Welcome to life in the shadow of Atlantic Yards, the ambitious and divisive $4.9 billion real estate project that includes 15 high-rise buildings that will eventually tower over central Brooklyn as well as Barclays Center, the rust-colored 18,000-seat home of the NBA’s Nets and the NHL’s Islanders. When developer Bruce Ratner and his political allies — most notably then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Gov. George Pataki, Ratner’s Columbia law school classmate — unveiled plans for a massive real estate project anchored by a Nets arena in 2003, they promised it would be a powerful economic engine that would bring jobs and affordable housing to the borough.
Community activists and longtime residents, however, say many of the promised benefits have yet to materialize — but the headaches and hassles they feared would be generated by the project, renamed “Pacific Park” in 2014 after years of controversy, have arrived right on schedule.
Howard and other residents say the neighborhood feels like it has been taken over by an occupying army. Noise from the construction sites around the Barclays Center is deafening, sometimes roaring on from dawn until well into the night. Traffic is snarled on streets narrowed by construction fences and clogged with trucks. The rat population has boomed and dust and diesel emissions foul the air. Confrontations with the 1,700 workers employed at the construction sites near the Barclays Center and the thousands of fans who regularly attend Nets and Islanders games as well as other events are all too frequent, the residents say.