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January 10, 2010

Atlantic Yards Report Sunday: de Blasio, Arena Size

Atlantic Yards Report

Now Public Advocate, de Blasio maintains cognitive dissonance on Atlantic Yards

Bill de Blasio uses pretzel logic to justify his support of the proposed Atlantic Yards project.

The Courier-Life reports on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, in an article headlined Bklyn’s in the house: De Blasio takes new Advocate position by storm, and No Land Grab's Lumi Rolley observes that Atlantic Yards "still represents the cognitive dissonance in Bill de Blasio's efforts to advocate for the community."

The Courier-Life reports:

"Community planning is something I have spent a lot of time working on,” he said. "It’s how we think about our neighborhoods that ensures how we preserve what’s best about them. Bringing in affordable housing and preserving and protecting small business is a very large part of that.”

Yet some of de Blasio’s friends from the old neighborhood may not be applauding his moxie for long, especially since he sees the Atlantic Yards project as an example of a good government/community partnership.

"[The Atlantic Yards project] is a good example of a community benefits plan, that’s why I supported it,” he said. “The process, however, has been horrendous. It needs to be scaled down and some serious changes have to be made.


What de Blasio doesn't understand--despite many opportunities to improve on his due diligence (as noted in October 2007)--is that the project's scale was premised on the community benefits.

In other words, his supporter Bertha Lewis of ACORN agreed to support the project at the scale Forest City Ratner sought in exchange for the promised affordable housing (and contracts to administer it). Later, Forest City Ratner delivered a grant/loan of $1.5 million to bail out ACORN.

And, as Lewis famously declared in February 2006, "I can't do environment. I can’t do traffic." And it was people who supported the Community Benefits Agreement who supported the "horrendous" process and even interfered with a state Senate oversight hearing last May.

So, how big would the Atlantic Yards arena be? Structural engineer says it would be 750,000 square feet

Here we have a state project, but the state is unable, or unwilling, to even state its size.

This is getting interesting. Remember, as I wrote October 3, when the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) on June 23 adopted the 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP), the arena was described as 850,000 square feet, as it had been in 2006.

On September 9, after the comment period on the MGPP had closed, Forest City Ratner announced that the new design, by Ellerbe Becket and SHoP, was for a 675,000 square foot arena.

On September 17, the ESDC Board affirmed the MGPP and the press release cited a 675,000 square-foot arena.

Now structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti, on its page for the Barclays Center, states (right) that the arena would be 750,000 square feet.

Either they're referring to some design that was not actually announced or the arena has already been enlarged in some way.

There was no mention at the ESDC board meeting of a smaller arena. And the project site plan that was part of board documents again stated that the arena would be 850,000 sf, thus contradicting the press release.

So those officially overseeing the project apparently don't know. And if Forest City Ratner really does plan a 750,000 square foot arena, shouldn't they say so?

Posted by steve at January 10, 2010 9:03 AM