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March 27, 2008

Profit and Public Good Clash in Grand Plans

The NY Times
By Nicolai Ouroussoff

Congratulations Bruce Ratner, your Atlantic Yards overdevelopment is officially a "FIASCO!"

According to the NY Times's architecture critic, in a piece about government-sponsored megaprojects in NYC (emphasis added):

The bitter battles over reconstruction plans for ground zero. The unraveling of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. And now this.

Given current economic realities, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s selection on Wednesday of a team led by Tishman Speyer to develop the West Side railyards seems like a wishful fantasy. Yet even if the project takes decades to realize, it is a damning indictment of large-scale development in New York.

Like the ground zero and Atlantic Yards fiascos, its overblown scale and reliance on tired urban planning formulas should force a serious reappraisal of the public-private partnerships that shape development in the city today.

Nicolai Ouroussoff continues by trashing Tishman-Speyer's development plan for Hudson Yards, before getting in another another dig on Atlantic Yards:

In the Atlantic Yards project, Forest City Ratner acknowledged last week that it would delay building most of the elements of Frank Gehry’s design for that eight million-square-foot development because it is short of financing. If built, the project would be a pathetic distortion of the original design. And the developer already has city approval.

article

NoLandGrab: One misunderstanding on Nicky O's part is that Bruce Ratner's controversial project never had "city approval." Atlantic Yards is a STATE PROJECT, which includes all sorts of overrides of local zoning restrictions and is why the building of an arena was approved just across the street from people's houses (think looking out your bedroom window and seeing an arena).

MORE COMMENTARY:
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, The Fall of Plan: AY Goes From Eden to Fiasco

Ouroussoff's predecessor, the late Herbert Muschamp, had originally and infamously called Atlantic Yards a "garden of Eden." Oh how the grossly out-of-scale, financially infeasible, promotionally overblown have fallen.

Atlantic Yards Report, Ouroussoff: AY a "fiasco" with "city approval"

Wouldn't you know it, Norman Oder already tried to save the hardworking editors at The Times from themselves:

Actually, the developer already has government approval, but the city has nothing to do with it. The Empire State Development Corporation approved the project. I sent in a correction on Saturday after Ouroussoff made the same mistake in his essay on AY last Friday.

The Times didn't address the correction yet. But the distinction remains important; had the project gone through the city approval process, there would have been more public oversight and discussion.

NoLandGrab: Seriously, the sporting thing would be for The Times to correct the errors that keep getting repeated in the "Paper of Record" and reply, "Thanks for watching our backs, Norman!"

Posted by lumi at March 27, 2008 5:30 AM