Friday, November 17, 2006

Brooklyn Week in Review

This week before the start of the Holiday Season was one of much news about two significant Brooklyn development proposals. First among equals, of course, is Atlantic Yards. The Final Enviornmental Impact Statement was released and within 24-hours a lawsuit about it was already in the works. The release of the document--which could lead to a final approval vote by the Empire State Development Corp. immediately after a legally required 10-day waiting period--elicited many comments. Our own thought is that the lack of sustantive concessions in terms of the scale and density of the project confirmed opponents' worst fears about the top-down nature of the decisionmaking process.

First and foremost among those digging into the document was Norman Oder, aka "The Mad Overkilling," who went on an astounding spree of analysis. Among Mr. Oder's early conclusions were that "mitigation" for problems at a nearby playground would be construction of toilets, that you're "SOL" if the project puts you in permanent shadow, that there will be only 375 new office jobs, that developer Bruce Ratner clearly won the design guidelines and size game, and that Marty Markowitz's protestations to the contrary, Miss Brooklyn's going to be significantly taller than the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building. We did note with some interest, though, fears that Madison Square Garden might try to derail the Atlantic Yards proposal.

In that fun world we are now calling Coney Island v 2.1, there was a ho-hum reaction to new renderings and building plans. And some people even caught the punchline--that Thor wants to build residential buildings in Coney amusement area. Our favorite Coney blogger concluded that the drawings look like they are meant to confuse and stall for answers.

There was other development news too. We noted that some new Williamsburg condos look like they might come with free oil, given the toxic ooze upon which they are be built. And, there appears to be a preservation battle brewing in Dumbo over developer landlord Josh Guttman's plans to demolish a 19th Century foundry and erect a new building designed by Scarano Architects. If you're looking for an apartment with easy access to reading material, you might consider the housing above a public library option.

The Broken Angel saga continued, with the project going to court and the family selling photos and art to help support repairs to the building.

Speaking of the biggest backer of Atlantic Yards, there were many Marty Markowitz items this week. First, he turned the ceremonial first shovels of dirt at the environmentally-challenged Whole Foods site in Gowanus, calling our namesake nabe the "Venice of Brooklyn." Then, it was noted that he's taken up the cause of the Brooklyn parrots, which are still being poached, saying someone is "abusing these beautiful little creatures." (We may disagree with the Borough Prez on some development issues, but we're 1,000 percent with him on finding the jerks stealing our parrots.) And, last but not least, he called the self-proclaimed Dogshit Queen of Greenpoint on her cell phone while she was in the bathroom doing Number Two, to discuss a housing problem she's having. We've always been big believers in constituent services.

Oh, and did we say we're happy to know that more teens are "putting off" parenthood. Could you imagine what Park Slope would be like if they didn't?

Chaos. Absolutely, and utter chaos.

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