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December 3, 2007

Will "absurd" process make Atlantic Yards this generation’s Penn Station?

Atlantic Yards Report

AYR continues its Monday Kent barwick doubleheader with a report on — and analysis of — last week's "Modernism and the Public Realm" panel discussion:

At every public program these days about urbanism, it seems, Atlantic Yards gets a mention, and Wednesday night, at a panel titled "Modernism and the Public Realm" at the Museum of the City of New York, Kent Barwick, president of the Municipal Art Society (MAS), offered a striking prediction.

It was a passing, middle-of-the-night thought, he allowed, but maybe Atlantic Yards “will be, in its way, like Penn Station,” the 1963 demolition of which galvanized New Yorkers to finally achieve a landmarks preservation law. “Maybe the absurdity with which that proceeded will awaken the desire for a more rational process.”

(That begs the question about why Barwick and the MAS have not taken a more confrontational stance toward Atlantic Yards, instead hoping to mend it rather than end it.)

Barwick's fellow panelist, urbanist and author Fred Siegel, was considerably less circumspect in his opinion about the mother of all public-funding sinkholes:

After seconding Barwick, Siegel, an urbanist with a center-right bent, attacked Atlantic Yards as a subsidy boondoggle. Brooklyn, he pointed out, is going through an economic boom. “In the midst of this, what is the compelling economic logic for Atlantic Yards?” he said, citing $700 million in subsidies. (Actually, the amount of direct subsidies would be $305 million, but the total in tax breaks, discounted land, and other benefits surely exceeds $700 million.)

In closing, he returned to Atlantic Yards, which he declared not a product of modernism, economic growth, or housing demand. “It is purely and simply a product of the mayor’s politics.”


Posted by lumi at December 3, 2007 1:19 PM