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September 4, 2006

60% support big Brooklyn arena plan

Prospect of housing and employment sways New Yorkers, Crain's poll finds

Crain's NY Business
By Erik Engquist

The colossal and controversial Atlantic Yards development is favored by a solid 60% of city residents and disliked by only 25%, according to a Crain's New York Business poll.

Read the full text of the article after the jump.

surveysays01.jpgNoLandGrab: Without knowing what questions were actually asked, it is difficult to know what to make of this article.

Based upon poll results, it appears that Bruce Ratner's pr campaign, featuring blanket claims about "affordable housing" and jobs, has convinced many New Yorkers; however, the poll also indicates that only 20% of respondents follow the issue closely.

Conclusion? Most New Yorkers do not follow the issue of Atlantic Yards closely, but a majority support the plan.

The poll got some play in the local media (both newspaper bylines are from reporters who do not regularly cover Atlantic Yards) and triggered a response from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and and analysis from Atlantic Yards Report:

NY1, Poll Finds Majority Support Atlantic Rail Yards Development
NY Daily News, N.Y.ers all pumped up over Nets deal - survey
DDDB.net (Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn), Crain's Meaningless Poll
Atlantic Yards Report, Jobs & housing promises sway Crain's poll, but what was left out?

The colossal and controversial Atlantic Yards development is favored by a solid 60% of city residents and disliked by only 25%, according to a Crain's New York Business poll. New Yorkers cite the jobs and affordable housing that it promises for Brooklyn as the two most important benefits of the project. Support for the proposal is running at a robust 60% in Brooklyn as well, though opposition there is stronger, with 33% viewing it unfavorably. The poll, conducted by Charney Research between Aug. 23 and Aug. 28, surveyed 601 people representing a cross section of the five boroughs. It has a margin of error of 4%.

Permit us to hightlight in this next paragraph that it is presumptuous to assume that the "public's opinion" will influence state officials, when this project has been shephered through the pre-approval process at the highest levels of state and city government:

The public's opinion of the 8.7 million-square-foot project influences the state officials in charge of the approval process, which is nearing a conclusion. If they take their cue from local sentiment, the officials will probably demand only a modest reduction in the development's size--not a fundamental redesign. "The meaning of the poll is that New Yorkers are broadly pro-development, and that includes people in Brooklyn who are close to this project," says Craig Charney, the research firm's president. Support for Forest City Ratner's $4.2 billion plan runs across racial, economic and gender lines, the poll shows. The proposed complex of 16 office and residential towers and a basketball arena is viewed favorably by 56% of African-Americans, 58% of whites, 68% of Latinos and 72% of Asians. The results contradict the popular characterization of detractors as white elites and fans as poor minorities. Only 26% of whites say they are somewhat or very unfavorable toward Atlantic Yards, compared with 30% of blacks. Opposition among residents of households with income below $20,000 or above $100,000 was identical: 29%. It was 22% in households with incomes between those amounts. The poll shows why Forest City has trumpeted its deal with community groups setting aside apartments and construction jobs for local residents, and why opponents have tried to discredit the pact. A whopping 86% of respondents call it an important benefit. That figure is 70% even among those who don't like the project.

Housing important
The project's proposed 2,250 apartments for low- and middle- income renters receive a similarly robust endorsement: They are deemed an important benefit by 92% of the development's supporters and even by 66% of its detractors. Forest City's plan to move the Nets from New Jersey to the arena, at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, is less of a factor. Only 58% describe it as an important benefit, while 40% say it's not. More men than women praise the basketball component, and college-educated women are the least impressed, with 53% calling it unimportant. In fact, college-educated women are the least enthusiastic about Atlantic Yards as a whole. Yet half of them like it, while 32% do not. Interest in Atlantic Yards is intensifying as its day of reckoning nears. A public hearing last month drew an overflow crowd, and hearings Sept. 12 and Sept. 18 are also expected to be packed. A recent opposition rally and an informational meeting for prospective tenants each drew more than 2,000 people. The Crain's poll indicates that 28% of Brooklynites and 20% of New Yorkers are following the issue closely. Most New Yorkers are not bothered by some common criticisms of the project. Only 34% say its significant costs to the city--such as those schools and infrastructure entail--raise serious doubts in their minds. Just 29% express misgivings when told that the project, which includes a 62-story office tower, is out of scale with the neighborhood and will promote gentrification. Of greater concern is the fact that the city's land-use review process was not used to consult the community on Atlantic Yards. That raises doubts in 40%, including 53% of those who are college-educated, but just 27% of those who didn't get past high school.

City will deal with it
"I don't think the neighborhood had enough input, and I think it's too big a project," says Richard Wald, 64, of Far Rockaway, Queens. "I'd like it to go back to the drawing board." He says that though it would be nice to have the Nets, they should return to their former home on Long Island. "City land is too valuable," he explains. Edward Altman, 83, of Brooklyn Heights, sees the project differently. "There are problems with Atlantic Yards, but they'll be overcome and I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages," he says. The project would create jobs and residential units, he says. "I know most [of the housing] will not be moderate- or low-income, but enough of it will be. "The stadium for the Nets has been overemphasized," Mr. Altman says. "It's not like a football stadium where you get 70,000 people in the daytime. It's 19,000 people--at night." Though he acknowledges that traffic would increase, "the city will have to find a way to deal with it," he says.

Posted by lumi at September 4, 2006 8:06 AM