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December 2, 2010

Gentrification, race/class, the Atlantic Yards play, and just one half-basketball court for a 16-tower project

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder takes an interesting look at race, class and open space (or the lack of it).

One of the sub-themes in The Civilians' new play with music, IN THE FOOTPRINT: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards, is gentrification and the politics of public space.
...

But the issue is likely more class than race. In Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City, Northwestern University professor of sociology and African-American Studies Mary Pattillo describes the same kind of tensions between newcomer homeowners and longstanding renters, including those in much-maligned public housing.

They're all black, in Chicago's North Kenwood–Oakland neighborhood, and while there is some racial solidarity, and likely fewer of the hair-trigger tensions that accompany cross-racial gentrification, the transition is by no means easy, as Pattillo describes in great detail.

The Atlantic Yards open space: not a park

What does this have to do with Atlantic Yards? Well, consider how Forest City Ratner promised "new open space for the entire Brooklyn community to enjoy."

The eight acres of open space would be managed by a conservancy or nonprofit agency, but would not be city park space. And it's likely that at least some of the draconian restrictions imposed at the developer's MetroTech Commons (accompanying the MetroTech office complex) would be enacted.

Forest City's Atlantic Yards open-space plan includes two bocce courts and a volleyball court, but only a single half basketball court. What, no putting green?

A half-basketball court for a 16-tower project slated to include 6430 apartments, perhaps some 15,000 people?

That definitely did not "used to be so Brooklyn."

Rather, it's a subtle way to ensure that "certain people" do not do too much "congregating."

In other words, Forest City Ratner, ready to welcome thousands of gentrifiers--4180 market-rate apartments, plus another 900-plus subsidized units likely to track the market--has thought very carefully about the use of public space.

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Posted by eric at December 2, 2010 10:24 AM