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August 16, 2009

Catching Up With Atlantic Yards Report

Here are four entries from the Atlantic Yards Report, two of which we missed yesterday.

Atlantic Yards as paradigmatic Bloomberg failure? See DDDB in FUNY

In February, I pointed out that Mayor Mike Bloomberg, on his campaign web site, neglected to mention two new baseball stadiums and a long-stalled basketball arena, much less that subsidies for the latter might make the arena a money loser for the city.

Indeed, since then, the Independent Budget Office has estimated that the arena would be a loss for the city. In the latest issue of the free newspaper Fed Up New Yorkers (FUNY), Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Daniel Goldstein focuses on AY, writing: On June 24th he pressured the MTA Board into approving a new sweetheart land rights deal for Forest City Ratner. Just after the MTA had been bailed out, purportedly fiscally prudent Bloomberg pressured the Board to accept $20 million up front and $80 million over 22 years from Ratner for the rights to the valuable 9-acre rail yard portion of the Atlantic Yards site in the heart of Brooklyn. Never mind that the yards had been appraised at $214.5 million and Ratner had originally agreed to pay $100 million in cash at closing, after a non-competitive, sham of a bidding process.

Sole-source, no-bid contracts and cronyism for a money-losing, publicly funded arena do not demonstrate sound economic stewardship.


I don't think that "the fight against Atlantic Yards, with victory in reach for the community, may very well be Bloomberg’s Waterloo," as Goldstein suggests. After all, Bloomberg--barring much stronger campaigning by leading Democratl Bill Thompson and/or some sort of game-changing event--has the advantage of incumbency as well as extremely deep pockets.

And Thompson, unlike less-funded Democratic rival Tony Avella or the Green Party's Rev. Billy Talen, has shown no appetite for making Atlantic Yards an issue. But it deserves continued scrutiny.

Atlantic Yards and environs walking tour, August 22 at 1:30 pm

As some people know, I'm a licensed tour guide who's operated a part-time tour business, New York Like a Native, since 2000. And I've occasionally given tours of the Atlantic Yards footprint.

Next Saturday, August 22, under my tour guide banner, I'll be giving a tour of the Atlantic Yards footprint. It will last from 1:30 pm to (approximately) 4 pm. Price: $15/person.

Starting place: Outside the tallest building in Brooklyn, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower (aka One Hanson Place). Ending place: near the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street transit hub.

More details here.

Hunley-Adossa's supporters fight back on The Local, with rhetorical opposition to AY

After seeing their candidate avoid the press for a couple of days, supporters of 35th District Council challenger Delia Hunley-Adossa are fighting back, posting comments here and here on the New York Times's blog The Local.

There's one interesting tactic. Two Hunley-Adossa supporters here say almost the same thing: "I do not agree with the Atlantic Yards project" and "Although i do not agree with her participation in the Atlantic yard project...."

Could it be that Hunley-Adossa's supporters have such nuanced positions, even though Hunley-Adossa leads rallies for Forest City Ratner? Or is it that some rhetorical disagreement with AY is necessary to pull the undecided?

From the upcoming TV debates: even AY supporters don't favor more city subsidies; also, why no debates in 34th, 35th, 36th Districts?

Norman Oder finds that, although the Brooklyn Paper claims that debates in "[a]ll the major races will be cablecast", there are several not covered.

Atlantic Yards figured in the debates for the 33rd and 39th Council Districts as well as the race for Public Advocate & Comptroller.

According to [Aaron] Short's print coverage of the debate in the Courier-Life, Lander challenged Skaller over how long he'd been an opponent of AY--an interesting tactic, given that, while Lander has long been a critic, unlike Skaller, he hasn't stood with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn over fundamental issues like eminent domain.

Lander, who's been associated with BrooklynSpeaks:
said that he opposed Atlantic Yards, though he was not a die-hard opponent of the project. he said he wanted to give developer Forest City Ratner time to respond to public criticism about the design throughout the planning process, but said they had failed to do so.

Reilly and Zuckerman said the plan should be killed. Heyer was more vague:
while he would be disappointed if the Nets did not come to Brooklyn, he believed Forest City Ratner would do what they wanted with the site.

That's not quite so--project documents signed (and to be signed in the future) by the Empire State Development Corporation should to some extent control the future of the site.


In the Public Advocate debate, according to Stephen Witt's coverage in the Courier-Life, it sounds like Eric Gioa and Norman Siegel were most critical, while Bill de Blasio and Mark Green opposed additional subsidies but highlighted the public benefits.

In the Comptroller debate, according to Witt's print coverage, all four candidates said they opposed additional subsidies:
Yassky and Liu spoke out more adamantly against the project, with Yassky saying Ratner should give back the money he already got for the project and Liu saying Ratner has promised the sky and the stars with nothing to show for it.

Posted by steve at August 16, 2009 8:45 AM