August 9, 2012

Lifespan of a (Brooklyn) Fact: Can One in Seven Americans Trace Roots to Brooklyn?

Atlantic Yards Report

My essay from Urban Omnibus: Lifespan of a (Brooklyn) Fact: Can One in Seven Americans Trace Roots to Brooklyn?

My inquiry started when I saw the tweet below in May. The trail led back into history, and into a lot of murkiness.


NoLandGrab: Considering the source of the tweet, an abundance of murkiness is no surprise.

Posted by eric at 12:02 PM

June 18, 2012

"What's Brooklyn about?" The Flea, in a way, as it feeds "this bottomless, infinite need for stories about Brooklyn"

Atlantic Yards Report

There's a fascinating interview in NonaBrooklyn with Brooklyn Flea co-founder Eric Demby, a former communications director for Borough President Marty Markowitz who joined forces with Jonathan Butler, founder of Brownstoner.

A few excerpts... and comments.

A bottomless, infinite need for certain kinds of stories about Brooklyn. Not necessarily ones that dig into the power structure or follow boring process-y things like environmental review and blight.


Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

November 8, 2011

Catching up: WSJ on corporate welfare, Noticing New York on the connection between public hearings and the lack of public trust

Atlantic Yards Report

From today's Wall Street Journal, an editorial headlined The Corporate Welfare State: A cause to unite the tea party and the Occupy Wall Street crowd.":

For those who say this is good for American competitiveness, consider that ending all corporate welfare programs would finance a substantial cut in the 35% corporate income-tax rate that makes U.S. business less competitive but does a poor job of raising revenue because of these loopholes. A big rate cut would generate far more jobs and wealth than passing out checks to businesses one at a time.

As important as this economic damage is the corrosive effect that corporate welfare has on public trust in government. Americans understand that powerful government invariably favors the powerful, who have the means and access to massage Congress and the bureaucracy that average citizens do not. This really is aid to the 1% paid by the other 99%.

The public trust

Thematically connected is Noticing New York's Michael D. D. White, in Public Hearings For Big Real Estate Projects: Refining Your Sense of the Absurd (with an AYR reference):

There is a theory, a rather frightening one, that there is now a club, a political and financial class, that is above the law. I heard this theory propounded by Glenn Greenwald, the author of “With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful” on a Leonard Lopate show segment yesterday.


Posted by eric at 10:00 PM

June 28, 2011

Bring the Dodgers Home

The New York Sun

A loopy editorial from The Sun (which we thought had gone extinct a couple years ago) about bringing the Dodgers back to Brooklyn gets at least one geographical fact wrong (see the comment from Norman Oder), and includes this gem:

The idea behind the Marchman Plan, its author cabled us this morning, is that Mr. McCourt was able to run the team the way he has because he had no ties to it or to Los Angeles, where the Dodgers are currently based. Mr. McCourt was, after all, a parking lot magnate from, of all places, Boston. Mr. Marchman argues that New York “would never have tolerated the importation of some random undercapitalized guy from another city.”


NoLandGrab: Right, we'd never accept having some guy from, say, Cleveland, buy a team from, say, New Jersey, and then have to sell it to an oligarch from, say, Russia, in order to keep his boondoggle afloat. Nope, New York would never have put up with that.

Posted by eric at 10:28 AM

June 23, 2011

The Case For Bringing The Los Angeles Dodgers (Or The Oakland A's) To Brooklyn

White Man Says Outrageous Things For Attention

A long essay about adding a third New York City Major League Baseball team is a non-starter — neither the Yankees or Mets would ever allow it.

As far as a new stadium goes, there's plenty of places in Brooklyn that could be redeveloped. And the City's past two administrations have been very friendly and accomodating toward new construction projects (see: Atlantic Yards, the proposed Jets Stadium in Manhattan, the proposed Olympic stadiums for the city's 2012 bid).

Stadium construction is a swindle. And a lot of people need to look closely at the real numbers behind that shit (see: Field Of Schemes), but NYC hasn't been as hard hit as the rest of the country in terms of the economy, and like I mentioned, they've already demonstrated a propensity to build.

NYC is also a three team town in hockey (Islanders, Devils, Rangers), soon to be a three team town in terms of basketball (Nets, Knicks, and whatever the team in Newark winds up being called), and was a four team town in baseball for a good part of the 20th Century.

Four-team town? Dodgers, Giants, Yankees and... Phillies? Red Sox? Better check the math.


NoLandGrab: The Jets' stadium project failed, and we'll just say that we find it highly doubtful that anyone in city government has the stomach for another Atlantic Yards fight.

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

May 3, 2011

In Prospect Heights, More Caution than Jubilation at Bin Laden's Death

Among residents and area workers, reaction ran from mildly pleased at the symbolic value to skeptical that bin Laden is actually dead.

Prospect Heights Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

Atlantic Yards construction workers weigh in on the (alleged) death of Osama bin Laden.

Down the street, at a local deli, some said they were unmoved by the news.

“It doesn’t matter to me. It took them 10 years to capture him. I don’t see the big deal,” said Andrew, a 23-year-old construction worker at Atlantic Yards who declined to give his last name.

And others were outright skeptical.

“Was he even killed?” said Frank Sierra, a 30-year-old construction worker at Atlantic Yards who was at a Bergen Street deli on his lunch break.

“I hope it’s true,” said Mariel Miele, 29 and also an Atlantic Yards construction worker on lunch break. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if the announcement was just an effort to divert the public’s attention from soaring gas prices, but if it is true, she hopes will inspire some other countries to help the U.S. in Afghanistan.


NoLandGrab: Yes, most likely the President's announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden was just an elaborate diversion — call it "Jobs, Housing, Hoops & the Death of the World's Most-Wanted Terrorist!"

Posted by eric at 10:37 AM

April 12, 2011

"The Good Wife" shoots at the arena site (but it's not about Atlantic Yards)

Atlantic Yards Report

A camera crew is at the Atlantic Yards arena site this morning, at the Pacific Street entrance from Sixth Avenue.

However, at least according to the personnel there, it had nothing to do with the project; rather, it was a general construction scene for The Good Wife, the CBS legal drama.


Posted by eric at 12:22 PM

March 9, 2011

The word on the street: I live in Park Slope/Boerum Hill/Gowanus/Atlantic Yards

Dave Ford Does Earth

So, the biggest thing I am running into in this part of Brooklyn–is the fact that there is a serious debate going on about what this neighborhood is actually called. Technically, I think I live in Park Slope. But, believe me, this isn’t Park Slope. Gowanus, named after one of the filthiest waterways on planet earth is right across the street. Boerum Hill was invented by real estate agents during the boom in the mid 200o’s. And then there is Atlantic Yards….

Atlantic Yards is the name of grounds that they are building the new Brooklyn Nets basketball arena. According to all of the people I am meeting–this has been a local political nightmare. The project has displaced people (through the law of eminent domain) of all shapes colors and sizes. It has also displaced a ton of local business’–and neighborhood restaurants and bars. The Whites, Blacks, and Arabs in the area are all equally pissed off about this new arena–as they have all been equally removed. Although, there is the counterpoint in play about how cool it would be to be able to walk to see a professional basketball game “in Brooklyn”. I would definitely like to walk to see a professional basketball team play in the BK! Does that make me a bad person?

Is that rhetorical or do you want us to answer?

So, my devious, mastermind plan to actually rename this area that I live in “Atlantic Yards” is appearing to not be so politically savvy. Although, damn it, I just like the ring of it! People are legitimately hot and bothered about all of this–almost to the point of fisticuffs.


NoLandGrab: Don't worry, we draw the line at violence.

Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

March 3, 2011

Bob Guskind, in remembrance

Atlantic Yards Report

Bob Guskind, founder of the Gowanus Lounge blog, died two years ago. He's still missed. He would've had a heck of a time writing about the ironies of development and politics these days.

Robert Guskind 1958-2009 from Blue Barn Pictures, Inc. on Vimeo.

His blog, including his work and those of GL contributors, was moved to


Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

October 14, 2010

Sports as distraction? Zirin takes on Chomsky and Eagleton

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder takes a look at differing views over the role of sports in society.


Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

October 12, 2010

Hailstorm's icy aftermath in Brooklyn

by Rolando Pujol

A few weeks back, it was a tornado. Now, Brooklyn and other parts of the city can add intense hailstorm to their collective meteorological memory bank.

The storm that blew through Monday night pelted parts of Brooklyn with enough ice pellets to leave an accumulation that could easily be mistaken for a slushy January snow bank. The storm also denuded countless tree branches whose leaves had not yet attained their autumnal hues. The photo above was taken at Flatbush Avenue next to the Atlantic Yards construction site, several hours after the storm. A few more photos here and here.

The New York Times reports that in the past quarter century, Brooklyn has seen hail only five times prior to Monday night, making this storm unusual indeed.

Tornado? Check. Hailstorm? Check. What's next? A Halloween blizzard?


NoLandGrab: What's next? Atlantic Yards — the curse that brought all this stuff on us in the first place.

Photo: Rolando Pujol

Posted by eric at 10:08 AM

June 9, 2010

In Search of Lonely Diners and Unbought Bloggers

City Room
by J. David Goodman and Andy Newman

For the opposite of geographic mystery and ambiguity, we turn to Eric Fischer’s Flickr heat map of photography in New York.

With an apparently simple rule to divide those who shoot a lot of pictures of New York from just-visiting interlopers, the map presents a fascinating portrait of the city, something akin to seeing the movement of cells under a microscope. And while it may be obvious that Midtown and Museum Mile are red hot — the location of tourist photos appear red, and those of locals, blue — with visitors, there are some surprises, such as the absence of tourists from Governors Island and Hudson River Park. Also strange: Lots of New Yorkers take pictures around Atlantic Yards.


NoLandGrab: Strangest of all? Atlantic Yards takes a lot of pictures of you.

Posted by eric at 10:37 PM

Blogfest meets Shillfest, as Spike Lee declares "This is to celebrate Absolut, so we're not going to get into gentrification"

Atlantic Yards Report

Nothing about Atlantic Yards in this off-topic, though entertaining, AYR post — except some Atlantic Yards-related photos in the video produced by Brit in Brooklyn's Adrian Kinloch.

The video below, produced by Kinloch, was shown last night. Note the credit to Barkey, who contributes photos (and also video) to AYR, but is not responsible for the blog, as well as to Kinloch, who also shot photos at the Blogfest and contributes to AYR, and to Tracy Collins, who also contributes to AYR.


Related coverage...

Found in Brooklyn, A Puzzling Blog Fest.

The appearance of Marty Markowitz was the cherry on the sundae. If the organizers of the blogfest wanted to alienate many of the bloggers in the audience who have spent the last couple years fighting the Atlantic Yards, the Sitt invasion of Coney Island or the Toll Brothers plans for the Gowanus, they did it here. I was incredulous!

The Free School Apparent, Brooklyn Blogfest 2010

The appearance [of] Marty Markowitz always makes me uneasy, as his unbridled and naive enthusiasm occasionally give rise to a foot-in-mouth moment. He behaved, as he did also at our Democracy in Education Symposium earlier this year. But most times his mixed idealism runs counter to my own. Especially where it concerns the construction of the future abomination at Atlantic Yards.

Posted by eric at 11:57 AM

December 2, 2009

Opposition to government-designated CBA coalition in Santa Rosa


Here's a reminder that some people have profited from the Atlantic Yards project without Bruce Ratner having sold a single bond.

The Accountable Development Coalition (ADC), which negotiated the recent Sonoma Mountain Village CBA, is coming under more fire. It seems that the SMART rail district, a quasi-public entity, is requiring developers of the New Railroad Square project to negotiate a CBA, specifically with the ADC. Attention has also been brought to the fact that the Sonoma Mountain Village CBA provides funding for the ADC: $5,000 upfront and $6,000 per year after that.

This has some people upset. As an editorial in the Press Democrat explained: "The coalition represents many important interests, but we don't believe it speaks for the entire community and, as a private organization that potentially could stand to benefit financially from such an agreement, it should not be allowed to dictate terms on a public project like this."

So the ADC may want to revise its policies somewhat. But critics should also acknowledge that the ADC is a mostly volunteer organization and that $6,000 a year isn't all that much. In other words, this doesn't seem like the type of case where coalition groups are getting bought off. The Atlantic Yards project, in contrast, involves much larger grants to all of the organizations that signed the CBA.


Posted by eric at 4:42 PM

November 3, 2009

B новостях

Atlantic Yards developments are now making headlines back in Russia, now that oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov is on tap to bailout Bruce Ratner's floundering project and the New Jersey Nyets.

TUT.BY, Российский миллиардер пропишется в Бруклине за $32 млн

Бруклинские апартаменты должны сделать рабочие визиты Михаила Прохорова в Америку по-домашнему праздничными. В сентябре стало известно о том, что г-н Прохоров получит контроль над клубом New Jersey Nets и займется строительством его стадиона. По условиям соглашения, подписанного ранее группой "Онэксим" и американскими компаниями Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) и Nets Sports and Entertainment (NSE), "Онэксим" инвестирует 200 млн долларов в обмен на 45-процентную долю в проекте строительства в Бруклине спортивной арены Barclays Center, 80% акций New Jersey Nets, а также опцион на приобретение 20% акций Atlantic Yards Development Company. Она управляет строительством жилой и коммерческой недвижимости в рамках данного проекта., Сводка новостей за 3 ноября от

Posted by lumi at 8:31 PM

November 2, 2009

The "modern blueprint," fungible money, and why taxpayers are helping bail out ACORN and fund the AY CBA

Atlantic Yards Report

"Money is fungible, Judge Robert Smith declared during the oral argument on the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case October 14 at the Court of Appeals in Albany.

His point was that $100 million in state subsidies for arena infrastructure made it easier for Forest City Ratner to build the rest of the project.
Money is fungible.

That's why the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signatories were in Albany, proxies for the project and better for p.r. than a Forest City Ratner executive.

They were shepherded by a public relations representative from The Terrie Williams Agency--which has represented CBA signatories off and on since 2005. (As I wrote in October 2005, BUILD's James Caldwell told the New York Observer he didn't know who was paying for the agency that was representing his group.)

Forest City Ratner is spending a couple of million dollars on the CBA, first on direct payments to organizations with no other visible means of support.

A few of the eight organizations do have a track record before Atlantic Yards, but the most prominent, ACORN, lost support in the wake of an embezzlement scandal, and FCR stepped in last December with a $1.5 million grant/loan package. (So much for the "modern blueprint" the Times discerned four years ago, as noted below.)

