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June 9, 2010

Is The Business of Jay-Z Bad For Brooklyn?

Atlanta Post
by R. Asmerom

Here's an interesting-if-sometimes-error-prone article on the ballad of Jay-Z and Atlantic Yards (not brought to you by ABSOLUT™ Vodka).

Every good story needs a well rendered setting. For the narrative charting his rise, the one Jay-Z’s been burnishing since his 1996 debut, this is Brooklyn. He may have deserted it for Manhattan, a place more suited to his appetite for luxury and glamour, but the frequency with which he continues to invoke the culture, lessons and aesthetics of the borough, portray a man unwilling to relinquish his status as its chief emissary.

So it made sense that when real estate tycoon and then-majority owner of the New Jersey Nets Bruce Ratner was drumming up support for Atlantic Yards, a $4.9 billion development project (to include the Barclay’s sports center) in the heart of Brooklyn, he had a sit-down with Mr. Carter.

The opportunity to not only be part of bringing professional sports back to Brooklyn, but also cement his place in its textbook history, proved too tantalizing an offer to turn down.

Aside from the controversial use of eminent domain and the process by which the project was greenlit, concerns range from increased congestion to the dilution of the borough’s unique aesthetic and dynamism. “Brooklyn has a very specific flavor,” said Bed-Stuy native Craig Samuels, owner of restaurants Peaches in Bed-Stuy and The Smoke Joint in Fort Greene, a direct neighbor of Atlantic Yards. “People come to Brooklyn for that. They want a place where they can decompress, where they know their neighbor, where they could walk down the sidewalk and feel as though they’re in a small town.”

As a business owner in the neighborhood, Samuels should be an example of the kind of person the projects’ supporters are claiming to help; however, he’s yet to be convinced by the rhetoric around the stimulus for the local economy.


Posted by eric at June 9, 2010 11:09 AM