ Arena in Coney Island?

Anti-Atlantic Yards Group Revives an Old Idea

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Three blogs [and another Brooklyn Paper] in the past three days have made extensive arguments about why, in their opinion, Coney Island is still a viable location for a professional basketball arena in Brooklyn....

Former Salt Lake City Deputy Mayor and transportation consultant Brian Hatch, on his New York Games blog (“Ratner Originally Wanted a Coney Island Arena”), sports columnist Michael O’Keeffe on the Daily News’ I-Team blog (“The Coney Island Nets”) and critic Norman Oder on his Atlantic Yards Report (“Coney Island the place for an arena? Marty used to think so”) each have laid out arguments as to why Coney Island should re-enter the discussion.

However, Marty isn't buying it, saying he supports the affordable housing, and Ratner spokesperson Joe DePlasco points out:

"The reason Atlantic Yards was decided on is that Atlantic Yards is a transit hub, not only the 10 subway lines, but also the LIRR and multiple bus lines. It’s in close proximity to Queens, Long Island, Manhattan and all parts of Brooklyn."


NoLandGrab: DePlasco loves to see if people are paying attention, so he left out New Jersey from the list. Forest City Ratner commissioned a report from sports economist Andrew Zimablist that assumed that nearly one third of the current fan base in NJ would follow the team to Brooklyn and that these revenues would create a net gain for NYC and NY State. Though these conclusions are specious, these NJ fans would be better served by a Coney Island arena since we can assume that they would be driving anyway.

Posted by lumi at 7:04 AM

MSG Nets?


Brian Hatch makes some astute observations about Forest City Enterprises' first quarterly report for 2006, in which the Net's losses were reported to be $8.701 million.

Another multi-million dollar loss ($8 million is just FCE's share), and moving into a controversial arena at a traffic clogged intersection isn't likely to help much. Moreover, being in the NBA adds another challenge.

While the NFL, MLB and NHL have had multiple teams succeed in a single metro area, the NBA hasn't done as well. Other than NY, LA is the only other market with two NBA teams, and the Clippers struggled until moving in with the Lakers.

As with all new arenas, an "Atlantic Yards" team is likely to do very well the first few years. After that, it'll be a real struggle. Another reason to look for a place without the controversy and terrible road access.


Posted by lumi at 6:53 AM

CBA coalition launches invite-only "Meet & Greet" sessions

CBAMeet-n-Greet.gif Atlantic Yards Report

For those interested in the Atlantic Yards project, a series of Meet & Greet sessions have begun at the Atlantic Yards Information Center on the third floor of the Atlantic Center Mall. While the term "open forum" is used to describe the meetings, they are invitation-only.

Norman Oder looks into who the players are and who attended.


Posted by lumi at 6:40 AM

Forest City's New York Times Building Signs Largest Tenant to Date

Cleveland Business Wire

From an FCE press release about the second lease signed for the Times Tower (emphasis added):

Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:FCEA)(NYSE:FCEB) today announced that its New York City affiliate has signed its largest tenant so far for the 1.5-million-square-foot, 52-story New York Times Building in Manhattan's Times Square, which is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2007.
Charles A. Ratner, president and chief executive officer of Forest City Enterprises, said, "We are very pleased with progress on leasing the New York Times Building, which will become a signature building on the New York City skyline. New York City is the nation's largest real estate market, where our Forest City Ratner Companies affiliate has established itself as a pre-eminent developer of large, complex projects. We look forward to the day in 2007 when tenants can begin to welcome clients to their new offices."

New York City is Forest City's largest single market. The Company entered the market in the 1980s with a focus on office buildings and, consistent with its Urban Strategy, expanded its presence to include retail, mixed-use and residential projects. Today, through Forest City Ratner Companies, the Company owns and operates 34 properties in the New York metropolitan area - including 4.4 million square feet of office space, primarily at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

In praise of condemnation

NY Daily News, Guest Columnist
By Shaun Donovan, Commissioner of New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Leave it to a Bloomberg administration official to editorialize in praise of condemnation. Mayor Bloomberg is lobbying hard for the US Senate to kill the eminent domain reform bill, which would starve NYC of millions of dollars of federal subsidies for projects using eminent domain (i.e. Atlantic Yards and Willets Point).

Shaun Donovan cites Melrose Commons and Times Square as successful urban renewal projects that used eminent domain and concludes:

Land use decisions are a fundamental concern of local government and should not be overridden by the federal government. Rather than imposing a rigid set of national rules from Washington - rules that would threaten affordable housing and economic development projects that benefit the public - it should be up to individual states and cities to set standards and address abuses when necessary. We should be free to continue building our future.


Posted by lumi at 6:27 AM

Sports Opinion: Is Bruce Ratner Dissin' Bklyn?

Members Of Bklyn Sports Community Resent Involvement Of 'Basketball City'

Brooklyn Downtown Star

With the NETS moving full speed ahead with their impending move to the Borough Of Kings, some members of the area's sports community are up in arms about the fact that recent clinics that the NETS have sponsored were done under the supervision of a Manhattan organization called "Basketball City" as opposed to local outlets. Herewith, an excerpt from one such protestation, issued by Mark Clayton over at the NYCSPORTING NEWS, on behalf of his beloved Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 6:20 AM

June 22, 2006

AY information for BUILD invitees, but not for thee

Atlantic Yards Information Center

We're tempted to file this dispatch from Atlantic Yards Report under "Humor," as journalist Norman Oder is barred, invited and then tossed from the ATLANTIC YARDS INFORMATION CENTER before the start of a meeting sponsored by Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, billed as "Connect to CBA Opportunities."

Actually, Oder was initially barred because he "wasn't on the list," but BUILD head James Caldwell, being a perfect gentleman, invited the frequent project critic to attend. Before the Atlantic Yards Reporter could find a seat, Caldwell was sent back as the hatchet man, explaining that he had been overruled (by whom we wonder?) and that Oder had to leave.

Oder did return to the mall with his camera to take some photos of the signs directing people to the information center.


Posted by lumi at 10:03 AM

A Champion to Stop Bruce Ratner: Bill Batson

Batson Bridge OnNYTurf

NYC's progressive weblog explains why Bill Batson matters:

Not just because Batson opposes the Ratner deal. He also has a track record of community preservation.

...and how you can help:

Batson's campaign has gathered thousands of petitions, but they need to gather some more, especially to stave off a legal challenge from opponent Hakeem Jeffries.... All Volunteer help is really critical. Petitions must be turned in to the state by July 9, so there are only a couple weeks left to get enough petitions to get on the primary ballot.

Click here for more info on how you can pitch in on Bill Batson's petition drive.

Posted by lumi at 9:23 AM

Eminent Domainia: Tomorrow, one-year anniversary of Kelo decision

Housejacked Here's a glance back at the Institute for Justice's press release from June 23, 2005, announcing the Supreme Court of the United States decision for the City of New London, CT.

A year later, the editorial comments on the Kelo decision are still resoundingly against the Supreme Court's decision:

Eminent domain wars
Eminent domain surges after ruling

Property Owners Win And Lose In Year After Kelo Case Ruling

NoLandGrab Note: Though the question to be decided in the Norwood, OH case is specific to Ohio state law, the case is important to Brooklynites because the arguments for and against the use of eminent domain are similar to Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal (private property being transferred to a private developer who owns all of the recently developed commercial property adjacent to the site, justified by a convenient finding of "blight") and the case may have bearing on Brooklyn if it is appealed to the US Supreme Court.

NoLandGrab Note: Though Supreme Court watchers can easily blame the decision on liberal justices, many progressive groups filed amicus briefs in favor of the homeowners.

Posted by lumi at 8:25 AM

Forest City in the news

NY Times Tower


A second law firm seals a deal to rent space in Forest City Ratner's portion of the Times Tower:

GlobeSt.com, Law Firms Consume Prime Midtown Space
LawFuel.com, Law Firm Covington Announces Office Move to New York Times Building


Mesa Del Sol Forest City buys additional land for the Mesa del Sol mixed-use development in Albuquerque:

Daily Business News, Cleveland, Forest City Covington NM, LLC Purchases 3,000 Acres at Mesa del Sol in Albuquerque
Crain's Cleveland Business, Forest City to co-develop N. Mexico project


FCE-Harrahs A one-year delay in awarding Pittsburgh's coveted slot-machine parlor license will not dissuade applicants, including Forest City:

Pittsburgh Business Times, Casino applicants say delay won't sway them

Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

No Mas Skyscrapers, Says MAS

MAS PitBrooklyn Downtown Star
By Nik Kovac

There might be a lot of good selling points for Forest City's massive development proposal in Prospect Heights, but good design principles are not among them, according to the Municipal Arts Society (MAS), a Manhattan-based advocacy group of architects, designers, and planners.

"The Forest City people would not be human if they did not wonder why we chose to focus on their project," conceded MAS President Kent Barwick, "when there are so many other more mundane and uninspiring proposals throughout the city. The answer is simple: Because so much is at stake."


Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

New Direction for CBAs?

Neighborhood Retail Alliance

Paid Ratner consultant Richard Lipsky blogged on the announcement that $350K is being earmarked by City Hall to form a Local Development Corporation (LDC) whose mission is to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) between Columbia University and community stakeholders in West Harlem for another project that will be using eminent domain "as a last resort."


NoLandGrab: Two questions come to mind.

1) Will City Hall find some bucks in their budget for the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods to pay for experts to analyze the Environmental Impact Statement for what is perhaps the largest, most dense private development proposal in NYC history?

2) Does Lipsky's concern that a Columbia CBA LDC is "actually representative of the impacted community" translate to the Ratner CBA, where many community stakeholders were left out in the cold?

Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM


Community Average Folk 101 wonders why Ratner is getting all the heat for the possible environmental impacts of the Atlantic Yards proposal when there are other developers who are already building in the area and aren't building affordable housing.


NoLandGrab: Neighborhood activists wonder where the Ratner CBA signatories were at the hearings for the Downtown Brooklyn Plan and the 4th Avenue rezoning that opened the floodgates for rampant development throughout Central Brooklyn.

Groups on both sides of the Atlantic Yards debate decry the lack of affordable housing — where they disagree is whether or not Ratner's proposal is an effective way to use taxpayer money to get it done.

Here's an idea that we all can agree on:

If the community really wants the best for the COMMUNITY-at-LARGE, then it is clear that all sides should come together, maintain equilibrium and work their differences out so that the community gets the best all around!

NLG: Maybe "Average Folk" can get Forest City Ratner President of Atlantic Yards Jim Stuckey to agree to reopen the "Community Benefits Agreement" to include the "COMMUNITY-at-LARGE."

Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM

Lethem Gets All Activisty

LethemPortrait.jpgThe Real Estate Observer By Matthew Schuerman

Lethem gets "activisty" and DePlasco gets testy.


NoLandGrab: We weren't going to get into Joe DePlasco's NY Sun quote (scroll down to bottom) where he went after novelist and project critic Jonathan Lethem because it was a minor point at the end of an article about regime change in Albany and its possible effect on the project. But now that Matthew Schuerman mentions it, we wonder how Der Meisterspinner has gotten his criticism all backwards (oh wait, that's his job).

Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

June 21, 2006

New Albany Administration May Be Hope Of Opponents of Atlantic Yards Plan

NY Sun
By Russell Berman

Opponents of Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards project have added celebrity clout to their cause in recent weeks, but their best hopes for scuttling plans to transform 22 acres of Brooklyn may hinge on a new administration in Albany.

The proposal is in the midst of the state land use review process, and a preliminary environmental impact statement is due next month. The Empire State Development Corporation says the timeline allows for construction to begin by the end of the year, but any delay could push the project into the hands of a new governor.

Neither the Democratic front-runner, Eliot Spitzer, nor his Republican opponent, John Faso, have stated a position on the current Atlantic Yards proposal, and neither campaign provided one yesterday.

Whether the coalition Develop – Don’t Destroy Brooklyn can succeed in forcing a rescaling of the Atlantic Yards development is an open question, but some urban planning scholars say they have a chance. An urban planning professor at Harvard University,Susan Fainstein,said the support of the next governor would be key,but she predicted that the project would be altered. “The huge number of residential and commercial buildings are likely to be shrunk,” she said.


Posted by lumi at 8:13 AM

Atlantic Yards Meet & Greet.


The Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement Coalition has started a series of “Meet and Greets” in Brooklyn, NY to both introduce community residents to the proposed $3.5 billion, Frank Gehry-designed Atlantic Yards project and to elicit additional feedback. The site includes a new Nets arena, up to 6,860 units of affordable and market-rate housing and at least 606,000 square feet of office space, 247,000 square feet of retail space, and 165,000 square feet of hotel space. The CBA will bring a host of benefits to the area, including jobs, business opportunities and affordable housing. The event was attended by several Housing Authority Tenant Association presidents and tenants as well as other community leaders and residents. Public housing residents receive preference in all aspects of the CBA, including jobs, business opportunities and housing. Future Meet & Greets are planned to occur regularly in the ensuing months.


Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

What's missing? Columnist Louis still sloppy on jobs, the CBA, and AY rhetoric

Atlantic Yards Report analyzes commentary by Errol Louis:

In his 6/1/06 "Commerce and Community" column in the Bed-Stuy-based Our Time Press, Daily News columnist Errol Louis offered a "back-of-the-envelope analysis" of the jobs at the Atlantic Yards project. Unfortunately he failed to mention some important context, closing with the ahistorical suggestion that "Brooklyn politicians who have already wasted years opposing the project... should be negotiating the details of exactly how to make sure the coming jobs go to constituents who need it."

Louis neglected to tell readers that some jobs at the project have already been subject to negotiations, under the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), and others simply fall outside any political oversight. (This column is no longer online, as it's been replaced by a more recent column, discussed below.) He also ignored the CBA in a recent Daily News column in which he identified five project supporters without pointing out that two are CBA signatories.


Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

Parking relief demand grows

NY Daily News
By Denise Romano and Elizabeth Hays

Rampant development in Central Brooklyn is renewing calls for a residential parking permit program.

Lydia Denworth, president of the Park Slope Civic Council, said many residents there also support permits as a way to cut down on commuter parking - and deal with increased traffic if the Atlantic Yards Nets arena goes through.

"It is definitely something the Civic Council is looking at seriously and is inclined to support," said Denworth.


Posted by lumi at 7:36 AM

Lethem's open letter to Gehry makes waves in the Blogosphere

Gehryzilla.jpg Blog About Town, BROOKLYN'S TROJAN HORSE

Ratner and his cronies owe Brooklynites an apology for being so deceptive about the disruptive effect their scheme is likely to have on the community.

Crazy Stable, Fortress of Rectitude

[Lethem] lays out in devastating clarity the awfulness of this plan, and scores a few points about Gehry and Ratner that I've never seen made quite so well.

Literary Kicks, Jonathan Lethem Protests Frank Gehry Building in Brooklyn

In fact, I gave Lethem's open letter to Frank Gehry a fair read -- and I disagree with him, not automatically but completely nonetheless.

Fancy Robot, Rudderless Brooklyn

Lethem, of course, follows the quote with just the sort of elegance one would expect from a writer of his calibre:

"Pardon me, but bleeechh."

My thoughts exactly, Jon.

Posted by lumi at 7:29 AM

Lethem Lets Gehry Have It

Brooklyn Record on Jonathan Lethem's open letter to Frank Gehry:

Jonathan Lethem, a native and current resident of Boerum Hill and our favorite local novelist, addresses Frank Gehry about "the ill-conceived and out-of-scale flotilla of skyscrapers you propose to build on a series of sites between Atlantic Avenue and Dean Street in Brooklyn," a.k.a. the Atlantic Yards project. For those who haven't been keeping up with the AY debate, his letter eloquently lays out the standpoint of those who oppose the project.


Brownstoner, Lethem Comes Out Swinging at Gehry

Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM


Though ours is bigger than theirs, Williamsburg joins Atlantic Yards in the race for over-development with a hedgerow of 28 towers, plus an additional four next door. The rub is that this section of Williamsburg was DOWNZONED last year in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning plan, in hopes of protecting the existing residential neighborhood.


NoLandGrab: The Williamsburg proposal, presented by Quadriad Realty Partners, would require a local zoning change. Bruce Ratner circumvented all local zoning for Atlantic Yards by getting NY State to take over the project.

Posted by lumi at 6:38 AM

June 20, 2006


NY Sun

Lawyers for the Atlantic Yards developer, Bruce Ratner, have dropped a lawsuit against an anonymous e-mailer who sent a spoof message several months ago. The e-mail was sent to a public supporter of Mr. Ratner’s project and appears to be written by Mr. Ratner. The e-mail, addressed to the Brooklyn Brewery president, Steve Hindy, stated that Mr. Ratner would not be purchasing beer from Mr. Hindy in the proposed arena that is part of the project. — Staff Reporter of the Sun


Posted by lumi at 9:05 AM

Would Atlantic Yards CBA be part of the emerging template? More doubts emerge

CBASeal.gif The Atlantic Yards Report

Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement may be "historic," but is it a model?


Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM

PRESS RELEASE: The Atomic Grind Show Opposes Atlantic Yards

Local Band Joins the Fight Against Bruce Ratner's "Atlantic Yards”

The Atomic Grind ShowBrooklyn, NY – The Atomic Grind Show, the carnival rock band that entrances audiences in backrooms, speakeasys and circuses throughout Gotham, announced today its opposition to the proposed Atlantic Yards development project in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

The members of The Atomic Grind Show, who all live in Brooklyn, strongly believe that they had to immediately make a public statement against a taxpayer boondoggle, super-sized development and the questionable use of eminent domain. “I was feeling political when I woke up this morning,” said dynamic male vocalist Joel Garland, “so I said to myself, ‘hey, let’s oppose Atlantic Yards’. Everyone's doing it.” Organist and emcee Shane Rettig quickly added, “This is not some cheap publicity stunt, either.”

“Putting an arena and sixteen skyscrapers at one of the busiest intersections in the city will mean even more time spent in the van on the way to a gig and even less time spent at the bar before the show. That's totally unacceptable,” said bassist Geoff Zink.

Observing how much momentum a musical talent can bring to a community-based cause with Dan Zanes’ recent Develop Don’t Destroy family benefit concert, the members of the Atomic Grind Show felt they needed to do the same. At their April 20, 2006 CD release party, The Atomic Grind Show debuted a composition entitled “The Rat King” to the attending crowd's delight.

"It’s funny because we didn't even have Bruce Ratner in mind when we wrote the song, but we later realized that the song described someone just like him" drummer Matt Moore explained. “It's a total coincidence,” exclaimed saxophonist Christian Parkess. “Life's kooky sometimes, isn't it?”

The live recording of “The Rat King” is available on The Atomic Grind Show's web site. Go to www.atomicgrindshow.com/Music.htm to listen.

Posted by lumi at 8:22 AM

Frank Gehry to Brooklyn: Drop Dead

The Left Behinds

Solomon Grundy's healthy skepticism of "tastemakers," like novelist Jonathan Lethem, is no match for "Transformers:"

The key word there is "tastemakers," as in people like Lethem and Gehry and their friends and fans. You know, people with taste. "Frank," he seems to be admonishing, "you can't possibly want to go out looking like that. For God's sake, New Yorkers don't wear scrunchies. Put something decent on."

So will these "ponderous skyscrapers and superblocks" be as aesthetically offensive as Lethem claims?

It's like some giant grey Transformer clomped its foot down on Park Slope. And imagine when in a few years all those pristine white beams get coated in soot from the neverending traffic jams that are projected as a direct result of this development (have you ever tried to drive through Flatbush or Atlantic during rush hour or on a weekend?). It'll be a Transformer's giant grey dirty foot.

Jonathan, you've convinced me: It's not just tastemakers who should be appalled by Gehry's designs.


Posted by lumi at 8:00 AM

Ratner Ridge Hill update

It looks like Forest City Ratner's embattled Ridge Hill project is getting close to receiving final approval after the rezoning passed in the Yonkers City Council, despite a neighboring town's attempt to sway public opinion in Yonkers towards reducing the project's size and mitigating traffic congestion.

Look for neighboring towns to continue their lawsuits seeking mitigation of environmental impacts.

GlobeSt.com, Council Action Paves Way for Vote
The Journal News, Greenburgh mailer targets Yonkers' Ridge Hill project

Posted by lumi at 7:39 AM


Manufacturers could find an affordable home in Brooklyn warehouses.

This short item in City Limits dispels two myths on one page.

1) There's no place for manufacturing jobs in the new NYC service-based economy.
2) Sports venue jobs are a great way to foster economic growth.

Two vacant government warehouses in Sunset Park could provide homes for several dozen manufacturing companies being displaced from other parts of the city and retain thousands of blue-collar jobs, according to a new report from the Center for an Urban Future.

The report finds that redeveloping the two buildings - Federal Building #2 at Third Avenue and 30th Street and Building A at the Brooklyn Army Terminal - would create 2 million square feet of new industrial space, a boon for manufacturers at a time when so many face a space crunch due to zoning changes, condo conversions and escalating rents.

This reuse could actually have a larger impact on the city's economy than high-profile projects - like new stadiums for the Yankees, Nets and Mets - that rely heavily on public subsidies and create fewer permanent jobs.


Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

Columbia’s Expansion

Here's a surprise: the Daily News editorial board has endorsed Columbia University (CU) expansion plans.

What The Wonkster forgot to mention in yesterday's post is that NoLandGrab tracks developments in Manhattanville because both the Atlantic Yards project and the CU expansion will use eminent domain to complete the acquisition of property.

The Daily News states that, "The university has purchased most of the properties west of Broadway between 125th and 133rd Sts." They left out the inconvenient truth — like in Prospect Heights the properties were purchased under threat of eminent domain.

Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

June 19, 2006

Brooklyn's Trojan Horse

What's wrong with the buildings Frank Gehry wants to put in my neighborhood?


Slate-Slideshow.gif Native Brooklyn novelist Jonathan Lethem tells Frank Gehry what he really thinks about the Atlantic Yards plan.

Letham on scale:

The scale of this project was one of Ratner's company's preconditions for the site; it's not something that originates in your aesthetic. Guess what? It's a huge mistake—emphasis on the huge.

...on Gehry's development partner Forest City Ratner:

In the spirit of calling a liar a liar, let me be absolutely clear: Your partners have been lying to Brooklyn.

...on "Ratner's abhorrent track record:"

it's these dim, soul-crushing buildings that created such distrust in Brooklynites in the first place.

...on the Williamsburg Savings Bank tower:

Your proposal would both dwarf and block sight of the tower, the rough equivalent of erecting a new World Trade Center within a block or two of the Chrysler Building.

...on the narrative behind "Miss Brooklyn:"

Pardon me, but bleeechh. I don't know whether many great buildings have been founded on notions at once so metaphorically impoverished and so slickly patronizing.

open letter

Posted by lumi at 3:27 PM



The NY Post
By Rich Calder

The Atlantic Yards bugaboo is traffic:

Brian Ketchum, an urban-planning consultant who has studied the plan, estimates it would create another 54,000 subway trips, 17,000 bus trips and 40,800 car trips - and claims that the borough's infrastructure isn't ready to handle it.

He also says that most of the extra trips would come from people living in the new residential units and that less than 20 percent would be related to arena events.

But don't worry, Marty says Bruce has a plan:

Markowitz says he believes Ratner will do what's needed to make sure roads in surrounding neighborhoods like Prospect Heights and Fort Greene aren't flooded with more traffic, such as creating financial incentives for people to use mass transit to get to games.

Local activist and long-time resident Patti Hagan states the obvious:

"The area is already jammed with traffic daily, and adding 20,000 more permanent residents" and another 18,000 "on game days would just make the gridlock even more unbearable."



NoLandGrab: It's not clear where the list of traffic mitigations in the graphic comes from. The third one is plain silly and unworkable. Many traffic and transportation advocates warn that all off the above are just lip service unless residential parking permits are implemented.

Posted by lumi at 3:16 PM

Bronx Board Is Shuffled After Rejecting New Stadium

The NY Times
By Timothy Williams

When a Bronx community board rejected the plan to build a new Yankee Stadium on land occupied by two neighborhood parks last year, the result was a surprising setback for Adolfo Carrión Jr., the Bronx borough president, who had been one of the new stadium's most ardent public supporters.

As Bronx borough president, Adolfo Carrión appoints members of community boards. This month, seven months after that vote, Mr. Carrión has replaced or demoted several of the board members. Some say Mr. Carrión's motives are to get rid of board members who voted against the stadium.


NoLandGrab: Last year Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz tried to pull a similar move against Atlantic Yards critic and Community Board 2 member Ken Diamondstone (as reported in, Brooklyn Papers) . With the support of many colleagues, Diamondstone fought back and was re-instated.

Posted by lumi at 3:05 PM


Gotham Gazette

Two NY State agencies are involved in Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal: the MTA, which agreed to sell the railyards to Ratner, despite the developer's low bid; and the Empire State Development Corporation, the "collaborating" agency that's handling the environmental review and approval process.

NY State's quasi-governmental corporations have long been the subject of scrutiny. These agencies act independently of the State Legislature, creating boondoggles for the politically connected, taking on additional debt and being held accountable to no one but the politicians who appoint the board members.

In 2005, the state enacted some measures to reform the authorities. But a report issued last month by the Commission on Public Authority Reform, known as the Millstein Commission after its chair Ira Millstein, said much more remained to be done. And some critics say even that panel did not go far enough. At a recent panel discussion, several experts discussed the problems with authorities and what could be done to fix them.


Posted by lumi at 2:52 PM

Nerts to Net

Field of Schemes

The Municipal Art Society has become the first citywide group in New York to oppose developer Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards development plan... saying that as currently constituted, the project would violate five basic urban design principles: respecting existing neighborhoods, retaining existing streets, keeping parkland accessible to the public, promoting street life, and reducing traffic.


Posted by lumi at 2:47 PM

BUILD claims MAS meeting was "trying to stop" jobs, housing, and opportunities

Atlantic Yards Report

BUILD sent a message to supporters that was not merely simplistic but thoroughly distorted the purpose of the meeting. "Come out to support affordable housing, jobs and business opportunities for our community," the flier said. There was no mention of the Municipal Arts Society.

The flier went on to list the groups and political figures sponsoring the MAS session--groups that actually were careful not to endorse the MAS's conclusions--and declared that they are "trying to STOP Jobs, Affordable Housing And The NETS Arena and Opportunities from coming to our community. Over Fifty (50%) percent of Black Men in OUR Community are unemployed."


Posted by lumi at 8:33 AM

Community Average Folk 101

A new pro-Ratner blog has sprung up, claiming the voice of the "Community Average Folk."

The first postings are a call to "community average folk" (read: not Atlantic Yards critics), to raise their voices in support of the Jobs, Housing and Hope that Ratner's project offers and a defense of Ratner's partnership with a Manhattan-based basketball clinic operator.


NoLandGrab: Unfortunately for all Brooklynites — plain or extraordinary, old-timers or newcomers — Ratner's $3.5-billion, 8.7-million-sq.-ft. plan is anything but average. It's probably the largest and most dense private development in NYC history, whose benefits are speculative, but size isn't.

Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

"Gehry's Plan for Brooklyn"


Rose's family had the rights to the sight (sic) in the 1970s, and Rose's cousin Jonathan tried to develop the site in a more enlightened way, with a project designed by the New Urban planner Peter Calthorpe. You can find the design and its history in Peter Katz's New Urbanism book. They planned an office tower over the railyards, surrounded by low and medium rise development that knit the neighborhoods together where their form unraveled at Atlantic Avenue. Their plan was for the immediate site around the railyards, while Ratner has persuaded the Empire State Development Corporation to use its powers of eminent domain to considerably expand the site.

But Jonathan Rose was stopped by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which sued to prevent the development, saying that Rose's single tower over the railyards would cause more pollution than low-rise development.

"If I don't build this project at this transportation hub, the pollution will be worse," Rose said (paraphrasing), "because the jobs in the tower will be spread around Long Island or New Jersey, where the workers will drive to them."

"Yes, but Long Island and New Jersey aren't under our watch," the NRDC said, "New York is," in a position just as focused on the short-term and individual interest as Ratner's.


NoLandGrab: The big question here is, why has the NRDC been silent on the Ratner proposal that contains 16 towers?

To be clear, the Rose plan was NOT sited over the railyards (see re_lapse's animated timeline of the Atlantic Terminal Renewal Area); however, it did propose a more human scale than Ratner's. Both plans have been identified as colossal taxpayer-funded boondoggle.

Posted by lumi at 8:07 AM

More CBA Controversy

Neighborhood Retail Alliance

Forest City Ratner-paid-consultant Richard Lipsky agrees that Community Benefits Agreements need to be reviewed, though he steers clear of the Atlantic Yards CBA, which Brooklynites can assume he supports:

We do agree that the process needs to be made more rational so that the slick Potamkin (sic) Village style CBAs (like the one for Gateway) aren't deemed acceptable. The mayor and the council are apparently reviewing the entire issue and, as land use chair Melinda Katz says, "We can probably learn a lot from other jurisdictions..."


Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

June 18, 2006

LEMON-AID: When life gives you skyscrapers...


For immediate release
by Peter von Ziegesar

When eight-year-old Maya von Ziegesar attended Dan Zane's concert at the Hanson Place Church last month, she learned to her dismay that the 16 new skyscrapers going up near her Fort Greene home would cast a shadow over her window in the morning. She decided to join the fight against overdevelopment in Brooklyn by setting up a lemonade stand on her stoop one Saturday morning. Two hours later, Maya and her friends Leah and Lina, had raised over $30 by passing the word and selling ice-cold lemonade to friendly passersby -- mostly local residents on their way to or from the Fort Greene farmer's market. She carried the cash donation next door to a member of the Fort Greene Association committee on the Atlantic Yards.

Pictured is Maya von Ziegesar, who with two school friends set up a lemonade stand on her South Portland Avenue stoop to benefit DDDB. Maya is eight and a Ft. Greene resident. She says: "I don't want those buildings to go up, because I don't like skyscrapers and I like waking up in the morning with lots of light."

Posted by amy at 11:49 AM



New York Post

A bevy of Brooklyn beauties is heating up a pinup calendar touting the borough.

"Each month features a girl-next-door photographed at a traditional site in her specific Brooklyn neighborhood," said Windsor Terrace native and Brooklyn College junior Jennifer Baker, 21, one of the three Catholic-schooled founders of Brooklyn Calendar Girls LP.


How could anyone have overlooked such an obvious choice for centerfold?

Posted by amy at 11:27 AM

From New York City Sporting News


by Mark Clayton

"We’re helping Forest City Ratner come to Brooklyn because they promise that they will get jobs for the community and it’s always better to be sitting at the table since the Nets are coming here anyway….." This is a statement that has been heard from people who are entrenched in the Brooklyn sports community, ever since the announcement was made that Forest City Ratner was purchasing the Nets and moving them to Brooklyn.

Well folks your hopes and dreams are fading fast because the Nets have pulled the ultimate "dis" on the Brooklyn sports community. For over a year sports directors and coaches from Brooklyn had been standing behind podiums, making speeches and gathering kids to form clinics, all in the name of supporting the Brooklyn Nets and their possible move to Brooklyn. They all have hopes of being a part of the Nets system if they ever get to Brooklyn.

Hold on to your hats because this is a good one; The Forest City Ratner Group has gone across the water to Manhattan to allow the folks at Basketball City the opportunity to be in charge of basketball clinics in Brooklyn. For those of you who are serious Brooklyn basketball fans you can ask yourself "when has Basketball City ever cared about Brooklyn?". You know the answer.

This is the ultimate slap in the face to those of the Brooklyn sports community who have been operating basketball clinics for years and have been crucial to the development of Brooklyn kids. Here it is that the Ratner Group is still in need of support from the Brooklyn sports community but their disrespect is so deep that they would rather risk the support in order to have the owners of Basketball City in charge of their Brooklyn clinics. Obviously they do not feel that anyone from Brooklyn is capable of overseeing their clinics for kids. If they do not feel that the Brooklyn sports community is capable of running kids camps then ask yourself what will they allow you to do if they get to Brooklyn? The answer is "nothing".


Posted by amy at 11:19 AM

Rapper Jay-Z Decides to Boycott Cristal


Associated Press Writer

"It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud views the `hip-hop' culture as 'unwelcome attention,'" Jay-Z said. "I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands including the 40/40 Club nor in my personal life."

Yet ironically Mr.Z seems to have missed Mr. Ratner's views on Mr.Z's beloved neighborhood:

Of course, other racially-charged issues may get a bye. Note that Daughtry, who recently said he had always "found Forest City Ratner Companies to be an organization that cares about the communities in which its projects are built," has not criticized Bruce Ratner's racially-coded explanation for the forbidding design of the Atlantic Center Mall. Ratner told the Times: “Look, here you’re in an urban area, you’re next to projects, you’ve got tough kids.”


Gumby Fresh jumps into the fray with this summary:

But to Mr. Z we say boo-goddamn hoo. I'll show you a proper boycott. Stop trying to flatten my sodding bar.

Posted by amy at 11:01 AM

Doughnut Blog

This Sunday morning you might want to enjoy a different kind of Doughnut. This Doughnut is British and does not seem to like FCR's plans. The blog has a number of fun Atlantic Yards proposal stories, including "Rumble in the Rubble: Atlantic Yards Celebrity Deathmatch"

Who's sexier whilst pensive?




You might also want to pay a visit to a familar looking Delta City...

Posted by amy at 10:44 AM

Hakeem Jeffries: Principled Compromise

Democracy Forum: Americana offers the following advice for Hakeem regarding the "Atlantic Yards thingie": 1.Really work on schmoozing and 2.Right does not always win.