Who paid for that?

We did. Money is fungible.

Well, of course, we didn't pay for it directly or necessarily in full, and it's not on the books. However, public dollars--some $305 million in direct subsidies, plus tax breaks, below-market land, and more--have given Forest City Ratner the flexibility to shift money around.


Posted by lumi at 4:55 AM

September 25, 2009

Billionaires at Play: Mike Versus Mikhail

The New York Times
by James Barron

The Times hasn't taken a hard look at security concerns about the planned Nets' arena, shenanigans with Atlantic Yards-footprint land valuations, or the blatant giveaway of the Vanderbilt Yard for a fraction of its value, but which Manhattan strip club might Mikhail Prokhorov favor? That they've got ink for.

New York’s reigning billionaire, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, cares little for most sports but plays a lot of golf. He likes discreet dinner parties at Gracie Mansion or his own mansion. He wants his private life kept private.

New York’s latest billionaire, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, loves basketball, kickboxing and skiing. He probably wishes his private life could be kept private: Consider the four days he spent in custody in an Alpine ski resort in 2007 when investigators suspected call girls were being brought in. He was quoted as saying they were students and models, not prostitutes.

So maybe the incumbent billionaire Mike and the new billionaire Mike, the Russian oligarch who is poised to become the principal owner of the New Jersey Nets and a major investor in the team’s proposed arena in Brooklyn, will feast upon New York in different ways.


Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

May 6, 2009

Ratnerville metaphor

We totally missed an item with this photo from Getty images, posted on the Star-Ledger's website, back in October '08.


Peeking through the boarded up chainlink fence, around a recently cleared lot in the footprint of Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards megaproject, one can manage a clear view of the Brooklyn's iconic Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower (aka, "One Hanson Place").

Posted by lumi at 5:24 AM

Nets Drumline drama

In a totally side drama to Ratnerville, the Brooklyn Steppers director Tyrone Brown has stepped down amid allegations of sexual misconduct with one of the group members. Brown denies the allegations.

The drum section from the Steppers has appeared at local and 2007 NBA All-Star events, rebranded as the "NJ Nets Drumline." Using kids participating in the Brooklyn Steppers program as promotional material always seemed a little tasteless and opportunistic on Ratner's part, but the developer made donations to the Brooklyn Music and Arts Program, so no one seemed to mind.

We don't know if recent events means that we'll be seeing less of the NJ Nets Drumline, but, whether or not the allegations are true, it would be sad to lose a program that has meant a lot to the participating kids and their families.

Here are the headlines:
NY Daily News, Brooklyn Steppers marching band director Tyrone Brown accused of affair with 17-year-old band member, Former 'Brooklyn Steppers' Director Investigated
NY Magazine "Daily Intel," Brooklyn Steppers Leader Accused of Sexual Relations With Band Member

Posted by lumi at 4:53 AM

April 22, 2009

Rocawear Mobile Shop Finally Pops Up

Rocawear-Bstoner.jpg Brownstoner ran a reader's photo of the Rocawear truck, located in a newly cleared lot in the footprint of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. The Brooklyn real estate blog agrees with Atlantic Yards Report that it's going to take more than a "nifty retail concept" to bring life back into the footprint.


Posted by lumi at 6:04 AM

March 12, 2009

In Memoriam, Robert Guskind

Gowanus Lounge

Gowanus Lounge published a comprehensive obituary yesterday recounting the life of GL founder Bob Guskind, who died last week at the age of 50. Guskind reported frequently on Atlantic Yards.


Gowanus Lounge and its large community of readers, admirers and friends mourn the loss of founder and editor Robert “Bob” Guskind. Dubbed by some “Brooklyn’s Blogfather,” Bob was a talented journalist, author, photographer and editor whose deep interest in urban issues took root, right out of college, at the National Journal. Bob’s abundant journalistic gifts flourished throughout the 1980s and 90s at Journal, the Washington Post and other periodicals, and were reincarnated, in this decade, through the “revolutionary” (his word) form of blogging — where his own “personal newspaper,” which he started almost exactly three years ago, quickly stood out for the quality and seeming ubiquitousness of its coverage.

Though Atlantic Yards was not his focus, Bob wrote forcefully about Brooklyn’s most controversial development. In a GL Analysis published last December, on the day of the project’s five-year anniversary, he observed, “A quarter century from now, when the planners analyze what went wrong in Brooklyn in the early 2000s, they will have a lot to say (and none of it good) about the chain of events that started on December 10, 2003, when developer Bruce Ratner, flanked by a beaming Marty Markowitz and other public officials announced a magnificent plan called Atlantic Yards.”

At the end of the month, he presciently predicted that “Developer Bruce Ratner will have difficulty obtaining financing for a nearly $1 billion Gehry arena and the arena will either be scraped or a new version from an off-the-rack firm for $500 million will be built.”

Less than ten days later, word emerged that the developer was trying to drastically scale back the arena’s cost.


NoLandGrab: While we here at NLG feel a deep personal loss, the effect of Bob Guskind's death on Brooklynites as a whole will be even more profound — he was a damned good journalist who uncovered many stories that rarely got covered elsewhere. And Rupert Murdoch's purchase this week of The Brooklyn Paper threatens to make the void that much greater.

Posted by eric at 10:53 AM

March 6, 2009

The Death of a Blogger

The Huffington Post
by David Weiner

When I moved to Brooklyn, I stumbled upon his site, then living at a Blogspot address. It wasn't the prettiest website, but it helped me immeasurably. What the hell is that building going up across the street? Gowanus Lounge is on it. Is it just me or is my mail being stolen? Gowanus Lounge is on the case. Lost dog? Apartment hunting? Want to debate the Atlantic Yards? Talk local politics? Or even simply, what time does the park close? Gowanus Lounge could help you with all this, and more.


Posted by eric at 4:05 PM

March 5, 2009

In Memoriam: Bob Guskind

Several news sources are reporting that Bob Guskind — journalist, founder and driving force behind the blog Gowanus Lounge, former editor at Curbed, advocate, neighbor, and most importantly, a friend to us here at NoLandGrab — has died.

Our hearts go out to his family and friends, and the people touched and inspired by his work. The world will be a poorer place without Bob Guskind in it.

Bob, we'll miss you.

Posted by eric at 4:14 PM

March 4, 2009

Picking up the pieces at Atlantic Yards

The Brooklyn Paper
by Aisha Gawad

The massive Atlantic Yards development project inspires rage in some and hope in others — but in Guy Ambrosino, it inspires a twisted art installment.

The Prospect Heights-based artist found twisted strips of discarded steel at Bruce Ratner’s demolition site — and turned those strips into an installation that opened Feb. 28 at the Soapbox Gallery on Dean Street, across the street from the Yards site.

The exhibit, called “What Was,” is meant to “document the memory of what was there using the material from the site,” said Ambrosino, an artist and photographer who works out of his Bergen Street studio.

His art also addresses the tense debate between Ratner and residents, who claim that the developer’s plan for a massive complex of skyscrapers, housing and office units and a basketball arena has caused the very urban blight that the project was supposed to cure.

“Steel is a rigid material that serves as a metaphor for how developers work, how difficult they can be,” said Ambrosino. “But when the steel is broken down into these long, flowing arcs, they become something beautiful, something positive and hopeful.”


Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

March 1, 2009

"What Was": across from Ward Bakery site, scavenged metal reborn as art

Atlantic Yards Report


Norman Oder takes on a different role, that of an art critic, as he visits a new art installation.

Across from the Ward Bakery site within the Atlantic Yards footprint, the Soapbox Gallery on Dean Street for two weeks offers artist Guy Ambrosino's installation "What Was."

Here's the artist's description: For this installation I used steel from the Atlantic Yards site directly across the street. The steel was part of the Pechters building that was torn down. It was in the concrete floors of the building. As they demolished the building and broke up the concrete the steel bent into these wonderful lines and arcs. The elegance and natural flow of the heavy rigid steel seemed an appropriate metaphor for the tension created by the Atlantic Yards Project. (The struggle between creating a wonderful project that is relevant and meaningful to community in Brooklyn against the demands of big development.)

The artwork elicits the following thoughts:

I agree that a viewer can read tension into the work, and that the steel does appear as "wonderful lines and arcs."

But my main response was something different: the Ward Bakery was so big, its debris could have been repurposed for countless installations.

Or it could have been preserved and renovated. After all, "the greenest building is one that's already built."


Posted by steve at 6:31 AM

December 9, 2008

Stop The Pork Lawsuit Combats Corporate Welfare & Eminent Domain Abuse

Ground Report
by Richard Cooper

Citizens with a libertarian bent have sued New York State, seeking an end to state-sponsored corporate welfare.

New York's State Constitution explicitly prohibits corporate welfare. "The money of the state shall not be given or loaned to or in aid of any private corporation or association, or private undertaking.” Article VII, § 8. 1.

Entire agencies are devoted largely to this legalized crime such as the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDSC). The ESDC is a principal practitioner of eminent domain abuse, making it doubly engaged in legalized theft. Should the lawsuit succeed in curbing transfers or loans to corporations it probably would curb most eminent domain abuse by cutting off the taxpayer as a source of funds.


Posted by eric at 10:01 AM

November 11, 2008

Brooklyn Nets? Eh, Brooklyn Aces Are Here


One is tempted to say puck you, but it would be wrong. The point is that the Brooklyn Aces of the Eastern Professional Hockey League played their first game on Flatbush Avenue (at the Aviator Sports and Recreation Complex at Floyd Bennett Field) on Satruday night. A capacity crowd of 2,200 showed up. And when the players started fighting they started playing "Kung Fu Fighting" on the sound system. Take that Mr. Ratner and Mr. Gehry. Oh, the team lost 3-2, but it's early in the season.


Posted by eric at 12:46 PM

September 28, 2008

night on Dean


threecee via flickr

Dean Street near 6th Avenue
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

The five small houses on the left (487-495 Dean Street) would be demolished for Atlantic Yards. The one on the far left, 487 Dean Street, is currently being demolished. The 3 on to the right, 491-495 Dean, are occupied. The taller buildings on the right are outside of the project footprint.


Posted by amy at 2:16 PM

September 15, 2008

Yonkers groups deliver wish list to downtown developers

The Journal News
By Ernie Garcia

A group in Yonkers has presented developer Struever Fidelco Cappelli a list of "community benefits" that they would like to work into a formal agreement. Ironically, the article cites Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards Community Benefit Agreement (CBA), which, by ignoring anyone in the community that wasn't a hand-picked supporter, is an entirely different kind of agreement than the prototype Staples Center agreement.

One of the best-known regional examples of a community-benefit agreement is in Brooklyn for the Atlantic Yards project. That agreement commits developer Forest City Ratner to jobs and small-business development, affordable housing, open space and a community health care center.


NoLandGrab: Since the Atlantic Yards CBA isn't legally enforceable, and wasn't signed by any government officials, it is more like Bruce Ratner's pledge, not a commitment. Let's hope that the Yonkers deal follows the Staples Center model instead of the infamously perverted Atlantic Yards model.

Posted by lumi at 4:07 AM

August 13, 2008

Unintended Affordable Housing

The Footprint Gazette

Alas, one person finds a use for "The Wall." link


Posted by lumi at 7:30 PM

August 12, 2008

Locals Shocked by Brooklyn Paper Headline!

BP-FG.jpg The Footprint Gazette

Which headline in this week's Brooklyn Paper caught "Fo-Gazy's" eye and prompted the following remark?

Thank goodness we have such an attentive and efficient local government or this might have been a disaster that plagued the borough for years to come.

Click here for the answer.

Posted by lumi at 4:32 AM

August 11, 2008

In the Pool: Atlantic Yards Dusk

Gowanus Lounge


Here’s a shot of Prospect Heights (aka the Atlantic Yards Footprint) with the warm light of dusk making it glow.


Posted by eric at 8:17 PM

August 6, 2008

PhotoWedns: 8/6/08 It's a guessing game!

Brooklyn Born

So after much delay and little fanfare I present to you the answer to last week's "Where am I?" question.

It's the "Plaza"! which was the name of the theater that used to be center in this photo. The Plaza theater became the Plaza Twin, which became the Flatbush Pavilion which somehow became an American Apparel store (seen below) at the intersection of Park Slope and Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.


I thought this location was a great place to start because of how dynamic it is. The street location is Flatbush avenue at the point where Carlton Avenue sprouts headed down into Prospect Heights and Fort Green (although currently it has been unfortunately divided by attempts to build the Atlantic Yards monster which has reduced ease of travel through these neighborhoods). Park Place bisects Flatbush directly in front of the old theater going from Park Slope on one side of the intersection and entering Prospect Heights on the other, as Flatbush is the boarder between the two neighborhoods.


Posted by eric at 1:02 PM

August 4, 2008

Atlantic Yards Car Roast: It’s a Beemer!

Gowanus Lounge


Forget the news about eminent domain suits and new estimates for a possible opening of the Nets Arena. Here’s some very compelling and current Atlantic Yards-related imagery. This is a toasted BMW 5 Series. The GL reader who sent it writes: “sucks for them. spotted at the 6th avenue bridge over atlantic yards (two blocks from the dean street fire station).”


NoLandGrab: More evidence of "footprint blight?" Or a metaphor for Bruce Ratner's chances of securing arena financing? No word as to whether the car might have been saved by Dean Street firefighters had they not needed to take a circuitous route due to street closings "necessitated" by Atlantic Yards infrastructure work.

Posted by eric at 2:28 PM

July 30, 2008

In the Pool: Dreams of Atlantic Yards

Gowanus Lounge


The Atlantic Terminal Mall in summer is a great place to chill and think thoughts about the future. This image comes from Tracy Collins, of course, via our GL Flickr Pool.


NoLandGrab: It may be a great place to chill, but look out if you try to take photos of an anti-Atlantic Yards protest counter-protest.

Posted by eric at 10:06 AM

July 24, 2008


Diversity in the Arts


The Civilians is looking for a Project Coordinator for their upcoming project, working title Atlantic Yards. Based on a process developed by The Civilians over seven years, the project will begin in November with an Investigative Phase involving artists and students conducting interviews with community members and those who have a stake, on one side or the other, in the Atlantic Yards Development in Brooklyn. At the end of this six week Phase, artists will join with community members and present a series of short form laboratory pieces based on the interviews and materials gathered. This lab presentation will ultimately feed a full-length work.

