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July 10, 2009

A Local Journey: Daniel Goldstein with Brian Carreira

The Brooklyn Rail
by Brian J. Carreira

The Brooklyn Rail sits down for a fascinating, insightful, in-depth interview with the accidental activist, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Daniel Goldstein.

Daniel Goldstein is the spokesperson and one of the founders of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn. He has spent the last five-and-a-half years fighting against—and living in the footprint of—Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project. As developer Bruce Ratner continues to face serious financial and legal hurdles, Brian Carreira—the Rail’s former City Editor and long-time writer on Atlantic Yards—sat down with Goldstein at his apartment on Pacific Street in Prospect Heights to discuss his ongoing battle against one of the city’s most powerful players.

Brian Carreira (Rail): You moved here in May 03, and you said you were looking for a place for four years. What made you bite the bullet on this place?

Daniel Goldstein: I was renting on 7th Street between Third and Fourth for seven years. I think about half the time I was there I was looking—it was a little bit of a hobby. I thought it was a good idea to try and own an apartment. I liked the neighborhood. And I liked the building, it had the location that I wanted. I definitely did not know as much about the neighborhood as I do now—what it has to offer. I managed to outbid someone else by a little bit, so it was real close in terms of me getting this place. Atlantic Yards became a rumor, I think in August, because of Patti Hagan, so—what’s that, three months?

Rail: Let’s go back to this space of time between where you went from being interested because it had a personal effect on you and being pissed off, to I’m gonna fight this thing. How long did you think you were going to be committed to this, and what did you think the result was going to be?

Goldstein: I don’t think I was considering how long it might take, which probably means I didn’t think it would take this long…I thought we could challenge the project in court and I thought we could win. I remember conversations with other owners who just thought there was no way to do anything, so why not sell? And that’s perfectly understandable. But it’s hard to explain how I’m the only apartment owner out of two condos and a co-op that stayed. I don’t know how I maintained optimism or a sense of hope that there was something we could do.

After everyone else in the building negotiated a deal with Forest City Ratner, I got a call asking if I’d meet with them. I did, with my lawyer. I think I was just curious what they were going to do. I never seriously considered it. After everyone has sold, what’s the point? And I think I’ve learned what the point is—that basically the sales meant nothing to Ratner. It didn’t get him silence because the people who sold weren’t loud anyway. It didn’t get him this building to demolish. It really didn’t get him anything. If over time they thought they’d isolated me, they haven’t done that either.


Posted by eric at July 10, 2009 10:06 AM