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April 29, 2010

Urbanism, authenticity, and the suburban lives of several people running Atlantic Yards (AKA a "major zoning exception")

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards may be a public-private project, according to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), but developer Bruce Ratner famously said, "This isn't a public project."

That means the single most influential person regarding Brooklyn's biggest project is Forest City Ratner Executive VP MaryAnne Gilmartin, who lives in the Westchester suburb of Edgemont.

As depicted in a cropped Google satellite photo, her home looks more like an estate than a house. Would Gilmartin lie to maintain her privileged lifestyle?

On authenticity

Why make a big deal of the contested term authenticity? Well, it's prompted new discussion, thanks to Sharon Zukin's book Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places.

And some of those overseeing Atlantic Yards have taken pains to establish their (somewhat tenuous) Brooklyn bona fides; remember how former Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) CEO Marisa Lago testified she'd gone to the dentist at the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building and claimed to enjoy bicycling in Brooklyn?

Or how Metropolitan Transportation Authority Acting Executive Director Helena Williams reminded the audience at an oversight hearing that the Long Island Rail Road was born in Brooklyn?

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Posted by eric at April 29, 2010 10:17 AM