The position will begin in early-mid September and will be a full-time three-month position through mid-December. Salary is $615 a week. Applicants should have experience with both administrative positions as well as community based work and be comfortable with both office and field work. Applicants of color are strongly encouraged.


Posted by eric at 12:01 PM

July 17, 2008

A 311 call to Bloomberg: why is my AY-related FOIL request languishing?

Atlantic Yards Report

"Customer service" remains an oxymoron as Norman Oder waits for a response to a past-due FOIL request.


I filed a FOIL request with the mayor's office on May 8 and received a response dated May 19 from Counselor to the Mayor Anthony Crowell, indicating that I would get a response "within twenty days or less informing you of the status of your request."

I'm still waiting.


NoLandGrab: Hey Norman, maybe you can still call the Mayor at home.

Posted by lumi at 5:06 AM

July 16, 2008

LPC to Look at Prospect Heights Historic District

From a Brooklyn Daily Eagle article about recent progress in the effort to secure landmark status for a large portion of Prospect Heights:

The MAS [Municipal Art Society], PHNDC [Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council] and the hundreds of residents who have written letters to the commission believe that the neighborhood’s rich historic architecture — with blocks of beautiful Italianate and neo-Grec rowhouses, interspersed with churches, small commercial and apartment buildings — is threatened by the Atlantic Yards project, a proposal by the developer Forest City Ratner to build 16 towers and a sports arena on a 22-acre site adjacent to the neighborhood.


Posted by lumi at 4:20 AM

June 30, 2008

Summons drives Wendell Gault to battle for justice over broken parking

NY Daily News
by Clem Richardson

Atlantic Yards makes a cameo appearance in a story about a Prospect Heights man who fought the system — and won!


[Wendell] Gault is not one to let things go. He has fired off letters to elected officials about a number of community issues, from the nearby Atlantic Yards project to the inequity of having alternate side parking four times a week in Prospect Heights but only twice a week across Flatbush Ave. in Park Slope ("Are they saying we're dirtier on this side of Flatbush?" he asked.)

Armed with a video camera, Microsoft's Moviemaker program and with girlfriend Linda Simpkins providing technical assistance, he made a film clip of the meter doing its shortchanging thing.

Gault took the video to his hearing. It was enough to convince Associate Law Judge Richard Ballerini to throw out the ticket.

"He said if I went to that much trouble, I must be telling the truth," Gault said.

Meter 324-0188 was still broken as of Friday.


NoLandGrab: And Bruce Ratner probably likes it that way, since in the Forest City Ratner playbook, a broken parking meter is no doubt cited as evidence of "blight."

Posted by eric at 9:13 AM

June 27, 2008

"It's Our Pleasure to Serve You"

Photo by Tracy Collins, via flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool.


According to Collins:

I think our community is certainly being "served."

Ward Bread Bakery
Dean Street near Vanderbilt Avenue
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

The Ward Bread Bakery is currently being demolished for Atlantic Yards.

NoLandGrab: Idea for another episode of "The Ratner-Zone," "To Serve You."

Posted by lumi at 5:09 AM

June 26, 2008

A Large Cloud Over Brooklyn

AK-SkySteeple.jpgFrom Brit in Brooklyn

A place where church spires are still some of the tallest buildings.

NoLandGrab: Speaking of "a large cloud," this is a view that would become scarce around Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards.

Posted by lumi at 4:48 AM

June 18, 2008

Board members of ESDC, other authorities, would finally become fiduciaries if reform bill passes

Atlantic Yards Report

AYR takes a look at pending state legislation that would create the "Independent Office of Public Authority Accountability."

Somewhat buried in a New York Times Empire Zone column on Monday, headlined Stance on Same-Sex Marriage Brings Surprises for Paterson, was an item, under the sub-headline "Seeking Oversight for Agencies," indicating the potential passage of “the first meaningful oversight of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York State Thruway Authority, the Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC] and a multitude of other state and local authorities.”

Notably, it would require a fiduciary duty of authority board members--a duty of care arguably lacking in the ESDC's treatment of the Atlantic Yards project.

Did ESDC board members, in their brief 12/8/06 approval of the project bother to check:

  • if the arena financing plan was legitimate or a took advantage of a "loophole"?
  • if there would be enough affordable housing financing to get the project done anywhere close to the “anticipated” ten-year timetable?
  • if that ten-year timetable would be enforced in future ESDC contracts or whether the agency would give the developer 12+ years to build Phase 1 and no deadline for Phase 2?

These are all questions that might be pursued if the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions, chaired by Brodsky, turns its direct attention to Atlantic Yards.


Posted by eric at 8:57 AM

June 11, 2008

The art of honesty

The Brooklyn Paper
By Marie Cunningham

Bruce Ratner rent-a-cops doing security detail in the footprint of Atlantic Yards and the developer's two malls adjacent to the site have a bad rep for being heavy handed when trying to clear public sidewalks of project critics.

This week, one Ratner security guard ends up being the nice guy in a story about an artist's examination into city living and its effects on human nature.


Artist Jillian May had a simple idea: for two weeks last month, she set out baked goods on an unmanned table on Dean Street with a sign that asked customers to deposit 25 cents in a jar.

Some people stole the food.

Others stole the money.

And vandals broke the jar.

In other words, it was a successful project!

Indeed, after a rough start, May said she began to see the better side of humanity, noting that area residents, workers and business owners began protecting her kiosk (and money) when the cookies and cupcakes ran out each day.

One of the kiosk’s biggest supporters was Peter Parker, 54, a security guard at the demolition site that may someday be the Atlantic Yards mega-project across the street from May’s kiosk, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues in Prospect Heights.

Parker was not only May’s first customer every morning (his favorite was the vegan chocolate chip cookies), but he watched the stand — an example of the integrity May hoped the project would inspire.

Parker even said he once caught someone trying to steal the money jar. “He put it back and apologized to me,” he said.


NoLandGrab: Hmm... people taking things that don't belong to them when they think no one is paying attention around Atlantic Yards?? Thank goodness someone is looking out for the community.

Posted by lumi at 4:40 AM

June 3, 2008

‘State Races To Attract an Economic Tsar’

NY Sun, Letters to the Editor

CarlMcCall.jpgOne-time New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall swears he absolutely, positively does not want to run the ESDC.

A story in the Sun said that I was “seeking the job” of Chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation [New York, “State Races To Attract an Economic Tsar,” May 29, 2008]. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Let me say it clearly: I am not seeking the job. I am not a candidate for the job. I do not want the job. And I would not accept the job if it were to be offered to me.

NoLandGrab: Did he mention he wasn't interested?

Maybe Governor Paterson should name Bruce Ratner to the post. Cutting out the middleman might make the agency's disbursement of taxpayer money more efficient.

Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

Giving Away New York

NY Sun, Op-Ed
by Betsy McCaughey

The former Lieutenant Governor (not the one currently residing in the Governor's Mansion) takes the Empire State Development Corporation to task for acting like a slush fund for New York's most politically connected businesses.

Governor Paterson is reportedly having trouble finding a distinguished business leader to head the Empire State Development Corporation. That's not surprising. The agency's giveaways are an embarrassment.

The ESDC selectively dispenses tax relief and other financial benefits to companies in regions that need economic development under its Empire Zone program. It also gives grants of between several hundred thousands of dollars and several millions of dollars to companies for plant expansions, capital equipment, and other projects, all for the nominal purpose of keeping and creating jobs.

Here's the hitch: Only 2% of businesses in the state are beneficiaries. Which businesses? Too often, those with political connections.

For most of the current decade tax revenues skyrocketed, but during these boom years New York's governors, Republicans and Democrats alike, failed to pay down debt and slim down future obligations. The result is that the state faces a fiscal crisis.

The Empire State Development Corporation is not the answer to this crisis. It is a costly part of the problem. If knowledgeable business leaders have no interest in heading the agency, there's a reason. Now is the time to redefine its mission.

The agency should advocate for tax and regulatory relief for all businesses and educate state lawmakers on the need for these changes. To restore the agency's credibility and to spare taxpayers an unnecessary burden, the giveaways must stop.


Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

May 23, 2008

Ward Bakery update: injured worker in good condition

Atlantic Yards Report

Several people asked me about what happened at the Ward Bakery on Tuesday, after a worker was seen being removed on a stretcher and a stop-work order issued.

Empire State Development Corporation spokesman Warner Johnston offers this update: "The injured worker appears to be in good condition and we expect him to be released today. He was immediately taken to a nearby hospital... and my understanding is that he was kept over night for evaluation."

"With regards to the cause of the incident, the investigation is still being conducted," he added. "I don't have specific information to share until the investigation is complete." The stop-work order suggests a rotted beam as a possible cause for the collapse of a section of the floor.


Posted by lumi at 5:26 AM

April 1, 2008

Nets leader lauded at dinner

NY Daily News
By Patrick McCormick

Bruce Ratner isn't the only honoree in Brooklyn:

Brett Yormark, president and chief executive officer of Nets Sports and Entertainment LLC, was honored by Lutheran HealthCare at the group's 125th Anniversary Dinner Dance.

He was named to Sports Business Journal's "Forty Under 40" list for a third consecutive year in 2006, as one of the best sports executives under the age of 40. Yormark was hailed as the driving force behind the recent business success of Nets Sports, for which he has been an executive since 2005 and is paving the way to move the New Jersey Nets to a new arena to be built at the Atlantic Yards.

At the March 6 fund-raiser, Lutheran HealthCare CEO Wendy Goldstein welcomed Lutheran Hospital's future neighbor and lauded Yormark for being a part of Brooklyn's exciting future.

Borough President Marty Markowitz, who was also in attendance, praised Yormark for his leadership as a businessman and for the role he is playing in bringing a professional sports franchise to Brooklyn.


Whoops! It appears that the Daily News reporter didn't read the press release carefully. March 6 was the date of the release not the dinner, which is scheduled on MAY 10, to be held at Chelsea Piers in Brooklyn Manhattan.

Markowitz wasn't in attendance, as the article states, since as far as we know, he hasn't developed the ability to travel into the future; rather he provided these glowing words for the release:

"Next to our soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets, I can't imagine a more winning team than Lutheran HealthCare and Brett Yormark," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "Brett has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for the return of professional sports to Brooklyn—spearheading the Nets' move to a new arena at Atlantic Yards. And just as our borough will benefit from Brett's vision and extraordinary leadership, so will Lutheran HealthCare as it continues to provide its patients with the very best health care available."

Posted by lumi at 8:24 PM

February 28, 2008

Miss Brooklyn is from … Manhattan

MissBrooklynAmerica.jpg The Brooklyn Paper
By Mike McLaughlin

Yes, it's sad, but true, "Miss Brooklyn" is from Manhattan, but so is Bruce Ratner.


Posted by lumi at 6:58 PM

February 23, 2008

Borough of Writers: Q&A: Paul La Farge


Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brad Lockwood

Born in Manhattan, author and hyper-creative journalist/historian/urbanist Paul La Farge is now based in Boerum Hill after a stint on the West Coast. A Guggenheim Grant and Bard Fiction Prize winner, La Farge’s works include the novels The Artist of the Missing and Haussmann; or, the Distinction, and most recently, The Facts of Winter.
Where are you now?
Boerum Hill, right around the corner from Jonathan Lethem, I think.

What’s your view on the Atlantic Yards development?
I should know more than I do. But the things I do know make me pretty unenthusiastic about it. What they did to the original Times Square was bad enough and I don’t see the need for another one of those. It’s just overburdening the transportation infrastructure and breaking up the flow of the streets and moving all these people out of the neighborhood that have been living there happily. It just doesn’t seem so great.


Posted by amy at 11:57 AM

February 12, 2008

The State of American Architecture

Taking the measure of American architecture depends on where you look. Our week-long series features prominent critics taking the temperature of their hometowns. First up: New York

Business Week
By Clifford A. Pearson

[New Yorker architechture critic Paul Goldberger] also talks about "the democratization of architecture," a process that in recent years has brought Modernism to the masses, or at least, to a larger audience. "What you can get at Ikea and Crate & Barrell is a lot better than what most people used to buy for their homes. At the same time, major architects are finally getting to design large commercial developments in New York," he says, mentioning Norman Foster's Hearst Tower, Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards complex, and Renzo Piano's New York Times Building. "The results are mixed. When things move into the mainstream, they inevitably get compromised. I think, though, where the center of the dial has moved is more important than where the cutting edge is."


Posted by lumi at 4:59 AM

January 30, 2008

CBA Blog

These days, every project with serious negative impacts seems to have its own Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), designed to make the project more palatable. It was only a matter of time before someone started blogging exclusively on CBAs.

Earlier today, we linked the entry on the Bronx Terminal CBA. Here are two other controversial CBAs from NYC:

Atlantic Yards CBA

The fundamental problem with the Atlantic Yards CBA is that it is not representative of the community. A significant portion of Brooklyn residents are opposed to the project due to the extensive impacts that it will have on Brooklyn, and they were not invited to participate in negotiations. Rather, the talks were led by community members already on the developer’s side. It can only be guessed what the CBA would have looked like had inclusive and transparent talks actually been held.

Columbia expansion CBA

With Atlantic Yards and Yankee Stadium, New York City established a pretty bleak track record in coming up with CBAs that came anywhere near their Californian counterparts’ successes (like the Staples Center and LAX CBAs). Because of this, CBA supporters were hoping that an agreement concerning Columbia University’s expansion into West Harlem would provide a better model for future New York CBAs.
It seems that the Columbia CBA negotiations were begun in good faith, with intentions to be as inclusive of divergent community interests as possible. Regardless of the LDC’s continuing pledges of support for community interests, though, it has not succeeded in instilling much faith in its efforts among the public. The resignations and hastily drawn up agreement have not helped. Nor has the LDC’s continuing willingness to allow eminent domain to be used in the project.

Posted by lumi at 8:11 PM

January 22, 2008

The McLaughlin Group: The Economy Tanking

Daily Kos

Though it's not specifically about Atlantic Yards, we thought that it was worth mentioning that real estate and publishing mogul Mort Zuckerman was on the McLaughlin Group explaining how and why credit is so difficult to come by.

