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June 10, 2012

Crown Heights, Atlantic Yards, and the Nets - Brooklyn Speaks Rally on Sunday at 3pm

I Love Franklin Ave.

ILFA doesn't usually cover Atlantic Yards or the Brooklyn Nets, both because Franklin is just far enough east that it often seems to fall outside the immediate Ratner blast radius (though more on this in a moment) and because if you want Atlantic Yards info, Norman Oder's got you covered. Still, a few things I've stumbled across over the past month or so have raised some questions that I thought merited further discussion.

Most pressingly, Brooklyn Speaks is hosting a rally to demand oversight, jobs, and housing tomorrow at 3pm at the corner of Atlantic and South Portland. An umbrella group for many organizations that have been fighting Forest City Ratner and Atlantic Yards for nearly a decade, they've got the support of many local politicians, including ILFA fave Tish James, who's been a persistent and eloquent critic of the various iterations of the Ratner Plan for Central Brooklyn. There's more info about this event (and other upcoming ones) on their website, but the rally is fairly self-explanatory - they're demanding more jobs (according to their numbers, of 15,000 construction jobs promised, only 186 have been created for Brooklyn residents), the construction of affordable housing (171 affordable units were torn down, 2,250 have been promised, none yet built), and increased oversight of both the construction process and the ultimate result.

Trying to take the initiative in the PR game, Forest City Ratner built a playground for Crown Heights residents at St. John's and Buffalo, a few miles from the area, last month. Sonja Sharp had the scoop for DNAInfo, and the Brooklynians have been chatting about it. Something to think about, given the location of this playground, is that Forest City Ratner, though (theoretically) locked in to providing those affordable units, has considered moving them "offsite" from the main development (between Vanderbilt and Flatbush) to the former St. Mary's hospital on Buffalo. Prospect Heights residents predictably blasted the plan, which segregated the affordable units from the rest of the luxury project, and one wonders whether Ratner is trying to split Community Board 8 by currying favor in the eastern part of Crown Heights in order to eventually effect that plan.

Those "First Home Game since 1957" signs that have popped up all over? The Nets pay $25 a pop for businesses to put them in the window. A lot of money and legwork, but still probably cheaper than a 30-second TV spot.

Finally, the comically underplanned parking situation at Atlantic Yards, which has been in the news consistently this spring, has ILFA rethinking my earlier comment about Franklin being outside the arena's blast radius. Franklin Avenue residents aren't fighting new clubs and arena liquor licenses, but with parking as ridiculously bad as it may be nearby, we may yet find arena-goers trolling the streets of northwest Crown Heights in search of a place to park.

More to come on this post in a bit, but for now, readers, what sort of impact do you think the arena and the Nets are going to have on the neighborhood? Will traffic and business spill over, or are we too far east? Are you planning to root for the new "home" team (even if they lose Deron Williams and turn out to be awful)? Other thoughts?

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Posted by steve at June 10, 2012 9:11 AM