Looks like this election hinges on one thing: this Atlantic Yards thingie. This was an issue also in Bloomberg's reelection effort. It is some kind of a project I don't know much about. Bill Batson is against it. Hamilton is for it. Hakeem Jeffries wants a "principled compromise."

I plead ignorance. I don't know a whole lot. I am not too familiar with the local contours of what Hakeem is dealing with. But if I were to offer advice, it would be as follows.


Posted by amy at 10:13 AM

More Taxpayer Funded Boondoggles

from Develop Don't Destroy:

Forest City Ratner is not the only developer building luxury condos off the taxpayer's back. Magic is in Fort Greene, the Clarett Group is in Fort Greene; developers all over the city are taking advantage of the misguided and abused 421a tax break, while Forest City takes advantage of nearly every tax break and subsidy known to all of developer-kind.


Posted by amy at 9:45 AM

June 17, 2006

Atlantic Yards Lite?


Village Voice
Neil deMause

Secondly, the indigestible lump in the plan is the Nets basketball arena: Remove the requirement for a superblock large enough to fit an arena, and suddenly there's no need to seize buildings by eminent domain, you can leave 5th Avenue open, and Ratner's "Miss Brooklyn" skyscraper can be slid east so it no longer blocks views of the Williamsburgh Bank clock tower. ("Brooklyn's wristwatch, so I'm told," noted MAS architect John West.) Ratner and his celebrity architect, Frank Gehry, have certainly shown a willingness to adapt their plan to curry public favor, going through what seems like a new crumpled-paper-and-balsa-wood model a week, but whether he'd consider ditching the arena depends on whether you believe that the hoops-fan-come-lately Ratner is really committed to bringing the NBA to Brooklyn, or merely has his eyes on the prize that is Brooklyn's last undeveloped prime real estate.


Posted by amy at 10:15 AM

Atlantic Yards can’t ‘work’

Brooklyn Papers:

One of the city’s most-respected urban planning organizations weighed in on Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards this week, saying the project simply “won’t work” for Brooklyn.

Municipal Art Society President Kent Barwick offered that assessment before a packed house of 500 people at the Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church — a mildly stinging rejection of Ratner’s 17-skyscraper, 8.7-million-square-foot arena and commercial development in low-rise Prospect Heights.

Barwick said the Society assessed Atlantic Yards using five “design criteria”: does it “respect the existing neighborhoods”; does it “eliminate streets”; does it “create a real public park”; does it “promote lively streets”; and does it “choke” traffic.

By those criteria, Atlantic Yards earned a score of 1 out of 4, according to architect and planner John West, who gave the Society’s PowerPoint presentation at Thursday night’s forum.



Posted by amy at 10:09 AM

June 16, 2006

How BIG is Atlantic Yards?

Comparison made in the Municipal Art Society presentation "Can it work for Brooklyn?", 6/15/06.


Posted by lumi at 5:07 PM


$3M in old bank building

Brooklyn Papers
By Dana Rubinstein

On the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower rebranded as One Hanson Place by a Magic Johnson's development group:

Johnson says he’ll move into one of the 189 luxury units in the building, a short walk from Bruce Ratner’s proposed arena for the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets.

“I’ll be able to walk to a Nets game,” said the former Los Angeles Lakers star, whose Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds spent an undisclosed amount to renovate the $70-million building.

While the well-heeled VIPs sipped martinis, a dozen members of ACORN, an affordable housing advocacy group, picketed outside to protest the absence of low-cost units.

But Johnson defended the project.

“It would be unfair to say we haven’t tried our hardest,” said Johnson. “But if the numbers don’t work, they don’t work … We have to answer to [our] investors.”

Buyers of luxury apartments in the building will benefit from the city’s 421-a tax-abatement program.


Posted by lumi at 4:18 PM

Brooklyn Borough President Lowers Boom on Marty Slams Owens

Carib News
By Tony Best

Marty Markowitz has declined to endorse any candidate for the 11th District US Congressional race, but that hasn't stopped the Beep from slamming Chris Owens over the candidate's stance on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal and for endorsing Marty's opponent during the last election.


NoLandGrab: Can we assume that Marty no longer takes his mother's advice?

Posted by lumi at 4:03 PM

Atlantic Yards Project Violates Principles of Urban Planning

WNYC, NY Public Radio
By Andrea Berstein

Broadening the debate over the proposed arena/high rise project beyond the borders of Brooklyn, Kent Bartwick, head of the the civic planning group told a packed forum last night that 20 urban planning professionals examined the project for eight months. The group looked at whether the project respected surrounding neighborhoods, would create real parks and an active street life, and whether it would clog streets.

And the Municipal Art Society decided the project - as currently envisioned - failed to meet those goals.


Posted by lumi at 1:33 PM

David Yassky on the Issues

An experienced Councilman with a record of progressive legislation

From PlanetPLG.com:


1) Do you support or oppose Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development project?

I support a professional sports team in Brooklyn, and the addition of affordable housing, new commercial space and an arena to Downtown. I do not support, however, the scale of Mr. Ratner's project, nor do I feel that the City and State governments have done nearly enough to prepare for the thousands of new commuters and residents that any new significant development would bring. Before I can endorse the Ratner plan to develop the Atlantic Yards area, the number and size of buildings in the development must be reduced significantly. Also, a realistic, comprehensive infrastructure and traffic plan must be developed and implemented. Even though so much investment in Downtown would provide jobs, tax revenue and cheaper housing for Brooklynites, this both potentially beneficial and detrimental project is not yet ready to be executed.

2) In general, what is your position on governmental use of eminent domain in support of private development projects?

I believe in the use of eminent domain for the public good, but only as an absolute last resort by government. If eminent domain becomes necessary, landowners must be compensated accordingly, including payments that exceed the market value of their property, and added expenses for relocation.


NoLandGrab: Let's be clear, Yassky supports the expanded definition of eminent domain for "the public good" as opposed to merely "public use," as the US Constitution allows. The Councilmember should also explain when isn't eminent domain used as a "last resort."

Brooklyn to Yassky: Even The NY Times knows that Bruce Ratner's proposal isn't in Downtown Brooklyn.

Also, in "Ratner Finally Bags Himself a Yassky" on Daily Gotham, mole333 tries real hard to give Yassky the benefit of the doubt until the Councilmember runs into the three-strike rule.

Posted by lumi at 12:30 PM

Group Calls for Major Changes in Atlantic Yards Plan

The NY Times
By Nick Confessore

A leading architectural and design association called yesterday for significant changes to the proposed Atlantic Yards project near Downtown Brooklyn, saying that the current plan would overwhelm the surrounding neighborhoods and burden the area with more traffic.

Members of the Municipal Art Society, an association of architects, designers and planners founded in 1893, leveled the criticisms during a presentation last night at a church in Fort Greene, not far from where the developer Forest City Ratner Companies wants to build an 8.7 million-square-foot residential, arena, and office project.

"Does this project work for Brooklyn?" asked Kent Barwick, the society's president. "As it currently stands, we don't think it does."


Posted by lumi at 9:17 AM

MAS says FCR's current plan "won't work," panel, crowd pile on criticism

Atlantic Yards Report

Municipal Art Society Norman Oder's detailed account of last night's Municipal Art Society (MAS) presentation begins with Kent Barwick's declaration that "Forest City Ratner’s current plan won’t work for Brooklyn" and goes on to cover the guiding principles of MAS's analysis of the plan proposal.

Stuart Pertz, an architect who serves on the MAS Planning Committee and was formerly on the city Planning Commission, elaborated on the principles: 1) Respect the existing neighborhoods 2) Don’t eliminate streets 3) Create a real public park 4) Promote lively streets 5) Don’t choke the streets

He cited the scale of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods, the importance of public parks that face streets, and the problem if a development presents “an extreme difference in scale” with neighboring streets.


Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM

Yassky bill would push $3M to Ratner crony

Brooklyn Papers
By Ariella Cohen

City Councilman David Yassky is under fire for asking city taxpayers to underwrite a promise that Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner made to a handful of community organizations.

Under the provisions of a “community benefits agreement” negotiated by Ratner and the groups, the developer and his supporters pledged to create a job-training program.

Thus far, Ratner has given $285,000 towards that worker-training program, which is being administered by Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD).

Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights) now proposes a city contribution of $3 million — more than 10 times what Ratner’s given.

Critics were quick to point out that Yassky submitted the budget request after BUILD President James Caldwell and other CBA signatories endorsed his bid to succeed retiring Rep. Major Owens (D-Crown Heights) in the mostly black 11th congressional district in central Brooklyn.

Yassky declined to respond to critics who accused him of bailing out Ratner, but said through a spokesman that the money would be well spent.
Critics say the bid for public funding is another example of the developer relying on taxpayers to make good on his promises.


Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

Forest City Unveils Met Lofts Project

By Bob Howard

For Forest City Ratner enthusiasts, here's an article announcing a mixed-use loft-like development in Downtown L.A.'s South Park district.


NoLandGrab: Hmm... could we describe the Atlantic Yards proposal as being in Downtown Brooklyn's Prospect Heights district?

Posted by lumi at 8:12 AM

Ridge Hill gets new support on City Council

The Journal News
By Hannan Adely

In other Ratner news, it looks like Forest City Ratner may be edging towards approval for their controversial Ridge Hill development proposal in Yonkers. One Yonkers City Councilmember has reached an agreement with the developer over increased tax revenue and pledges to support the project. For project detractors, the issue of traffic congestion and planning remain.

The proposed Ridge Hill development may get the support it needs to become reality, now that Councilwoman Sandy Annabi has come out in favor of the project.

Annabi announced yesterday that she would switch positions and support the project because the developer had agreed to pay more taxes on the property over the next three years. The developer, Forest City Ratner, now plans to pay $10.9 million over three years, instead of $900,000, Annabi and the developer's representative said.


Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

FCR Sued, Issued Violation for Pacific Street Demo

Brownstoner covers Forest City Ratner's problems over the demolition and stop work order at 620 and 622 Pacific Street.


Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

June 15, 2006

TONIGHT: Municipal Art Society Public Forum


Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church
144 St. Felix Street (@Hanson Pl.)

Thursday, June 15 6:30-8:30PM

Forum is free and open to the public. Please arrive promptly, as seating is limited.

Transit: B, D, M, N, Q, R, 2, 3, 4, 5 and LIRR to Atlantic Ave./Pacific St.; G to Fulton St.; C to Lafayette Ave. (map).

Hosted by New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, State Assembly Members Joan Millman and James Brennan, and City Council Member Letitia James, and the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, the Boerum Hill Association, the Brooklyn Heights Association, the Fort Greene Association, the Society for Clinton Hill, the Park Slope Civic Council and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

Posted by lumi at 8:38 AM

Developer of Atlantic Yards Is Cited for Failing to Stop Demolition Work

The NY Times
By Nick Confessore

The Times picks up Norman Oder's story about illegal demolition and tenants' charges of intimidation:

The city's Buildings Department issued a violation yesterday to Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the proposed Atlantic Yards project near Downtown Brooklyn, on the ground it did not obey an order to stop demolition work on a building on the project site.

The stop-work order was issued on Saturday, after inspectors responding to a complaint about the demolition work found several building code violations, including a defective safety fence at the demolition site, formerly home to small auto garages at 622 and 620 Pacific Street.

Though Forest City Ratner contractors fixed the fence after getting the stop-work order and resolved other problems, they did not seek a required reinspection to lift the order, said Jennifer Givner, a Department of Buildings spokeswoman.
Contractors began tearing down the vacant Pacific Street buildings with hand tools — as required by the Buildings Department — on May 30. A backhoe was brought to the site on June 7 to help clear debris and level the ground, company officials said.

But Ms. Anderson and other residents say the backhoe was also used to demolish the exterior walls of the two lots, violating the building code and endangering residents living in 624 Pacific. They filed complaints last week with the city and took pictures of the backhoe at work.
No one was injured by the demolitions. Forest City officials said that the infractions cited by the Buildings Department were minor and that 624 Pacific, which the company owns, suffered no structural damage.
Pictures taken by Ms. Anderson and another resident, David Gochfeld, appeared to show the backhoe pulling down first-story sections of the buildings' exterior walls. But Ms. Givner said that inspectors visiting the site on several occasions did not see the backhoe being used unlawfully.


Atlantic Yards Report follow up:
After Pacific Street demolition continues, criminal complaint to be filed
Norman Oder adds three points to his previous report:
1) Forest City Ratner (FCR) knew that one of the adjacent properties was inhabited, but sent a document to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) that said it wasn't. 2) FCR violated its explicit declaration to the ESDC that the exterior walls would be demolished "primarily with hand tools." 3) It appears that the ESDC is protecting FCR from public scrutiny. The tenants' lawyer, George Locker, twice requested documents pertaining to the demolition, in February this year and again in April. The ESDC released the documents only after demolition commenced in June.

The Times follows up: another violation issued for Pacific Street demolition

There's more to the story: the ESDC's delay in informing tenant lawyer George Locker of plans to demolish the building until after the demolition; the alleged starting time of 6:15 a.m. on June 7, 45 minutes before the law allows; the apparent failure of Forest City Ratner to inform its tenants of the planned demolition; and Forest City Ratner's initial combative response to attorney Locker's charges that the contractors said they didn't know that 624 Pacific was occupied.

Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

Booker to reevaluate Newark arena deal

Incoming Newark Mayor Corey Booker is fulfilling his campaign pledge to reevaluate the NJ Devils arena deal for Downtown Newark.

Home News Tribune [Central Jersey], Newark's Booker 1, arena 0
AP via Myrtle Beach Sun News, Booker reevaluating new downtown arena with eye on costs

Posted by lumi at 7:08 AM

Marty on the "take out"

Has Marty broken his pledge to "lighten up Brooklyn?" Regretfully, we share the photographic evidence that the Borough President may be on the "take out."

Marty Markowitz

Posted by lumi at 6:45 AM

Brooklyn Brewery Beer: A Neighborhood-Friendly Brew?

Here's one we missed from Monday — Gowanus Lounge asks:

Does it matter if Brooklyn Brewery suds is the brew that anti-Atlantic Yards, anti-McCarren Pool concerts Brooklynites love to hate? Since the brewery is clearly cutting deals that will help it sell as much beer as possible and since marketing is about raising visibility, does controversy oddly play into Brooklyn Brewery's hands?


NoLandGrab: Add another kicker against the community — Brooklyn Brewery's Steve Hindy is a supporter of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Though you'd never know it from the name, The Conservancy is the group that wants to build condo towers in the waterfront park to make it "self-sustaining."

Someone should ask Hindy why the Brooklyn Bridge Park must be self-sustaining (it's a park for heaven's sake!), while it's perfectly fine that Ratner's $3.5-billion arena/high-rise project receives over a billion bucks in taxpayer funding.

Posted by lumi at 6:44 AM

Atlantic Yards Opponents Bring Up the "Coney Island Arena Solution" Again

Gowanus Lounge

Coney Island Arena Site

Atlantic Yards opponents are again suggesting a "Coney Island arena solution" as an alternative to the huge Forest City Ratner project at Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. In the latest salvo from Develop-Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Daniel Goldstein says, "Coney Island is a viable location for an arena in Brooklyn that requires a serious and hard look. It was built for crowds and can use the 'off season' shot in the arm that a professional basketball arena could bring."


Posted by lumi at 5:58 AM

June 14, 2006

The Developer-Opponent-Media-Industrial Complex

The Real Estate Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

Forest City Ratner says it has received "approximately 20,000" responses to its Atlantic Yards mailer, the apparent majority of them saying that the affordable housing was the most important part of the proposed development, according to a press release.


UPDATE: The Observer reporter posted the full Forest City Ratner press release.

NoLandGrab: Readers will find it hard to believe that NLG isn't on Ratner's media list. [Where is the love?] But, we'll post the release when we dig one up.

We've all had a good laugh at "Liar Flier III," but let's look at the incredible claim that "approximately 20,000" responses were received.

A response rate of 2% is considered to be a big success with direct mailings. Which begs the questions, did Ratner send out 1,000,000 12-page four-color brochures, or did they actually achieve a response rate of over 6% if the brochure was sent to approx 300,000 households, as with past mailings? There's no way to know since the entire thing was a promotional campaign for a meadow-laden 22-acre project to be built on an eight-acre railyard whose purpose was to provide data for a summertime press release.

In consideration of "the data," the only offer on the return card was a check box stating, "YES! Please let me know when housing applications are available." It would stand to reason that a majority of respondents who want the inside track on housing applications are interested in "affordable housing."

CONCLUSION: Bruce Ratner spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn that Brooklynites are deeply concerned about affordable housing.