I don't think it's an exaggeration. It's an understatement. You've heard me say here I think we are facing the worst financial crunch and crisis since the Great Depression. You have the entire banking system now that is virtually frozen and there are not just the sub-prime mortgage thing. There are other things called credit default swaps where they're going to lose as much money, 250 billion dollars on. The banks are frozen. They're not making loans because they have such huge debts that they have to take onto their balance sheets and nobody knows how to deal with that because you had a had two bubbles that have burst at the same time. The housing bubble which has collapsed in this country. The first time since the Great Depression that housing values have gone down for a year since the depression and it's going to go down even more next year. The credit crunch, you've just exploded the whole credit system in this country. We were way over leveraged. The banking system was over-leveraged. People didn't even know about it. The bankers didn't know about it. They didn't access the risk. Now that risk is piling in and every body's going to pay the price. Uh it's going to stimulate nothing other, I mean it's going to destimulate the economy. Nobody has money to lend. They're saving all their money to pay off their debts. They're borrowing money or looking at uh the rest of the world to enhance their capital and it's still not going to solve their problems.


NoLandGrab: This has to affect the local building boom, despite the fact that New York City has so far been immune from the national real estate slump, thanks to Wall St. bonuses and the 421(a) plan, which, for the past two decades, has served to subsidize new luxury housing construction.

Posted by lumi at 4:19 AM

January 6, 2008

A gentrification novel set in DC, with a twist


Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Times Book Review calls Dinaw Mengestu's novel The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (the title's a reference to Dante's Inferno) "a great African novel, a great Washington novel, and a great American novel." (It's out February 5 in paperback; that's the third cover below.)

As the artful cover image indicates, the book indeed is many things, but for me, it was a great "gentrification novel," part of that burgeoning subgroup of books (see The Fortress of Solitude, etc.) that capture urban neighborhoods under pressure.
And guess what: Mengestu now lives in Brooklyn. In the anthology Brooklyn Was Mine (about which I'll write more shortly), he celebrates his polyglot neighborhood of Kensington.


Posted by amy at 11:30 AM

December 12, 2007

Columbia Wants To Grow

Black Star News, Editorial

Subject to the outcome of the negotiations for a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), The Black Star News endorses the proposed Columbia expansion.

Ironically, Black Star News cites Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards CBA as an example of working with the local community, even though folks in West Harlem distance themselves from Ratner's process of forming a coalition of handpicked groups (some of which were founded for the express purpose of creating primarily African-American groups to support the project):

At the same time, Columbia officials say the university is negotiating a Community Benefits Agreement with the West Harlem Local Development Corporation. This is good: When the developer Bruce Ratner's Forest City Co. embarked on developing the Atlantic Navy Yard and downtown Brooklyn, it reached an unprecedented pact with the local community there, guaranteeing jobs and affordable housing.


NoLandGrab: It's amazing how wealthy corporations with poor track records in the community can always find SOMEONE to believe that, this time, things will really be different.

Posted by lumi at 5:38 AM

December 9, 2007

DDDB Holiday Shopping Guide


For those of you who have not stopped shopping, Develop Don't Destroy has helpfully put together a list of local businesses that have helped support the fight against Atlantic Yards.

For even more local shopping fun, you can check out The Society for Clinton Hill's Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair at Habana Outpost at South Portland and Fulton Streets In Ft. Greene, Brooklyn.

Artisans will be displaying their works for sale from noon to 8 PM, Saturdays and Sundays, December 1&2, 8&9, 15&16, and 22&23.

You’ll find knit hats, scarves, jewelry, ceramics, as well as the new DDDB long-sleeve tees and doggie shirts...and unusual gift items for everyone.

Posted by amy at 10:26 AM

December 8, 2007

Rockefeller Foundation Announces First Award Recipients of NYC Cultural Innovation...


Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin announced today the first award recipients of the Foundation's $2.6 million New York City Cultural Innovation Fund.

The Fund celebrates innovation and the creative sector through grants for trailblazing initiatives that strengthen the City's cultural fabric.

One recipient:

The Civilians ... for Development and Brooklyn Neighborhoods, a two- year theater lab exploring the Atlantic Yards Project

NoLandGrab: "Atlantic Yards: not just for blogging anymore."

Posted by amy at 9:34 AM

November 29, 2007

Rats in the City

rat-nyt.jpg The NY Times

Robert M. Corrigan, an expert on rodents with the city's Department of Health, is answering readers' questions this week.


Posted by lumi at 4:46 AM

November 19, 2007

A Death in the Family

Fans for Fair Play expresses condolences to Steve Hindy and the Hindy family. The Brooklyn Brewery owner and Atlantic Yards supporter lost his son, Sam Hindy, this weekend in a very tragic cycling accident:

A terrible irony here is that Sam Hindy was a member of Critical Mass, the bicycle-rights group that Mike Bloomberg and Ray Kelly have made hell for the last couple of years. Sam died because of a breakdown in bike safety.

As a cycling enthusiast, maybe he should have known never to ride with cars and trucks on the Manhattan Bridge's roadway. Or perhaps, as some media have reported, the bridge's bike lane was blocked. If that's the case, there'll be a huge outcry from Critical Mass and all of us who believe the City Hall continues to ignore bike safety issues.

Tonight those issues get pushed aside. Flow of tears replaces the flow of traffic in Brooklyn


Posted by lumi at 5:51 AM

October 10, 2007

Prospect Heights Has a New Logo

I-footprint-PH.gif From

...we present the latest in Atlantic Yards Footprint Pride fashion. It's a line of t-shirts and other items that ostensibly say "I Heart Prospect Heights," except that the heart is in the shape of the footprint that the Atlantic Yards development would take out of the neighborhood.

I-(footprint)-Prospect-Heights merchandise includes T's, mugs, totebags and attractive magnets from

Posted by lumi at 7:01 AM

October 3, 2007

Lexicon alert!

We were cruising blog entries that mention Bruce Ratner, and came across an interesting coinage on the Chowhound message board:

Best 75 cent cup of coffee...

To me, enjoying a coffee need not involve an over-caffeinated, steroid-sized cup of status symbol. Despite the Ratnerization of this fair isle, there are still some decent brews available for 75 or even 60 cents -- and much respect due to any cafe or bodega owner engaged in such culinary-economic resistance. My favorite is Mei Lai Wah Coffeehouse at 64 Bayard Street.

The word "Manhattanization" has long been used to describe Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards megaproject. But this is the first time we've heard "Ratnernization" — and used to describe Manhattan to boot!

rat • ner • i • za • tion
Pronunciation: \ˌrat-ˌnər-ˈzā-shən, -bə-\
Function: noun Date: 2007

1 : the process of using eminent domain and public subsidies to overdevelop a neighborhood with soulless high-rises and box stores.

Posted by lumi at 1:05 PM

August 24, 2007

We have issues

The Gowanus Lounge, Gowanus Flooding Redux

The August 8th storm was a perfect illustration of why residents around the Gowanus Canal basin are pissed that the City and State are supporting Atlantic Yards and a massive population influx without first fixing (and we mean REALLY FIXING) our severely overburdened sewers.

NY Daily News, Where have you gone, Scoppetta & Bloomy?

NoLandGrab: Atlantic Yards watchdogs already know what happens when the City and State take a hands-off approach to demolition. Serious demolition accidents are commonplace, especially in Brooklyn, where developers are in overdrive. All of the recent incidents, especially the parapet collapse at the Ward Bakery building in the footprint of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan, should have been the canary in the coal mine.

However, no one was listening, and Saturday's tragic deaths at the Deutsche Bank demolition site were compounded by yesterday's events, in which heavy equipment fell from the upper floors and crashed through the sidewalk safety shed, on to the heads of two firefighters working below.

And, as Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez points out, no one is talking, and even worse, Mayor Bloomberg is lobbying Governor Spitzer to veto State Assemblyman Jim Brennan's bill calling for increased oversight of construction sites at which safety violations have already been issued.

Posted by lumi at 9:08 AM

August 16, 2007

Pacific Street Symbols

Brit in Brooklyn SidewalkArt.jpg

Anyone care to translate?

Post your comments here.

NoLandGrab: During our current redevelopment frenzy, similar surveyor/utility markings can be found all over Brooklyn. It would be cool if someone who understands these cryptic numbers and symbols could read them for the uninitiated.

In case anyone thinks Atlantic Yards critics have lost their sense of humor, one reader anony-mouse-ly posted:

It's an anagram of 421 as in 421a, as in the bill with the tax giveaway to Ratner. It's a subtle protest of the bill by surveyors.

Posted by lumi at 9:01 AM

July 24, 2007

We don't have Stuckey to kick around anymore

According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and a press release from the Mayor's Office, former Ratner exec James P. Stuckey made a public appearance last week as President of the NYC Arts Commission. This Stuckey sighting made us realize that things have been pretty quiet since the Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards Development Group President was tidily terminated by Forest City.

We don't know about you, but we sorta miss the guy.

You could always count on the quotable Stuckey to share his personal narrative with a reporter or make some outlandish claim that would tip critics off to something fishy, for example: the tale about Atlantic Yards being as dense as the Downtown Brooklyn plan led to revelations that the project, if built, would be the densest residential community in the nation; and the claim that footprint tenants would be taken care of begged watchdogs to look at the fine print of what Ratner was really offering.

Duffield St. Underground calls Stuckey's role as President of the Arts Commission "surreal," but it makes sense if you recall that Stuckey plays ten instruments.

Posted by lumi at 8:37 AM

July 20, 2007


Ward-or-MissBrooklyn.jpg We did a doubletake this morning when we saw this photo on Brownstoner.

We weren't sure if it was supposed to be the translucently shrouded Ward Bakery building, or the latest model of Miss Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 11:50 AM

"Atlantic Yards site" sighting

No matter what you think about Atlantic Yards, the project site itself has become a landmark (of sorts). In a story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle about the demand for medical office space in Brooklyn, one realtor notes that another developer is building more space, "near the Atlantic Yards site at 525 Clinton Ave."


Posted by lumi at 8:52 AM

June 15, 2007

Brooklyn loves its Hook tacos

Brooklyn Papers
By Ariella Cohen

Has Bruce Ratner become the yardstick against which all other neighborhood fights are measured?

Saving the soccer tacos has just picked up where fighting Bruce Ratner left off to become the hottest cause celebre for some Brooklyn activists.


Posted by lumi at 7:01 AM

June 1, 2007

Die Another Day

The cycle of codependence between critics and stars does a disservice to both public and profession alike.

Metropolis Magazine
By Philip Nobel

As Boston's new signature starchitect-designed building fails to impress, a reviewer considers the complicity of critics. There's no mention of Atlantic Yards and superstarchitect Frank Gehry, but the song remains the same:

Bad buildings by big names get a regular pass. Favorable coverage ensues for the client. Though no connection between high-glamour architects and high-quality buildings is ever demonstrated, the client class learns anew that it pays to gamble on the stars. Other architects retool their practices to get in the game (first stop: drinks with the local critic). Students take note (fledgling critics too…). Mediocrity goes unchecked. The public gets shafted. The cycle repeats. The planet spins. Architecture lives to die another day.


Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

MemorialDay.jpg Much blood has been lost for the fight to build and preserve our democratic system, which, alas, is not inevitable.

Much democracy has been lost for corrupt deals between the government and the politically powerful, which, are not inevitable, either.

Posted by lumi at 9:27 AM

May 27, 2007

Summer Reading. Summer Blockbuster.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Our suggested reading list is heavy on the legal side and it's all non-fiction. First, of course, there are the legal briefs from both sides on the federal eminent domain lawsuit Goldstein v. Pataki charging that the "Atlantic Yards'" abuse of eminent domain violates the US Constitution. That suit was filed way back in the Fall of 2006. In these papers there is plenty to delve into for your summer reading while you lounge around Prospect Park or perhaps the beach at Coney Island. And if you are more of a picture person you can look over the property ownership map which shows how the "Atlantic Yards" project cannot be built if the 13 plaintiffs on the eminent domain lawsuit are successful in keeping their properties.

A decision on the defendants' motion to dismiss the case could come any day.

The other set of legal briefs we suggest for summer reading, perhaps under the molten heat of your stoop or the refreshing shade of a tree in Fort Greene Park, is from the state lawsuit DDDB et. al. v. ESDC et. al.. That suit challenges the very foundation of the project, and the fatally-flawed Environmental Impact Statement's review and approval. There are a lot of exhibits along with the complaint and responses for you to check out on those humid days that are sure to come. If you prefer a condensed version of this suit, there is a summary you can read, or coverage from Atlantic Yards Report of the May 3rd oral argument.

A decision on this suit could possibly be rendered in early to mid-June.


Posted by amy at 8:33 AM

May 25, 2007

A ‘LeWitt' in Atlantic Yards's Path

Was Work by Artist — Or by His Assistant?

The NY Sun
By Katie Taylor

LeWittPhotoIllustration.jpgThere's a new wrinkle in the tale of the LeWitt painting in a building set to be demolished in the footprint of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project:

The brightly colored painting, attributed to Sol LeWitt, on the wall of 644 Pacific St. in Brooklyn won't be around too much longer. The building is slated to be leveled to make way for the Atlantic Yards development. But the questions the painting raises about the artistic practice of LeWitt, the conceptual artist who died last month at 78, may be discussed long after the building comes down.
Wall drawing no. 848 got some attention last month when the group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which opposes the Atlantic Yards development, sent out a mass email about the painting's distinguished legacy and imminent destruction. Even they seemed to recognize, however, that the situation didn't constitute an artistic tragedy.
So the painting at 644 Pacific St. seems unremarkable — a typical example of a practice in which, as anyone who has taken a class on abstract art can tell you, the artist’s concept comes first and is supreme, and the execution by assistants is secondary. Interviews with Mr. Watanabe and Ms. Cho, however, have added a wrinkle to the story behind wall drawing no. 848.

Asked by a reporter whether she had the instructions for the wall drawing, Ms. Cho said there weren’t any, but that there was a diagram. LeWitt did a diagram for the painting? the reporter asked. Ms. Cho paused. Well, he did a diagram afterward, she explained. In fact, she continued, her husband came up with the idea for the painting himself and executed it. When LeWitt saw it, he liked it so much he decided to bless it as one of his own.


Posted by lumi at 7:19 AM

May 23, 2007

Unlikely Power Broker Bullish on Brooklyn

StephenHindy-NYO.jpgThe NY Observer
By Chris Shott

Don't cry for Steve Hindy; despite the fact that his rent has gone up, he's outgrown his current location and will be getting relocation assistance from the City for a new one. On top of that, he "hearts" Bruce:

His vocal support for developer Bruce Ratner’s controversial Atlantic Yards project, in particular, drew the ire of some of his most devoted customers and even prompted a small-scale boycott of his hallowed local brews.

