June 13, 2006
DDDB Press Release: THE CONEY ISLAND ARENA SOLUTION
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:
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 June 13, 2006 3:37 PM