Posted by lumi at 9:01 AM

In Major Projects, Agreeing Not to Disagree

The NY Times
By Terry Pristin

An article about the popularity and pitfalls of Community Benefits Agreements:

Since 2001, when a comprehensive community benefits agreement was struck for a hotel-and-entertainment project now being developed in Los Angeles next to the Staples Center sports arena, the trend has quickly spread to other cities, including Denver, Milwaukee, Chicago and Washington. Advocates of C.B.A.'s, as they are known, see them as an outgrowth of the Smart Growth movement — the idea that development decisions should address a broad range of social and economic issues like transportation, jobs and housing.

In New York, however, some critics are wondering if this trend is threatening to distort the planning process. They say the danger is that local groups will agree not to oppose the projects in exchange for favors that may be unrelated to the project's impact on the neighborhood.

Critics of the Atlantic Yards (whose developer is a partner to The New York Times Company in its new headquarters building on Eighth Avenue) and other agreements have questioned whether the groups signing the document really speak for the community. "Groups pop up and you're not sure who they represent," said Patricia A. Jones, the co-chairwoman of the Manhattan Community Board 9 task force on Columbia University's expansion in Manhattanville. Ms. Jones contends that development plans ought to be reviewed by community boards, which are currently excluded from the C.B.A. process, before the benefits are meted out. "They can look at the bigger picture," she said.


Times article on CBA flaws: some dismay but few specifics re Atlantic Yards deal
The man who writes faster than most people read, Norman Oder, has already posted commentary on Atlantic Yards Report, explaining how the Times missed an opportunity to compare the prototype agreement for the Staples Center in LA to the "illegitimate" agreements Ratner signed with individual groups in Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 8:53 AM

Yassky on the Yards

Left Behinds give hot props to Yassky's aide Evan Thies before posting the insta-response to an inquiry seeking Councilmember and Congressional candidate David Yassky's position on Atlantic Yards:

Mr. Grundy:

Thank you for your note. In fact, Council Member Yassky does not support the current Ratner plan, and has not supported any other plan for development at Atlantic Yards as erroneously reported yesterday in the New York Times. David has said that he would welcome a professional sports team to Brooklyn, as well as development at the MTA site. But there are many problems with the latest proposal. Chief among them is the scale of the project. David does not believe that Downtown and Brownstone Brooklyn's infrastructure can handle such out-of-scale development, nor does he think that the current plan has considered surrounding communities such as yours.

David would like to see the housing, jobs and investment for Brooklyn that an arena and new development at Atlantic Yards would bring. But, until significant changes are made, he will not support the project.

Thank you again for your note,
Evan Thies


NoLandGrab: It's not clear, but the article to which Thies referrs could be from last October's hearing.

What's confusing the press and Brooklynites alike is the fact that Yassky has stated in the past that he has not endorsed Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, but is currently seeking $3 million of city money to fund Bruce Ratner's Community Benefits Agreement signed with BUILD.

Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM

Yonkers Council seeks Ridge Hill compromise

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

Since developer Bruce Ratner issued an ultimatum to the City of Yonkers — approve the Ridge Hill plan by June 15 or we're walking — the City Council has been trying to broker a compromise that will satisfy the County's concerns over traffic congestion.

Will Ratner extend the deadline to tomorrow's City Council meeting? Will it make a difference?


NoLandGrab: Win, lose or draw, Brooklynites have to be impressed, and a little envious, by how each development concerning the controversial $600-million Ridge Hill project has been covered by the Westchester daily press.

It takes an army of "screamers" and "kooks" to get the cynical NYC press to even breathe a word about a $3.5-billion project with the most expensive arena ever and, as far as anyone can tell, the most dense residential environment in NYC.

Posted by lumi at 7:32 AM


Crain's NY Business, Letter to the Editor
June 5, 2006

To the editor:

In the May 22 article "Building in Brooklyn," Crain's wrote that the first mission for Jim Stuckey of Forest City Ratner "is to steer past the media-savvy blog masters who have mounted a David-like effort to stop Atlantic Yards."

As a journalist who closely follows the Atlantic Yards project in my blog, I can tell you how Stuckey and his company "steer past" us unpaid volunteers. They spend large sums on public relations materials and paid print advertising; they don't answer my questions; and they barred me from the May 11 press conference at which architect Frank Gehry discussed new designs for the project. Perhaps they were afraid of questions about Mr. Gehry's former claim that the development would be "coming way back," about their plan for "interim surface parking" on two large areas of the proposed project footprint, and about Forest City's outlandish (yet often-repeated) claim that Atlantic Yards would provide $6 billion in new tax revenue to the city and state.

Norman Oder

Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

June 13, 2006


An Arena at Coney Island Could Bring Potential End to Pitched Battle Over Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" Skyscraper and Arena Proposal
Built for Crowds–With Ample Space–Brooklyn's One-time Entertainment Destination Could Rise Again

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK -- Three blogs in the past three days have made extensive arguments as to why Coney Island is a viable and excellent location for a professional basketball arena in Brooklyn. Former Salt Lake City Deputy Mayor and transportation consultant Brian Hatch, on his New York Games blog ("Ratner Originally Wanted a Coney Island Arena"), sports columnist Michael O'Keeffe on the Daily News' I-Team blog ("The Coney Island Nets") and critic Norman Oder on his Atlantic Yards Report ("Coney Island the place for an arena? Marty used to think so") each have laid out the arguments and history that explain why Coney Island must re-enter the discussion as a suitable and even better location for a Brooklyn sports arena than the one proposed by Forest City Ratner at the busiest traffic intersection in the borough.

Until just before the unveiling of Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" skyscraper and arena proposal, Borough President and project booster, Marty Markowitz, argued (scroll down) for a professional basketball arena at Coney Island.

"Coney Island is a viable location for an arena in Brooklyn that requires a serious and hard look. It was built for crowds and can use the 'off season' shot in the arm that a professional basketball arena could bring. The only question that needs to be answered is if the good people in the Coney Island area desire and would accept an arena. And there is a history of political leaders in Coney Island welcoming an arena development," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "Ignoring the strong arguments for, and a discussion about, an arena in Coney Island would emphasize the intransigence of Forest City Ratner when it comes to discussing what is best for all of Brooklyn. There has been no valid argument made as to why the arena needs to be coupled with the housing development Forest City Ratner has proposed."

On his blog, Mr. Hatch retraces a history that shows Marty Markowitz and Coney Island's City Council Member Dominic Recchia both wanted and welcomed a professional arena in Coney Island:

As the Daily News reported: "'Brooklyn deserves a sports team on a national stage,' Markowitz said, noting Coney Island's huge success with minor league baseball."

Coney Island's Council Member wholeheartedly supported the arena:

Coney Island City Councilman Domenic Recchia thinks it's a great idea, too. "I think there's room to build an arena complex in Coney Island," Recchia said. "I would welcome Bruce Ratner into my neighborhood with open arms. I would welcome the Nets to Brooklyn and Coney Island any day.

This stands in stark contrast to the pitched battle in Prospect Heights.

But that was then. Seeking better real estate opportunities in Prospect Heights, the tune has changed on Coney Island for Ratner and Markowitz. And to keep Coney Island officials in line, funding for a rec center there appears to have been held hostage until the Prospect Heights arena is approved…

"History and Brian Hatch make a very strong case for an arena in Coney Island. There is city owned land to build it (thus eliminating the use of eminent domain), a $250 million rebuilt Stillwell subway terminus built for crowds, a highway and the Coney Island area could use this kind of development to spur its economy in a way that the Prospect Heights area does not need," said DDDB president Eric Reschke. "The pitched battle of the past 30 months over Ratner's 'Atlantic Yards' could potentially be resolved if the developer and political officials see the benefits of an arena in Coney Island, providing more space for affordable housing in Prospect Heights. Then the developer's stated goals of 'Jobs, Housing, and Hoops,' could be achieved while building at a respectful and reasonable density and scale over the rail yards and on the properties the developer has purchased."

Forest City Ratner's proposal to build the most expensive arena ever built, with the added costs of building over an active rail yard, in a large part is driving the extreme density (three times as dense as Battery Park City) and out-of-character scale of the proposed project.

Hatch writes on his New York Games blog:

Coney Island the superior site
Coney Island is much more appropriate than Prospect Heights for the arena:

Land use:
Coney Island has been built for crowds from its inception. Glitzy new plans continue the tradition. Prospect Heights is a brownstone neighborhood. Ratner points out that many subway lines go through the Atlantic Avenue station. Seven lines go through the West Fourth station. Does that mean the Village should have 60 story towers?

Prospect Heights has no highway and is gridlocked by several roads converging at this location. Coney Island has transit and a highway, and is even accessible by ferry. The Coney Island subway station is the largest in the system. Being a terminal, up to eight trains can wait at a time. As soon as a train departs, the adjacent Coney Island yard can replace it. Road access is superior at Coney Island. Corporate types arriving by car to go to their suites are what makes a professional team work these days. The Belt Parkway can get congested, but the gridlock at Atlantic and Flatbush is much worse and would be a continuing threat to the team's viability.

Without an arena, the density of housing in "Atlantic Yards" can actually increase while decreasing the height of the towers to a level the community can accept. This is because the arena takes up so many acres of land that it pushes the towers up to Manhattan heights.

Coney Island has supported an arena for years. Prospect Heights has been fighting one for years. Even if the Prospect Heights arena is approved, the developer faces a "bleeder" where the surrounding neighborhood will fight it as long as it exists. The two main objections to the "Atlantic Yards" are the arena, with its traffic and need for eminent domain, and the thicket of towers, and their density and height. Both can be fixed by bringing back the Coney Island Sportsplex.

It was all-or-nothing for a West Side stadium. The Jets and NYC2012 got the latter. The Nets are on the same fateful path.

Posted by lumi at 3:37 PM

A rude awakening: Violations issued for FCR's Pacific Street demolition

622Pacific-Blightification.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

While Brooklyn beat reporters looked on with envy when The NY Times ran an exclusive warm-n-fuzzy story about displaced footprint residents, the entire press corp neglected to get last week's story about Forest City Ratner's demolition excesses and strong-arm tactics against footprint tenants. [It sorta sucks for the mainstream media that journalist Norman Oder is getting the best stories these days.]

622 Pacific Street — you know, the building where Forest City Ratner used a typical blightification technique by leaving the windows open to expose the structure to the elements — came down in a shower of bricks at 6:15AM, shaking the rent-stablized tenants at 624 Pacific St. (now owned by Ratner) from their beds.

622Pacific-Backhoe.jpg Norman Oder chronicles how Forest City Ratner used a backhoe to bring down walls adjacent to other buildings, instead of hand tools as specified by the demolition permits, and attorney George Locker's repeated attempts to address tenants' rights and safety by trying to get the developer to back up their repeated promises to fairly treat tenants in the footprint.

The Department of Buildings has issued a handful of violations:

The citations include: a defective fence; a failure to weatherproof the wall of the adjacent building (624 Pacific); and a failure to post DOT permits regarding the rubbish container on the street. (Photo at right taken Thursday by Norman Oder).

Forest City Ratner's contractor apparently should not have been using a backhoe in the first place, though no violation has yet been issued.


NoLandGrab: This isn't the first time that Forest City Ratner has been careless with public safety when they thought that the press wasn't looking, or used defective fencing for that matter.

Posted by lumi at 6:47 AM

New York’s Most Loathsome, reprisals reprised

Habeas Corruptus

Brooklyn journalist Christopher Ketcham adds his byline to some of last year's NY Press "50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers" blurbs. Our great leader tops the list:

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Tax-Dollar Waste, Non-Entity

Picture Ron Jeremy without the dick, Buddy Hackett without the laughs, and you have Brooklyn B.P. Marty Markowitz. Why this porcine oaf with the eerie resemblance to your insane grinning uncle continues to occupy Borough Hall is beyond reason. Once upon a time, when the Board of Estimate ruled graft and contracts in New York, the five borough presidents had power. But today it’s a no-show job. The bad news with Markowitz is that he shows up, and so do his 116 employees, his $4.7 million budget, and his four SUVs equipped with police sirens. Not content with doing nothing, Markowitz finds time to advocate for the downtrodden, such as Ikea, Home Depot and developer Bruce Ratner in their noble quest to cannibalize mom-and-pop neighborhoods. Markowitz is also known for racing around the city in HOV lanes with police lights flashing, en route to handing out a plaque. Markowitz was up for re-election last year and, true to form, voters put him back at the grindstone. Instead, he should have saved the citizens the trouble and us taxpayers millions of dollars and fired himself, fired his employees and turned Borough Hall into a methadone clinic. At least then we’d have reputable people hanging around the place.


Click here for this year's Most Loathsome New Yorkers (Marty is #31) where Bruce Ratner is the headliner.

Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

Ridge Hill Project Awaits Vote

By John Jordan

On Forest City Ratner's ultimatum in Yonkers for the controversial Ridge Hill Project:

The “D” day of sorts for the Ridge Hill Village project will likely be on June 27 when the Yonkers City Council is expected to have a revote on a key zone change for the $600-million project. Earlier this week reports circulated that Ridge Hill Village developer Forest City Ratner Cos. had given city officials a deadline of this June 15 to settle issues that have stalled the development.


Posted by lumi at 6:29 AM

Melting the Iron Triangle: Amid Willets Point 'blight,' pride and vow to fight redevelopment

Village Voice
By Jarret Murphy

WilletsPoint-VV.jpgAdd Willets Point to the NYC Eminent Domainia scene.

At least a few are planning not to go quietly. "This is our home and we're not leaving. We are going to fight for our rights," says Anthony Fodera, sitting in the warehouse his family has operated since 1973. Despite the water, the potholes, the chemicals in the area? Despite the crime? "I'm not afraid of getting mugged," Fodera says. "I'm afraid of the city and the EDC. They hold you up without a gun."


Posted by lumi at 6:10 AM

June 12, 2006

The Rosie parade

RosiePerez-TONY.jpg Time Out NY profiles actor and now filmmaker, Rosie Perez. In the interview she mentions her stance against Bruce Ratner's work in Brooklyn.

Perez, who has raised her political voice for AIDS awareness and against the American military presence in Vieques, is now publicly opposing the Nets stadium plan in Brooklyn. “Bruce Ratner is greedy,” she fumes. “He’s not looking out for the best interest of the people—or Brooklyn—regardless of what he says.”


Posted by lumi at 8:15 AM

Coney Island the place for an arena? Marty used to think so

Atlantic Yards Report

Entertainment, transportation and a welcoming neighborhood — what's not to love about a Coney Island arena?

Norman Oder takes an in-depth look into the plusses and minuses of moving the NJ Nets to Coney Island.


Would Coney Island be a better place than the proposed Atlantic Yards site for a new basketball arena? Less than a year before Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan was unveiled, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz championed Coney Island as the location. City officials long have considered locating a Sportsplex for amateur and (later) professional sports there, first at the site of what is now Keyspan Park, and later next door at a parking lot in front of the somewhat antiquated Abe Stark Rink.

Of course, Markowitz now fervently backs Forest City Ratner's plan for a Brooklyn arena at Atlantic Yards. And a Sportsplex has been scrapped from the city's ever-evolving plans for Coney Island. But Coney Island still deserves consideration, especially given that a glitzy new development is planned just a few blocks away from the potential Sportsplex site.


Posted by lumi at 8:11 AM

Nets make a play to give N.J. fan base a bounce

Brett Yormark Team's CEO, a Morristown native, enlists familiar faces to cultivate interest at county airport

Morris County Daily Record
By Abbott Koloff

NJ Nets CEO Brett Yormark brings the tupperware party to the NBA:

[Yormark] made his sales pitch about 40 minutes into a party where potential customers snacked on hors d'oeuvres and schmoozed with team officials and a former player.

Though Yormark goes to extraordinary efforts to re-sign season ticket holders, the Nets still have a long way to go to operating in the black:

Federal financial filings by Forest City Enterprises, the Nets' parent company, indicate that the team had $24 million in operating losses last year. Nets officials do not comment on the team's finances.

Marc Ganis, a sports marketing consultant from Chicago, said a lot of NBA teams have operating losses because the most recent collective bargaining agreement created players' salaries that are too high to sustain. But Ganis also said the Nets appear to have one of the NBA's largest operating losses.
Ganis said that while the Nets and other franchises will continue to lose money, he expects Yormark to increase the team's gross revenues, estimating that it should be approaching $100 million. Fortune Magazine recently ranked the Nets 22nd among NBA franchises for the 2004-05 season, with an estimated $87 million in gross revenues. That's about half the estimated revenues generated by the New York Knicks, the Nets' competition in the New York area.


Posted by lumi at 7:40 AM

Burning questions

City probes B'klyn arsons as cops keep the heat on

The Daily News
BY Russ Buettner and Patrice O'Shaughnessy

Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal is listed among the community's concerns in the months after a series of arson fires in Prospect Heights remains unsolved.

Detective Albert Arredondo said he has enlisted cops from narcotics enforcement, gangs and warrants to aid the investigation of the fatal fire. "We haven't ruled out any facet but we're not looking for a random firebug here. We've heard all the concerns, the Ratner [Atlantic Yards] project, gentrification."