But don’t fret over the fate of this small businessman: He stands to sell plenty of beer at Mr. Ratner’s new sports arena, not to mention the soon-to-be-redeveloped Coney Island. Oh, and that 40,000-square-foot beer garden that Mr. Hindy plans to build alongside an even bigger brewery, once the city finds him a suitable location.


Posted by lumi at 7:50 AM

May 10, 2007

State Bar Honors Brooklyn Advocate for Juvenile Justice

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Elizabeth Stull

Faruqee.jpgAn article about NY State Bar Association award recipient, and Brooklyn resident, Mishi Faruqee, director of the Juvenile Justice Project, ran kind words and a familiar lament for her neighborhood:

She said she loves the borough and revels in her two-stop subway commute to the Juvenile Justice Project’s offices at Union Square.

“It’s changing now, but when we moved here it was a truly diverse neighborhood,” she said of Fort Greene. “I mean it’s sad, what’s happening with the whole Atlantic Yards and everything, but when we first moved here, it was a very human scale.”


Posted by lumi at 6:27 AM

April 28, 2007

In Ratnerville, when it rains it snows...

Flatbush/Dean 1:30pm there was a sudden giant white cloud. Then firetrucks. Then when we could see, there was this. It seems like the snow-like substance sprayed down from the roof over the gas pumps. No word on a cause...

FYI the pavement at the gas station is normally gray.

You'll have to excuse the fine people of this neighborhood if it seems like we're getting a little jumpy.




More photos

A poster on Brooklynian had a suggested cause:

that's the fine residue from marty and bertha

they imploded from shame

Posted by amy at 2:29 PM

April 27, 2007

Who put the Rat in Ratnerville?

rat-n-ratnerville.jpgBy chance, Atlantic Yards had its own mascot yesterday (with sidekick Ratner VP Bruce Bender on the far left). The irony was noted by a couple of commenters in other blogs that posted photos from the site of yesterday's collapse, and earned its own special post in Curbed.

The Rat was in front of Henry Weinstein's building, currently leased by developer Shaya Boymelgreen, who is being stalked by the unions all over Brooklyn for his use of non-union labor.

What's particularly bizarre is that The Rat is parked in front of the same building that Boymelgreen tried to lease out to Bruce Ratner, who, despite Weinstein's protestations and a pending lawsuit, repeatedly claimed he controlled. Earlier this year, a judge sided with Weinstein and the deal between Boymelgreen and Ratner was voided, returning "control" of the property to Weinstein, who has since joined the federal eminent domain lawsuit.

If Boymelgreen (the anti-Christ of the local trade unions) had succeeded, then Ratner (the patron saint of the local unions) would have had Weinstein in a headlock.

Posted by lumi at 10:50 AM

April 25, 2007

Which Came First...

The graffito or the sparrow?


Dope on the Slope caught a photo of a cheeky little sparrow at the Vanderbilt Yards.

This little guy was perched right above the Vanderbilt Yards. Too bad Passer domesticus isn't an endangered species, or we might be able to thwart bad development by raising the specter of habitat destruction. Of course, there are some home and business owners in Prospect Heights that would argue that destruction of habitat for Homo sapiens is occurring right now.


NoLandGrab: Irony isn't extinct in the footprint of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards.

Posted by lumi at 8:33 AM

April 23, 2007

Training minority contractors - Group provides technical assistance and education

Courier-Life Publications
By Stephen Witt

As part of the Atlantic Yards project, developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner Companies signed a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with eight local community groups.

One of those groups is the New York State Association of Minority Contractors (NYMSAMC), which provides technical assistance and education for small contractors.

The NYMSAMC last week began its third session of construction management workshops at Medgar Evers College last week with a record 70 participants.


Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM

April 10, 2007

On Sol LeWitt

From Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn:


   WALL DRAWING #652 photo by Richard Cheek (note, this is not the work discussed below).

Artist Sol LeWitt, a giant in the conceptual and minimal art movements and one of the great innovators in the past 40 years, died on Sunday at the age of 78. Lewitt was famous, amongst other works, for his wall paintings. We offer our condolences to his family, loved ones, and colleagues.

644 Pacific Street is in the footprint of Bruce Ratner's proposed "Atlantic Yards" project, specifically in the footprint of the arena itself. In that building, once occupied by one of Mr. LeWitt's studio assistants, are at least two wall paintings by the artist. The building is in the list of the first round of demolitions the developer intends to begin in the coming weeks.

These wall paintings should be photographed for historical documentation and the Sol Lewitt catalogue.

We call on Forest City Ratner to ensure that this happens and provide the photographs to the LeWitt collection.


Additional coverage:
Sol LeWitt, Master of Conceptualism, Dies at 78
NY Times Obit, by Michael Kimmelman

Posted by lumi at 11:01 AM

March 19, 2007

Green Grows Brooklyn
By Emily Gertz

The long shadows of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan reached as far as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during last week's urban gardener meeting, Making Brooklyn Bloom.

Elba Cornier of Olympus Garden Club told me a lot about the frustrations of Fort Greene-area gardeners who fear they will lose lovingly cultivated green spaces to the Atlantic Yards development.


NoLandGrab: This is the second go-around with Bruce Ratner for Bear's Garden (see, *Atlantic Yards Report, "Brooklyn Bear's Garden faces the (shadowy, noisy) future").*

Posted by lumi at 6:58 AM

March 18, 2007

Two Veterans of Bad Old Days in Brooklyn


NY Times

LITTLE BUDDY, a k a Jack Solomita, age 3, stood on a dining room chair and swung a blue and green key chain decorated with a logo for the still-a-dream Brooklyn Nets basketball team. His father, Pete Solomita, a chef who bakes cookies at home for his Little Buddy Biscuit Company, winced.

“He loves that key chain,” said Mr. Solomita, 49, looking around the ground floor of his family’s three-story brick town house on 16th Street in South Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Jack didn’t yet understand that his parents are not as enthusiastic about Forest City Ratner’s plans to build rental apartments and condominiums, office towers, a hotel and a sports arena for the Nets in Brooklyn.

Mr. Solomita and his wife, Jill Vinitsky, 47, are both from Long Island, but they have each lived in long-neglected South Brooklyn for decades. While they aren’t against development, per se, they contend that too much thoughtless building is going on in the borough.


Posted by amy at 3:16 PM

March 16, 2007

Kilroy was in Park Slope

PARK SLOPE — It's not clear who started it, but people's frustration at not being able to register their opposition directly to the Community Board and DOT manifested into a spontaneous expression of democracy. Hundreds of people who stood in line and crowded into the vestibule of the New York Methodist Hospital auditorium "signed in" on a large paper tablecloth, as if to let the city government know that "Park Slope was here." Kilroy.jpg

UPDATE: News of the fabled tablecloth even made it to the Brooklyn IND political club meeting, held at the same time as the CB6 meeting.

Posted by lumi at 9:16 AM

A great day for Lady

The Brooklyn Paper
By Gersh Kuntzman


Residents of Prospect Heights — whether they support the Atlantic Yards mega-project or not — were united in their joy at hearing that Patti Hagan had gotten her dog back.

That is, except Bruce Ratner. But more on that later.

Lady Day, the peripatetic Atlantic Yards protester’s 12-year-old black Lab, had been stolen last week, setting into motion a community-wide effort to find the purloined pup that ended thanks to a hunch by a receptionist at a Fort Greene animal hospital.
And Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which is Hagan’s ally on Atlantic Yards, but typically reserves its Web site for analysis and criticism of the 16-tower project, posted a picture of the dog and a plea for her return.

“It obviously was only peripherally an ‘Atlantic Yards’ issue, so I ran it by DDDB’s steering committee, and there was wide agreement that we should do it,” said Eric McClure, who is overseeing the site. “Patti has been a prominent figure in the opposition, so … it just seemed like an instance in which we could step away from ‘the mission’ to do something good in another way.”
The recovery of the dog put a happy ending on a pretty bad year for Lady Day, who was almost electrocuted in April and also had to watch her owner’s frustration grow as Ratner’s project was approved by the state in December.


Posted by lumi at 8:29 AM

March 10, 2007

You Don’t Love Me Yet


Time Out New York Book Review
Benjamin Strong

No, this is not a heartfelt question from Miss Brooklyn, saddened at the negative attention she is receiving even before her cotillion. "You Don't Love Me Yet" is Jonathan Lethem's (DDDB Advisory Board Member) latest novel.

After four years of morsels—stories, essays, a brilliant denouncement of the Atlantic Yards project on Slate—it can be only a matter of time before Lethem goes big again.


Posted by amy at 11:59 AM

March 6, 2007

One Million Dollars (US) for New York Panorama Winner is calling for a $1,000,000 purse for the ultimate steelband showdown. Where are they looking to land this big fish, as well as a possible new venue? In a gravy boat floating in the waters off the Atlantic Yards, of course.


Everybody (financiers, politicians, developers, etc.) have been moving into and are now positioned, to claim their stake in regards to the new stadium (a Bruce Ratner initiative) slated to go up in downtown Brooklyn, which will not only be a sporting arena, but is also being touted as a 'cultural arts mecca.' It must be noted that Brooklyn's Borough President Marty Markowitz is on record that the cultural celebrations, i.e. Panorama, will be moved there.

What is really needed, is a musical complex that has been specifically and solely designed to showcase the steel orchestra. That is an entirely different matter, and the only acceptable solution for New York's pan fraternity. Again, When Steel Talks has called for this before. It can be called the Clive Bradley Steelband Performing Arts Center and must be located in the heart of the steel orchestra enclave, Brooklyn's East Flatbush area.

If pan people do not arise, seize the opportunity, and THINK and negotiate for themselves as a bargaining body, in this time of New York City's economic and fiscal boom, they will find themselves either on the outside of Bruce Ratner's stadium looking in, or else on the inside - with someone pulling their strings, and with others already having negotiated very unfavorable, and binding terms for them.


NoLandGrab: It helps the public to understand how these deals get struck, when the issue stated so plainly.

Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards Development Group President Jim Stuckey has already stated publicly that the company would not reopen the Community Benefits Agreement. Maybe this ask from the community can be negotiated by US Congressional Representative Yvette Clarke under "reparations" to the community from Barclays or as another NJ Nets sponsored affair.

Posted by lumi at 9:42 AM

February 21, 2007

Democracy Now!? For Whom!?

Don't Worry It's Just Reality

DemoNow-Cameras.jpgThe hypocrisy of Michael Ratner really gets under "Dreadnaught's" skin. His latest case in point concerns the Lefty lawyer, Democracy Now and surveillance cameras.

Democracy Now - an organization with close ties to Michael Ratner, - main index page had a spot showing security cameras.

It bears a striking resemblence to some of Bruce Ratner's handiwork around the 'footprint'


Posted by lumi at 7:20 AM

January 6, 2007

2006 IN REVIEW - The people and events that shaped Park Slope

Michèle De Meglio

This year-end summary definitely gets points for being unique. While most year-end reviews were busy looking at the EIS, approval processes and lawsuits, this article focuses on controversy surrounding siting of the school, which may or may not be built, in a project that may or may not be built.

“Building 5…is a highly inappropriate site for a school,” CEC President Mary-Powel Thomas said at the time. “It’s right in the middle of all the traffic, noise, and air pollution of Flatbush Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, and Fourth Avenue.


Posted by amy at 11:19 AM

November 30, 2006

"Atlantic Yards" as synonym...

at-lan-tic-yards.gifDaily Intelligencer, the New York Magazine city blog, was being sarcastic in yesterday's headline in reference to The Gowanus Lounge's comparison of the Coney Island developer Joe Sitt to Bruce Ratner, "Let's Just Call Every Land Deal ‘Atlantic Yards’ From Now On."

But that got us thinking. "Atlantic Yards" is has become the poster child for overdevelopment, boondoogles, sorely needed reform of public authorities, Frank Gehry kitsch, extreme density, and eminent domain abuse.

Is it enough to use "Atlantic Yards" as a synonym? Ex., "Coney Island will be so like Atlantic Yards." Or is there enough room to create adjectival or verb forms of the project name?

In reference to threatening to use eminent domain one could say, "Don't make us do an Atlantic Yards." Or when considering a project that is 20 times bigger than anything across the street, one could say, "Whoa! It's so Atlantic Yards."

Naturally, we're reserving "Ratnerian" for any situation involving a politically connected powerbroker who feeds at the public-subsidy trough or is awarded public land for dirt cheap.

Posted by lumi at 8:43 AM

November 27, 2006

Buying Tax Breaks

Room 8

For a little mental vacation, here's a bashing of the Empire State Development Corporation that doesn't even mention Atlantic Yards. The editorial by State Senator Liz Krueger illustrates that the quasi-governmental public-private corporation is even worse than we thought, and ought to be the poster child for public authorities reform.

Krueger outlines some of the ESDC's most egregious misdeeds and advocates for reform:

The Syracuse Post-Standard recently reported how "New York state officials allowed a Rochester mall owner to BUY Empire Zone tax breaks while thousands of other state businesses were excluded from the program." The mall owner paid the local community $1.5 million to expand the boundaries of an Empire Zone to include his business. In return, the mall owner is expected to receive more than $14 million in tax breaks over the next ten years, all at the expense of us, the taxpayers. Of course the mall owner argues this was just to stay competitive with another mall owner (Destiny USA) who is expecting even BIGGER tax exemptions—another story, and ANOTHER problem.
Yet another recent example of blatant mismanagement of Empire Zones was the September 2006 discovery that the ESDC had awarded $22 million in tax breaks to a New Jersey-based company, NRG Energy. In return for $22 million in tax breaks, NRG created one part-time position. The size of this tax break, coupled with the paltry economic benefits that local communities reap, simply fail to justify the use of taxpayer dollars by the ESDC.

Some people will look at these decisions and say they reflect new lows in this agency's self-governance. I believe these actions confirm that Governor Pataki's appointees either lack the most basic understanding of the very laws they are charged with implementing, or worse, they simply don't care. The good news is that I fully expect Governor-Elect Spitzer to address this problem post haste.


Posted by lumi at 10:25 PM

November 25, 2006

Mr. Brownstone: Heath Ledger


This week's New York Magazine profile covers Heath Ledger's views on both heroin and Ratner. He says no to both.

Have you ever done heroin?
No. And I didn’t consider doing it for the movie.

