Build, Bruce, build: Developer Ratner presses ahead on Atlantic Yards
Saturday, June 27th 2009, 4:00 AM
Bully to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for making a deal that keeps the Atlantic Yards development alive in Brooklyn. And bully to builder Bruce Ratner for hanging in there to get the project done.
Bully? More like bullshit. The guy came in with a lower bid that for some strange reason was accepted by the MTA and is now scaling back every aspect of what he promised while the MTA is currently up shit's creek and forcing riders to pony up more money at the turnstile.
After five years, the defeat of 23 lawsuits and an economic meltdown, he is pushing to start the $4 billion development's first component: an 18,000-seat arena, home to the Nets and a major entertainment venue.
The lawsuits aren't over yet. And the city needs this like we need a hole in our heads.
The plan then envisions construction of 6,400 apartments (35% of them deemed affordable), a school and a health care center, amid 8 acres of open space. This good stuff would be located primarily on land that has been vacant for decades, including a Long Island Rail Road yard.
Huh? They do realize that much of that 8 acres of open space was bulldozed and that there are still several buildings in the footprint of the planned development, right? Here's a map of a walking tour of the area. And the rest of the space is and always has been an active railyard... Vacant?
But financing is not as available as it was a few years ago. The MTA board wisely voted to let Ratner pay $100 million over time for the rights to build above the yards, rather than demand a lump sum. With interest, the agency comes out whole.
Does anyone not smoking crack seriously believe that? Especially when Bruce asks for more money every time you turn around and this very paper reported that the arena would be a big money loser?
Ratner will now seek private financing for the arena. His bankers hope to raise the money by the end of the year. Wouldn't that be nice for Brooklyn?
No, it wouldn't. The plan calls for eminent domain abuse, would put some parts of Brooklyn in 24-hour darkness, create a clusterfuck of traffic, and build an entire new neighborhood full of "superblocks" in the middle of low-rise areas. And those are just the things I can think of at 6am off the top of my head.
When will the press in this city stop acting like Bloomberg's mistress and start questioning what he's doing to kill the place we love?
Lumi from No Land Grab wrote to yours truly:
* There haven't been 23 lawsuits filed;
* 35% of the housing has certainly been "deemed affordable," whether or not it really might be depends on the definition of "affordable";
* Ratner never promised a school, only offered the possibility that the city pay him to build one; and
* the railyard is only eight acres of a 22-acre project, the DN's fantasy list of purported benefits would be "located primarily" on private property and permanently-closed city streets."
And Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report weighs in too.
What would we do without citizen journalists, especially now that the press has been bought by a megalomaniacal billionaire and his developer friends?
Graphic from No Land Grab