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October 25, 2006

Brooklyn Bound

Travel & Leisure
By Peter Jon Lindberg

travandleis.jpgNew Yorkers looking for the small-town quality of life in the big city, and visitors who shun the spoon-fed tourist spots, are now flocking to Brooklyn. Travel writer and Brooklynite Peter Jon Lindberg often travels the world without leaving Brooklyn.

It seems that a postcard from Brooklyn isn't complete without a couple of paragraphs about Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal:

The fiercest battle, however, centers on Atlantic Yards, a $4.2 billion development that would bring 16 residential and commercial towers and a Frank Gehry–designed basketball arena to the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, already one of the most congested intersections in the city. The 22-acre complex would replace a derelict rail yard—as well as seven residential blocks of not-at-all-derelict Prospect Heights. Most tenants and homeowners in the project’s footprint have already vacated their apartments, but a handful still remain, refusing buyout offers and possibly forcing an eminent domain action.

The pros and cons are both outsized. According to an environmental-impact study, Atlantic Yards would cast a literal shadow over surrounding low-rise neighborhoods, place a significant strain on mass transit, and knot up some 60 intersections in gridlock. It would also supply 2,250 subsidized apartments for low- and middle-income residents (an increasingly threatened population in New York), create thousands of jobs, add up to $1.5 billion in tax revenue, and relocate the New Jersey Nets to a legendarily jilted sports town that’s gone five decades without a big-league team.

Brooklyn desperately needs affordable housing. And an NBA franchise would be a potent symbol and point of pride for still bereft trolley dodgers. Yet Atlantic Yards seems grotesquely proportioned, the proverbial bazooka-on-a-quail-hunt. If approved, it will be the biggest and costliest development in Brooklyn’s history: a Manhattan-scale megaplex in a borough defined by its small neighborhood charms.


NoLandGrab: Lindberg might want to check that $1.5-billion number with "The Mad Factchecker" Norman Oder, who finds that the Empire State Development Corporation calculates the benefits at around $1.4 billion, but without considering substantial public costs.

Posted by lumi at October 25, 2006 8:05 AM