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September 14, 2007

"Listening to the City" and Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder ponders Thomas Bender's article in Democracy, a Journal of Ideas, "Power Broken: To build great cities, we need more citizen input - not another Robert Moses," and wonders, "Would the Atlantic Yards project have been improved--or would a different development have emerged--had there been more citizen input?"

What if the Vanderbilt Railyards or Atlantic Yards footprint had undergone a public planning exercize as was conducted in Lower Manhattan?

In Brooklyn, could there have been such an exercise? What would the "site" have been, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 8.5-acre Vanderbilt Yard or Forest City Ratner's 21-acre (later 22-acre) "footprint"? If an arena was at issue, should alternate sites have be considered, like Coney Island?

How trade off density and cost, market-rate and subsidized units? Even the post-Atlantic Yards UNITY plan workshops came up with a design for the railyard that proved not completely feasible, at least if you consider the subsequent Extell bid, which implied more density.

The most recent UNITY exercise suggested some very affordable housing--but how to pay for it? (Stay tuned for a revamped UNITY plan to be released on Sep. 24.)

Those in the public who support Forest City Ratner's vision believe that the benefits are worth the costs; opponents say the opposite. But how to evaluate those costs and benefits without consideration of larger issues like the overall opportunities for density and affordable housing in the city and borough?

At the very least, though, some competing plans or even frameworks could have dispelled the "Atlantic Yards or nothing" meme that still persists. (Imagine if the process had begun with an RFP from the MTA, rather than have the agency issue one belatedly, 18 months after the project was announced.)

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Posted by lumi at September 14, 2007 8:43 PM