Monday, March 9, 2009
The real blight on Brooklyn
From the Wall Street Journal:
In December 2003, Mayor Michael Bloomberg thought he had a slam dunk. He along with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and developer Bruce Ratner struck a deal for a $4.3 billion development project that was to remake downtown Brooklyn by building expansive residential and retail space, and a gleaming new $950 million arena that would bring the New Jersey Nets to the borough.
Now, more than five years later, what's been brought to Brooklyn is a very large hole in the ground and a project that is coming to symbolize why large government projects can be riskier than allowing local residents to fix up their own communities. What we see in Brooklyn is the beginnings of the failure of a massive government plan to revive the economy of a neighborhood.
Now officials have a mess on their hands. The development got just far enough to do considerable damage to the neighborhood without progressing far enough to do any good. Atlantic Yards has razed 26 buildings, with government help, creating the blight its developer had argued was there all along. Now there are gashes where late-19th century and early-20th century buildings once stood.