NoLandGrab: No one is saying that Bruce Ratner is in any way connected to the arsons, but it must be a concern to the developer that he has become the Bogeyman of Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

NE Ohio venture fund folds, falls short of goal

Crain's Cleveland Business
By Brandon Glenn

An article about a failed venture capital fund in Ohio has this tidbit about the nation's first family of development, for those who are interested in learning more about the Ratner family fortune:

The Maple Fund had received commitments from three investors, but Mr. Brandt would identify only the Ratner family, the force behind Cleveland real estate behemoth Forest City Enterprises Inc.

Bob Gephart, executive vice president of the Ratner family’s investment group, RMS Investment Corp., did not respond to two calls seeking comment.


Posted by lumi at 7:25 AM

June 11, 2006

One correction made, more missed regarding Times's Ratner/Gehry piece

Atlantic Yards Report

From today's New York Times:

"A picture caption last Sunday with the continuation of a cover article about the developer Bruce Ratner's projects misstated the site of his Atlantic Yards development. It is on rail yards and other land in Prospect Heights and on a block in Park Slope. It is not in Downtown Brooklyn, although it is near that neighborhood."

I'd actually missed that error, but, then again, I'd thought they'd put the "Downtown Brooklyn" mistake to bed, once and for all.

Still uncorrected: Nicolai Ouroussoff's statement that "Mr. [Bruce] Ratner has lopped several stories off the biggest towers in negotiations with the city." Actually, the tallest building, Miss Brooklyn, remains 620 feet, and the second-tallest was increased from 510 feet to 511 feet.

Also uncorrected: the use of a graphic that portrayed the 512-foot Williamsburgh Savings Bank as nearly as tall as Miss Brooklyn and a good bit taller than the 511-foot second-tallest building proposed in the Atlantic Yards project.


Posted by amy at 2:15 PM

The Coney Island Nets?

The iTeam Blog:

All Brian Hatch is saying is give peace — and Coney Island — a chance.

Bruce Ratner’s plans to build a basketball arena for his Nets and 16 massive apartment towers has sparked a civil war in Brooklyn. Hatch, the former Salt Lake City deputy mayor who helped Utah prepare for the 2002 Winter Games, says he’s come up with a solution: Build the arena in Coney Island.


Brian Hatch's article, "Ratner Originally Wanted a Coney Island Arena," appears on NewYorkGames.org

Developer Bruce Ratner origninally wanted to build his arena in Coney Island. This "Sportsplex" was also Borough President Markowitz's first choice for an NBA team.
But that was then. Seeking better real estate opportunities in Prospect Heights, the tune has changed on Coney Island for Ratner and Markowitz. And to keep Coney Island officials in line, funding for a rec center there appears to have been held hostage until the Prospect Heights arena is approved. The Olympic volleyball venue was pulled from Coney Island. The Sportsplex hasn't been heard from since.

Posted by amy at 2:09 PM

Letters to the Editor, New York Times

New York Times

Building a Mistake

To the Editor:

Re "Skyline for Sale" [June 4]:

Nicolai Ouroussoff makes excellent points but doesn't go far enough. More than the skyline is for sale at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards development; what has also been sold is a streetscape that is perhaps the most congested in Brooklyn even before a basketball stadium is plopped there.

What we have here is a long-discredited return to the urban mega-projects that destroyed downtown neighborhoods across America in the last half of the 20th century. We might expect a developer to act like a developer, but why are public servants repeating the mistake?

Michael Whiteman

The Architect as Distraction

To the Editor:

It was somewhat heartening to read Mr. Ouroussoff's criticism of government with regard to the Atlantic Yards project. Frank Gehry is being used by Bruce Ratner as a lightning rod, to attract criticism and spare public discussion of what appears to be a classic back-room sweetheart deal, which will put hundreds of millions of the public's money into the pockets of a single developer.

Tony Daniels


Posted by amy at 2:04 PM

For Brooklyn's Beacon, the Luxe Life


New York Times

To most Brooklynites, it is surely the building's exterior, especially the four illuminated clock faces below the dome, that matters most. But there is some question about how visible these images will be in the future. A 22-acre plot of land around the corner is the site of the proposed Atlantic Yards development, including a basketball arena and more than a dozen new towers, which some critics of the Atlantic Yards proposal say could obscure the bank building's pride of place as the grandest light on the borough's skyline. After three-quarters of a century, they fear, the classic skyscraper that has been Brooklyn's beacon could disappear from view.
Many of the dentists will lose their offices in the conversion (Dr. Franzetti is among only 16 who will stay on), but they weren't the only ones unhappy with the building's new role. In April, nearly 100 protesters gathered outside the tower to demand low-income housing in return for the city tax breaks for which the development, as a rehabilitation project, will be eligible.

"When they invited me to their grand opening, I told them I am not going," said City Councilwoman Letitia James, who participated in the protest and whose district office occupies a storefront just down Hanson Place from the tower. "Downtown Brooklyn is becoming very homogeneous. We need to preserve the diversity of downtown Brooklyn. We need to advance it."


Posted by amy at 1:52 PM

Senate Helps Golf Club in Eminent-Domain Fight

New York Times

The State Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill on Monday that would prohibit any municipality within the Town of North Hempstead (as North Hills is) from seizing a private recreational facility to use for the same purpose.

Senator Michael A. L. Balboni, whose district includes North Hills, said he had proposed the bill "to take the ball away from those who are fighting over it." He said he believed that eminent domain should be used only to seize private land to build "something of utility to a community" or to upgrade a blighted area.

"Feudal lords used to just seize whatever land they wanted," Mr. Balboni said. "Is that the way we should be doing things today?"


Posted by amy at 1:47 PM

June 10, 2006

Dean Street Stoops to Sale


Posted by lumi at 10:35 AM

Payback? Yassky asks City Council to give BUILD $3M to fulfill Ratner's CBA


Atlantic Yards Report:

It looks a lot like payback. Council Member David Yassky, the only white candidate (of four Democrats) in a heated campaign to win the open seat in the black majority 11th Congressional District, on May 7 announced the support of several community activists, including three signatories to the controversial Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, or CBA. (None of the three, who are black, were identified in Yassky’s press release as associated with the organizations that signed the CBA.) Within ten days, Yassky filed a City Council Priorities Request asking taxpayers to send $3 million for job training to Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), the most controversial of the CBA signatories, which is headed by James Caldwell, one of those supporters at Yassky’s press conference.


This information should provide some interesting fodder for Al Vann's Stop Yassky meeting.

Posted by amy at 9:39 AM

Ratner's Gift

The Real Estate
Matthew Schuerman

Norman Oder reported yesterday that Forest City Ratner had given out another $350,000 to an ally in its fight to bring the Atlantic Yards complex to Brooklyn.

Well, Forest City spokesman Joe DePlasco tells us that figure is the total amount budgeted to be given the group, the Downtown Brooklyn Educational Consortium, but that the developer has written checks for only about half of that so far.

In November, Forest City announced an $87,000 grant, and another $87,000 installment was given out since then--but never announced.

Which is funny, because the last time Forest City tried to give out money but didn't let anybody know, it caused a big headache, and they resolved to announce future gifts in the future . This headache is admittedly smaller, but it still must smart a little.

So why didn't they announce this one ahead of time?

"We hoped you would catch us," DePlasco said. "What can I tell you? We've said repeatedly that we would support groups in the community and this is an example of doing that."

He would not specify whether other signatories to the community benefits agreement had received grants since the last official announcement in November.


If Mr. DePlasco is so interested in getting caught, why doesn't he simply disclose the amount of money given to signers of the CBA?

Posted by amy at 9:29 AM

Atlantic Yards Foe Ruffles Reverend Al’s Feathers

Courier-Life Stephen Witt

Since this article is just a rehashing of a mudslinging contest, let's leave this on the high note of Tish James' comments:

James, who has invoked the names of civil rights icons at rallies opposing the project, said just as she has denounced remarks of some of the project supporters, she denounces the remarks of opponents of the project.

“There no place in this discussion for racial rhetoric, but this is a distraction from the real issues that the project is too massive and the process has been corrupted, and we really need to discuss the issues surrounding responsible development in our community,” said James.


Posted by amy at 9:23 AM

Brennan Atlantic Yards Bill Likely to Die, Advocates Say

Courier-Life Thomas Tracy

Brennan’s bill will cap the size of the Atlantic Yards project at 5.85 million square feet – three million less than the 8.6 million square feet currently proposed by Forest City Ratner Company (FCRC).

In order to compensate Ratner for the loss of square footage, the bill, which is currently supported by Assemblymembers Joan Millman, Joe Lentol and Roger Green, requires the state to funnel more money to the project, subsidizing between $12 and $15 million per year for between 1,800 and 2,200 units in the project’s affordable housing proponent.

Other incentives include “relieving the developer [FCRC] of the obligation to pay about $310 million of the $450 million on the table.”


Posted by amy at 9:16 AM

Many large redevelopment projects on hold


Forest City Enterprises is not going to bring forward plans for the south stadium project while a proposed initiative takes shape that could effect private developers’ ability to develop private property.

The city council had asked Forest City to submit alternative site plans for their proposed 85-acre mixed-use project in downtown Fresno, in a project area south of the Grizzlies Stadium. Forest City was due to present those plans at the end of this month, but because it appears one initiative will make the state ballot in November, Forest City won’t make its next move until after that time, said Marlene Murphey, director of Fresno’s Redevelopment Agency. An initiative to amend the California Constitution is being proposed that would bar state and local governments from condemning private property for private projects or uses.

The initiative also would limit the government’s authority to adopt certain land use, housing, consumer, environmental and workplace regulations, unless “regulations are adopted to preserve public health or safety, or comply with specified land use planning and property rights limits.”


Posted by amy at 6:50 AM

June 9, 2006

Wealthy White Masters, Cont'd

Daily Politics is spiraling into the surreal as Ben Smith tries to milk his wealthy-white-masters scoop for all it's worth.

Today Ben Smith wants you to know that Dan Goldstein's dad is a wealthy white master — at least that seemed to be his point when he posted a fundraising email from Goldstein's father, Mr. Goldstein, head of fund management company Santa Monica Partners.


Point of order here:
Project critics and supporters have long known that Daniel Goldstein's dad was a successful businessman. They've also known that Goldstein made the money that enables him to stick around and fight a questionable eminent domain seizure the old fashioned way, he earned it.

Posted by lumi at 6:31 PM

Yassky sponsors $3M funding proposal for BUILD

At last night's Community Board 8 (CB8) meeting, Boardmember and Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development Chief Operating Officer Marie Louis spoke about a proposal BUILD submitted to the New York City Council for funding for activities planned under the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) BUILD signed with Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC).

Louis indicated that under the terms of the CBA, BUILD and FCRC share responsibility for funding job training and small business development programs. Therefore, they have submitted a 'priorities request' to the City Council in the amount of three million dollars to fund a pre-apprenticeship program, a first source hiring program, an MBA intern initiative, and a technical assistance service for small businesses. The request is being sponsored by City Councilmember David Yassky.

Louis circulated copies of the request (2.1MB PDF), and asked the audience members to call City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's office to ask for her support of this appropriation.

An audience member asked Louis if FCRC was contributing any money toward these initiatives. Louis said that FCRC had contributed funds, but declined to specify the amount. She did not explain why the benefits programs specified in the CBA required public subsidies.

Posted by lumi at 5:51 PM

Ratner buys friends

Brooklyn Papers, Editorial

It turns out that Bruce Ratner is paying a lot more for his friends than we thought.
All told, the previously known grants came to $275,000.

But that was just the beginning, it turns out.

This week, Assembly candidate Freddie Hamilton, who is running to succeed her ally Roger Green, told The Papers that her group, the Downtown Brooklyn Education Consortium, will actually receive $350,000 — not the previously announced $87,000 — from Ratner.

The larger grant was first revealed by reporter Norman Oder on his Web site, www.AtlanticYardsReport.com.
The more we find out, the more Bruce Ratner appears willing to pay for that “support” — and the more it will cost taxpayers, to whom Ratner will likely pass the bill in the end.


Posted by lumi at 10:23 AM

Yards racial fire

The Brooklyn Papers
By Ariella Cohen

The mud-slinging that surrounds the Atlantic Yards project returned to a classic wedge issue — race — this week, when the project’s loudest opponent made what some on both sides of the development divide interpreted as a racially insensitive remark.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein described the relationship between Yards developer Bruce Ratner and some of his black allies as one of “wealthy white masters” and slaves. Goldstein later apologized for his wording.


NoLandGrab: OUCH! Goldstein never said "slaves," but reporter Ariella Cohen turns up the heat a few notches in the local coverage by using the s-word.

There are those who will argue that Goldstein never used the word "slaves." Others will say that it was implied (whether or not he meant to imply it), which is exactly what makes his choice of words inflammatory. Either way, it was the Brooklyn Papers that used the word "slaves."

This clarification was issued by the Brooklyn Papers and the online edition has been edited.

In our print edition, this article originally implied that Goldstein had used the word "slaves" to describe the relationship between developer Bruce Ratner and his black allies. Goldstein did not use the word "slaves"; he only used the term "wealthy white masters." The Brooklyn Papers regrets the confusion.

Posted by lumi at 9:30 AM

Retail Leads Forest City’s Income Gain

By Ian Ritter

For those of you who are following the financial health of the Forest City parent company in Cleveland, to which a lion's share of the profit from Bruce Ratner's developments flow:

CLEVELAND-Forest City’s retail portfolio continues to perform the best in the company’s diverse portfolio, said Charles Ratner, the president and chief executive officer of the firm, at the NAREIT conference in New York City. “That has been the case for several years now,” he says.

During the company’s first quarter, retail led all property types at Forest City with a 7% jump year-over-year in net operating income. Retail occupancy rates also increased, from 93.9%, to 94.3%. However, Forest City’s rental-residential occupancies made the greatest leap, from 93% to 94.8%.


Posted by lumi at 9:11 AM

Yards rivals on same ‘path’

Gargano-Buscemi-BP.jpgBrooklyn Papers
By Dana Rubenstein

No need to clean your glasses — that is Steve Buscemi and Charles Gargano posing together.

Has hell frozen over?

Not quite. The anti-Atlantic Yards thespian and pro-Yards chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation earned their leaves on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s “Celebrity Path” last week in a ceremony that required some dicey commingling.

Some say such mixing and matching is part of the beauty of Brooklyn. (Others say Buscemi shoulda decked him.)

“Only in Brooklyn would these people be all together,” said Brian Vines, spokesman for Borough President Markowitz. “Their love of Brooklyn was the guiding principle.”

But many were mystified why Gargano, a bureaucrat, was even on a “celebrity” path. “I could think of better Brooklyn celebrities,” said one political insider. “But, then again, the thought of stepping on his name is rather fulfilling,”


FYI: The two suits who look eerily like life-sized cardboard displays are Gargano and Markowitz, from left to right.

Posted by lumi at 8:40 AM

FCE Press Release: Forest City Employees Trade Office Duties for Volunteer Activities on Annual Community Day; Over 11,000 Hours of Service Donated


More than 1,300 Forest City employees nationwide won't spend Friday, June 9, making phone calls, writing memos or balancing budgets. Instead they'll be planting flowers, building fences and serving meals in the communities in which they live and work. For the third consecutive year Forest City employees will spend the workday volunteering with local service organizations in 34 cities across the country as part of company's annual Community Day initiative. Over the last three years, the program has generated approximately, 28,000 hours of volunteer work worth over $600,000 in employee time.


NoLandGrab: Something tells us that Forest City employees won't be volunteering to pass out Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn literature to motorists at Atlantic and Flatbush today. Call it a hunch.

Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM

Hey, Bruce, listen up!

DanZanes-BP.jpg The Brooklyn Papers

Rocker Dan Zanes — the Bob Dylan of the under-10 set — packed an anti-Atlantic Yards benefit concert Saturday at Hanson Place United Methodist Church in Fort Greene. The former Del Fuegos frontman, a member of the celeb-packed Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn advisory board, performed his folk-tinged anthems after being introduced by fellow board member Steve Buscemi.


Posted by lumi at 8:13 AM

While Dan Zanes goes cock-a-doodle-doo, Ratner goes gobble-gobble

seal02.jpg Here's more evidence that Bruce Ratner is becoming the poster child for heavy-handed development brought to you by *Time Out New York," over the debate of the meaning of the Brooklyn Borough motto "EEN DRAGHT MACKT MAGHT":

Proletariat-minded interpreters translate it as “In unity, there is strength” while others prefer the more foreboding “Might makes right.” Given Bruce Ratner’s gobbling up of the downtown corridor, the axiom’s sinister definition seems particularly appropriate.

NoLandGrab: Interesting, though the "Downtown Corridor" isn't all that Bruce Ratner has gobbled up as of late.

