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Showing posts from July, 2009

Sparse turnout on Day 2 of hearing on “Ghost Project Plan”; Jeffries, Kruger testify; open mike night for BUILD, unions

The second day of the two-day Atlantic Yards hearing held by the Empire State Development Corporation was even more of an anti-climax than the first day.

Without a contingent from ACORN and with only a handful of project opponents, no more than 100 people attended during the 2-5 pm day session and far fewer showed up for the 6-8 pm evening session, leaving a sea of empty seats in the Klitgord Auditorium of New York City Technical College. During the latter, hearing officer Edward Kramer several times paused to go “off the record” before new people showed to testify.

In fact, the hearing at times seemed like open mike night for members of the construction unions and Community Benefits Agreement signatory (and Forest City Ratner-funded) BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), who touted the expected benefits of the project.

(Photos by Tracy Collins)

By my estimation, fewer opponents and critics attended the two-day hearing than the 130 who attended the June 9 update on AY …

Why the DOT's cars-on-the-sidewalk plan was approved, why it wasn't announced, and how safety has been improved

Yes, it really is kosher for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to approve temporary use of a sidewalk for vehicles, as it did for [updated] 12 weeks--beginning this week--on Pacific Street going east of Sixth Avenue in Prospect Heights, while utility work goes on nearby.

However, after inspecting the initial configuration of the site--perhaps in response to concerns raised online once Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn on Tuesday posted a photo of a potentially dangerous situation--the DOT took additional action to increase safety.

Indeed, as I commented Wednesday on Streetsblog, I walked by there that morning around 9 and a pedestrian--walking west, approaching Sixth Avenue--was smack in the middle of the sidewalk-turned-road, at approximately the location of the black car in the second photo. There was a uniformed traffic cop in the intersection helping steer traffic, but I didn't see (or hear) him motioning for the pedestrian to get out of the way. The pedestrian didn't…

On the radio, Nets' Yormark continues to spin about housing, litigation, arena timing, and arena renderings

In an interview on ESPN Radio's Seth Everett Show, as No Land Grab puts it, "Newark Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi and New Jersey Nets' CEO Brett Yormark give the reality and fantasy on the state of the Nets in back-to-back interviews."

NLG suggests:
The award for best delusional Yormark line? A tie between "we're having one of the best off-seasons that we've had in years" and "I think the world of Nets basketball right now couldn't be better."

Affordable housing

Well, there are other contenders. Yormark perhaps shouldn't be expected to know the nuts and bolts of Atlantic Yards details, but, if so, the uber-salesman shouldn't be so confident as he spews inaccuracies.

"First and foremost, the driver for the project, in many respects, has been job creation and affordable housing," Yormark said. "Those two key components Bruce Ratner has never wavered on. As recently as a month ago, he reiterated, when he started the…

At lightly-attended (and sometimes raucous) public hearing, dueling electeds, some déjà vu, and a “sham process for a sham project”

In the end, the first day of the public hearing on the revised Atlantic Yards plan, though hardly uneventful, was less raucous and more lightly attended than many expected. Many, but hardly all, of the arguments recycled those at the epic public hearing held on 8/23/06.

The key new argument for opponents and critics emerged from information--or, more precisely, the lack thereof--from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and developer Forest City Ratner (FCR).

(Photos by Tracy Collins except as two marked below.)

The absence of a site plan, arena renderings, economic projections, a solid timetable, and a meeting with the cops over security informed a series of arguments, backed by several elected officials, that the approval is premature. They called for either a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement or for the project to be scrapped.

The most telling piece of theater occurred when Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein went up to testify and, before spe…

BrooklynSpeaks, electeds call for Supplemental EIS; DDDB plans rallies, press conferences outside hearing today

So, what should we look for at the public hearing today and tomorrow on the 2009 Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan (MGPP)? (The official times are 2-5 pm and 6-8 pm, at the the Klitgord Auditorium of New York City Technical College at 285 Jay Street.)

The cameras, most likely, will focus on the conflict, the signs and chants displayed by project supporters and opponents, both outside the venue--and, perhaps, inside. It would be newsworthy if disruptive people are ejected, as the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) promises.

But the news might more concern which elected officials--and candidates--show up, and what they say. There's not much to say directly about the ostensible purpose of the hearing, which concerns, among other things,the plan to pursue eminent domain in two stages rather than one and Forest City Ratner's revised deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Vanderbilt Yard.
But there is a lot to say about the project, and the pro…

Why the rush? Because Forest City Ratner needs to save money; also, MAS produces new rendering with tower, open space

Why, as I write today, is the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) preparing to approve the Atlantic Yards plan in early September without having renderings of the arena (but having Design Guidelines), without having the New York Police Department examine security, without having an updated fiscal impact analysis (not to mention a real cost-benefit anlaysis), and without even clearing up how high the buildings would be?

Well, the timing is all driven by the needs not of the public but of developer Forest City Ratner. 
Remember, the answer by Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) CFO Gary Dellaverson, when asked in June why the MTA board had less than 48 hours to examine a revised deal for the Vanderbilt Yard.

"I think that, in terms of why must it be now in the summer versus in the fall, I think that really relates to Forest City's desire to market their bonds as a tax-exempt issuance [by a December 31 deadline]," Dellaverson replied. "If the structure... …