You’ve been active in protesting Ratner’s plans.
Michelle’s kind of the front-runner for that cause, but I think we’ll participate in some fund-raising.

So remember, kids, remain heroin and Ratner free for the holidays like the stars!

Posted by amy at 1:02 PM

October 19, 2006

Stories of Neighborhoods Take On an Epic Proportion

The NY Times
By Jason Zinoman

From the Times's review of Heather Woodbury's latest five-hour epic play on the wake of the Dodgers' emigration from Brooklyn:

“Tale of 2Cities,” composed mostly of monologues, examines the titanic (and traumatic) effects of the Dodgers’ leaving Brooklyn. “That was like the beginning of the end for me,” says an older police detective (played movingly by Ed Vassallo). “The neighborhood feeling died at that point.”

The plotline brings to mind the current controversy over the Atlantic Yards, the new complex that proposes to bring major-league sports to Brooklyn, along with increased traffic and a new skyline of towers. But it’s characteristic of Ms. Woodbury’s evenhanded approach that people on both sides of the Atlantic Yards debate can find ammunition here.


More coverage:
The NY Times, Where Fans Were Called Out Looking
The Brian Lehrer Show, The Old Ball Game

Posted by lumi at 7:35 AM

October 17, 2006

Photoblogarithm: Booker’s Skulls Watch Over Atlantic Yards

From Razor Apple:

A new spot off Atlantic Avenue from Booker, Read Books, Hood Rich, or just the one with amazing rollers.


Posted by lumi at 8:35 AM

September 21, 2006

In Honor and Memory of Evelyn Ortner


A fighter for — and lover of — Brooklyn, architecture, communities, neighborhoods, preservation, art, justice and democracy.

DDDB was honored to have Evelyn on our Advisory Board. Her life's work is an inspiration for all of us.

We and many, many others will greatly miss her. Our thoughts are with her devoted husband and comrade Everett, and all of her friends and family.

— Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and our Advisory Board

Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

September 19, 2006

CONFIDENTIAL: Proposal Manager Wanted

A "CONFIDENTIAL" employer is seeking a Proposal Manager. If you're interested, "send letter, resume and salary requirements to:" [AKRF is the environmental engineering firm that authored the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement.]

Stay tuned — the "confidential employer" may soon be seeking a human resources manager who pays close attention to detail.

Here's the description:

Marketing PROPOSAL MANAGER Prominent NYC environmental consulting firm seeks proposal mgr with 5- 7 years exp in the A/E/C industry. Must be energetic and able to manage high volume of submissions for EOIs, RFQs, and RFPs. Demonstrated success in developing winning themes and proposal/presentation strategies essential. Exp in corporate communications/PR pref. Must be proficient in Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Quark; Indesign a plus. Must be able to multi-task under pressure. Excell oral/written communication skills essential; BA in English, Journalism or Marketing pref. Friendly, casual but hardworking environ. Excell benefits. Send letter, resume & sal reqs to: or to HR Dept, 440 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016 EOE AKRF, Inc.


AKRF has a non-confidential job listing as well:

Prominent NYC environmental/planning/engineering consulting firm seeks experienced (5+years) environmental engineer/scientist/civil engineer to work on major public works projects. Must have project management experience working with public agencies and with CEQR/SEQR or local equivalent. Technical environmental knowledge a plus. Ideal candidate must be a creative problem solver with ability to see unique solutions. Superb oral/written communication skills essential.


We offer a competitive salary commensurate with exp, an excellent benefits package and opportunity for career growth. Enjoy a casual, friendly but hardworking environment. Please send letter, resume and salary requirements to: or Human Resources, AKRF, Inc., 44O Park Awe South, New York, NY 10016. EOE

Posted by lumi at 8:15 AM

August 22, 2006

Why ignore wind? "Unconscionable," says Pratt prof

Atlantic Yards Report

Anybody who's walked around the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, Brooklyn's tallest building, knows that the wind can be vicious on a winter day. But the Empire State Development Corporation, in producing the Final Scope for the Draft Environemental Impact Statement (DEIS), ignored the call by the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN) to study the effects of wind created by 16 towers and an arena.

CBN had asked: Wind tunnel effects are already experienced in downtown Brooklyn and can cause problems for pedestrians, particularly people with impaired mobility. The EIS should study and measure wind tunnel effects caused by new construction, and the associated jobs will arise in proportion to the public cost.


Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

August 13, 2006

Bouton throws heat at Ratner, Steinbrenner

NY Daily News
Michael O'Keeffe

It's a good bet that Jim Bouton, blackballed from Old Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium for decades for his tell-all classic "Ball Four," won't be invited back any time soon.

And he can forget about being an honorary ballboy at New Jersey Nets games, too.

When Bouton joined the advisory board of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn last week, he marked the occasion by ripping George Steinbrenner, Bruce Ratner and their controversial plans for the Bronx and Brooklyn.

"Now we have the Steinbrenner and Ratner projects, trampling on neighborhoods, ignoring citizens, and giving public subsidies to millionaires at the expense of schools, hospitals and fire departments," the former Yankee pitcher says. "And I think to myself that when we're finished bringing democracy to the Middle East, we can bring it to Pittsfield. And the Bronx. And Brooklyn."

Bouton, a 10-season Major League Baseball veteran, wrote about his battle to save historic Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass., in "Foul Ball," a look at his battle with government officials and politically connected developers.


Posted by amy at 11:46 AM

August 2, 2006

Ledger to take on Ratman?

Ledger.jpgWarner Brothers announced that Heath Ledger will play The Joker in the next Batman film, titled "The Dark Knight."

"Our challenge in casting The Joker was to find an actor who is not just extraordinarily talented but fearless," said Memento director [Christopher] Nolan.


NoLandGrab: Heath Ledger's stance against that other "Joker," Bruce "Ratman," and method acting techniques may come in handy.

[There's got to be a better joke in there somewhere (sigh).]

Posted by lumi at 10:49 AM

July 30, 2006

Gossip Roundup



Are Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams leaving Brooklyn? Fucking Ratner, driving away all the good celebs.


Although Scary Ratner Syndrome is a creative sentiment, Ledger/Williams are here to stay.

Posted by amy at 11:01 AM

Each AY tower would dwarf (in sf) that 31-story public housing tower


Atlantic Yards Report

But what about the tallest established residential building nearby, Atlantic Terminal Site 4B, the city's tallest public housing tower, at 31 stories and 310 feet. It's located across Atlantic Avenue at Carlton Avenue, opposite the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, the site for several proposed towers.

Atlantic Terminal Site 4B covers 252,500 square feet, which makes it smaller than any of the proposed 16 towers in the Atlantic Yards project, including the six that are shorter. That's a testament to the density proposed in the Atlantic Yards plan and a reminder that height provides only a partial sense of a building's impact.


Posted by amy at 10:51 AM

How big would "Miss Brooklyn" be? Look across the river


Atlantic Yards Report

So it's hard to get a sense of scale in the immediate neighborhood. But head for the the South Street Seaport and you might see a substantial glass-clad office building, 180 Maiden Lane, which stands between Front Street and the FDR Drive.

Could this building serve as a cue?

Indeed, the building includes 1.08 million square feet and stands 554 feet tall over 41 stories. So it's not quite as tall as Miss Brooklyn would be, but it's nearly as bulky.

So if you're crossing the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridges, or just looking over from the Brooklyn shoreline, a view of this building gives a whiff of the future--at least as currently planned.


Posted by amy at 10:47 AM

July 25, 2006

The Queens blackout: the brutal human costs of Con Ed’s drive for profit

World Socialist Web Site examines the lengthy blackout in Queens and calls for placing the critical utility in public hands, though they are pretty sure their calls will fall on deaf ears:

Of course not only Republicans like Bloomberg will oppose such a demand, but also the Democrats, some of whom have been making demagogic calls for the resignation of Con Ed’s CEO and a criminal investigation into the company’s practices. But these practices are hardly an aberration; rather, they are the rule for an energy industry that is run for profit. The same politicians who invoke “eminent domain” to help real estate developers like Bruce Ratner forcibly evict working class families from their homes and small businessmen from their premises will no doubt invoke the sacred right of “private property” in Con Ed’s defense.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner is becoming the poster child for eminent domain abuse.

Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

June 23, 2006

Ratner’s shadow looms

Pratt study: Atlantic Yards would put Fort Greene in darkness

The Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman


According to a new analysis by a Pratt Institute professor and two students, shadows from the developer’s Atlantic Yards mega-project would darken a wide swath of Brooklyn from Prospect Heights to Downtown — including a strip in Fort Greene that won the “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” contest in 2002.

At its worst — at 9 am on Dec. 21 — the shadow from the 62-story “Miss Brooklyn” building, proposed for the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, would extend all the way to Fulton and Gold streets.

“Shadows from September to March will be severe,” said Brent Porter, the Pratt professor. “Once those buildings go up, the shadowing will be forever.”

Porter said he and his students — Roman Strazhko and Samantha Sommers — do not have an official position on Ratner’s 17-skyscraper, 8.7-million-square-foot arena, office and hotel development, but were speaking out now because so little has been said about the effect of the shadows.
Porter said that shadows will be minimal during the summer, when Brooklyn, like the rest of the northern hemisphere, is tilted towards the sun.

“But in the winter, suddenly there’ll be no light across most of Fort Greene most of the day,” said Porter, who added that a forthcoming Environmental Impact Statement for the project “won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on” if only summer shadow impacts are analyzed.


Posted by lumi at 8:23 AM

June 22, 2006

New Direction for CBAs?

Neighborhood Retail Alliance

Paid Ratner consultant Richard Lipsky blogged on the announcement that $350K is being earmarked by City Hall to form a Local Development Corporation (LDC) whose mission is to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) between Columbia University and community stakeholders in West Harlem for another project that will be using eminent domain "as a last resort."


NoLandGrab: Two questions come to mind.

1) Will City Hall find some bucks in their budget for the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods to pay for experts to analyze the Environmental Impact Statement for what is perhaps the largest, most dense private development proposal in NYC history?

2) Does Lipsky's concern that a Columbia CBA LDC is "actually representative of the impacted community" translate to the Ratner CBA, where many community stakeholders were left out in the cold?

Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM

June 19, 2006

More CBA Controversy

Neighborhood Retail Alliance

Forest City Ratner-paid-consultant Richard Lipsky agrees that Community Benefits Agreements need to be reviewed, though he steers clear of the Atlantic Yards CBA, which Brooklynites can assume he supports:

We do agree that the process needs to be made more rational so that the slick Potamkin (sic) Village style CBAs (like the one for Gateway) aren't deemed acceptable. The mayor and the council are apparently reviewing the entire issue and, as land use chair Melinda Katz says, "We can probably learn a lot from other jurisdictions..."


Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

June 12, 2006

Burning questions

City probes B'klyn arsons as cops keep the heat on

The Daily News
BY Russ Buettner and Patrice O'Shaughnessy

Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal is listed among the community's concerns in the months after a series of arson fires in Prospect Heights remains unsolved.

Detective Albert Arredondo said he has enlisted cops from narcotics enforcement, gangs and warrants to aid the investigation of the fatal fire. "We haven't ruled out any facet but we're not looking for a random firebug here. We've heard all the concerns, the Ratner [Atlantic Yards] project, gentrification."


NoLandGrab: No one is saying that Bruce Ratner is in any way connected to the arsons, but it must be a concern to the developer that he has become the Bogeyman of Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

June 9, 2006

Atlantic Terminal Chuck E. Cheese's closed by Health Department

Chuck E. Cheese's at Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Terminal Mall was closed by the Health Department yesterday. Here's the scoop from a Park Slope Parents posting:

At about 2, I went up to order lunch and they told me they were not serving food, though people who already had paid were still taking salad and soda. This seemed weird.

About a an hour later I went to check what was happening, and they pointed to their front windows. The Health Dept. had posted big ‘closed’ signs on the front, which said only that there was an ‘environmental hazard.’ They were not letting anyone new enter but those already inside could continue to spend their tokens.

About an hour later, they started closing the games down. No info on what was wrong.

If anyone has more details, email

Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

June 7, 2006

Slope Opera: The Brooklyn-geoisie, Valet Parks Strollers To Stomp New Arena

DanZanes-NYObserver.jpg New York Observer columnist Suzy Hansen travels to Fort Greene, snarkily spotlighting the underworld of the Brooklyn-Gold-Coast-brownstoner, over-protective, designer-stroller parenting set in a piece that turns into a profile of Dan Zanes and his involvement with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

“I was just carrying on with my life,” Mr. Zanes continued. “All I knew was that there was a stadium and Frank Gehry was gonna be designing it. It all felt inevitable. I had no idea 17 skyscrapers were going up around it. The stadium was the parsley, but the skyscrapers were the pig …. I know people who have sons who want to go see basketball games, but anyone who realizes what 17 skyscrapers and a stadium will do to an already complicated neighborhood …. Anyone who thinks that through is not at all in favor of it.”


Photos and coverage of the Dan Zanes DDDB benefit at

Posted by lumi at 10:21 AM

May 16, 2006

Fire Storms

An inferno in Greenpoint highlights a drop in the number of fire investigators

The Village Voice
By Tom Robbins

The 10-alarm conflagration in Greenpoint and recent deadly fires on a Pacific Street "strip adjacent to developer Bruce Ratner's proposed new Nets arena and soaring high-rises," highlight the relationship between a hot real estate market and arson.

Cuts in city services reduced the number of fire marshals from 180 in 2001 to a current count of 80.

Emergency dispatchers say it's not unusual to hear fire chiefs at late-night suspicious blazes calling in vain for investigators to report to the scene. "On a continual basis we are trying to come up with fire marshals to respond to ongoing incidents," said David Rosenzweig, president of the Fire Alarm Dispatcher's Benevolent Association. "Unfortunately, due to the decrease in the number of fire marshals, it is becoming more and more difficult to provide them."


NoLandGrab: With city services streched thin, the City is supposed to protect the residents living in overheated real estate markets with the marshals that remain.

Meanwhile, Ratner has secured $100 million from the City Council, though no guarantees have been made that city services (i.e. fire, police, water/sewers, education, etc.) would be increased in the areas abutting the proposed "Atlantic Yards" footprint.

Posted by lumi at 4:56 PM

May 10, 2006


Community Organizations Join Together to Participate in the Environmental Review of the proposed Atlantic Yards project

The COUNCIL OF BROOKLYN NEIGHBORHOODS (“CBN”) today announced they have retained  Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates to act as the lead consultant coordinating the CBN review of the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) currently being prepared on behalf of the Empire State Development Agency, the New York State agency charged with the environmental review.

