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Showing posts from January, 2010

Could the Atlantic Yards arena open in 2011-12? The Times won't publish a correction

It's a little like something out of Beckett, the attempt to get the New York Times to acknowledge errors in its Atlantic Yards coverage. Sure, the Times sometimes prints corrections when the evidence is overwhelming.

But too often the Times goes through gyrations to avoid such acknowledgments. Unfortunately, the readers are still misled.

Below is the latest.

The 2011-12 arena?

I sent a request for a correction to the New York Times Senior Editor/Standards Greg Brock on Friday:Today, the Times reported in Seeking Fans in 2 States, Despite a Record of 4-40 (1/29, Metro) that "the move [to Brooklyn] is not expected to take place for at least another full season."

The current season ends in the spring of 2010. The next season ends in the spring of 2011. Today's article leaves open the possibility that the move could take place during the 2011-12 season.

However, the Times reported last month that "[t]hey hope to open the new arena by June 2012."

That's after the s…

In the Times this week, photos of the Nets (one supplied by the team) but not the empty Izod Center

Photos don't lie, right?

Two photos of the New Jersey Nets were published in the New York Times in the past two days, and both were more generous than they had to be. They didn't convey an essential fact of the team's season: very few people are coming to the Izod Center to watch the league's worst team.

At left is the photo that appeared (cropped somewhat, in black and white) in yesterday's print New York Times, to accompany an article headlined Wizards and Nets in One Unenchanted Evening.

It's a perfectly good photo of hoops action. But it doesn't say quite enough.

Overestimated attendance

A section of the article amplified the headline: But for spectacles, this matchup was not one to be highlighted, not with a terrible team hosting another poor team engulfed by the worst scandal of the year. If for three hours the N.B.A. could pretend one of its games never happened, this would probably be the occasion.

The Nets have the third-lowest attendance average in the …

Video: lawyer fighting condemnation for Atlantic Yards talks about case heard January 29 before Justice Gerges

After the hearing Friday in Kings County Supreme Court on eminent domain for Atlantic Yards, Matthew Brinckerhoff, attorney for those challenging eminent domain, answered a few questions at a brief press conference outside on Jay Street.



(Video courtesy of Michael Galinsky, who's working on the Battle of Brooklyn documentary.)

Expectations from hearing

Had he had expected Justice Abraham Gerges to transfer title, as had been sought by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) or had he expected the judge to put the condemnation on hold, as he did.

"I did not expect him to issue an order today; I would've been very surprised," responded Brinckerhoff, noting the flurry of legal arguments that had been submitted in just the past few days. "He has to at least consider in some way, shape, or form all the arguments we submitted.

The Leichter case

I pointed out that ESDC lawyer Charles Webb had told the judge that a case known as Leichter, regarding change in the plans…

Condemnation on hold after judge promises prompt review of claims; streets unlikely to close on February 1

No, the Atlantic Yards condemnation case was not going to be simple, after all.

After nearly two hours of oft-contentious oral argument Friday before Kings County Supreme Court Judge Abraham Gerges--argument that, according to counsel for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) went well beyond the proceeding at hand--the judge chose not to rule on the motions and counter-motions filed in the last two days.

"While the court will proceed promptly, the parties are entitled to a review of their claims," Gerges said at the end of the hearing, promising to "proceed expeditiously." (Gerges, at left, in photo by Kate Emerson/Brooklyn Paper. Photo above and set by Tracy Collins.)

Gerges's focus is on the narrow law of condemnation, so it would be unusual for him to allow argument on claims that the project has changed so much--and after the chance for public comment on such changes--that the ESDC should issue a new Determination & Findings.

So he could simply d…

Motion to dismiss condemnation raises procedural issues and larger argument that no findings were made for significantly changed (and delayed) project

The condemnation hearing today in state Supreme Court could result in the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) taking title to property it needs in the Atlantic Yards footprint.

But attorneys for the property owners and leaseholders, in a case organized and funded by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, are pressing both narrow and broad issues in their motion to dismiss the case. Most notably, they argue that the project has changed so much that the 2006 Determination & Findings (D&F) no longer stands.

It's an unusual challenge, breaking new ground, and thus hard to assess. Judges usually grant condemnation petitions. And judges usually hesitate to substitute their judgments for agencies like the ESDC

But AY has always been complicated, and the motion to dismiss (reproduced at bottom) makes some serious claims.