Posted by lumi at 7:51 AM

Atlantic Terminal Chuck E. Cheese's closed by Health Department

Chuck E. Cheese's at Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Terminal Mall was closed by the Health Department yesterday. Here's the scoop from a Park Slope Parents posting:

At about 2, I went up to order lunch and they told me they were not serving food, though people who already had paid were still taking salad and soda. This seemed weird.

About a an hour later I went to check what was happening, and they pointed to their front windows. The Health Dept. had posted big ‘closed’ signs on the front, which said only that there was an ‘environmental hazard.’ They were not letting anyone new enter but those already inside could continue to spend their tokens.

About an hour later, they started closing the games down. No info on what was wrong.

If anyone has more details, email tips-at-nolandgrab.org.

Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

June 8, 2006

Color of Money the Real Issue at Atlantic Yards

The iTeam Blog (NY Daily News sports)
By Michael O'Keefe

The battle over the Atlantic Yards project has had ugly racial overtones ever since Nets owner Bruce Ratner unveiled the plans for his $3.5 billion project back in December 2003.

Goldstein’s remarks and the ensuing firestorm are unfortunate because they make people forget the most important mantra when it comes to sports, arenas and developer promises: Follow the money. This fight is more about green than black and white.


Posted by lumi at 9:20 PM

A Nice Deal in Brooklyn

Daily Politics

Ben Smith links Norman Oder's post on the additional previously undisclosed funding by Forest City Ratner to one of the signatories of the Community Benefits Agreement:

Norm Oder has a scoop calling into question the relationship between Bruce Ratner and what his critics call...well, nevermind...let's call them community groups.

One organization supporting the Atlantic Yards project has apparently gotten grants worth $350,000 from the developer, bringing the total he's spread around over half a million dollars.


NoLandGrab: We're pretty sure that the only person who calls Norman Oder "Norm" (except for his pals at the neighborhood bar) is Daily News and Our Time columnist Errol Louis.

Posted by lumi at 9:09 PM

Conflict of interest? $350K to CBA signatories shows departure from L.A. model

Atlantic Yards Report

While other reporters are sticking to their day jobs, Norman Oder gets the scoop on more Forest City Ratner funding of a signatory of the "historic" Community Benefits Agreement:

FreddieHamilton.jpgForest City Ratner has given much more money than previously announced to signatories of the controversial Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), and the developer was negotiating that commitment before the CBA was signed last June. It's another reason to question the legitimacy of the CBA as compared with the pioneering examples negotiated in Los Angeles.

While the developer previously acknowledged giving $87,000 to the Downtown Brooklyn Educational Consortium (DBEC), Freddie Hamilton (right), the director of the group, says that the DBEC had received a $350,000 grant. That nearly doubles the known amount of payments to CBA signatories, to $538,000, though the amount is likely larger.


Posted by lumi at 8:33 AM

Gehry Gets Extension on WTC Arts Center

WNYC Radio News

Another reminder that NY City is due to be awash in Frank Gehrys:

The Lower Manhattan development corporation gave architect Frank Gehry an extra year on his contract to design a performing arts center for the World Trade Center site.

Gehry was hired in 2004 to design the arts center, which has no announced budget or opening date. Madelyn Wils, an LMDC board member and former chair of a downtown community board, said plans to relocate part of a new transit hub on the arts center's site would indefinitely put off the project.

The LMDC says it hopes to conduct some construction work on the arts center in tandem with the work on the temporary entrances for the transit hub, and avoid significant delays.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner hired Frank Gehry to soothe the cultural critics who are quick to point out that Ratner's previous projects are the architectural equivalent of muzak.

Now Frank Gehry's IAC HQ on the Westside of Manhattan is under construction and work on the Beekman Tower (another Ratner project) is about to begin, while the WTC arts center and the Brooklyn Arts District Theater for a New Audience, in addition to Ratner's 16-high-rise/arena mega-project, are on the drawing board (have we forgotten any?).

As the starchitect becomes the flavor du jour in Gotham, is it possible that New Yorkers will soon tire of the Gehry glut?

Posted by lumi at 8:01 AM

Debate a Contrast of Styles

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Nik Kovac

When it comes to contentious political issues in central Brooklyn, everybody knows about the Atlantic Yards project. After Monday night's candidates' forum inside a Fort Greene church, add to that short list the generation gap.

Just minutes after Freddie Hamilton, Hakeem Jeffries, and Bill Batson very civilly and very substantively discussed the ins-and-outs of the Atlantic Yards proposal and other pressing local issues, City Councilman Charles Barron and Kevin Powell went at it very substantively - but also very personally.


Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

Sharp wedge in B'klyn race

2 candidates stay clear of Rev. Al's Yassky, Fat Nick link

Daily News
By Ben Smith


The industrious Norman Oder provides his analysis of how this all got started at Atlantic Yards Report.

NoLandGrab: At this point there is not much more of intelligence to say about this story except that each new development has been generated in the blog and column of Ben Smith, a former NY Observer columnist, who recently moved over to the Daily News.

Posted by lumi at 6:51 AM

June 7, 2006

Wrap-Up: June 5th Candidates Night Forum at Brown Memorial

Question presented: Would you change the CBA, and how?

Running for State Assembly, 57th AD

Freddie Hamilton

No, I'm not in favor of reopening the Community Benefits Agreement. I am a signer on this agreement. I think that it's important that we stay at the table.

Hakeem Jeffries

"Mend it don't end it." Conceptually I think the CBA is a good idea. -Also mentioned that the jobs portion of the CBA is largely unenforceable as there is no punitive response and that additional stakeholders should be brought in.

Bill Batson

I would like to see the CBA reopened – I would like to see more stakeholders put on the CBA. It is largely unenforceable language. This developer and other developers have made promises in the past and some of those promises have not been kept.

Unions have come out strong for this for great reasons. We need to be building, we need to be building in Brooklyn, we need to be building big, but promises have to be real.

I can never support this project because of its use of eminent domain. I have never heard Mayor Bloomberg so excited. What do you give a billionaire who has everything? The power of eminent domain.

Running for US Congress, 10th District

Kevin Powell

I do not support eminent domain – it is removing and displacing people. On the issue of Atlantic Yards – either you are for, or against it. I cannot support any initiative that is displacing people. I did not move to Brooklyn to live in Manhattan. Eminent domain should be for the public good – not for the riches of a handful of people.

Charles Barron

The divisive person is Ratner. You think you will get jobs, you think you will get affordable housing? Wait till he's finished building. 60 story towers, and they don't care about your babies, getting air pollution, more stuff in their lungs, because they didn't even respect the EIS process – before we even DID that people supported it. Our babies are suffering in our communities, but we didn't care about that because we got jobs, we got affordable housing. Everything you build is going to get you jobs – you don't have to have THAT. What we need to have is an open, competitive bidding process. We did not have that.

Remember Metrotech? They promised us jobs. We didn't get no jobs. When I asked the people what are the 6,000 permanent jobs, Ratner's own person, Stuckey, sitting at a City Hall meeting said "we're not controlling the permanent jobs." The people that rent in the office building, they are bringing their own people. If you're looking for a job with the Nets – they only play 81 games. That's 81 working days. You've got to go beyond jobs, you've got to go beyond affordable housing.

Posted by lumi at 12:11 PM

Racial Flap Continues in the Yards

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance, run by Forest City Ratner paid consultant Richard Lipsky, considers the "community" in Community Benefits Agreement:

There will always be disputes about who does or doesn't really represent the community. In Brooklyn, with Daughtry, Sharpton, Lewis, Coach Screen, Renan Ebeid from Lincoln High and Jocko Jackson from Brownsville all on the side of the Yards the grass roots support is both wide and deep. To paraphrase Justice Stewart's comment on pornography, "We may not be able to define what the community is, but we know it is when we see it."


Posted by lumi at 12:01 PM

For the 57th: perception, personality, and policy

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on the 57th Assembly District from the Brown Memorial Baptist Church Candidates' Forum.


[The candidates] diverge most substantially on the Atlantic Yards issue. Hamilton (right), a signatory to the controversial Community Benefits Agreement with Forest City Ratner, was firm that it should not be reopened nor extended beyond the eight signatories. Jeffries quoted Bill Clinton on affirmative action, saying “mend it, don’t end it.” He said the housing component was “on solid ground,” but the promise of jobs to minorities was largely unenforceable; he encouraged “bringing in some additional stakeholders.”

They diverge most substantially on the Atlantic Yards issue. Hamilton (right), a signatory to the controversial Community Benefits Agreement with Forest City Ratner, was firm that it should not be reopened nor extended beyond the eight signatories. Jeffries quoted Bill Clinton on affirmative action, saying “mend it, don’t end it.” He said the housing component was “on solid ground,” but the promise of jobs to minorities was largely unenforceable; he encouraged “bringing in some additional stakeholders.”

Batson (right), who pointed out that the CBA for the Los Angeles Airport had 29 signatories, agreed that there should be more stakeholders and that the document is unenforceable. He pointed out that FCR and other developers had made promises that hadn't been met. He went on to say, “I can never support this project because of its use of eminent domain.” At a later point, he told a questioner, “We need to get that CBA reopened.”


Posted by lumi at 10:58 AM

Slope Opera: The Brooklyn-geoisie, Valet Parks Strollers To Stomp New Arena

DanZanes-NYObserver.jpg New York Observer columnist Suzy Hansen travels to Fort Greene, snarkily spotlighting the underworld of the Brooklyn-Gold-Coast-brownstoner, over-protective, designer-stroller parenting set in a piece that turns into a profile of Dan Zanes and his involvement with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

“I was just carrying on with my life,” Mr. Zanes continued. “All I knew was that there was a stadium and Frank Gehry was gonna be designing it. It all felt inevitable. I had no idea 17 skyscrapers were going up around it. The stadium was the parsley, but the skyscrapers were the pig …. I know people who have sons who want to go see basketball games, but anyone who realizes what 17 skyscrapers and a stadium will do to an already complicated neighborhood …. Anyone who thinks that through is not at all in favor of it.”


Photos and coverage of the Dan Zanes DDDB benefit at Bumpershine.com.

Posted by lumi at 10:21 AM

Sharpton blasts Atlantic Yards foe

Daily News columnist Ben Smith continues to stoke the flames around the story he broke on Monday, as Reverend Al Sharpton, whose organization receives funding from Forest City Ratner, continues to call for something:

But the controversy continued yesterday, as the Rev. Al Sharpton blasted Goldstein and other disparate targets.

"The arrogance of Goldstein to think he can speak for black people is beyond insulting," the Rev. Al Sharpton told The News. "From this to the [Nicholas] Minucci case to [City Councilman David] Yassky thinking he's going to run for that [congressional] seat - do they think we're just going to sit this out?" he asked.

Sharpton was referring to an alleged hate crime in Howard Beach and to the bid by Yassky, who is white, to represent a historically black central Brooklyn district in Congress.

The irony is that City Councilman David Yassky found himself at once pigeon-holed by Rev. Sharpton and standing in line to take another pot shot at Goldstein:

Meanwhile Yassky, who is running to replace the retiring Rep. Major Owens, seemed puzzled to be drawn into the controversy over Goldstein's comments.

"Speaking as someone whom Mr. Goldstein has attacked regularly, I thought his quote was offensive in the extreme," he said.


NoLandGrab: It's not clear what history Yassky is referring to, since according to our recollection Dan Goldstein has never attacked the City Councilmember.

There's more on Ben Smith's blog, Sharpton Invokes Fat Nick.

Posted by lumi at 8:44 AM

Brownfield bucks for Vanderbilt Yards?

Today’s Crain's reports (emphasis added):

On May 12, the EPA gave the city a portion of its $69.9 million Brownfield grants, which are used to restore contaminated sites around the country. New York City is using a $750,000 loan fund grant to leverage private investment in the New York Metro Brownfields Redevelopment Fund; $400,000 for the Broadway Triangle in Williamsburg and the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal area in Brooklyn.

NoLandGrab: Is this money going towards brownfield cleanup of portions of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan that fall within the boundaries of the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area (ATURA)? [See map, Atlantic Yards/ATURA overlap in orange and blue.]

Local activists note that the project has yet to be approved.

Posted by lumi at 8:31 AM

Some voices in the eye of the Kelo storm

AP, via NY Sun, Eminent Domain Protesters Finally Evicted

The city attorney plans go to court to seek removal of the remaining two families and obtain the properties in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, a process that could take three months.

City councilman Robert Pero, who supported the effort to remove the families, noted that the issue has been through state agencies and three courts.

“This was a plan that was well thought out,” he said. “The development of this peninsula needs to move forward.”

But Charles Frink, one of the two council members who voted against the plan, said supporters should admit their mistake.

“I can’t accept a possible reduction in taxes by having neighbors thrown out of their property,” he said. “This is morally abhorrent to me. I refuse to profit from my neighbor's pain.”

LA Times, One Step Closer to Eviction

Michael Cristofaro said he woke up Tuesday morning feeling that, along with his property rights, he had just been stripped of his citizenship. Hours earlier, officials in New London, Conn., had voted to evict the Cristofaros and Susette Kelo from their homes in a waterfront area of a struggling community.
Authorities in New London also vowed to collect back taxes and other fees from the displaced property owners. The city's action defied a recommendation by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to relocate the Fort Trumbull residents who had turned down financial settlements because they wanted to remain in a once-bustling neighborhood where many buildings dated from the mid-19th century.

"I remain sympathetic to the efforts of the few remaining owners," Rell wrote in a letter to New London Mayor Elizabeth Sabilia. The Republican governor proposed setting aside a small piece of land within the redevelopment area for those residents.
Scott Bullock, an attorney for the Kelo plaintiffs, berated the council vote as "a raw exercise in power." Bullock works for the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm in Washington.
"The council could have treated these people with respect," he added. "They had a totally acceptable package on the table that was supported by the governor and the property owners — and that would have ended it. And they refused to do it."

William Von Winkle, said he decided to accept an undisclosed settlement from the city late Monday, mostly because he was tired of what he called "harassment, threats and intimidation" by redevelopment authorities.

"I'll tell you what, I sold out," Von Winkle said Tuesday, sounding exhausted. He said the pressure to settle became too much for him, especially after his 25-year-old son was killed a week ago in an apparent robbery in nearby Groton.

Posted by lumi at 8:16 AM

Forest City Ratner Hikes Investment In Midtown Commercial Office Market

NY Sun
By David Lombino NYTimesBuilding-Top.jpg

Forest City Ratner is making a bigger investment in the Midtown commercial office market by increasing its ownership stake in the 52-story New York Times headquarters, which is scheduled to open next year across from the Port Authority bus terminal.

The developer announced yesterday it would buy out the share of its investment partner, the Dutch bank ING, and continue to collaborate with the New York Times Company in the estimated $850 million project. Forest City will now be the sole owner of floors 29 through 52, about 700,000 square feet of space, and the Times will own floors two through 28.

A spokeswoman for Forest City, Jane Pook, said the developer had not anticipated buying out ING when they became partners in the development but is now “very bullish”on the Midtown commercial office market. The buyout was for an undisclosed amount of money.
One commercial real estate analyst said the transaction may have nothing to do with the hot Midtown market, but could just be a routine buyout related to a number of internal factors.

Earlier this year, Forest City unloaded its share of the 444-room Hilton Times Square nearby.
In 2002,the state cited "urban blight" to condemn 10 properties and oust more than 50 small businesses to make way for the Times building. Citing increased tax revenues and the addition of jobs related to the project, the city gave the Times about $26 million in tax breaks, but it rejected an application by Forest City for more than $400 million in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds that were issued by the federal government after September 11, 2001, to help spur development.
Forest City, one of the city’s busiest developers, is also seeking to use eminent domain in its proposed Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.


GlobeSt.com, FCRC Takes ING’s Interest in Times Site

Posted by lumi at 8:02 AM

Deadline on Ridge Hill Yonkers needs to move forward on removing obstacles.

The Journal News

Forest City Ratner has threatened to pull out of the Ridge Hill deal in Yonkers if a deal isn't struck by June 15.

Ratner has another battle on his hands in Brooklyn, where his proposed Atlantic Yards project — from skyscrapers to a New Jersey Nets arena — is under fire. It's not difficult to figure out which project would get dumped if two fronts became too many to carry. It certainly wouldn't be the one in the company's home borough.

Should Yonkers lose Ridge Hill, it would surely bring second thoughts to the developers of a proposed $3.1 billion major downtown rehabilitation and others interested in Yonkers' development. In addition to losing the jobs, consumer benefits and a broadened tax base, Yonkers would also lose the 13.5 percent of the 1,000 residential units that Ridge Hill would provide to put an effective end to the 26-year-old federal housing discrimination case.


NoLandGrab: The developers for the Yonker's downtown rehabilitation plan are already taking cues from Ratner's difficulties in Ridge Hill by making a big show of meeting with and listenting to the community.