In December 2005, CBN issued a Request For Proposals to  top environmental planning firms to assist in the review of the DEIS, which is expected to be extremely technical and thousands of pages long. CBN recognized early on that the communities would require expert assistance to ensure effective public participation in the review process. The response to the RFP brought forward dozens of firms and organizations anxious to assist CBN in accomplishing its sole purpose. PPSA will be coordinating the efforts of this impressive team of experts.

John Shapiro of PPSA described the challenge:

"This job is about making a complex project understood by the people most affected by it, and thus allowing THEM to be the best advocates for their own interests and concerns -- whether that is in support, opposition or simply expressions of concern.. I have worked on a number of large-scale projects, but I can't think of any that has a larger impact on my home borough than this."

"We are excited about the brain power and talent that is engaged on this. Pratt Center is the original advocacy technical assistant for neighborhood groups; the newly created Hunter Center; the Simulation Center, the Project for Public Spaces, the City College Center, individual experts on the team with extensive knowledge of Brooklyn neighborhoods, and other team members are all the best at their particular disciplines. Plus there is a wealth of talent lodged in the CBN membership, including architects, planners, engineers, computer simulators, and more. Our challenge will be how to best organize and tap this talent."

Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, New York City’s largest independent planning firm, is a planning and real estate consulting firm based in New York City with offices in central New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Founded in 1968, the firm specializes in zoning and land use regulation, real estate advisory services, market and feasibility analyses, comprehensive and community planning and expert testimony. Its expertise is in zoning and economic development; and its portfolio of work is regional, not local. The firm’s work has earned many awards, including the nation’s top planning award for advocacy planning for five South Bronx community development corporations.

The COUNCIL OF BROOKLYN NEIGHBORHOODS is a coalition of recognized diverse community groups active in Community Boards 2, 3, 6, and 8. CBN is comprised of 40 community organizations that have joined together to ensure meaningful community participation in the environmental review of the proposed Atlantic Yards development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. As a group, CBN has experience in civic advocacy, transportation planning, neighborhood preservation, urban planning, the development of affordable housing, safety and security improvement, quality of life promotion, and business development. CBN’s collective background enables them to represent the concerns of the area communities.

For more information please contact CBN at 718-408-3219 or via email at

Posted by lumi at 2:50 PM

May 8, 2006

Yonkers groups want to share in prosperity

The Journal News
By Michael Gannon

With several billion dollars worth of development planned in the city [of Yonkers], minority business leaders who have long lived and worked in communities targeted for renewal are increasingly demanding that they be able to share in the lucrative construction and service contracts that come with it.

The article mentions Forest City Ratner's controversial Community Benefits Agreement for Atlantic Yards.

Though local developers tout their jobs programs and their own record of hiring women- and minority-owned contractors:

Critics say community benefit agreements are a part of the political process of winning support for projects that alter the economic landscape of a community and could ultimately drive some of its residents away.


Posted by lumi at 7:00 AM

May 7, 2006

Can Heath Ledger Save Bklyn? Or can Buscemi?


New York finds a gaggle of celebrities supporting Develop Don't Destroy:

Since angry blogs haven’t managed to derail Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards complex, maybe celebrities will. Last week, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn created an advisory board of boldfacers. New recruit Steve Buscemi got right on the phone and was right on message, declaring, “The lack of transparency, the absence of genuine community input, and the bypassing of political oversight is very troubling.” DDDB activist Francis Morrone hopes celebs like Rosie Perez and Jonathan Safran Foer can affect the “significant segment of elite cultural opinion which thinks that this development is perfectly all right and that the people who are opposing it are a bunch of cranks who are stuck in the Jane Jacobs era.” Interestingly, the celebs sound positively Jacobean in their concerns. “The Atlantic Center Mall, which Ratner built, is such an aesthetic and functional horror,” declares David Salle. The new project is “out of scale and out of step with the neighborhood it’s going to overwhelm,” says Jonathan Lethem. Michelle Williams says she and husband Heath Ledger “moved here for light, space, and air. If Mr. Ratner lived here, he would understand what we love about it and why we want to preserve our open skies.”


Posted by amy at 9:49 AM

April 28, 2006

ProHo Photo Hop

ProspectHeightsPhotoTour.jpg The Real Estate Observer

The Observer reporter Matthew Schuerman takes a photo stroll of Prospect Heights:

It's a neighborhood of tree-lined streets and rehabbed row houses slashed through with broad avenues. The southern part has grand apartment buildings; the northern edge tends to have more vacant lots and large warehouses. These are located within the proposed footprint for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, and are often cited as evidence that the area is blighted. It is hard to imagine, however, that anywhere within this pizza slice would remain blighted for long. Come inside and see for yourself...

Posted by lumi at 4:09 PM

April 27, 2006

Develop, Don't Destroy franchise

From the Develop, Don't Destroy Troy online petition:

We, the undersigned, are greatly disturbed by the amount of demolition occurring in Troy, N.Y. Historic buildings have been leveled and over 150 buildings are scheduled for demolition. Most of these are houses in Troy’s poorer neighborhoods. Block development grants are being used for demolition. And, in the case of the historic marquee on the American Theater, historic review protocols have been ignored.

Sign here

Posted by lumi at 10:16 PM

January 15, 2006

Atlantic Yards Moment of Zen


Fiorenzoli/Schaut Thesis Seminar

Posted by amy at 11:06 AM

January 11, 2006

FOLKLORE: The Battle in Brooklyn

NIH Shelterforce Online

This half-hearted attempt to analyze the ACORN/Ratner deal is filled with so many mistakes, incorrect numbers, and a totally skewed take of the "Kelo effect," that we offer the article as an example of the folklore surrounding Atlantic Yards.


A cursory glance picked out several problems and inaccuracies in the article, listed after the jump.

Folklore findings:

Posted by lumi at 7:00 AM

January 10, 2006


The NY Sun
By David Lombino

A page-one article on corporate welfare in NYC mentions that:

"The company with the largest tax break, as calculated by the city Office of Management and Budget, was Chase Manhattan Bank, part of JP Morgan Chase. Chase saved about $8.7 million this year for its building in the MetroTech commercial development in downtown Brooklyn. The deal was struck in 1989 under the Koch administration."


NoLandGrab: Large amounts of government subsidies typically factor into Forest City Ratner projects, like Metrotech and the proposed Atlantic Yards project. Taxpayers and politicians should follow the money and decide if these are dollars well spent.

Posted by lumi at 7:41 AM

December 31, 2005

The Curbed Awards 2005 (Part II)

And the winner of the "Fight the Man" award goes to [insert drumroll here]...

Dan Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Dan has been accused of being idealistic and tenacious and has weathered all sorts of personal attacks from the pro-Ratner group Buy Us In Large Denominations — all are traits that add to his sex appeal.

The Curbed Cup
Last year the Curbed Cup for Neighborhood of the Year was awarded to Ft. Greene. The voting is still open for this year's award, with Brooklyn's own embattled Prospect Heights in the lead.

Check out all the winners and don't forget to scroll down to the bottom to VOTE!

Posted by lumi at 9:00 AM

December 28, 2005

X Marks the Spot?

xmark.jpg Callalillie

Last week, on the first day of the transit strike, blogger Callalillie took a stroll over to Prospect Heights to check out the "demolition" of Ratner-owned buildings.

Instead, she found "cranky looking construction workers" and workers on Dean Street painting mysterious signs (see photo) on the sidewalk in front of the buildings slated to be demolished.


Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

December 18, 2005

Consumer Culture: Dollar Voting


The holiday season is upon us, and local businesses are up against Ratner's Wrath...Dollar Voting is a great idea to keep in mind:

The dollar vote is a concept economists use to describe how, in a market economy, consumers effectively vote for products—as well as how those products are produced, transported, marketed and sold—by spending their dollars. Through our “consumer sovereignty” we have the power to make our preferences known, one dollar vote at a time.

Dollar Vote for your favorite non-Ratner shops and retaurants - hint: they are NOT located above the Atlantic Terminal. These are the businesses that should be "developed" not "destroyed."


Posted by amy at 10:05 AM

December 2, 2005

Roger Green in the NY Observer: Bruce Ratner like RFK?

TimesRatnerReport agrees with Roger Green that Ratner is more like "RFK than Bull Connor." However the crude simile ends there, as Oder analyzes the difference between two great liberal icons, Bruce Ratner and RFK.


NoLandGrab: We are also pretty sure that Ratner is more like Mother Teresa than Attila the Hun.

Posted by lumi at 7:27 AM

November 26, 2005



Who needs the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sunday when you can have Ratnerville Trivia!

NoLandGrab made a Quiz for you! Take the Quiz! and then Check out the Scoreboard!

Posted by amy at 9:02 PM

November 3, 2005

Park Slope neighbor presents fresh prospects

Prospect Heights becomes the latest gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood to get slate of new projects

The Real Deal
by Alison Gregor

The last we heard from Marty and Ratner, Prospect Heights was BLIGHTED. At least that's the reason they are using to justify taking people's homes and businesses.

But according to realtor Cynthia Acevedo:

"Prospect Heights is a really popular area. There has to be double or triple the number of real estate offices along Washington Avenue than when I started selling there five years ago."


Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

October 15, 2005



A more deserving prize than in the entry below, The Brooklyn Papers won the National Newspaper Association's top prize for Best Investigative or In-depth Story or Series for its coverage of the Ratner boondoggle.

Brooklyn Papers readers were repeatedly reminded that the project was a multi-billion-dollar super-block mega-development involving more than a dozen apartment high-rises and several office skyscrapers. The Papers pointed out that the story was not, as generally portrayed in other media, primarily about construction of an arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team; the arena would fill only a small portion of the site.

“Your commitment to the truth shines through,” wrote the judges. “This is what it’s all about.” In a related citation, the NNA awarded The Papers an Honorable Mention for Community Service.

Congrats Brooklyn Papers!

Posted by amy at 10:36 AM

September 6, 2005

NLG Volunteer Opportunity: Research, Writing (HTML a plus)

NLGVolunteerCorps.jpgMore details about Brooklyn's biggest land grab have been uncovered since we first summarized the Ratner proposal.

NLG needs volunteers to help to update "The Land Grab" section. HTML skills are a BIG plus.



Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

August 13, 2005

Group Tries To Squeeze Into Atlantic Yards Process


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle discusses the newly formed Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, and includes a detailed description of how the Environmental Impact Statement process works.

The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods representatives said they recognize that it will be difficult for their proposals to influence the EIS, but if the ESDC, or whatever agency is put in charge of the development, is unwilling to consider their ideas, the group is prepared to litigate.

One of the potential areas for litigation, Carponter said, could come about if the ESDC does not consider other proposals such as Extell’s, Ratner’s sole competitor in the MTA bidding war.

After the meeting, Carponter said she realizes that the entire ESDC process — where a non-elected body that sits at the table with the developer can make all decisions — is the real issue at stake.


Posted by amy at 10:09 AM

June 19, 2005

A Moment of Truth in Dodgerless Brooklyn


NoLandGrab: The New York Times provides the nostalgia reason for why we need unprecendented amounts of development in Brooklyn. "I remember as a youth in Brooklyn when there were clusters of skyscrapers on every block..."

My friend and his guests were appalled at the idea. The arena, they said, would mean traffic, noise and development too grand for a neighborhood whose great attraction was block after block of affordable brownstones, modest backyards and a communal life that faced out onto the street. Vindication for the Dodgers? That idea moved them not at all.

Read the article here.

Write letters to the editor here.

Posted by amy at 9:28 AM

June 10, 2005

Atlantic Yards Foes March Across Bridge to City Hall

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

With some saying they were encouraged by the defeat of the West Side Stadium, several hundred opponents of Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards arena/highrise housing plans marched from Borough Hall over the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall Tuesday, to stress their continued opposition to the plan.

As reasons for their opposition, they said the project would be subsidized with taxpayer’s money, that there was little public input in the planning process, that the RFP process for the arena site was “stacked” in favor of Ratner, and that the development would change the low-rise character of the neighborhood.


Posted by amy at 10:27 PM

Bridge march rips Brooklyn development


From the Brooklyn Papers:

Nearly 500 protesters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday evening in a show of solidarity against Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards development and other contentious projects.

[T]he project is expected to require as much as $1.6 billion in public subsidies to pay for facilities to accommodate the new residents, including schools and roads, according to literature provided by the developer and statements made at a City Council hearing on May 26. article

Posted by amy at 10:19 PM

June 4, 2005

Crowd pleasers


Financial Times describes the evolution of stadiums, introducing the phrase "Stadiums may be the new cathedrals."

Traditional stadiums started disappearing in the US first. By the 1950s, most American families owned cars. They moved to the suburbs, and the stadiums followed them because there wasn’t enough parking in their old neighbourhoods. As fans grew richer, they also demanded more food, toilets and comfort. Stadiums had to be big, with car parks, and next to a motorway.

Jacques Herzog, the Swiss architect, sits in a leather armchair looking out over the Munich football stadium he has just built. Thin and shaven-headed, Herzog exudes nervous energy as he scours the grey stands.

In 2001 Herzog and Jacques de Meuron, his business partner and friend since kindergarten in Basle, won the Pritzker prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel. They got it mainly for their Tate Modern gallery in London, but Munich’s Allianz Arena will displace the Tate as their best-known building next year when it hosts the opening match of football’s World Cup. Hundreds of millions of people will see it. The Allianz Arena - named by the insurance group - opens with friendly matches next week. Herzog won’t be there: he is booked for the opening of an exhibition of his firm’s work at the Tate.
Today he is seeing his finished stadium for the first time. He has just marched through it in yellow helmet, raincoat and sneakers. What does he think? He sighs: “Like always, unfortunately, you discover those little things that you would have liked to have done otherwise, and that jump at your eye. But it works very well, I think.” What should he have done differently? “Let’s say, I wish I had added a bit more colour. But the people, and the illumination, that’s also an integral part of the whole thing.” When the stadium’s full, he says, you’ll hardly notice the grey stands.
Few famous architects had sullied their hands with stadiums before Herzog and de Meuron did so in Basle (for the club they support, FC Basle) and Munich. They are still building Beijing’s Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Games. All this signals a new era: stadiums are becoming keynote urban buildings, as cathedrals were in the Middle Ages and opera houses more recently. When Norman Foster’s new Wembley opens in 2006, it will be his first stadium in more than 40 years in architecture.
Months ago, in the converted villa in which he works in Basle, Herzog mused about stadiums: “This is a new issue, like museums were at some point. It was for a long time the domain of more technically oriented people. It was totally neglected. It was done with very little money. A lot of stadiums were built with pride by the community, but if you look very closely lots of things were not thought through.”