So, unless Justice Abraham Gerges decides that none of it is relevant, it could be a long hearing and/or a reason to allow much more time for further argument or…

For AY photographer Collins, a not-so-enticing offer of a t-shirt

Photographer Tracy Collins, who has done yeoman work chronicling the physical state of the Atlantic Yards footprint and civic events related to Atlantic Yards, doesn't make much money for his efforts.

His work often gets used, without permission.

Sometimes commercial entities ask for permission but won't pay.

Other times they offer the smallest, and least enticing, of carrots. Read how he turned down a t-shirt from a Kansas City company putting together a proposal to construct the metal outer shell for the Barclays Center.

It is a testament to Collins' professionalism that, whatever his position on the project (and he's clearly an opponent) his work is such that metal companies in the Midwest might want to use it.

Times sinks toward irrelevance as it uses scarce Metro section space for Nets fluff

When I read this cutesy New York Times story yesterday headlined A Marketing Quandary: How Do You Sell a 4-40 Team? about a media event--a couple of Nets players coming to Brooklyn--I figured it would appear only online, in the CityRoom blog.

Surely they wouldn't put that fluff in the paper, not when there's real news about government accountability and Atlantic Yards, like the gap between the promised ten-year timetable and the more generous deadlines in the master closing documents.

But that 18-paragraph article appears in today's paper, headlined Straddling Two Arenas, Nets Woo Fans for Both.

Timetable issues

It contains the not-quite-inaccurate-but-imprecisely-generous statement that "the move is not expected to take place for at least another full season."

Had someone read the comment I posted early yesterday, they might have been reminded that a Forest City Ratner executive said the other night that the arena would take 28 months to build.

And construction has no…

As condemnation hearing approaches Friday, plaintiffs organized by DDDB file challenge, aiming to stop process of taking property

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) is inviting supporters to Come Out for the Condemnation Hearing Tomorrow, at which the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) will pursue what is usually a simple procedure: taking title to properties in a condemnation case.

Property owners and leaseholders organized by DDDB, as noted below, have filed a challenge to the ESDC's petition.

The hearing will be at 9:30 am before Judge Abraham Gerges in Kings County State Supreme Court, IAS Part 74, 320 Jay Street, Room 17.21, Brooklyn.

Complication and challenges

Though developer Forest City Ratner and others assume that title will pass tomorrow, paving the way for street closings and more, nothing with Atlantic Yards has been simple.

Indeed, the attorney representing some of those facing condemnation will not be there to argue about valuation--usually the main variable at issue--but about fundamentals.

Attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff last month said that "we will challenge the petition. It…

Jeffries: "less than cautiously optimistic" on AY, waiting for Paterson response, says ESDC hasn't explained why governance structure isn't needed

At his third annual State of the District address, held last night in the Pratt Institute's Higgins Hall, 57th District Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries spoke to a supportive crowd about three main issues, none of them Atlantic Yards, though he did answer questions about the project afterward. (See video below.)

His bottom line on AY: after initiating dialogue with the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), he's "less than cautiously optimistic" about progress on most issues, including the use of eminent domain and the commitment to build affordable housing expeditiously. (He mentioned a letter to Governor David Paterson that he hadn't released when it was sent in December. It is reproduced at bottom.)

Nor has the ESDC convinced him why Atlantic Yards, unlike such other large projects as Queens West or Brooklyn Bridge Park, does not deserve a separate governance structure to provide oversight over the long term. He was most animated in his frustration over that is…

Despite promise of ten-year AY buildout, ESDC deadlines allow 12 years for Phase 1, 15 years to start platform, 25 years for full project

Copies of documents have been added at bottom.

So, what kind of leverage does the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) have to get the Atlantic Yards project completed in a decade, as promised in the 2009 Modified General Project Plan and defended in a court hearing last week and in legal documents?

Not much.

The developer faces generous deadlines before damages--hardly painful--kick in, and in several cases the deadlines can be extended. Among the deadlines:
six years to build the arenathree or four years to start construction of the first towerfive or six years to start construction of the second towerten years to start construction of the third tower12 years to build Phase 1 (which can be much smaller than officially promised)15 years to start construction of the platform over the railyard25 years to finish the project (which can be much smaller than officially promised)The damages Forest City Ratner faces in most cases--less than $10 million for an arena that's up to three…