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May 31, 2009

Crowd packs hearing on Atlantic Yards

By John Brennan

This article was overlooked yesterday. It is excellent summary of Friday's state hearing on the proposed Atlantic Yards project.

An often-rowdy, overflow crowd of about 200 packed a Brooklyn auditorium today for a four-hour hearing on the proposed $5 billion Atlantic Yards project that would include a new basketball arena for the Nets.

Construction workers made up the bulk of the crowd for the New York Senate hearing titled, “Atlantic Yards: Where are We Now, How Did We Get There, and Where is the Project Going?”

Many used their union-supplied whistles whenever a state official expressed support for the stalled, struggling project. After about an hour, some began to heckle state Sens. Velmanette Montgomery, D-Brooklyn, and state Sen. Bill Perkins, D-Manhattan, chairman of the Senate committee that reviews major projects, as they continued to ask questions about the wisdom of building Atlantic Yards near downtown Brooklyn.


Lago and other state officials touting the project appeared to be using financial estimates that were several years old, with little or no adjustment for the much-less-robust current economy.

State officials also said that they do not yet know what percentage of affordable-housing units would fall under various income levels, ranging from $30,000 to $134,000 for a family of four.

MTA Executive Director Helena Williams, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said that Forest City Ratner, the developer, is seeking to renegotiate a 2006 agreement under which the company would pay $100 million up front for air rights at the Vanderbilt Yards site that comprises a portion of the project footprint.

Williams added that she has agreed to allow Forest City to construct a seven-track replacement to the previous nine-track Vanderbilt Yards site, saving the developer considerable money. She said she wanted to ensure an effective rail site, “but we’re not building the Taj Mahal either.”


Posted by steve at May 31, 2009 6:38 AM