Posted by lumi at 7:50 AM

June 6, 2006

His Support Waning, Weld Quits New York Governor's Race

Weld.jpgThe NY Times
By Patrick Healy

William F. Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts who undertook a rare bid to lead another state, dropped out of the race for governor of New York [today]. He had been deserted by Republicans who once supported him as their best hope against Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in the November election.


NoLandGrab: Thank goodness! Now the anti-Atlantic Yards screechers can save their breath from hurling insults at the former Massachusetts Governor and anti-eminent domain crusader who happened to like Bruce Ratner's plan. (Oops, did we say that?)

Posted by lumi at 10:18 PM

Record high-rises set for Brooklyn

Six towers with more stories than Williamsburgh Savings Bank planned; some worry about loss of low-rise charm

The Real Deal
By Tiffany Razano

Atlantic Yards isn't the only high-rise game in town.

The 40-story 306 Gold Street in Downtown Brooklyn will be the tallest new residential tower in the borough when construction on it is completed in 2008. But it's just one of many high-rises planned for Brooklyn, where buildings tend not to soar. The shift has some residents concerned.


Posted by lumi at 7:03 PM

DDDB Press Release: Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Statement On Spokesman Daniel Goldstein’s Racially Insensitive Comment

BROOKLYN -- The Steering Committee of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn issued the following statement today in response to a racially insensitive comment recently made by organization spokesman Daniel Goldstein.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn has worked tirelessly to bring together people of all races, ethnicities, incomes, and ages to stand against the Atlantic Yards proposal, which is a bad deal for every one of Brooklyn’s communities.

As such, we deeply regret the racially charged words our spokesman Daniel Goldstein recently used in an email with a reporter and the offense his comment has caused people on both sides of this highly-charged issue.

We can state with absolute certainty that Daniel Goldstein is not a racist. But his choice of language in this one instance was thoughtless, and we want to assure our allies and our opponents that they do not reflect the values of our organization.

We have great respect for African-Americans on the other side of this issue, despite our disagreements with them. And we are committed to fostering a healthy, dignified, and constructive dialogue about development in our community.

Now that Daniel has apologized for his comment, we hope that going forward people on both sides will refrain from raising racial implications that have no place in this debate, and that we can re-focus the conversation where it should be — on what’s best for Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 6:19 PM

The Great Man Theory of Architecture

Brooklyn Views

Breaking News: Local sports-team owner hires starchitect to design new venue at Atlantic Ave. on property to be condemned by state agency.

Before you start blaming Bruce Ratner, read Jonathan Cohn's post about how New York's master of unintended consequences, Robert Moses, put the kibosh on a ballpark boondoggle that "would create a China wall of traffic."


Even in 1955, the proposed site at Flatbush and Atlantic was extremely problematic. [Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter] O’Malley defended his selection of this site by claiming that “many people would travel to stadium events using public transportation, improving traffic in the congested area”. But Robert Moses, yes that Robert Moses, while sympathetic to the desire to keep the Dodgers in the city, knew that this was the wrong site for a stadium. Moses’s success in projects like driving the BQE through Brooklyn (even though famously stymied in Brooklyn Heights) taught him a thing or two about local traffic. He knew that people would continue to drive to games, and that the local streets would be overrun with cars. A stadium on this site, he is quoted as saying, would create “a China wall of traffic”. And while Moses was not at all reluctant to use the powers of eminent domain for public projects, even he did not believe that eminent domain could or should be used to acquire land for a private stadium. In addition to reasons “of law and sound policy”, Moses argued, the property-acquiring powers of a state agency should not be used to encourage “speculation” in baseball enterprises.


NoLandGrab: This is another Brooklyn Views must-read. Who would have thought that a historical glance at the Moses-O'Malley-Fuller connection would yield some perspective on current development plans over the railyards?

Posted by lumi at 10:31 AM

Whose "White Masters"?

The Daily Politics

The issue of race, stirred up in yesterday's Daily News column by Ben Smith, reached a new low in a late post on Smith's blog Daily Politics, featuring Rev. Al Sharpton and Bertha Lewis's press release and, in the comments section, Dan Goldstein's apology.

Too bad for Atlantic Yards critics that debate and discourse has deviated from the merits and criticisms of the project and fallen into the gutter.

So, what have we learned from this episode?

That DDDB spokesperson and footprint homeowner Dan Goldstein is a rank amateur when it comes to working the press, gets hot headed and stressed out living under threat of eminent domain and makes an unbelievably, incredibly stupid blunder.

That Daily News columnist Ben Smith doesn't appreciate being barked at in email by a "beginner" like Dan Goldstein. Now part of the story ("tools" was Smith's verbage), the columnist slaps Dan with his own race card and then posts Rev. Al's press release.

That Reverend Al Sharpton and Bertha Lewis are "shocked, shocked" by the racially divisive remarks.

Here's more coverage of the fallout:
Metro NY, Race flap over Nets arena foe’s comments
The Real Estate Observer, "Wealthy White Masters"
The Real Estate Observer, Daniel Goldstein Apologizes ...
The Real Deal, Fresh fuel for Atlantic Yards controversy

Atlantic Yards Report, "Divisiveness: Is it about Goldstein—or Ratner?," includes reaction at last night's candidate forum.

Posted by lumi at 8:45 AM

Eminent Domania: New London approves evictions

A year ago, New London won the US Supreme Court case against homeowners in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, but lost the argument in the court of public opinion.

The public be damned, as the city voted on Tuesday to move ahead with evictions.

Here's the coverage:
AP, via Newday, New London approves evictions in eminent domain dispute
The [New London] Day, City Votes To Proceed With Property Seizures
The NY Times, Connecticut City Takes First Step to Evict in Eminent Domain Case

Posted by lumi at 8:05 AM

Gutterland ConflictWatch™: Who Loves Piano, Baby?

Gutter posts a reader's commentary on Nicky O's weekend "meditation" on the relationship between big developers and starchitects, featuring Forest City Ratner and architects Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano.

Nicolai writes: "Neither the Beekman nor the Times tower can be considered revolutionary work for Mr. Gehry or Mr. Piano. But they do send a message that serious design can emerge from collaborations with mainstream developers."
Renzo Piano is not a tall building architect, and he could no more have won this tall building commission without FXFowle than Frank Gehry could have won it without his own competition partner, David Childs of SOM.
Dreamers? Bring them on. But if they're going to design a tall building, they had better understand that a tall building is a different sort of machine than a museum is, and they had better bloody well have the design chops to back up that understanding in the real world. Whether or not the Times, through its critic, wishes to admit this in print, the paper understood it well enough in practice to demand that Piano be paired with an architect who could "get things done." Indeed, this -- not roof gardens or ceramic tubes -- is where "serious design" begins.


Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

Ratner issues June 15 deadline on Ridge Hill

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

Here's the latest news about Forest City Ratner's other local development controversy. Besides being proposed by the same developer, issues related to Atlantic Yards are a lack of governmental transparency through use of public-private agencies, financing by Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS), mixed-use development with affordable housing (including seniors) and lack of a satisfactory traffic circulation plan.

YONKERS — Developer Bruce Ratner has given the city a June 15 deadline to resolve issues that have halted his company's Ridge Hill Village in court or risk losing the $600 million project.

Ratner, president and chief executive of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, delivered the message Wednesday, City Council President Chuck Lesnick said, in a City Hall meeting involving him, Ratner and Mayor Phil Amicone.

It came nearly a month after a state Supreme Court justice invalidated a City Council vote that led to the project's approval last year and just a day after a public forum Lesnick organized to explore alternative ways to get traffic to and from the site. The forum failed to produce any readily apparent resolution to the impasse.

"He said to me, 'Look, time is money,' " Lesnick said. "He wanted to know this was being held to some sort of schedule."

Forest City Ratner officials would not comment on the deadline. Amicone spokesman David Simpson, however, challenged the council president to take a definitive position.


Posted by lumi at 7:24 AM

June 5, 2006

DDDB Press Release: Dan Zanes & Brooklyn Friends Pack the House for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Benefit Concert

Opponents of Destructive "Atlantic Yards" Proposal Send Strong and Joyous Message to Elected Officials and Developer Ratner

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK -- The biggest Brooklyn House Party of the year was held on Saturday, June 3rd. Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Advisory Board member Dan Zanes and Brooklyn Friends roused a packed to the vaulted ceilings Hanson Place United Central Methodist Church in Fort Greene.

Over 1400 boys, girls, moms and dads danced and sang to the joyful, traditional family folk rock sounds of Dan Zanes and his merry band of musicians. The church sanctuary was full of all ages celebrating the communities of Brooklyn at the benefit concert supporting the legal fund and work of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB)–advocates for sensible, respectful, democratic, community-based development and leading opponents of Forest City Ratner's proposed skyscraper city in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Actor, director, Brooklyn native and DDDB Advisory Board member Steve Buscemi introduced Dan Zanes to kick off the concert, claiming that Zanes has "ruined his life" because now all he can do is cock-a-doodle-doodle-doo all around the kitchen!

Gospel legend Toshi Reagon joined the troupe for a soulful rendition of Down By the Riverside.

During the performance Dan Zanes said, “The key message here is to inform yourself about the ‘Atlantic Yards’ proposal. Once I started to inform myself I learned what a bad plan it is for Brooklyn and that the proposed project is not inevitable and can be stopped. We can have something much better for the borough. Also, I want to thank Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn for all the great work they have been doing these past two years.”

DDDB spokesperson Daniel Goldstein said, “This benefit concert, with a packed house, was a remarkable community event. As for our elected and un-elected officials across the city and state who have abdicated their responsibility to the public and who haven't listened to the outrage over this developer's destructive, taxpayer subsidized, eminent domain abusing, community-killing, treasure-stealing, congestion-producing, irresponsible and undemocratic development proposal: we hope and expect that the strumming sounds and supportive families at the Dan Zanes benefit concert might finally reach their hearts and heads.

Forest City Ratner’s 8.7 million square foot development plan, with 16 skyscrapers and an arena is the largest single source development proposed in the history of New York City. By DDDB’s accounting the project would use at least $1.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies, or if one goes by the developer’s numbers from one year ago that total would be $1.1 billion. The proposal is three times as dense as Battery Park City in lower Manhattan.

Click for more photos from the day's festivities.

Posted by lumi at 1:26 PM

Kiddie Rocker Dan Zanes Tears It up For DDDB

From Brownstoner:


The rain on Saturday didn't put a damper on the Develop Don't Destroy fundraiser at the Hanson Place United Central Methodist Church in Fort Greene. Dan Zanes, the ex-Del Fuegos front man who's reinvented himself in recent years as the Bard of Brooklyn, entertained 1,400 of his fans, young and old, to raise money for DDDB's fight against Bruce Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards development. We'll be interested to hear from people in the audience about the non-entertainment portion of the event. Were there many speeches other than Buscemi?

Check out the comments section where "anony-mouse" goes on the Rat attack against project critics.

Posted by lumi at 11:49 AM

Deceptive Skyline?

On Sunday, Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report pointed out another case of a slightly deceptive Gehry-Ratner rendering.

Here's the visual aid.

Frank Gehry Skyline in Brooklyn lookin' a little deceptive.

Oder's comment:

By the way, can you tell from this graphic that the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, at right, is actually 108 feet shorter than the 620-foot Miss Brooklyn, the tallest building in the proposed Atlantic Yards plan? Or that the bank is just one foot taller than the second-tallest building proposed? It sure doesn't look that way.

NoLandGrab has made a similar point with all of the photo-renderings issued at Frank Gehry's May 11th press conference.

In terms of scale, bulk and density, you really have to look carefully — these days, all of the Ratner-Gehry promotional material is looking a little deceptive, and seems to articulate the message that the project isn't really as big as everyone says it is.

Posted by lumi at 9:29 AM

Mayor proposes $230M jump-start for SE fed center

Here's an article for readers who are following Forest City's other projects nationwide. Washington D.C. wants to help Forest City by using Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOTS):

Forest City's 42-acre Southeast Federal Center and JBG's 11-acre Department of Transportation site -- long held by the federal government -- eventually will be transferred to city tax rolls. But instead of the developers paying property taxes into the city's general fund at the outset, the city would sell $230 million in bonds and then use a portion of the future payments in lieu of property taxes to cover the debt service for up to 15 years.


Posted by lumi at 8:55 AM

Money for nothing, parks for free

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn poses a question that gets at the heart of Brooklyn:

Did You Ever Wonder...
...why Brooklyn Bridge "Park" needs to be self-sustaining, but Forest City Ratner's Skyscraper City doesn't?

Good question. Since when do parks have to be self sustaining? That's what our tax dollars are for. Are we really leaning towards a vision of the future with high-rise condos in Prospect or Central Park?

Consider the bits of green space that are supposed to knit together the private residences ringing Grand Army Plaza and the public plaza itself. The "berms," as they are called, are considered so dangerous to public safety that they are fenced off and they illustrate the difficulty of designing the transition between private and public space.

On a regular city street, a sidewalk does the trick. But in a park, there is no street and the walkways do not serve the same function. Can you really create a private space in a park and maintain full public access? How do you design the transition between the private and public spaces?

If it doesn't work, then the park will quickly become a publicly subsidized amenity for the condo class, another variation on the superblock... which sounds like another project we know.

Posted by lumi at 7:40 AM

What are your priroities, [sic] Mr. Spitzer?

Despite his not having said anything of substance on the campaign trail, the conventional wisdom is that Eliot Spitzer looks "unbeatable," which is probably why our favorite City Councilmember, Letitia James, is about to jump on his band wagon, but not before Spitzer, the biggest bully in Albany, gets in a few pot shots at Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, via Ben Smith at the Daily News.

And Brooklyn City Councilwoman Tish James is likely to endorse the attorney general - overlooking a shouting match they had in his office last year. James was there with members of a Brooklyn group that opposes the Atlantic Yards project, which includes an arena for the Nets basketball team. She wouldn't discuss the meeting in detail, but an ally who was there, lawyer Candace Carponter, said, "We were yelled at for half an hour, and every single issue we wanted to discuss, he said, 'I don't care.'"

The group is known for its own sometimes over-the-top rhetoric. Its main spokesman, Dan Goldstein, e-mailed me not long ago, describing his African-American opponents as tools of "their wealthy white masters." Not surprisingly, Spitzer aide Rich Baum, who was at the meeting, had a very different version.

"They sat there and yelled at him for half an hour," Baum said. "He clearly found their argumentation style so off-the-wall that it upset them."

In any event, on leaving the meeting, another member of the Brooklyn group, Carponter said, tried to start something of a Spitzer-victim support group.


NoLandGrab: Yeah, we are so sure that DDDB walked into a private meeting with the New York State Attorney General and yelled at the guy.

It's funny how the people who are engineering the over-the-top development with subsidies that are out of this world are always saying DDDB is extreme in its rhetoric, and the press seems to buy it. If these guys are so crazy, how come they are the only ones who aren't lying?

Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

June 4, 2006

Candidates’ Night - June 5

Fort Greene Association

The Fort Greene Association will co-host a candidates' forum on June 5. This will be an excellent opportunity to meet the candidates for both the 57th State Assembly District and the 10th US Congressional District.

Candidates for the 57th State Assembly District are Bill Batson, Hakeem Jeffries, and Freddie Hamilton.

Candidates for the 10th US Congressional District are Ed Towns, Charles Barron, Roger Green, and Kevin Powell.

Date and Time: June 5 at 6:30pm.

Location: Brown Memorial Baptist Church at Washington and Gates Avenues.

Posted by amy at 8:42 PM

Suozzi v. Atlantic Yards

The Real Estate:

The mole inside Brooklyn's Independent Neighborhood Democrats says Suozzi came out against Atlantic Yards last night and got the club's nod in part because of the new anti-AY members that joined the club but never got to vote for Chris Owens.

Sean Patrick Maloney, despite bashing the Ratner arena project earlier in the day, failed to win the endorsement for AG, which went to Denise O'Donnell instead.


Update from the Daily Politics: Denise Drops Out

Posted by amy at 3:28 PM

We hold these truths to be self-evident

VERITAS et VENUSTAS gives a run-down of Frank Gehry's declining design chops:

And now we come to what will probably be Gehry's worst work, the proposed Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. Yes, it sits in a traditional city fabric, but it is an enormous project that spills out from its site to wipe out blocks of existing fabric and tower over the neighbors. There is so much of the mega-project that it is its own context. And frankly, given that situation, Gehry doesn't seem to know what to do.

It is an axiom of design that restraints bring out creativity and produce the best result. Michelangelo's Campidoglio in Rome is often used as an example of this principle: given two existing buildings to work with in creating a plaza, Michelangelo used the odd angle between the two to create one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome. In Brooklyn, Gehry and the developer Forest City Ratner are simply bulldozing too much of what's already there.


Posted by amy at 8:07 AM

Dan Zanes & DDDB Pack the House


Develop Don't Destroy:

The biggest Brooklyn House Party of the year just ended earlier today when Dan Zanes and Brooklyn Friends roused a packed to the vaulted ceilings Hanson Place United Central Methodist Church in Fort Greene. Over 1400 boys, girls, moms and dads danced and sang to the joyful traditional folk rock sounds of Dan Zanes and his merry band of musicians.

