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August 7, 2009

Catching up with Coney Island: how CBA-like trade-offs may have sacrificed the amusement area

Atlantic Yards Report

Last week, the City Council voted to approve the rezoning of Coney Island, shrinking the amusement district. What role did the Community Benefits Agreement play in giving cover to the politicians who voted for the Mayor's plan, and are there any similarities to Atlantic Yards?

[C]ritics say the rezoning passed 44-2 last week by the City Council won't save Coney Island so much as shrink the amusement area, allow the demolition of historic buildings, and, crucially, permit hotel towers south of Surf Avenue, blocking views of the beach and amusement area.
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The enormous natural advantages of Coney--the beach and the sky--are a civic asset. If there are to be many new high-rises in Coney--and that's fine--there's ample room north and west of the central amusement area....
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Similarly, zoning for amusements is a scarce commodity--it allows light and noise--and there's a strong argument for maintaining a larger, rather than smaller, amusement area.
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But the City Council agreed, in part because of a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)-like compromise that has little or nothing to do the amusement area.
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Not dissimilarly, some of the promises in the Atlantic Yards CBA have nothing to do with the fundamental question: should Forest City Ratner be allowed to built Atlantic Yards at the size it wants and gain the benefits of state override of zoning and exercise eminent domain?

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Posted by lumi at August 7, 2009 5:12 AM