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December 12, 2007

Ratner, 2003: "I have never, ever seen a project get less protest than this"

Atlantic Yards Report

In another must-read, the time-traveling Norman Oder transports himself back to December, 2003, to "Oderize" Bruce Ratner's spin-o-rama appearance on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Bruce Ratner: If you look at the area, it’s zoned industrial, right in the middle of neighborhoods, and it looks godawful. It’s got train tracks, it’s got industrial buildings, and it’s extremely unattractive, it’s like a scar in the middle of two neighborhoods. I’ve heard it described as a ditch.

Note that Ratner seems to be using the 8.5-acre railyard for the project site as a whole, and leaves out the city streets and city property he needs. Also note that parent Forest City Enterprises, in cities like Richmond, VA, has restored industrial properties.

Lehrer interrupted.

Brian Lehrer: Certainly the residents who were howling yesterday… don’t feel like they live on a scar or ditch, they feel like it’s their home, they feel like it’s a nice... accessible place from Manhattan that’s still a refuge from Manhattan which it wouldn’t be…so do you want to stand by those words, scar and ditch?

BR: Yes, I do, because you know what, the thing is Brian, I don’t know if you were at the press conference there are about 15-20 people, that’s all, in a borough of 2.5 million, the same 15-20 people, who live—I respect it, I really do, they live in an adjoining neighborhood. You have to really—y’know, it’s important for news of course, to listen to all sides, you can’t let 15-20 or people decide something like this. The UN had protesters, Rockefellers Center had protesters. So you have to really look at it I have never, ever--I’ve done a lot of projects, I have never, ever seen a project get less protest than this. Here you have a major project, you have 25 news people at a press conference, and there are about 15 people with homemade signs out in front, in a borough of two and a half million people, at a press conference. (Emphasis added)

Ratner's assessment of community opposition was about as accurate as his prediction of a 2006 debut for the Brooklyn Nets. The same goes for his description of the project footprint:

BL: Does the city have to approve the project, are there hurdles yet?

BR: It’s on state land, being the Long Island Rail Road,, so it’s a state process, and yes, there’s a whole approval process, the state.

No, less than 40 percent of the site is state land, so the state process was not required. After all, the West Side yards project in Manhattan is going through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.

Click on the link below for the rest of Oder's deconstruction of the interview, including Bruce's boast that "our company brought the concept of big boxes to the borough" (a claim conveniently ignored by Ratner henchman Richard Lipsky when he cashes his FCRC paycheck) and his creative defense of MetroTech.

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Posted by lumi at December 12, 2007 9:13 AM