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July 9, 2006

Atlantic Yards: A Groundbreaking Venture


If you're wondering why this opinion piece in the New York Amsterdam News is filled with praise and hyperbole such as "The Atlantic Yards project will do nothing but empower the community and its citizens" just check the byline. Bill Howell is the chair of the Downtown Brooklyn Advisory and Oversight Committee.

Who is the Downtown Brooklyn Advisory and Oversight Committee? From the Community Benefits Agreement:

"The Downtown Brooklyn Advisory and Oversight Committee (“DBAOC”) shall be the community liaison for the Arena and the Project and shall provide periodic status reports to the Community on compliance by the Developers and the Executive Committee with this Agreement."

One of Mr. Howell's former "status reports" included this observation:

"When Metro Tech was proposed, there were critics who said that Forest City would not provide jobs to the community," said Howell, president of Howell Industries, a minority-owned business in Red Hook. "They were wrong, and the evidence is clear. Just check the certified payrolls and the addresses of the workers at the job site and they will show that jobs actually went to the community," he told the council's Economic Development Committee.

Matthew Schuerman's report in City Limits, "THE RETURN OF METROTECH How to ensure the sequels to Brooklyn's back-office complex will share prosperity with the neighborhoods next door" seemed to come to an entirely different conclusion:

The new housing commitment got a lot of press the next day, but neither Golden nor anybody else did much to address another big concern that opponents raised: whether any of MetroTech's jobs would go to people who lived nearby, especially those in the Fort Greene public housing complexes on the other side of Flatbush Avenue.

Seventeen years later, while the buildings are still enjoying a property-tax holiday, no one knows how many low-income residents of adjoining neighborhoods are working at the complex. But business leaders and community activists agree that the number is very low.

Perhaps next time the New York Amsterdam News should fully disclose its authors' relationships to the objects of their praise.

Posted by amy at July 9, 2006 12:44 PM