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January 4, 2011

What's next in 2011? Accountability issues, timetable questions, and a reconfigured community response, with BrooklynSpeaks rising, DDDB receding

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder peers into his crystal blog and predicts the future of Atlantic Yards, c. 2011.

In my 2010 preview a year ago, I suggested it would be the year of "the final endgame and, likely, a very changed landscape." In the main, that was accurate, as described last week: "definitive progress on arena, Prokhorov emergence, Chinese investors (!), same questions of accountability."

No one could have predicted the astonishing effort to market an investment in the Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure Project to Chinese (and Korean) investors seeking green cards.

And no one would have bet that a state judge, Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman, would hand Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and allied groups--and BrooklynSpeaks and allies in their first lawsuit--a long-awaited partial victory in court, ruling that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), in "what appears to be yet another failure of transparency," had failed to study the impacts of a 25-year buildout.

What next? The ESDC quickly provided such a study, deeming the impacts unimportant--which may be enough to make it pass the low legal bar, though not sufficient to convince locals that a surface parking lot lasting decades is not a meaningful change.

The legal process may continue for months, though it's highly unlikely Friedman will stop arena construction and unlikely--though more up in the air--whether she'll require any more action regarding Phase 2, involving an indefinite interim surface parking lot and other neighborhood impacts.

Contours of change

It remains to be seen whether the ESDC, under new Governor Andrew Cuomo, will take Atlantic Yards oversight more seriously, and whether any governance entity might emerge. Cuomo hasn't given any signals that he understands Atlantic Yards, and donor Bruce Ratner and some Ratner lobbyists surely have his ear.

It's likely that the center of gravity for citizen activism will shift away from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), which tried mightily to stop Atlantic Yards and highlight the bypass of democracy, to BrooklynSpeaks and cluster of groups more concerned with oversight issues and monitoring of construction impacts.

And what about blog coverage?

Last year I wondered if No Land Grab would remain as a daily compiler (and commenter on) all things Atlantic Yards and it did, with Eric McClure shouldering most of the work. However, just as DDDB has receded, I wouldn't be surprised if NLG, too, steps back somewhat.

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NoLandGrab: Amen, brother!

Posted by eric at January 4, 2011 1:49 PM