Actor, director and DDDB advisory board member Steve Buscemi introduced Dan to kick off the concert, claiming that Zanes has "ruined his life" because now all he can do is cock-a-doodle-doodle-doo all around the kitchen!

article and photos

Posted by amy at 12:09 AM

June 3, 2006

Skyline for Sale


But if the Gehry-Ratner lovefest has raised an expectation of innovative design, it has also stirred unease. Few would question Mr. Gehry's talent. The question is whether he has allowed his experimental ethos to be harnessed for the sake of maximizing a developer's profits. It's also fair to ask whether Mr. Gehry and other gifted architects have made a pact with the Devil, compromising their values for the sake of ever bigger commissions. Beyond that, their collaboration points up a major change in the way cities are being built. There was a time when government took an interest in big urban planning projects. Mr. Ratner and Mr. Gehry are operating under a model by which the government plays only a marginal role. Bigger social concerns, like housing for mixed incomes, equal access to parks and transit, and vibrant communal spaces, which were once the public's purview, now increasingly fall to developers to address or not, as they see fit.

Atlantic Yards Report gives Ouroussoff points for not gushing over Gehry, but contests the overall message:

Blame the guv'ment? Ouroussoff gives Gehry & Ratner a pass, punts on scale

Ouroussoff treats the project is on track, with no acknowledgement that the environmental review process remains in the early stages. (We’re still waiting for a Draft Environmental Statement.) He makes no effort to assess the appropriate scale and its attendant effect on traffic, transit, and park space. He suggests that the recent token scaleback was a result of “heeding local protests” rather than the developer’s political calculation.

The critic maintains that pedestrian passageways serve as extensions of the street grid. He ignores Gehry's dismissive attitude toward local critics. And he suggests, spuriously, that citizens should blame the government, which has abandoned its vital public role, rather than more explaining that saying that the government has abdicated oversight and planning for this specific project.

Posted by amy at 8:07 PM


Tickets are still available for this Saturday's Dan Zanes benefit concert for Develop Don‚t Destroy Brooklyn.

$15 for adults
$12 for anyone under 13

Saturday, June 3, 11AM
Hanson Place United Methodist Church
144 St. Felix Street

Catch these trains:
N, R, D to Pacific St.
2, 3, 4, 5, B, Q to Atlantic Ave.

Donations and Sponsors:
Beverages donated by Glacéau VitaminWater
Printing donated by Kayrock Screenprinting, Inc. in Williamsburg
Paper donated by Prestone Printing Co., Inc.
Refreshments donated by Le Petit Café in Carroll Gardens and Second Helpings and Luscious in Park Slope
Gift Certificate donated by Well-Being Massage Therapy of Park Slope, (917) 971-2193

Posted by lumi at 7:00 AM

June 2, 2006

Follow Errol Louis's logic, halve Atlantic Yards density

Atlantic Yards Report covers Errol Louis's visit to Brian Lehrer Live:

Louis defended the scale of the Atlantic Yards project by citing the nearby presence of the city's tallest public housing tower. But his citation doesn't so much endorse Atlantic Yards as support a significant reduction in density. Why? Even that tower contains fewer than half the number of apartments per acre as the current Atlantic Yards plan proposes.


Posted by amy at 11:41 PM

Remainders: Mayor Rasiej, IND for Suozzi


The Daily Politics:

More evidence of how central Atlantic Yards is to some parts of Brooklyn politics: Tom Suozzi picks up the endorsement of a major Brooklyn political club, IND, despite being to Spitzer's right on key issues.


Posted by amy at 11:34 PM

DDDB Media Alert: Dan Zanes and Brooklyn Friends

Benefit Concert for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn

WHO: Dan Zanes and Brooklyn Friends

WHAT: Benefit Concert for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn

WHERE: Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church
144 St. Felix Street at Hanson Place, Brooklyn (Enter on Hanson)
(Catch these trains: 2/3/4/5/B/Q to Atlantic Avenue, N/R/D to Pacific Street) [MAP]

WHEN: Saturday, June 3rd. 11 AM. Doors Open at 10:15
(If coming with camera crew please come early if you need to set up)

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK–– A Brooklyn bard and icon of the children’s/family music world makes a rare appearance in his home borough on June 3. In Fort Greene, Dan Zanes and Brooklyn Friends will headline a benefit concert for the community group opposing Forest City Ratner’s proposed skyscraper-city, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB). Dan Zanes and Brooklyn Friends have extolled the virtues of Kings County in song and are lending support to DDDB’s efforts in protecting and promoting the character of Brooklyn neighborhoods through responsible and respectful development.

Dan Zanes, formerly of the band the Del Fuegos, has been recording family music for almost a decade, since the birth of his daughter Anna. His handmade all-ages twenty-first century folk sound has gone from neighborhood entertainment to a national success story. There have been six CD releases with guests including Sheryl Crow, Philip Glass, Lou Reed, Suzanne Vega and Debbie Harry. His ensemble has toured the country extensively and has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, People, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly, as well as NPR. Their latest album, Catch That Train!, was released on May 16th.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.dddb.net, until Friday night, and can be purchased at the door. Tickets: $12 for children (13 and under) and seniors, $15 for adults. All ages welcome, babies in arms enter free.

Posted by lumi at 1:29 PM

IND goes indy

Those of you who are following how the Atlantic Yards debate has rejuvenated Brooklyn's independent political clubs will want to read mole333's account of last night's endorsement meeting.


Posted by lumi at 1:15 PM

Downtown Brooklyn Plan, we hardly knew ya

This week Brooklyn Papers covers the announcement of a Downtown Brooklyn Planning Czar to be named later (and here we thought that it was Ratner all along!) accompanied by Gersh Kuntzman's editorial reaction.

Downtown czar: Bloomy to name plan’s savior
Let the market rule

NoLandGrab: We spend way too much time explaining, "The "Atlantic Yards" proposal IS NOT in Downtown Brooklyn." Since it isn't, why do we care about Downtown Brooklyn?

Because the wheels are coming off of the Downtown Brooklyn Plan, previously envisioned as a large-scale commercial-residential high-rise neighborhood (sound familiar?) and packaged to politicians to stem the flow of jobs to New Jersey. Now there's little demand for office space in Central Brooklyn -- Bruce Ratner knows that, which is why he's converted millions of square feet of planned office space to luxury condos -- and the plan is in disarray. Brooklyn was supposed to gain jobs and a revitalized commercial district, and all City Hall has to show for its efforts is a drawing board full of luxury housing.

In addition, eminent domain has been authorized for the entire district in order to amass lots big enough for high-rise development. The result has been to suppress the growth and development of small businesses. We know what you're thinking, just use eminent domain and take back Metrotech to build affordable housing. Shame on you -- eminent domain is abusive in Prospect Heights and isn't doing anyone any favors in Downtown Brooklyn.

Eminent domain, commercial-vs.-residential real estate, luxury-vs.-affordable housing, city planning gone awry (similar to total lack of city planning gone awry) and small businesses getting the squeeze -- Downtown Brooklyn matters. The political and market forces west of Flatbush ought to have an effect on how development of the railyards proceeds, but it won't if Bruce Ratner has his way and is allowed to go ahead with his plans to re-invent Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 9:32 AM

Court OKs Ratner demolition after the fact

In another win, appellate division ruling re-instates ‘revolving door’ Atlantic Yards lawyer

Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kunstman


Bruce Ratner has won the right to tear down buildings that he’s already demolished in the footprint of his proposed Atlantic Yards project.

In a victory, of sorts, for the developer, a state appeals court this week upheld a lower court ruling that allowed Ratner to demolish the buildings — including the Underberg Building at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues — because they posed “an immediate danger to the public.”

Opponents had argued that Ratner should not be allowed to tear down the buildings because the larger Atlantic Yards has still not received state approval.

In the same ruling, the appellate division overturned the lower court’s ruling that forced the state to fire its lead attorney because he had once worked for Ratner on the same project.


Posted by lumi at 8:49 AM

Eminent Domainia: Local Abuse & Castle Coalition News

Eminent Domania! The Manhattan Institute Newsletter*, Eminent Domain: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly*

Ever since the Kelo backlash, big-city mayors have been reasserting the rightness and justice of their own eminent-domain programs. Mayor Bloomberg has mounted one of the more convincing campaigns, in part because New York has some genuinely good programs. It also has some very bad ones. [Hint: Atlantic Yards is a "bad one."]

Castle Watch (Newsletter for the Institute for Justice)
Victory! Long Beach Church Defeats Eminent Domain Abuse
Churches pay no property taxes, which makes them vulnerable to eminent domain abuse. Here's the story of one church that was saved from the developer wreckingball.

Cleveland Plans to Flatten the Flats
Eminent domain abuse in Bruce Ratner's hometown of Cleveland.

City Officials Destroy Man’s Business for a Hotel, Now a Parking Lot
After the Soviet Army destroyed Ahmad Mesdaq’s homestead in Afghanistan, he pursued the American Dream in San Diego. Mesdaq lost his battle to save his neighborhood cafe. A parking lot for the new Marriot has erased all traces of one man's dream.

Blighted home of the week
The Castle Coalition's bogus blight index.

Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

Rereading Ouroussoff on AY and Gehry: reinventing Brooklyn or flawed process?

This is the second part of a two-part look at the appraisals by New York Times architecture critics of Frank Gehry's evolving Atlantic Yards design, and also at some of their other Gehry coverage.

As noted yesterday, both Herbert Muschamp and Nicolai Ouroussoff have enthusiastically, even rapturously, endorsed the design by Frank Gehry, all the while making fundamental errors in describing the site, failing to add important context about scale and density, and failing--completely in Muschamp's case, partly in Ouroussoff's case--to acknowledge Forest City Ratner's lousy architectural track record in Brooklyn.

A critic has called Ouroussoff (right) "Herb Jr.," and the two share some critical tendencies; Ouroussoff's piece on the Atlantic Yards plan was only marginally less hyperbolic than Muschamp's gush. His past coverage of Gehry, though, has been slightly more mixed; the critic has enthusiastically praised the architect, but also offered some gentle criticism.


Posted by lumi at 7:40 AM

Ratner Has a Good Day and Wants You to Know

From Wednesday's Gowanus Lounge

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has been winning the development war but taking it on the chin in the war for the hearts and minds of Brooklynites from his vociferous and resourceful opponents. (Celebrities signing on to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, the less than enthusiastic welcome for Miss Brooklyn, etc.) So, in Ratnerian terms, yesterday was such a good day on the PR front that he issued a press release about it.


Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

Indy Media Release: Defend Brooklyn. Get Batson on the Ballot.

Bill Batson has already proven he will tirelessly fight to protect our District.

An outbreak of highly suspicious arson fires has torn through Brooklyn, with over 18 occurring in the last fourteen months. As co-Chair of the Fire Safety Committee, Bill is working with community leaders to organize arson patrols and vigils, which have not only provided financial and community support for the displaced families, but also forced our press and politicians to pay attention to the havoc these fires are wreaking in our neighborhoods.

Bill fought to prevent the city from using Eminent Domain to raze historic Underground Railroad sites on Duffield Street in Downtown Brooklyn. The City wanted to use these sites to create an underground parking lot. As a result of our work, the City has stopped the clock on the Duffield Street condemnations.

Development can bring us jobs, affordable housing, and strengthen our local economy, or it can destroy historical sites, fuel suspicious and deadly fires, and displace families and business that have been a part of our community for decades. Any decisions regarding development should be made in our community and with our community's input. Bill has been defending our neighborhood's ideals for the past 20 years. He will use the State Assembly seat to continue to defend our homes and our heritage.

Now it's time to get Bill on the ballot.

We need to have enough of our neighbors sign our petition in support of Bill's candidacy to qualify him for the September 12th primary. Petitioning starts Tuesday, June 6th. We want to sign up the majority of our neighbors during the first week. Our kickoff meeting will be on Monday, June 5th at 6:30 pm at Ripple (769 Washington Ave between St. Johns and Sterling). We will be holding additional meetings throughout the week to brief new volunteers.

Please contact us at: 917-627-6528 or batson4brooklyn@gmail.com

See you there!

Batson For Brooklyn

Posted by lumi at 6:33 AM

Press Release: Maloney Gets Tough on Atlantic Yards

AG Candidate Asks Hard Questions of Process Project Should be “Stopped Cold” Until Community Gets Answers

June 1, Brooklyn, NY: Today Sean Patrick Maloney, former senior Clinton White House official and investigative attorney running for the Democratic nomination for New York Attorney General stood with the Brooklyn community against the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards development project. Maloney is the first and only candidate in the race for Attorney General to speak out against the Atlantic Yards project.

Maloney said, “I believe that the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards development must be stopped cold until some tough questions get asked and answered. Why do the powerful interests and political establishment treat the public interest like a burden? This isn’t about a business plan, it’s about a neighborhood.”

The Brooklyn Atlantic Yards proposal by Forest City Ratner was awarded selective bid contract by the MTA under the cloud of a secretive, less than democratic process that neglected the prerogatives of the citizens in the community. The development of the MTA rail yards (3.3 million square feet of Vanderbilt Yards) and the adjacent 4.5 million square feet will likely drastically change the neighborhood dynamic and social fabric.

Maloney announced three principles that must be addressed before the project moves forward:

I. Put People First

  • Adopt the Principles for Responsible Development
  • Maximize community involvement through ULURP process
  • Prioritize affordable housing
  • Prioritize local and minority job creation
  • Address the density, neighborhood character & congestion issues

II. Let the Sunshine In

  • Require full financial disclosure
  • Open and limit the eminent domain process
  • End conflicts of interest
  • Require independent analyses for public decision-making

III. No Foregone Conclusions

  • Keep the burden of proof on the developer
  • Maximize and encourage competition
  • Level the playing field in terms of public subsidies

Maloney told the community, “Together we can make a difference in people’s lives. New York state government continues to be strangled by political gridlock, corruption and mismanagement. As it is today, this project is the face of what’s wrong with a corrupt culture that mixes business and politics, profits and tax dollars. It is time to stand up and give power back to the working people who need it most.”

For more information visit http://www.seanmaloney.com/www.seanmaloney.com


Posted by lumi at 6:19 AM

June 1, 2006

Columbia’s Planned Expansion to Manhattanville Draws Fire From Small Businesses, Community Board


NY Sun
By Julia Vitullo-Martin

On eminent domain and the struggle of another NYC neighborhood to determine its own destiny:

Columbia University’s planned expansion northward from its Morningside Heights campus into West Harlem, which it calls Manhattanville, is now quietly being reviewed by the Department of City Planning. But the negotiations will not stay quiet for long. Columbia’s expansion is not only opposed by several small business owners in the area who have refused to sell the university their property, it is also at odds with the local community board’s official plan.And while many issues are ostensibly technical — current zoning disallows most of what Columbia hopes to do — the substantive disagreements are fundamental.

Columbia wants a virtual blank slate on which to build Renzo Piano’s ambitious scheme.The community board basically wants an improved and denser version of what it has now — a mix of industry, warehouses, a few restaurants and bakeries, and several housing projects. “Columbia has an all-encompassing plan that depends on the complete removal of buildings, people, places, and things between 125th and 133rd Street and from Broadway to 12th Avenue,” a local resident and member of the Coalition to Preserve Community’s steering committee,Tom DeMott, said.


Posted by lumi at 8:44 AM

Rereading Muschamp on AY and Gehry: the "Garden of Eden" wilts

Atlantic Yards Report reviews the coverage of Bruce Ratner's proposal starting with the former architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, noting that "the flaws in [Muschamp's] judgment grow larger in hindsight."


Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

Atlantic Yards, and sticks and stones

Amsterdam News
by Kelehchi Ubozoh

Score another point for the Forest City Ratner PR team as the Amsterdam News tries to do a balanced piece on Atlantic Yards, but mis-states that, "The project has been scaled down since the original plans." [The project is actually BIGGER than in the original plan unveiled in 2003.]

Seriously, Ratner's people do a great job of taking advantage of a reporter who is new to the beat.

The article covers minority hiring and affodable housing, with dueling quotes from Rev. Herbert R. Daughtry, City Councilmember Letitia James, and Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Development Group President Jim Stuckey.


In one of today's Atlantic Yards Report installments, "From the $6B lie to the $1.5B deception? Stuckey revises rhetoric on economic projections," Norman Oder notes that Jim Stuckey has changed his tune.

Posted by lumi at 6:20 AM


A franchise withers as New York NBA fans stand idly by

NY Press
By Dave Hollander and C.J. Sullivan

As Hollander and Sullivan whine about the fall of the Knicks, they see a bright light, the Brooklyn Nets. Oh, and you can "save your letters" because "a Brooklyn sports arena is a cool idea — the other construction he does with the land is not in play in this column."


Posted by lumi at 6:13 AM