Over the past century, after many mistakes (and while Americans have approximated the ultimate baseball ground) Europeans have learned what makes the ideal football stadium. The Allianz Arena is Herzog’s attempt to build it. Some things he has got right. Some he hasn’t, because cities have changed. In sum, his attempt illuminates the nearly 3,000-year history of stadiums.
The first one, Olympia, opened in Greece in 776BC and lasted 1,145 years. The Colosseum in Rome survived about half as long, until the sixth century AD. After that people got along fine without stadiums for nearly 1,500 years, notes Simon Inglis, the great chronicler of the breed. (Few topics are so dominated by one writer, evidence of how far stadiums have been neglected.)
After the Victorians invented modern team sports, stadiums reappeared, still looking rather like the Colosseum. These English grounds were built on the cheap: barns to house the devoted. Most of the legendary ones - Old Trafford, Anfield, Highbury, Ibrox, Twickenham, Craven Cottage - were partly or wholly the work of an obscure Glaswegian architect called Archibald Leitch. When Leitch died in 1939 he seems to have had just one obituary, a brief notice by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, which didn’t mention stadiums. In a sign of what Americans call the “ballpark renaissance”, Inglis has just published a biography, Engineering Archie: Archibald Leitch - Football Ground Designer.
Leitch didn’t bother making his stadiums look good. His clients didn’t care. To quote Inglis’s maxim for stadiums: “Form follows whatever the club chairman’s builder pal from the Rotary Club could come up with at a cut-price.” Herzog, who has possibly never heard of Leitch, says: “The stadiums I love - Anfield or Old Trafford - are ugly stadiums on the outside.”
Yet Leitch created what would become Herzog’s inspiration: the traditional English stadium. The type was usually surrounded by terraced streets. To save space, its stands towered steeply from the edge of the field. There was no athletics track, because athletics didn’t pay. The stadium’s roof was cheap and simple. The great baseball grounds of the early 20th century, such as Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field, looked similar.
Comparisons between religion and soccer are overused, but European stadiums undeniably took over certain functions from the emptying cathedrals. It was increasingly in stadiums that 20th-century citizens gathered in community, sang, cried and felt part of something larger than themselves. An English stadium, says Herzog, was “the living room of a religious community”. The stadium also became the home of civic pride: the biggest and best-known building in many cities.
Traditional stadiums started disappearing in the US first. By the 1950s, most American families owned cars. They moved to the suburbs, and the stadiums followed them because there wasn’t enough parking in their old neighbourhoods. As fans grew richer, they also demanded more food, toilets and comfort. Stadiums had to be big, with car parks, and next to a motorway.
In 1988, just when everyone was sure the “urban ballparks” were dying out, a minor-league baseball team opened one in the decaying city of Buffalo. Pilot Field stood not in the suburbs but downtown. It even made reference to the old urban buildings around it, with its white brick and big arched windows. The seats were very near the foul-lines. Fans liked this “retro ballpark”, and they came in droves. Pilot Field, incidentally, was built by an architecture firm called HOK. Though little known outside sports, HOK is responsible for most extant baseball stadiums, for Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, Arsenal’s future stadium and Wimbledon’s new centre court.
Pilot Field (now called Dunn Tire Park) inspired minor-league baseball teams everywhere to build retro ballparks. In 1992 the major-league Baltimore Orioles opened Camden Yards, and that settled the matter. Camden Yards, built by HOK, is downtown, in red brick, and has an asymmetrical field with real grass just like the old ballparks. At the front is a statue of local boy Babe Ruth. Fans love it, and retro ballparks have since conquered the major leagues.
In Europe, the ballpark renaissance has taken a different turn. Few European city centres have the deserted stadium-sized spaces found in downtown US. In Munich and across the continent, the new stadiums are outside town. Here too, however, architects have learned from the past. The new stadiums don’t have athletics tracks, which ruined the atmosphere by keeping fans far from the action. Football and athletics simply don’t mix.
What football fans crave in a stadium is communal emotion. Leitch’s stadiums offer it. He built perfect places for football, chiefly because he put fans near the pitch. His grounds inspired the Allianz Arena. “It’s somehow an attempt to go back to the roots of soccer,” says Herzog, “to take some of these archaic ingredients. The Shakespearean theatre, probably it was even a model for the soccer stadium in England - this closeness between the actors and crowd. If you can achieve this proximity, the people become the architecture.” The Swiss quips that the Allianz is “too good for Germany”. “I would rather have made the stadiums for Manchester United or Liverpool,” he says.
Sitting in the Allianz’s top tier, he points almost straight down towards the pitch. The stands here climb as steeply as the law allows, keeping all 66,000 fans close to the action. There’s no track: there would be little point, as football now attracts more spectators than any athletics event. The roof is simple and dark, and shuts out all but a small patch of sky, leaving fans with nothing to look at except the field. This is the traditional emotional football stadium - “the witch’s cauldron”, as the Germans call the type - taken to its extreme.
It’s a perfect place to watch football. However, it is traditional only while you are watching. The Arena’s catacombs are stuffed with restaurants and business lounges unthinkable in Leitch’s day. These novelties irritate some fans, including apparently Herzog himself. Striding through the business club, he gestures at the ceiling: “It’s gold, or goldish, referring to the Mastercard or whatever.” He accepts this corporate lacquer as inevitable. “Older versions of soccer stadiums were working-class cathedrals. Here there is no more working class: it’s a totally different public. It’s a kind of contemporary opera house. You could ask me, do I like the name Allianz Arena? No, I don’t. But this is a fact. We cannot be moral in this respect.”

The Arena’s worst breach of tradition, however, is on the outside. The stadium is in the middle of nowhere, near an industrial terrain. Herzog has hit upon a clever device to connect it to the world: during games, the stadium lights up on the outside. It will glow red when Bayern Munich play, blue for 1860 Munich, and white for Germany. But whereas in the Basle of Herzog’s childhood, cheers for a goal would resound through the surrounding neighbourhood, now even the drivers passing the Arena on the motorway won’t hear them.
The other thing lacking from the Allianz Arena are the details that, as Herzog has observed, make a stadium feel like home to the fans: a clock, a statue, the sign in Liverpool’s tunnel saying “This is Anfield”. The Allianz Arena lacks local touches, Herzog admits, partly because the stadium was built for three different home teams, and partly because the teams scarcely bothered talking to him. He explains: “Even though architecture is so visible now, soccer is still much more in the living room of the whole world, so soccer teams don’t need architecture to highlight their identity.”

As we sit in a business lounge, a familiar figure materialises on the turf below: Michael Ballack, Germany’s greatest current footballer. The script has him leading Germany to the World Cup next year. Today he is filming an advertisement. Herzog starts: “Ballack is here! It’s amazing how young they look.” Ballack, by contrast, would probably never have recognised the old gent upstairs. Stadiums may be the new cathedrals, but their architects are not yet the new footballers.

Posted by amy at 10:12 AM

April 7, 2005

NY Press Letter calls for Ratner to rejoin "Most Loathsome" List

WARNING: Mature Language

NY Press, Letters
Re: 50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers, 2005

loathsomebruce.gif Bruce Ratner needs to be one of the sucking blowjobs on this list for a second time [Ed. Note: He was 2004's #49] and much higher up. As someone who has his dick firmly crammed in the ass of the New York Times and his lips on Bloomberg's joint, he is a master of the underhanded land grab, making his greasy little deal happen totally under the radar. This man is single-handedly taking a corporate dump on one of the best, most neighborhood-oriented parts of Brooklyn in the name of "community development," aka lining his toilet bowl with fur.

David Tierski, Brooklyn


Posted by lumi at 7:09 AM

April 2, 2005

A New Brooklyn Voice


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle plugs the new magazine for Brooklyn, The Brooklynite, and its

"seemingly obligatory pieces that promote selected shops and eateries (including a bar threatened with extinction by the Ratner project)."

That there's Freddy's they're talkin' 'bout. And we have to say WE HOPE that the largest development ever planned in this borough is obligatory news. What are we supposed to talk about, tourism in Sheepshead Bay?


Posted by amy at 12:53 AM

April 1, 2005

50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers

NY Press50most.gif

It's full of your favorite cast of characters. Many of the people on this list are trying to outdo one another giving free real estate to last year's #49 Most Loathsome.

Brooklyn scores pretty high on the loathsome meter, even fan favorite Charles Barron gets spanked for not pulling the trigger in his Mayoral run.

read on

#49. Daniel Doctoroff, Deputy Mayor
Everything about the [NYC2012] proposal was insane: the West Side Parking Lot, the security nightmare we'll have to pay for, the stadium subsidy heist, the traffic nightmares that'll begin years before the games show up. Most loathsome of all was Doctoroff's repeated use of 9/11 imagery to guilt trip the IOC.

#35. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
We're as happy as anyone that Spitzer is taking on giants of corruption and winning, but let's peek under the tights. Spitzer is less a ballsy bulldog than a run-of-the-mill politicking pussy.

#27. Charles Barron, City Council, District 42 (Sorry Charlie.)
The media has spared little expense painting him as the next Al Sharpton (when they acknowledge him at all), but when we interviewed him, we found him to be one of the smartest, most articulate, most honest politicians we've ever met. So why did he make it onto this list? Because he's a quitter who dropped out of the mayor's race in deference to the much softer C. Virginia Fields, claiming that two black candidates would split support.

#21. Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President
Once upon a time, when the Board of Estimate ruled graft and contracts in New York, the five borough presidents had power. Today, it's a no-show job. The bad news with Markowitz is that he shows up, and so do his 116 employees, his multi-million-dollar budget and his four SUVs equipped with police sirens. Not content with doing nothing, Markowitz finds time to advocate for the downtrodden, such as Ikea, Home Depot and developer Bruce Ratner in their noble quest to cannibalize mom-and-pop neighborhoods. The porcine oaf is also known for racing around the city in HOV lanes with police lights flashing, en route to handing out a plaque. Markowitz is up for reelection next year. Instead, he should save taxpayers millions of dollars and fire himself, fire his employees and turn Borough Hall into a methadone clinic. At least then we'd have a better class of people hanging around the place.

#19. Tony Danza, Host, The Tony Danza Show (and shamless promotion hack)
Yet in a city clogged with Italian restaurants, who does Danza pick to sponsor his food segments? The Olive Garden. Was Papa Gino's too busy?

#14. Amanda Burden
Burden gets loathsome points for dating Charlie Rose, but earns her way onto the list in her own right for heading up a rubber-stamp commission that betrays the true mandate of the city land-use approval process.

#11. Gifford Miller, Speaker, City Council
With just three years as speaker under his belt, Miller, 35, has compensated for his lack of political experience and ability to accomplish anything meaningful by quickly learning how to play quid pro quo.

#9. Anthony Weiner, Democratic Congressman, 9th District
His career highlights include thumbs-up photo ops with Jim Brady and Ehud Barak, and an award from the National Organization to Insure a Sound-Controlled Environment.

#1. Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York Cityloathsomebloomie.gif
There's something for everyone to hate in the born-again Republican mayor: shuttered firehouses; pushing cops to harass people to meet ticket quotas; his 18 percent property tax hike; his retarded and dishonest Olympics pursuit (and his hilarious call on New Yorkers to visit Greece to show support for the same); his exclusion of parents from any decisions on the future of their kids' schools; "Snapple loves New York, and New York loves Snapple!"; his complicity in abuse of eminent domain statutes; his initial refusal to investigate Guy Velellaís release (changing his mind only after the media shitstorm); his support for the secret 22 percent pay raise given by Pataki to the MTA's loathsome Katie Lapp; his "tort reform," which forces local property owners to pay the damages when someone gets hurt on a broken sidewalk; his vulgar efforts to buy off journalists and political parties to serve his needs (such as the $250,000 he gave to the Independence party, without whose ballot line he can't win).

Posted by lumi at 6:10 AM

January 23, 2005


The Brooklyn Papers announces Ratner's change in plans: fewer jobs, more housing. Not that we want to be cynical, but it seems only a hop skip and a jump away from changing any of the promised plans, such as guaranteeing affordable housing.


Posted by amy at 2:52 PM

January 16, 2005

Stadium Games: Give and Take and Speculation

New York Times:

Three years later, the city faces a $2 billion gap in the coming fiscal year's $47 billion budget. Nonetheless, the mayor and Gov. George E. Pataki are on the verge of approving three new sports sites - a football stadium for the Jets, a baseball stadium for the Yankees and a basketball arena for the Nets - that will require a combined public investment of at least $1.1 billion.

It is not easy to assess precisely what the taxpayers will get out of their investment, which is equivalent in cost to a major Manhattan skyscraper or 25 schools with 600 seats each. In part, that is because the economic benefits are based on studies commissioned by the teams themselves, and promoted by the government sponsors of the projects.


Posted by amy at 11:18 AM

Times: NYC sports tab to be $1.1B

Field of Schemes:

The New York Times' Charles Bagli, citing "interviews with public and team officials," has come up with total public price tags for the three sports facilities under discussion in Gotham: $600 million for the Jets stadium slated for Manhattan's West Side, $300 million toward a new Yankees stadium that would replace the House That Ruth Built, and $200 million in subsidies to a Nets arena in Brooklyn - this last "whittled down," according to Bagli, from an initial $450 million demand by Nets owner/developer Bruce Ratner. The grand total: $1.1 billion in taxpayer money, for a city that's already facing a $3 billion budget gap. And it could easily be worse than this, as Bagli leaves out some additional public costs that could send the bill still higher:

continue reading

Posted by amy at 10:56 AM

December 18, 2004

A New York City parable: Pale Male, the red-tailed hawk

The World Socialist Website draws a parallel between Pale Male and Brooklyn residents:

Not just individuals, but whole neighborhoods can be summarily evicted to build multimillion-dollar sports complexes and other high-profit developments. In one instance among many, a new arena for the Nets of the National Basketball Association, proposed in a lower-income Brooklyn neighborhood by developer Bruce Ratner, will most likely be built despite the protest of residents, who face the destruction of their homes.


Posted by amy at 10:49 AM