Friday, November 10, 2006

Atlantic Yards Roundup: Scale, Referendums & Eminent Domain

1) What's the Number One bit of important information about Atlantic Yard that hasn't gotten through to the public? According to Norman Oder, the creator of Atlantic Yards Report, and the reporter/blogger who knows more the project than anyone else, it's the project's scale. So, Mr. Oder returns to the topic of density via an illustration of the project that he says he intends to display prominently at the top of his blog. That's the rendering above, as produced by the Environmental Simulation Center, as commissioned by the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods.

2) Blogger Sunset Parker raises an interesting question: What would happen if a referendum were placed on the ballot about Atlantic Yards? Sunset believes that given this year's poor showing by anti-Yards candidates, that it would win handily:
Considering candidates who run on a purely pro Atlantic Yards ticket (Markowitz) win big and ones who run on a purely anti Atlantic Yards ticket (see this year's democratic primaries) lose big, doesn't democracy seem to be speaking here?
We noted in September that anti-Atlantic Yards sentiment had certainly failed to bring out voters in the Primary. A referendum--which clearly won't happen, but let's pretend--would be interesting, but we'd make two points: The first is that there is a fairly low level of public awareness about this very complex project and that, in turn, has an impact on public opinion. The second is that a referendum campaign would bring about a political campaign and advertising that would sway the numbers. Either more pro. Or More con. We don't know.

3) Good thing Atlantic Yards hasn't been proposed in Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon or South Carolina. All of them passed initiatives to restrict the use of eminent domain, in most cases overwhelmingly. No Land Grab offers an excellent roundup of Election Day eminent domain action, CNNMoney.com also reviews the landscape and Atlantic Yards Report has insight on the Michigan initiative.

4) Like many other assumptions used to sell the benefits of Atlantic Yards, the jobs the project may create are questionable. The Brooklyn Papers reports that developer Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls created 1,680 jobs, which is 42 percent, or 1,220 jobs, less than the state's job projection formula says should have been created. That same formula is being used to project the number of Atlantic Yards retail jobs. The formula estimates 824 jobs, but experience says the real number could be around 477, which is 347 fewer than promised.

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