Much as I’d love to take the simplistic tact and call it “The House That Richard Jefferson Built” (and admittedly, in the past, I’ve not brought much analysis to the table where this subject is concerned, though David Roth’s done his bit), the matter of Bruce Ratner’s new Nets arena in Brooklyn is far more complicated. From New York Magazine’s Chris Smith.
In his push to make Atlantic Yards a reality, Bruce Ratner (above) has crafted the most sophisticated political campaign the city has seen in a very long time, better than any professional politician has mounted to win elective office, complete with gag orders and aggressive polling. And even if Atlantic Yards was wildly disproportionate to the surrounding neighborhoods, its pillars seemed laudable (the subsidized housing) and potentially cool (Gehry; having the NBA™s Nets nearby). The developer, Ratner, seemed downright enlightened: a commissioner of consumer affairs under Ed Koch who™d gone out of his way to hire women and minorities to build his other projects.
The release of the environmental-impact statement, however, forced me to confront just what Atlantic Yards is going to mean”not just for my neighbors in Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Boerum Hill, and Downtown Brooklyn but also for the city as a whole. In 1,400 numbing pages of charts and bureaucratic jargon are the details of a traffic, noise, and cultural nightmare on the horizon: Colossal shadows sweeping across 50 square blocks. Some 60 intersections choked with traffic. More kids than the local schools can possibly handle.
Still, forming a clear-cut opinion isn™t easy. Ratner is building subsidized housing in a city where there™s a cruel 3 percent vacancy rate. He™s forecasting $1.5 billion in new tax revenues for the city and 3,800 new permanent jobs. Most of the site for the proposed project, the Long Island Rail Road yards, is quite literally a hole in the ground, flanked by a number of decaying buildings. So am I with the visionaries? The naysayers? The big thinkers? The little guy? The sports fans? The community gardeners? Whose side am I on?
I’ll resist my usual cut & paste mania and instead encourage you to check out the rest of the piece, though I’m quite inclined to agree with anyone who says “Dan Zanes is no Lenny Bernstein.” While you’re at it, Atlantic Yards Report has plenty of background on the issue.