Thursday, November 16, 2006

Atlantic Yards Final Impact Statement Release Roundup

Here is a selective sampling of some of the reaction to yesterday's release by the Empire State Development Corporation of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement. Final approval of the document could come in a matter of weeks. For exhaustive coverage, analysis and links we strongly suggest the superb coverage of Atlantic Yards Report and No Land Grab. Incredibly, AYR's Stormin' Norman Oder has already posted more than a dozen items detailing elements of the Impact Statement, including a fascinating look at how Forest City Ratner has controlled project design, insight on the proposal to eventually include a new school as part of the proposed Atlantic Yards and the nature of the "changes" incorporated into the final document. No Land Grab has links to virtually all of the important reactions and analysis. We personally need to try to digest a bit more before adding our own two cents to their very intelligent thoughts and analysis.

1) Develop Don't Destroy. "As expected, this morning the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the lead agency for the Ratner "Atlantic Yards" proposal, certified rubberstamped the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project. This is NOT an approval of the project but rather it is the ESDC Board giving its okay to accept and make public the FEIS." And this quote from Daniel Goldstein: "We know that the ESDC will rubberstamp this project. So we call on the Public Authorities Control Board to scrutinize ‘Atlantic Yards’­its public cost, its infrastructure and environmental impacts, its security issues, its abuse of eminent domain­as thoroughly as possible, and to postpone any vote until after the federal eminent domain lawsuit filed on October 26th is resolved in the courts."

2) Atlantic Yards Report.
"Will the board of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), nearly all appointees of lame-duck Gov. George Pataki, move the project toward approval before Republican Pataki leaves office for incoming Democrat Eliot Spitzer?

ESDC Chairman Charles Gargano, a steady booster of Atlantic Yards, was asked if approval was expected before the end of the year. “I hope so,” he told reporters. He contended that it was unfair to describe the ESDC as trying to rush projects to completion during Pataki’s term. “We’re trying to get projects done,” he said.

2B) Atlantic Yards Report. "We got played. The project, announced at about 8 million square feet in December 2003, was increased to 9.132 million square feet in July 2005, and was cut by the developer on 3/31/06 to 8.659 million square feet."

3) No Land Grab. "A cynical Brooklynite would assume that this rejiggering of who had what role in the Design Guidelines has a lot to do with trying to create an appearance of a city-planning process. This smacks of a defensive move in anticipation of an eminent domain law suit based on last year's US Supreme Court decision of Kelo v. New London. Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn has recently filed just such a law suit, claiming that the seizure of private property for a private development, in this case, is unconstitutional."

4) Brooklyn Speaks. "While we welcome the improvements in the Atlantic Yards plan announced today by the ESDC, we do not believe the project sponsors have come close to addressing the serious flaws that remain in the project. As currently proposed, the project will still overwhelm the surrounding neighborhoods and create a deadening enclave in the heart of Brooklyn. It will still add several thousand new vehicle trips and transit riders to the area without a real plan to prevent Brooklyn from grinding to a halt. Only 13 percent of its housing units will be affordable to the average Brooklynite. And, while the City Planning Commission’s recommendations were accepted by the developer, it is still a project that has not been shaped in any significant way by the public. “Until these flaws can be addressed, the sponsors of believe the project should not be approved by the ESDC or the Public Authorities Control Board. The Atlantic Yards site has enormous potential, but a plan for the site should not be approved until it works for Brooklyn.”

5) Daily News. "In a bid to quiet critics, developer Bruce Ratner plans to add a school to his controversial Atlantic Yards Nets arena complex and free subway rides for all ticket-holders.

But opponents said the changes don't go far enough to solve anticipated crowding and traffic at the 22-acre site - and accused state officials of trying to ram the project through before Eliot Spitzer becomes governor Jan. 1."

6) The Real Estate. "The next step is for the Empire State Development Corporation to meet again to approve the general project plan, and then for the now-fabled Public Authorities Control Board to assent -- both of which could happen before Eliot Spitzer is sworn in as governor on Jan. 1.

Spitzer supports the 22-acre arena-and-housing complex, but he might have wanted to tinker a bit around the edges -- which, it now seems, he will not be able to do. E.S.D.C. Chairman Charles Gargano said he would respond to any concerns the Governor-elect raises in the next few weeks, but gave no indication he was willing to push final action into the next Governor's term."

7) Metro. "T
he current scale isn’t much different from Ratner’s original 8 million-square-foot estimate from 2003. The project ballooned to 9.132 million square feet in 2005 and has been scaled back since.

Frank Gehry’s main tower, dubbed Miss Brooklyn, will remain 620-feet tall, despite Borough President Marty Markowitz’s request that it be shorter than the Williamsburgh Savings Bank’s 512-foot clocktower. Commercial space has been cut roughly 493,000 square feet from its planned 606,000 square feet. The final EIS anticipates 1,300 office jobs, which is nearly 50 percent fewer than estimated in a draft EIS released in July.

8) Sun. "The board of the development corporation is expected to sign off on the environmental statement and the general project plan as early as a November 28 meeting, according to a state official. This could set up another showdown at the Public Authorities Control Board next month, where the spotlight once again will fall on the speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, as one of three voting members of the board...With the Atlantic Yards project, Mr. Silver's political calculus is still emerging."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

cross your fingers brooklyn doesn't end up like the mall of manhattan

11:07 PM  

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